Extravagant Love. What could motivate the eternal and divine Word of God to become human – forever? Only love. One of the most profoundly moving implications of the Christmas story is that when the Son of God was sent to be incarnated (enfleshed), He was being sent to become human permanently! This was not a temporary assignment after which the Son would return to being exactly as he had been before it all began. No, something was eternally changed about God when the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and the Word became flesh in her womb. What changed is that a member of the divine Godhead became something He had never been before and would always remain: a human being.
We cannot grasp this at the manger in Bethlehem. We have to move ahead about thirty-three years into the story. After living the very best and fullest life in his mortal body, Jesus was crucified and killed. His lifeless body was taken off the cross and respectfully placed in the tomb of a man named Joseph of Arimathea. Jesus’ mortal flesh, which He first took on in Mary’s womb, was in that tomb until the third day. When He was resurrected on that day, He arose triumphant over death in a glorified and resurrected human body. He appeared to people after His resurrection for forty days before being taken up into Heaven and enthroned at the most exalted place — at God’s right hand in Heaven itself.
Was our Master stripped of His humanity when He returned to the Father? No, not at all. He is still as human now, reigning on high, as He was when He walked the shores of Galilee and the streets of Jerusalem as a mortal. What changed at His resurrection was not His humanity, but His mortality.
Amazingly, Disciple, what Christmas represents is the willingness of the One who “was in very nature God” to forever share in the nature of humanity. While the incarnation of the Christ meant that He became as we are, the resurrection of Christ means that we shall become as He is. He was born into the human family quite far into the mortal human story, but He was reborn as the first in the immortal human story. This is why the apostle Paul called Him “the firstborn from among the dead”. While He’s the first, He will not long be the only human being to be reborn in resurrection and exalted by God to reign. Because He joined us in our weak and mortal state of humanity, we have the hope of joining Him in His glorious and immortal state of humanity for all of the eternal future to come!
Marvel with me, Disciple, at the incomprehensible love that would move divinity to change forever so that humanity could be changed forever. This is the extent to which our breathtakingly good God has gone to make a sinful people righteous and to turn enemies into children. The Christmas carol has it right: “Christ is the Lord; O praise His name forever!”
Becoming like the One who became like us,