Throughout Christmas, we have been celebrating the incarnation – God becoming human. It’s one thing to proclaim that God has been embodied in human flesh, but it’s a completely different thing to understand what that means for us today. If the incarnation is nothing more than an interesting quirk of history, it really makes no difference to our lives.
But of course, the incarnation is far more than that. If we can believe the radical idea that, in the man Jesus, God was present and active in our human world, then that says an awful lot about God and about us. It tells us things about who God is and what we can expect from God, and it tells us things about who we are as human beings, and what we can expect of ourselves.
You may have heard about the boy Samuel who was dedicated to God and who lived in the Tabernacle with the old priest Eli. You may also have heard about when Jesus was forgotten in the Temple when he was twelve years old. If you put these two stories next to each other, you can’t help but notice some parallels. Both Jesus and Samuel were dedicated to God from their birth. Both boys were very comfortable in the worship centers of their time. Both grew wise and strong and gained favor with people. And both came to influence God’s people greatly.
While there is one significant difference between the two – the Gospels proclaim Jesus as God in human flesh – there is a clear message in this resonance between the two boys: Jesus was not really different in his humanity, his experience of life, his need to grow and learn, from the rest of us. His divinity did not make him somehow “supernatural”. When the apostles said that Jesus was “fully human” they mean it.
It is important that we understand the humanity of Jesus, but also learn what his humanity says about his divinity.
Partake of the Bread and the Cup