Our thanks to Ron Block for this powerful and concise re-statement of the principle of “God made man.”
We’ve heard it hundreds of times – the Bible story of the Redeemer’s birth. The Baby in a manger, Silent Night, the angels and the shepherds, the wise men following the star. As a boy I grew up knowing Jesus came to save me from the consequences due my sins, that He came to shed His blood for me so that I could go to heaven. I didn’t learn until 30 that this was only half the reason.
In the Messiah’s birth, God the Son encamped in a tent of human flesh and entered our human situation. He set aside his power and took on the feebleness of an infant; He laid down His infinite knowledge and accepted the absorbent, blank consciousness of a baby; He gave up being everywhere and localized himself in a human body.
Adam and Eve had taken the wrong road; instead of eating of the Tree of Life, which is Christ, they ate of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil and so became infected with "..the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience." (Eph 2:2). This spirit of independence, of self-effort, self-actualization and self-improvement, is at the heart of the world system; performance-based acceptance is the fuel the Matrix runs on. Every world religion is steeped in it, and even many Christian churches are tainted with what Jesus called "the leaven of the Pharisees."
But there’s a major problem with human effort – it doesn’t work. The end result of it is either self-condemnation or self-righteousness, both springing from the same source – false independence from God. The history of humanity is one of fallen dreams, dashed hopes, unreachable utopias.
The holy Baby was born to become what we are meant to be – a vessel, a cup, indwelt by the Wine of Spirit. He "learned obedience by the things which He suffered." As our representative He came to take our place in life, and having done that He traded places with us in death as if He were the sinner. The angel told Joseph in Mt 1:21 "…you shall call His name JESUS; for He shall save his people from their sins." Jesus came to save us from being a sin-kind-of-people – not merely saving us from the consequences due our lack of love, our selfishness, but from being people who don’t love God and neighbor.
The Baby of Bethlehem was born so I could become right with God – and not only right with Him, but indwelt, directed, and empowered by Him. That infinite inheritance is available in the here and now – if we have received Him, Christ is now our peace, our patience, our holiness, our love, our life. He is our all in all. But in order to access that inheritance, we have to let go of the mindset of self-effort, of self-improvement, of self-actualization. I don’t at all mean our actions shouldn’t be good actions – but what we must recognize is at the heart of our inner being as those who have accepted Him into our hearts, Christ lives, and we are complete in Him, holy, acceptable to God, and empowered to love God and love our neighbor.
He was born in a common stable filled with the dirt, manure, and junk of animality. God is still striking tents in the dirt and grit of human flesh; He is still entering the messy human situation. Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, but through Him by grace we become His brothers and sisters; the Spirit of Jesus Christ washes, enters, indwells, directs, and empowers His people. Eze 36:27 says, "…I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances."
That’s why the holy Baby was born.