Thursday, December 23, 2010

But He HAD to...

This is probably the last post before the awesome insanity of the Guaranteed White Christmas from The Weather Channel starts around here.  So, Merry Christmas everyone!

A question:  is there something God has to do?

If you're an aspiring theologian, you can probably name a few:  He has to be truthful, He has to be pure, etc.  If you're consumed by American idiocy clothed in religious clothes, you might say He has to bless you or He owes you a good life (you might not say it that way, but you might say it nonetheless).

Here's one that's probably not on your list:  He had to be made like His brothers in every way (Heb. 2.17).  That is, Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity and God the Son, had to become like us - a human.  It's a beautiful little Christmas truth smack in the middle of Hebrews.

But why?  Why does God the Son have to become like us in every way?  The rest of the verse answers that question:  so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

Jesus had to take on humanity, becoming incarnate (literally "putting on flesh"), in order to be a high priest and make propitiation for our sin.  If He were not human, He would not be a merciful and faithful high priest.  He would be unable to sympathize with us in our temptations, struggles, pressings, tribulations, and even our tears.  But clearly He can (Heb. 4.15).  If He were only God, hovering above us, He couldn't identify with us.

But also He, as a human, can make propitiation for us.  That is, He can become the sacrifice that takes away God's wrath and gives us righteousness.  Gregory of Naziansus (c. 329-390) said it this way:  "What is not assumed cannot be saved."  In other words, if Jesus didn't become a human He wouldn't be able to save humans.  If He didn't have a human body, a human mind, a human will, a human heart, a human ____________, He couldn't save humans who have those same things.

So Christmas is about God's saving work.  Don't forget that.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

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