Text: Luke 1:26-38

We encounter the announcement about the birth of Jesus in this passage. But this is no ordinary child. Who is this Jesus? What child is this?
Christmas is about the incarnation of the Son of God. God becoming human, the
supernatural becoming natural, the sovereign becoming weak and vulnerable, the holy becoming common, the divine becoming human and the impossible becoming possible.
The incarnation of Jesus as human is central fact of our faith.  
Some of us might ignore this fact and consider it not important. For some Jesus is enough but let’s not talk about God becoming man or the virgin birth. This is for ancient people and they easily believe these things. But for modern scientific people, it is hard to believe in such concepts. So let’s just focus on Jesus and not on these facts. But the fact is, we are still talking about Mary and that’s because this is true and these events happened.

Mary struggled to believe just like we would. She was confused, bewildered and scared. How will she explain it to her parents? She will face a future as an unwed mother, who will be ostracized, ridiculed and shamed in society. Joseph will leave her the moment he hears about this. She has everything to lose if she accepts this reality. But yet she did because it happened.

We notice couple of truths about Jesus in this passage.

Notice the deity of Jesus. We see a divine messenger, angel Gabriel sent from God in v.26. The angel has a divine announcement in v.30.

Luke 1:30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

This is No ordinary child. This is a divine baby born to a virgin. We see this mentioned twice in v.27 and later Mary herself attests to this in v.34

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

Notice what this child is described as. In v.32, this baby will be great and called the son of the Most high.

v.32 he will be great and will be called the son of the Most high

This means that the baby will have the very same essence and nature of the Most High God. This baby is God in human flesh!

v.33 he will reign forever and kingdom will not end

Notice that this is a language that describes eternity. What kind of child is this that his kingdom will be forever? We are talking about God and using divine language to describe but yet it’s a baby.

Notice that Jesus is human. Yes, Jesus had a supernatural virgin birth but then he grows through normal development process. The baby was in the womb of Mary for 9 months, the baby was helpless and had to be nurtured and cared for by the parents just like any other baby. The baby needed physical, emotional and social support. Jesus grew in wisdom and strength over a normal development process. Jesus was hungry, he had friends, he worked, slept, suffered and faced temptation just like us.  

He was like us in every way but yet divine in every way. He was fully God and yet fully man.

We assume other religious thoughts and philosophies have the same ideas as God becoming human. But the Bible has a unique view on this and is quite different from others. In the Greek mythology, we see Zeus and Hercules take on human form but they remain perfect in strength, appearance, victorious in battle and heroes who are admired. But Jesus is quite the opposite. He is weak, frail, helpless and dies in the end.

In our culture we see God taking on an avatar but these avatars also depict God in perfect form of deity not subject to suffering, violence or defeat.

Other major religions of the world such as Buddhism, Islam and Judaism completely deny the possibility of God becoming human. This is preposterous and cannot be entertained. So the Bible has a very unique view on God becoming incarnate in the person of Jesus and it is central to our faith.

But the question is, why is this important? Why does this matter? What difference does this make today? Couldn’t he have done it any other way? If he had to save us, and if he is all-powerful, could he not just do a miracle?

Here are four reasons why the incarnation of Jesus as human is important, relevant and radically changes us.

1. Through the incarnation of Christ, God reconciles humanity

Jesus came to reconcile God and man. The Bible says that God created us to live in perfect union with God, to flourish, live to our full potential under his loving authority and care. But
man rebelled and wanted to live life on his own terms. Humans decided to be masters of their own destinies and this changed something fundamentally. This impact was seen cosmically, throughout creation and within us. Something broke. Along with us, creation was ruined and began to disintegrate. Our relationship with God was broken and there was hostility between people. We see wars, violence, abuse, injustice, poverty and pain. Something is fundamentally wrong with this world. The Bible says this is because of the fact that sin separated us from God, the source of life, and the relationship was broken.  

God sent Jesus to reconcile us back to himself. Though God was the offended one, he took the first step to reconcile with us who have caused the offence. But why did Jesus have to come in human flesh to cause this reconciliation?

Imagine two adults in conflict and are blaming and defending their position. The argument becomes tense and vicious. One thing that cannot withstand this verbal tussle is their relationship. The relationship can break beyond repair unless one person stops and is willing to take the blame, admit and accept.

When an older king decides to kneel before a younger kind in order to save innocent lives and end enmity between kingdoms, there is something noble in that gesture. When a parent goes after a child who locks themselves in their rooms and refuses to talk, there is something noble in the fact that parents would humble themselves and reach out. Where do we get this idea? This is because we are made in the image of God and we reflect God’s character. God takes the first step to reconcile with us.

But for reconciliation to happen, forgiveness has to happen first.  We have offended God, broken his commands and rebelled against him. And Jesus came to pay for our offense. Through his perfect life of obedience as our substitute, through his perfect sacrifice on the cross as our substitute, he paid for our sin. Through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, God offers forgiveness to man and reconciliation is possible.

For this, Jesus had to become like us, become human, obey the law, fulfill God’s commands, die on the cross as a human in our place fulfilling the righteousness of God. This is why Jesus had to become incarnate in human flesh.

How does this change us? If this truth sinks deeply in our hearts, if we have understood what it took Jesus to reconcile us with God and how we are forgiven, then we become people of reconciliation. We can never hold grudges, we cannot be people who resent and hold out on forgiveness but instead become people who forgive and love just as Jesus forgave and loved us.

2. Through the incarnation of Christ, God Comforts those in suffering

When people see suffering, religious view makes them conclude that God is judging. Every time an earthquake, floods, sickness or calamities happen, religious people conclude that God is judging.

When secular people encounter suffering, they conclude God is missing. They say, look at suffering and evil. This shows that God does not care and he is absent.

The gospel revealed through the birth of Jesus as the incarnate Son of God shows that God is loving in midst of our suffering. If we understand the gospel, we cannot conclude that God is indifferent, remote or uncaring. But as we see God become humble through Jesus in human form, as we see God entangle himself in our mess, in suffering and be subject to the evil intentions of man, when we see God get dirty in our mess, we don’t see a God who is indifferent, we see a God who loves us and is willing to suffer for us. We may not have all the answers about evil and suffering, but our conclusions are different about God.

We see Jesus suffered. He faced pain, abuse, be refugee who fled persecution, flogged, beaten, ridiculed, falsely accused, abandoned, mocked and insulted. He suffered to the point of dying on the cross.  Why did he do this willingly? It was because he loved us.

A person who goes through suffering understands the suffering of others. The best thing one can do when a person suffers is be present with them and not give any advice.

Religions of this world give us advice and either blame us or this world for our suffering. But only Jesus understands our suffering because he suffered like us as human and only Jesus promises comfort through his presence in our suffering. This is why Jesus came into his world as human and this is why it is important and relevant for us. God comforts us in our suffering through Christ.

3. Through the incarnation of Christ, God delivers justice

People long for justice because of evil, pain, injustice, wickedness and hurt. The need for justice is unquenchable. Some consider this world as maya or illusion. This does not help the person who is looking for justice. Some think justice will be done in their next life as they will reap the result of karma. But we need justice in this life, not in the next life.

The Bible has a unique understanding of justice. The world understands justice in a retributive sense. It understands justice by punishing the wicked. But no amount of punishment will heal the heart of the one who is wronged. This is where the Bible offers us not only retributive justice but restorative justice.

One day Jesus as the righteous judge will judge the wicked and evil. He will make everything right, end injustice, violence and evil. His judgments will be righteous and perfect. But Jesus dying on the cross for us also offers us restorative justice. Only Jesus can heal the heart of the one who is wronged. When we see Jesus, the innocent and sinless one dying on the cross for us, our hearts are moved and healed. When we see the Son of God himself die for the wrongs committed against us, though he was sinless and without blame, he died on the cross for the violence and evil in this world. This has the power to quench our thirst for justice and heal our hurts and wrongs.

But not only wrongs committed against us, what about the wrongs we have committed? We stand before the heavenly courts condemned and guilty. Who will pay for our sin? What about justice for the sins we have committed? We can never pay for it. Jesus paid for our wrongs and sins too. He died in our place and his perfect death as a sacrifice paid for the sins of all humanity.

How does this change us? Are you looking for justice? Know that in this world, we may not get full justice. And we may be hurt deeply by the wrongs committed against us. But we don’t have to wait for heaven to be healed. Jesus can heal our heart now. And we don’t have to act in vengeance because God will judge all wickedness. This makes us people who are not only healed in our hearts but also people who work for justice for others.

4. Through the incarnation of Christ, God loves those despised

Sometimes we may wonder, was Jesus beamed to the wrong location? Was the birth narrative an accident? Shouldn’t he be born in a palace, to a high priest’s daughter, scholar, influential and rich family? Mary was a poor teen who is among the poorest of the poor in her community. She is someone who is socially marginalized, economy poor, racially under the Roman rule, legally with no rights, she is a nobody and insignificant. She is from Nazareth, a town which has no good things. Jesus is born in a stable, in a smelly place. This is a smelly family and it’s a smelly baby. What went wrong?

God deliberately chooses and works with those despised. God loves the outcast. He draws near to those who are rejected and ostracized.

Do you like an outcast? Do you feel despised and forgotten? Jesus came for you!  

What difference does this make? If we understand that Jesus came for us who were despised and rejected, then how can we despise others? The gospel breaks all barriers of race, caste, status and language. It ends snobbishness, arrogance and superiority. When we deeply understand the gospel, that Jesus came as the incarnate Son of God and took on a lowly status for our sake, we move toward others in love and acceptance.

The incarnation of Jesus as a human is central to our faith. It radically changes us.

Ranjit David

Ranjit has been in Pastoral Ministry for the last 10 years in various settings. Coming from an Engineering background, he is passionate about working with young professionals in Delhi, using their gifts, teaching from God’s word, and having an open home. His training from Dallas Theological Seminary and Redeemer City to City has equipped him to serve strategically in an urban context.

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