I’ve been considering the Christmas story lately as the day approaches and the thought occurred to me that the account of Jesus’ birth in the Bible may be a kind of self-evident proof for its truthfulness. What I mean is this: If I was to make up a story about a god-man, that I wanted to be believed, I would not have mentioned his birth at all. In my story, the god-man would either have simply appeared on the scene as a fully mature adult, or I would have had his divine nature included with his human nature at a point subsequent to his birth. This is along the same lines as some of the early heretics thought as well. As wonderful as babies are, there is a sort of indignity in being born. I think it would have been much more palatable for hearers to be introduced to the incarnation without knowing where this unique person came from. Evidently, this is also what many of the Jews in Jesus day thought as well: “But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” (John 7:27)
Certainly, a lot of special and unusual stuff happened around Jesus’ birth, yet his human entrance into this world was quite ordinary. In this, there are marvelous tensions. The one who cannot be contained by Earth and Heaven becoming just a few pounds of flesh and blood; the one whose power sustains and holds all of Creation together becomes totally helpless; the one who spoke the stars into being became utterly inarticulate; the one whose beauty and radiance is so bright that angels hide their faces becomes an incontinent, drooling mess; the one who never knew an instant of dependency becomes completely needy. This is hardly the story I would expect if the author was trying to make the circumstances “believable”.
There is unexpected glory in this indignity. Jesus didn’t parachute into an adult body because he had to be as fully human as every other person so that he could perfectly represent them before God. His birth was the pattern for his life and death as his humiliation continued even to the most shameful death imaginable – crucifixion. Again, this is not the god-man anyone would have made up.
Because of his humility and obedience, Jesus is able to stand in the place of everyone who comes to him by faith. He lived in full submission to God like we never could, and he suffered the punishment deserved by every human being other than himself. He chose to be born and die in indignity that he could be raised in glory, having purchased a people for himself by his sacrifice. What unfathomable wonders do we have to contemplate as we celebrate the coming of the god-man this Christmas!