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Jesus: After Christmas and Forever a Man

28 December, 2009

100_8531-corcpicsmall After Christmas, we often forget — or at least we forget to think about — that on the real Christmas, ‘the baby Jesus’ didn’t go away until next Christmas, brought back out again looking the same for next year’s nativity. In other words, we often fail to think about the basic significance of the fact that God the Son forever took to himself our true and full humanity from the virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. The incarnation changed the world, and that means things are still changed, because Jesus is still a man, the perfect man.

The basic significance of the birth of Christ is ongoing in so many ways. I’ll just talk about one very specific but very crucial element: the God-man is and forever will be a man.

When I put my not-quite-three-year-old daughter to bed on Christmas Eve, I told her, ‘Tomorrow is Christmas, the day we celebrate Jesus’ birthday.’ Her response? ‘Yay, Jesus! You’re another year older!’ The amazing thing is, my daughter was right.

Often the default setting for many, even Christians, is some sense that Jesus stopped being a man once he rose from the dead. He became a man in order to save us, and now that we’re saved, he doesn’t need to be a man anymore (even though this is entirely against the conclusions of 1 Cor 15 and the entire letter to the Hebrews, for example). What the Bible teaches, and Christianity teaches, is rather that the one who is fully God and became fully man in one person, Jesus Christ, will always be fully God and fully man — precisely because he will always be our Lord and Savior, our Mediator, our King. Jesus will forever be himself. That’s why, personally speaking, it’s important to try to grasp the mystery of God become human on our behalf; it’s a matter of faith in God, faith in Christ.

So even though we don’t know exactly when Jesus was born, he was most assuredly born. If he was born, let’s say, December 25, that means that if we were living back then Jesus would be three days old right now. It’s important for us to grasp that Jesus was three days old. Here’s a picture of a three-day-old boy:

newborn-baby-boy-three-days-old-in-moses-basket

Eternal God became a newborn! The one who is the almighty Word of the Father through whom all things were created (Col 1:16), didn’t know how to speak! The one in whom all things hold together (Col 1:17), couldn’t hold his bladder! And he did all this, from cradle to grave (he was crucified at about thirty-three) to resurrection from the dead, for us and for our salvation:

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Col 1:19-20)

And to get to my daughter’s accidentally insightful observation, because Jesus is and forever will be fully man, that means he is infact one year older this year. It’s hard for us to think about it this way because we tie getting older to aging and death. That Jesus gets older doesn’t mean he’s aging in the sense of getting old and decrepit, it means that he is a human being, who is like us in every way yet without sin (Heb 7:26; 2 Cor 5:21). So when the Bible says that we are given ‘eternal life,’ it doesn’t mean that we become eternal like God is eternal, unbounded by and ‘outside’ time (and thus effectively ceasing to be fully human). It means that, like Jesus in his human nature, our blessed lives with him – he who is also our eternal God! — will last forever and ever by the power of the Spirit, without ‘aging’ in the sense we know all too well. Small wonder then that Paul prefaced his discussion of the life of the age to come with ‘Behold, I tell you a mystery’ (1 Cor 15:51)!

See again how the incarnation’s significance is ongoing? When we want to know something of what ‘forever’ will be like, and what we’ll be like, we must look to Jesus, the perfect and glorified human (see 1 Cor 15:35-58). So even though Jesus is glorified and perfected in such a way that is beyond our present understanding, he is still fully man – and because of him, full God and fully man, we will be perfected and glorified men and women also:

For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Cor 15:53-58)

It is this Jesus who is now sitting at the right hand of the Father, who has sent us his Holy Spirit, who is praying for us, who is coming again to judge the living and the dead, not again in humility and weakness as he did before, but in glory and in power. And yet he is the one who will wipe away every tear from our eyes — with his own rough carpenter’s hands, still bearing the scars of his love for us (see John 20:24-31).

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2 Comments
  1. Donna Ellis Burrell permalink
    28 December, 2009 4:34 pm

    Wow…I guess I had never thought about it the way you presented it. Thanks for the meaningful insights. It is reassuring to know that God’s children will be “perfected and glorified” one day.

    • 29 December, 2009 10:26 am

      Your comment reminds me of this verse: ‘Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is’ (1 John 3:2).

      ~B

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