The birth of Jesus Christ marked the beginning of the most important sequence of events of all history. His birth, life, death and resurrection are all part of the greatest gift. Jesus was God in the flesh. He was of the royal line of David, the rightful heir to David’s throne. The King of kings had come. The promises to the line of David had been fulfilled in Christ.
God was miraculously and mysteriously born of a woman, coming as a baby into an oppressed land occupied by a foreign power. He was not born into wealth. His arrival on earth was not universally acclaimed. He was born in a village. He worked in a carpenter’s shop with his father. He wasn’t rich. His ship never came in. He never went to college. He never wrote a book. He never married or fathered children.
Those who promised him their loyalty deserted him at his time of greatest need. He was betrayed. He was denied justice. He was tortured and beaten without cause or provocation. He was nailed to a cross, where he died, flanked on both sides by criminals.
Jesus didn’t come as a mystical teacher with secret knowledge that would make his followers superior. He didn’t come to find fault with us or to dazzle us with clever arguments, obscure and technical chronologies and genealogies, or to thunder at us in hellfire-and-brimstone sermons.
“God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17). God in the flesh was God’s greatest gift. The Incarnation and the Virgin Birth remind us that God loves us enough to have sent us his one and only begotten Son.
Only God can forgive
If our greatest need is for knowledge, God could have sent us an acclaimed teacher, scholar, or philosopher. If our greatest need is for money, God could have sent us a banker or an economist. If our greatest need is for physical health, God could have sent us a doctor or a dietitian. But our greatest need is for forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation. Only God could accomplish this.
A great scholar couldn’t atone for our sins. Someone who strived to lead a perfect life and build a lot of character couldn’t redeem us and reconcile us to God. The most righteous and perfect human being who ever lived could not do what God in the flesh could do.
Only God can forgive, redeem and reconcile. That’s why Jesus was God-man. Jesus was able to atone for our sins because he was God in the flesh. Jesus wasn’t merely a perfect person who was a spiritual superman. He didn’t come to earth to master sin through superhuman effort.
Jesus didn’t overcome sin because he built strong spiritual muscles. Because if that’s all Jesus was, his perfect life would have only been enough to pay for one other imperfect person’s sins. But the Bible tells us that Jesus’ death was enough to pay for all humanity’s sins. Once and for all. Because Christ was fully man and fully God.
So God sent us the greatest gift. He gave himself. It is the life of Jesus Christ dwelling in us that makes us holy. We are not righteous because of our own superior insight or knowledge. The great central truth is that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15).
So God is a “real big man” who can “explain the way things are.” If you doubt it, think about how God, because of his love for us, was born into this world. His birth, life, death and resurrection for us demonstrate that he loved us, not things. The Incarnation was the act of God sharing his glory and our poverty with us. Jesus retained his deity, but voluntarily gave up his divine rights in order to become our Savior. Truly this is the greatest gift. And you receive the greatest gift when you believe.
The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became man…. In the Christian story, God descends to re-ascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity…. Christians are not claiming that simply ‘God’ was incarnate in Jesus. They are claiming that the one true God is He whom the Jews worshipped as Jahweh, and that it is He who has descended. (C.S. Lewis, Miracles, pages 108, 111, 114)