It's Christmas, the "most wonderful time of the year." My favorite season. I've been doing some unexpected thinking this Christmas though-thoughts that came from an odd combination of hearing Christmas songs, and reading a friend's facebook postings describing the current development of their unborn baby. Oftentimes the descriptions I hear about Christ coming to earth, either in song or word, make it sound as if it was just a quick step out of Heaven. A long step, yes. A drastic, humbling step. But just a step. As if one minute He was in heaven, and the next minute He was that little baby in the manger.
I'm sure it isn't a conscious thing when I hear phrases that seem to imply this. Maybe it's just because the Incarnation is such a mystery to us anyways that we just can't handle more. It makes our brains hurt trying to comprehend the wonder of it all. But here are a few scriptures that have me thinking that there was more to it than just a quick step down to earth. The highlighted emphasis in the following scriptures is, of course, mine.
Matthew 1:18-21 "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."
Luke 1:30-31 "The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus."
Luke 2:4-7 "Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."
So what is my point, and why am I highlighting these phrases? Theologically, we as Christians hold that Jesus Christ is "fully God and fully man." One of the mysteries of our faith, which I'm sure has been written about by many people who are much smarter than I am. And I have no doubt of its truth. But something struck me recently. That baby in the manger...that baby who was also God in human form...yet that baby was also, somehow, fully human. And where do human babies spend their first 9 months? Developing in their mother's womb.
God as a baby in a manger is hard enough to take. But God taking the step of truly making Himself one of us, starting off as that small embryo that gradually learns to recognize its mother's voice in utero, that develops a heartbeat as it grows within the womb is mind boggling. Really, each baby born is a mini-miracle of its own, straight from the hand of a loving God. But God Himself being humble enough to go through that?!?!? As I said before, thoughts like these blow me away and can make my brain hurt because they are too big for it to fully handle. For those of you whose "love language" is quality time especially, this will give you something to think on, that God Himself took that time in order to reach us.
I don't have any deep words to wrap up this blog with. All I can do is sit in awe realizing that Jesus, our Immanuel, "God with us", loved us enough to go to the utmost extreme to bring us back to Himself. It was more than just a footstep from heaven to that manger. His stay on earth began with nine long months hidden where no one could see Him...waiting to come out at just the right time to breath the air of His own creation, the creation He would win back to Himself at utmost cost. It was more than just a footstep.