So by now if I haven’t completely lost you, you might be asking “Keith, why is this so important? Why do you care so much that we believe exactly the right things about Jesus? Can’t we all get along with people who disagree with us on this?”
Well, the easiest way to answer that first and foremost is that the Bible not only teaches this about him, it makes a very big deal about who he is. If the Scriptures don’t emphasize or aren’t too clear about something, then I don't tend to spend that much time on it in this blog. But the nature and work of Christ are really really important to the writers of Scripture, so it needs to be important to us too.
There’s another reason: The honor of Christ. If he’s only a man, then we’re blaspheming by worshiping him. That’s precisely what the Muslims say, by the way. God himself takes this extremely seriously in the Old Testament: He says emphatically that he “will not yield [his] glory to another.” That’s why he made such a big deal about idols all throughout Israel’s history—not just because of what idolatry does to its followers, but because he deserves not to share worship with any creature. And on the flip-side, if Jesus really is God, then he deserves worship, and depriving him of something he deserves is just as sinful as giving worship to a creature.
And finally—and this is a big deal to us personally—only Jesus as the God-man could save us. Read today’s passage again. There’s only one Mediator between God and mankind—the Man Christ Jesus. He stands in the gap between God and us. As God he could take all the sins of the world upon his shoulders, and certainly no one else could bear that burden, either human or angel. And as the sinless, perfectly righteous Man he could stand as our substitute to take our punishment. Also as man he can stand as our High Priest and representative before the Father. He truly is “one of us.”
Keith, why are you talking about this on Christmas Eve Day? My friend, that’s what Christmas is all about. It’s the only way that God could reconcile us to himself and save us from our sin. We could never dig ourselves out of this mess. An angel couldn’t help us out of it: They’re not powerful enough, and they can’t stand as a representative for us. Only by him coming to earth and taking on human flesh could we be saved.
He's God in human flesh. One of my favorite names for him is Immanuel. It means “God with us.” He's fully God, just as much as the Father is. But he’s God with us. Not just visiting us. He’s done that several times before. Abraham had that. Moses had that. The prophets had visions of him, visions of entering the very throne room of the Almighty. This was different. Jesus is as much human as he is God.
And the Ascension didn’t change that in the slightest. It didn’t reverse the Incarnation. He still is fully God and fully man, just as much as when he was walking on earth.
That’s the mystery of Christmas. And we need to appreciate it, because that’s an essential part of the Father’s plan to save us. When I say “essential,” I don’t mean “really really important.” I mean it’s part of the essence, like hydrogen is of the essence of water. No hydrogen, no water.
But that’s what he decided before the first moment of time. Whatever it took, he was going to save you and me. And he did.
Lord Jesus, all honor and glory and power and worship belong to you. In my heart with my lips, I worship you, right now.