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For to Us a Child is Born…Mighty God! A Christmas Reflection

Let’s put aside the rush and hoopla of the season and think about the “incarnation” of Jesus Christ as both fully God and fully human. Whether you’re a believer, a seeker, or a skeptic, reflect on these things.[1] Perhaps you will be moved to worship the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.


Canterbury Cathedral

All Christians agree that “the most important statement to be made about Jesus is mind-boggling: he is both God and man.” [2] Many who hold to this truth do so without much reflection or consequence—but in some places in the world, if you believe that Jesus is God’s Son and declare it, you might be signing your death warrant. The Incarnation truly serves as a watershed that divides humanity. We could muster Scriptural texts [3] to prove the astounding fact that the eternal second Person of the Trinity took on our human nature with a supernatural conception and a normal birth. Instead, we’ll focus on the logic of the Incarnation. No one can plumb the depths of this unfathomable mystery—yet everything called Christian hinges upon it and would collapse without it. Here’s a thumbnail sketch.

The Image Created, Perfect Communion

God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Gen 1:27 [4]

That God took on himself the nature of a human, instead of some other creature, is no random choice. At the beginning, he created humanity “in his image,” to be like God in a unique way among all the rest of creation. [5] J.B. Phillips wrote that one common “too small” idea of God is “to think that the God who is responsible for the terrifying vastnesses of the Universe cannot possibly be interested in the lives of the minute specks of consciousness which exist on this insignificant planet.” [6] Yet he does, and he even desires a perfect relationship with us, different from any other creature. The Lord walked with our first parents in the Garden, in a creation unspoiled by sin and death. [7]

The Image Ruined, Justice Ahead

There is no one righteous, not even one….For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…. Romans 3:9,23

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? Psalm 2:1; Acts 4:23

Sin shattered the mirror of our reflected glory, unleashing unimaginable disaster, a flood of violence and destruction over all humanity for all time. Rebellion against God corrupts all relationships, from the personal level all the way up to the international stage. Cain murders his brother Abel. Wicked tyrants like Lamech boast and oppress the weak. In our day, we hear demands from all sides of the political spectrum that wrongs should be righted, the honorable vindicated, and the guilty punished. Who can argue against justice? Certainly, we should seek justice for all people. In fact, those desires reveal the Creator’s stamp on every conscience. But now raise this basic human instinct to the level of infinity, and divine justice becomes terrifying. Who can stand on the Day of perfect justice? Sinners cry out for justice—and they will get it. It’s called hell.

The Image Restored, One Perfect Man

The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. Isa 59:15-16

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. Hebrews 1:3

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Galatians 4:4

The Savior must be divine. Humanity’s fall into sin is so complete and our ability to face a holy God so dreadful, who but God himself could possibly rescue us? What surprises us today is that in the early church there was no controversy about the Deity of Jesus. The proclamation “Jesus is Lord” becomes their crystalized statement of faith, echoing his own claim: “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” Jesus takes upon himself the name Yahweh, the eternal “I am.” Indeed, only the Eternal One could offer a sacrifice of infinite value to save sinners.

The Savior must be human. His divine nature was so obvious and extraordinary that many could scarcely believe he was human at all! Yet the apostles insist on it and condemn those who deny it. Christ came as the “Second Adam.” Who could fulfill God’s original calling for humanity? Only a man who would perfectly love God and others, in thought, word and deed, every second of every minute of every day of his life, without ever once falling short or sinning. Only a man who would stand in our place, to live the perfect life we could not live and receive the just punishment that our sins deserve.[8]

Incarnation is the only way. Christians hear about Christ’s work of redemption, but we must grasp how his identity as the God-Man forms the foundation for all he did—and continues to do. Only as the One who is simultaneously fully God and fully human could he accomplish that task.

Let us then marvel with the shepherds whose terror turned to joy and worship at the words of the angel. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

Blessings to you, as you trust in him!

[1] For a more complete gospel presentation, see “The Greatest News” in the Resources folder.

[2] James Montgomery Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith (Downers Grove: IVP, 1981), p. 286

[3] Surely one of the greatest of these is Isaiah 9:6, written hundreds of years before his birth: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. It’s breathtakingly clear—a human baby possesses titles appropriate only for God alone.

[4] Other Scriptures (NIV) cited or alluded to, in order: Gen 3:8; Rom 3:23; Acts 4:25; Gen 4:8, 23; Rev 6:17; Isa 59:15-16; Heb 1:3; Gal 4:4-5; Rom 10:9; Phil 2:11; John 8:58; 1 Cor 15:22; Rom 5:12ff.; Luke 2:11.

[5] John Frame develops “image of God” in humanity by his “lordship attributes”: king (control/dominion), prophet (authority/speech), and priest (presence/blessing). Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief (Phillipsburg: P&R, 2013), p. 786ff. [6] J.B. Phillips, Your God Is Too Small (Old LandMark Publishing), p. 41-42. God is both immanent and transcendent.

[7] Many Bible scholars consider this figure in the Garden to be a pre-incarnate appearance of the second Person of the Trinity.

[8] Theologians since the Reformation call these Christ’s “active obedience”—his righteousness “imputed” to those who trust him, so we are not merely acquitted but considered perfectly good—and his “passive obedience” in suffering to bear and take away the judgment against their sins.


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