The birth of a child is not only exciting, it changes everything.
I’ll never forget the excitement that filled our home as we anticipated the birth of our daughter. We decorated her room, we bought furniture, a car seat, clothes and all the items needed to take care of a newborn. We talked and talked about what it would be like to have her in our life. We celebrated her birth with great fanfare. Friends and family came over to share in our joy. We were now a family of three and we knew everything was going to change. And then a few days after her birth, we put everything away and waited for the next year to celebrate.
OK, the last sentence was completely fictitious. Kayla is now 32 years of age and we are still enjoying her presence in our lives. She brought a son-in-law to our family and they have given us three grandchildren to love and share life with. Her birth was just the beginning of her existence and we will never stop celebrating her. She was, is, and always will be a big part of our life and a great source of joy.
You may know where I am going with this illustration. I marvel how quickly we put Christmas behind us each year. It seems we look at the incarnation as a singular event rather than a monumental change in every aspect of life. Jesus didn’t just come as a baby human, live a few years, change a few things, and then return to being God. Jesus came to bring eternity to humanity and humanity to eternity. When God became flesh, he remained flesh. The Christmas birth is just the beginning of the Incarnation. Incarnation is God taking on flesh—this has never changed.
Why would God do this? Because he loves you. It’s that simple, and that profound. We know the verses:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given… Isaiah 9:6
And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us… John 1:14
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son… John 3:16
But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman… Galatians 4:4
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation… Colossians 1:15
Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death… Philippians 2:8
For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest… Hebrews 2:17
The Son of God took off his robe of light and put on pigmented human skin. The creator became part of the created. He came to redeem, to restore, to reconcile, to forgive, and to fully demonstrate the love of the Triune God for humanity. Some theologians use the phrase, “He became one of us so that we could become like him.” This would be better phrased: he became one of us so he could make us to be like he is (1 John 3:2). Jesus is the unique and only Son of God. He came to us, in flesh like us, to eternally unite the human to the divine. He is our forever High Priest, uniting God to us and us to God. This is Incarnation.
Incarnation is more than Christmas, it is Epiphany, Easter Preparation, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter, Ascension Sunday, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday and Christ the King Sunday. It is Jesus in every aspect of our lives every day of our lives. He never stops being God in the flesh for you and for me. He never stops being our Savior and our High Priest. He never stops living in us through the Holy Spirit. He never stops accepting us, including us, forgiving us, and loving us. He never stops being who he became for us.
May God help us anticipate the coming of Christmas, to rejoice in the day, and not let the fullness die when the day is over. The birth of Jesus was certainly an exciting event in history – God becoming flesh changed everything. May he continually make things new in our love and appreciation for the Incarnation.