At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, whom we Christians believe is the second person of the divine Trinity, who took on human form to experience our sufferings, die for us and make our salvation possible.
The idea of God becoming man strikes us as a bit odd, at the very least. How could a perfect spiritual being -- omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, omnibenevolent -- become for a while a human being, much less a helpless baby wholly dependent on his mother?
If Jesus were truly God, why would he have agonized to the point of sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane and pleaded with God, the Father, to relieve him of his suffering and deliver him from the agony of his earthly mission? Why would Jesus have cried out to the Father from the Cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Why would He have needed the Father's help? Why not just take himself off the Cross -- as some mockers taunted at the time?
Interestingly, these types of questions, which used to be major stumbling blocks in my spiritual path, are now foundational pillars undergirding my faith. I now understand that Christ's calling out to the Father for help did not mean Christ was not God. But for God's plan of salvation to work, Christ had to take on human form and voluntarily surrender the use of some of his divine attributes in order to offer himself in substitution for us.
Scripture lays it out clearly:
"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Phil. 2:5-8)
"But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering....
"Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." (Heb. 2: 9-10, 17-18)
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