I have always been fascinated by the the Christmas story.
The appearance of a star, visits from angels, men from the east, the inclusion of shepherds remind us that this was no ordinary birth. Most extraordinary of all was that God was entering our world as a babe.
It is such an unusual thing to consider that God came to earth as a baby. Helpless. Dependent on the care of a teenage girl. Vulnerable. This is perhaps no more evident than in the despicable act of King Herod, who in a desperate attempt to kill Jesus, “the king of the Jews,” issued orders to have every child in Bethlehem, 2 years and under, killed. Only through the warning in a dream and the obedience of Joseph, was Jesus spared.
It’s unusual that God would allow himself to be so vulnerable.
After all did He have to do it this way? Couldn’t He have incarnated as a fully grown man? The “first Adam” wasn’t a child, but appears as a man. Jesus could have still lived a perfect life, died on our behalf and rose again if He started as a man.
Yet, if He had done it this way it would have felt as if He cheated a little. As an infant there is the total dependence on others for your welfare. Then there is the wonder of childhood and the awkwardness of the teenage years. Diﬀerent stages of life present their own challenges and temptations. Jesus engaged them all.
This is not lost to the writer of Hebrews who said of Jesus,
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4: 15)
Whatever we are facing, Jesus gets it. He understands our weakness and limitations. He has empathy for us, because He did not cheat.
God as a baby is unusual, but perhaps necessary, so that we can have confidence that He confronted and conquered every challenge and temptation common to us.