By Stephen Leonard
“And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:6-7
God as a real human baby? Ludicrous, you say. How could that be? First of all, God has no body, we are told. He is a Spirit, the catechism says, and does not have a body like a man. How, then, could God rule the universe in any capacity when God allegedly becomes a human infant of flesh and blood?
An infant is most vulnerable, dependent on everything, weak, susceptible to common human sicknesses, and unable to take care of itself. Which is it, then? God in the flesh, as a vulnerable baby, or God as an eternal all-powerful Spirit?
The truth of God, becoming a baby, requires more than a one-person God. God as an incarnate baby and also omnipresent, omnipotent Spirit is proof of a Trinity; one, a baby concomitant with God, a Spirit. In truth, actually, three persons in this “Godhead”; the Holy Spirit, who is co-equal with God the Father, and co-equal God the Son, who really did become a baby born in Mary and of God the Holy Spirit.
In any case, God as a human baby presents something entirely unique to the concept of God, though even prior to this incarnation, the “Second Person” of the Trinity was always the mediator between God and man, the “face,” if you will, of God to human creatures.
Jesus had a lot to say about His real presence in Old Testament times to His two disciples on their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus, Luke 24. He told them of His presence throughout the Old Testament record.
As a baby, He is not only vulnerable, but totally dependent on human parents. How is one equally God, yet become dependent on humans? This is one of the mysteries of God in the flesh as a baby. The incarnation is a total mystery necessitating revelation to us of this fact from outside our world.
Explanation finds no human source. It required supernatural revelation. The truth of the incarnation and of the Trinity is known only from God, revealing them to the prophets and thus to us in His Word.
Philippians 2 opens eyes to what God the Son had to do to become flesh the way flesh begins life, as a baby: He had to empty Himself! God became real man by divesting Himself for a time of His God-attributes. Further, He wedded Himself to flesh for eternity. Jesus is the God-man forever.
So Christmas is a most holy time. Advent is the consideration and celebration of the prophecies of a coming Messiah and their fulfillment on Christmas in the birth of infant Jesus. This is what we celebrate at Christmas: the birth of a Savior.
They called Him Jesus in obedience to what Mary and Joseph were told by these two God-messenger angels. He was to be called “Jesus,” meaning savior, because “He will save His people from their sins.”