Christmas, Incarnation and Emmanuel 2

Yes friends, it is still Christmas and we are still thinking about the Incarnation. We’ve spent some time thinking about how in the Incarnation, God shows us what it means to be human. In addition, the Incarnation shows us that God understands what it is like to be human.

We, at least I, need to think carefully here. I’m not suggesting that before the Incarnation God didn’t really understand humankind. I’m not comfortable thinking that there was a time when God didn’t fully understand us and our lives. ( And this is different than saying that God knows everything we’re going to do even before we do it.) I don’t think there has ever been part of the human condition that God didn’t/doesn’t know. I do think this is difficult for us to comprehend. It is hard for us to truly understand the situation of another person, but if we try we can achieve some sort of understanding. We can wonder what it is like to be a cow or a Blue Jay or a sea turtle. But we don’t really know.

In the Incarnation, God makes it clear to us that God understands what it means to be human. Really understand. How can this be? How can an immortal, non physical being know what it is like to be a mortal physical being? We certainly have trouble thinking about a disembodied God. How can that God feel hunger or fear, joy or sorrow? As embodied beings, we can’t imagine existence other than our embodied state. Perhaps that’s why we often have a mental picture of God as a bearded old guy.  Perhaps that is why the Bible talks about God’s hands and breath and heart.

Fortunately, as John Calvin wrote, God comes to us in ways we can understand. And in the Incarnation, we see God in human form, the person of Jesus, and so we are able understand that God can be joyful, sorrowful, tired, hungry, happy, fearful, worried, confident and all the rest.

In the gospels, we read about Jesus walking and talking with his disciples, his friends. We see him eat. We see him thirsty and asking for a drink. We read about his sorrow at the death of his friend. He gets frustrated. We read about parties and banquets. We read the gospels and we know that Jesus knows the pain of a friend’s betrayal. He worries about his mother. He fears for his life. He weeps. He forgives.

When God becomes one of us, we are able to know, really know, that God understands us. Who we truly are. What we feel. What we tell our friends and what we don’t tell anyone. What makes us laugh and what makes us cry. What frightens us and what gives us hope.

The apostle Paul writes that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Because of the Incarnation we know this is true.

I’d like to know, what do you think?

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