This is a wonderful time of year for many reasons. We have warm gatherings of family and friends, and there is much joyful gift giving and receiving. But the main reason is because of Jesus — He is the reason for this season.
But when you begin to seriously consider what the Bible says about Jesus, you realize that Jesus was God the Son, born as one of us. So the question must be asked: “Why was God born as one of us?”
Of course, when you realize who Jesus actually is, then you might wonder why He chose to be born in a little back-water town like Bethlehem. Why not a glorious first-class city? Actually, Bethlehem was a perfect place for Him to be born.
Obviously the Bible prophesied He was to be born there 700 years before He was born, but beyond that the name Bethlehem means “house of bread.” When you consider that Jesus is the “Bread of Life,” then what more fitting place could He have been born? Moses said that the Word of God is life to us, but little did he realize that the Living Word — Jesus — would provide the way for us to receive the gift of eternal life.
The Gospel of John tells us that the Word is God, and that the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us — again pointing to Jesus. But again, why?
The answer is because we are of sin, every one of us. And being of sin we are spiritually bankrupt. In other words, I can’t redeem myself from sin let alone redeem you. All of us have sinned, and therefore, we would all be doomed unless someone without sin would intervene on our behalf. The only one who qualifies for that would be God. He would have to live a life like us, being tempted in all ways as we are, yet without ever sinning, in order to legitimately take our place to pay for our sins, as God’s justice required. That required Him being born as one of us.
The Bible makes it clear that God is love and that He is light. It shows us that He is kind, and full of compassion. But it also makes it clear that He is righteous and just, and that He must deal with our sin — His justice will not allow him to ignore sin.
Since you and I have been corrupted by sin, we have no way to pay for our sin, except to be cast out of God’s Presence for all eternity. But God created us for fellowship with Him, so He made a way for our sin to be justly dealt with so that we could have fellowship with Him. Since none of us could satisfy God’s justice regarding our sin, God became as one of us so that He could pay for our sin Himself, making it possible to redeem us from the bondage of sin.
So God, in all humility, was born as one of us in order that we might be born again; so that through faith in Him He could move us from the kingdom of darkness and sin that we normally dwell in, into His Kingdom of Light. He was born as one of us so that ultimately, if you put your faith in Him alone, He would grant to you the right to become a child of God.
That is something God alone can do for you. Your parents can’t do that for you, membership in a church can’t do that for you, and wishing it can’t do that for you. Only God can do that, and He will only do that for those who choose to put their faith in Jesus for forgiveness and the gift of eternal life.
And so it was that God identified with His creation in a way that none of us would have thought possible — God took on flesh. He was born of a woman at just the right time in redemptive history so that He could redeem us from our sins.
The Bible says that the unbelieving Gentiles of the world reject the gospel because they think it is a foolish fairytale to believe that God would ever become one of us just to save us. The Bible also says that the Jews refuse the gospel because they believe they must earn their own righteousness, not receive it as a gift based on what Jesus did.
But the Bible is very clear that we can never, ever, earn the righteousness needed to be forgiven of sin. Rather we can only receive that righteousness as a gift when we put our faith in Christ.
So again we look back to Bethlehem, and to that humble state our Creator God was willing to take on in our behalf. He was willing to become like us for a while so that we might have the opportunity to become like Him for eternity — glorified children of God, forgiven and forever changed through His grace and love.
As you celebrate Christmas this year, I encourage you to receive the greatest gift of all, that of forgiveness and eternal life when you repent of your sins and put your faith in Jesus, who is the Savior.
Jon McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.