One of my favorite passages in all of Scripture is found in Philippians 2:5-7, where it states that though Jesus Christ, “was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form…” This is the great mystery of our Christian faith, that Christ was both divine and human.
As the Christmas season is upon us it is a great reminder to me of the humanity of God, who came into our midst as the Christ child. Jesus Christ who was born, crucified and resurrected on our behalf, is the same Christ who was born as a child into this world, vulnerable and susceptible to all the things of this life and world. He did not descend into this world as a mighty and powerful king, but as a child. It is here that I am most reminded of the humanity that Christ shares with us. And it is also here that I am reminded most profoundly that we are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27), even down to the detail of being born into this world as a child.
Just as Christ did not descend into this world as a mighty and powerful king, he also did not come clothed in royalty and riches, but rather, “wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” The Christ child was born into poverty, a Savior who came to reconcile all of humanity, in all of its conditions and positions in life. The Christ child is a reminder to me that though we were living in spiritual poverty, his incarnation brought us out of the depths of poverty and bondage and into the glorious riches of knowing him.
My favorite theologian, the Swiss pastor and professor, Karl Barth, says “It is precisely God’s deity, which rightly understood, includes his humanity.” And it is here at Christmas time that I better understand Christ’s deity through his humanity. We do not worship a God who does not understand or identify with us, but rather a God who was brought into this world like all of us, naked and vulnerable to all of life. This is the God we worship, one whose presence with his people is displayed by his very humanity.