The Israelites understood from prophesy that God intended to send them a Savior. But the only hint on how the Messiah would come is found in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us).” God could have sent Jesus to Earth in any number of ways, yet He was very deliberate regarding this choice. Why was it so important that Jesus come as a baby?
God’s decision to live among man was actually in place from the beginning, therefore Jesus was foreshadowed throughout Israelite law and history. That knowledge could leave us overwhelmed at God’s love and grace for us, focused on our blessing. We don’t often consider the scope of change required for Jesus to leave His glorious preincarnate state in Heaven and condescend to take the perishable form of man. Just as God created man experiential in nature, so Jesus would choose to experience human life. Starting life as a baby provided the greatest scope of experience. God kept Jesus safe in virtual anonymity as a child in the tiny village of Nazareth, for without growing up in a family dynamic and among other human beings, people would not have thought Him credible of understanding the hardships of life. Participating in human frailties and emotions – the need for love as well as suffering grief — made Him “real.” When Jesus taught, He used very familiar analogies from everyday life (some harder for us to relate to because our lives are so different). But the bottom line is that we identify with someone who is like us.
Anyone of exemplary character and behavior contrasts sharply with our familiar fallen condition, so when we see it, our curiosity is piqued to know more. The combination of sinlessness and the irresistible draw of God’s love in Jesus touched people where they were, not requiring, but facilitating changed hearts. Jesus, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; 7 rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature] of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:6-7) As a result, Jesus taught the way to the Father, humility, by example.
Although many have speculated on what Jesus knew and understood of His origin and mission when He was a child, I’m convinced had that been important, God would have provided the information. Instead, at this Christmas time, I believe God wants us to focus on the miracle He performed in uniting flesh with Spirit, giving us Jesus as fully God and fully man, the only One Who could be the sin offering for our atonement. When we receive Jesus as Savior, we also share in His experience with the Holy Spirit in our physical bodies. The power of the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is now unbelievably resident in us (Ephesians 1:19-20, Romans 11:8). What an extraordinary door He has opened for us! Will we use that power as Jesus did for the benefit of others? Could the starting place be to love others as the baby loved us?