It’s Christmas, the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus and the incarnation of God. As the carol goes “Pleased, as man, with man to dwell; Jesus our Emmanuel”.
Such mysteries inevitably get me pondering. The logistics of God becoming human are far beyond my words, but what really got me thinking was the question of Jesus before his birth.
It was nine months earlier, at the annunciation, that God humbled himself and became human. It was at this point, in Mary’s womb, that the physical, human Jesus came to be, and started to grow.
For nine months the 2 cell Jesus, the blastocyst Jesus, the Foetus Jesus, the first, second, and third trimester Jesus, was sustained in Mary’s womb. The pre-birth Jesus was physically dependent upon Mary, and upon those in the community who were supporting Mary herself.
Jesus fully entered into life as human, and this is what I am in awe of: “For he, who had always been God by nature, did not cling to his prerogatives as God’s equal, but stripped himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born as mortal man.”
God lowered himself and took on human form, but in doing so he also elevated what it is to be human: Not only did God take on the form of humanity, but he trusted humanity with bringing about his fully physical being, for his growth and protection. He demonstrated the great things that humanity is capable of; creation, the bringing into being of new life, the sustaining of new life, and the self-sacrifice that this great task entails. And ‘life’ is not limited to the production of children. Life is the increasing of goodness, the strengthening and upholding of others, the promotion of everything honourable and noble, to be self-sacrificing and be mutually dependent upon others. Rejoicing when others rejoice, mourning when others mourn. To love the neighbour as ourself.
God coming to tabernacle with us, then, affirms the mandate from Genesis 1, the mandate which was repeated in Genesis 9 after the flood: Humanity is to be fruitful and multiply, to create an environment where life can flourish. It also continues the theme of Deuteronomy and the covenant, where the Israelites were encouraged to choose life. And it continues. God still wants us to be community, and is pleased when we are community, for it is in this that we can best bring forth life. This outworks in the Church, where we become the image of Jesus for the world.
God trusts us with great and wonderful things. Are you willing to do them?