Couldn’t Jesus have made himself an adult, just like Adam? Instead, he came as God, as a baby—innocent, vulnerable, and dependent. God advances his mission not just through the divine actions of Jesus like the resurrection, but also through his humanity.
When we describe the incarnation of Jesus Christ, we are talking about the physical form of Jesus in the flesh as He was born of Mary. As the second person of the Trinity, Jesus became incredibly unique and one of a kind through His joining with humanity. It was not as if the members of the Trinity cast lots to see who would have to go to earth and save mankind. The role of Jesus within the second person of the Trinity was eternally destined to become the revelatory expression and person of the Godhead. Jesus as the Word became the ultimate expression of God, to manifest and display God in human form. This notion of God and man becoming one is best illustrated through an early Christian hymn recorded by Paul in his letter to the Philippian church.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
– Philippians 2:5-11
Here Jesus, although he is God, did not exploit the equality with God he already possessed. He took on the very form and nature of humanity, but without ridding himself of his divinity. However, the divine nature of Jesus was veiled by his humanity–choosing not to exercise his divine power for a time for the purpose of his kingdom mission. The humiliation of the Son of God begins with Jesus becoming man and ends with the most degrading, excruciating, painful death possible in the Greco-Roman world. Jesus underwent his death for the sake of others, living a life we cannot and bearing the punishment we deserve.
Jesus, though born of sinful parents tainted with the sin of Adam; was conceived without sin. He was free of sin by nature and action, but also lived a normal life. He obeyed His parents, attended school, and grew in stature with God and man (Luke 2:40). Even though He did not sin, He still felt the full and normal range of human emotion.He was tempted in every way we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus was a regular guy. He went to school had a job and in time became a rabbi. The Creator of all, took on flesh in humility so that his creation might reconnect.
He was born.
Went to parties, ate and drank.
Why did Jesus have to come as a man to fulfill the mission of God?
Why didn’t God just make himself a physical form on earth? Certainly, there would not have been as many challenges. God would have quickly gained the attention of the entire world. People everywhere would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the God of Israel is the one who created the universe and therefore deserves the respect and worship. Why death? Why crucifixion? Why resurrection? Why a baby?
Instead of a big earth-shattering announcement, God comes in human flesh on a quiet night, in the middle of a chaotic world. I asked this question as a young believer, and the standard answer I got was: “Jesus came as a man, so he could identify with his creation and so that we have an example how to live.”
Yes. But there is more.
There is fulfillment and a kingdom.
Jesus can be seen as the second Adam; the one who accomplished everywhere Adam failed. Jesus can also be seen as the second Moses, bringing Israel into a new Exodus, one with eternal ramifications. In each of these roles, Jesus must be seen in the light of his humanity. Adam was given a mission; to rule over creation (Genesis 2:15). Adam had the freedom to rule over the entire created order. He gave names, worked the land, and did it in the presence of God. This freedom came from obedience. Obedience that included the instruction not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and instructing Eve on the necessary details.
They were tempted, and they failed.
Adam failed to trust that his creator had a plan and knew best. He failed to put God at the center, lost his place in the kingdom and received the penalty of death. Through one man was brought condemnation and death. However, through one man was brought justification, righteousness, and life; Jesus Christ. Jesus was given a mission and similarly tempted.
Jesus, although was God, still allowed for the ultimate purpose of God to be carried out despite the pain and humiliation. We are born with an identity of sin. Our only model is Adam and consequently faces the same fate. Yet in the humanity of Jesus we are given a new model; one of perfection—one that fulfills the goal of humanity as God intended. As followers of Christ, we look forward to the removal of Adam’s stain and a resurrection into the likeness of the perfect man Jesus Christ. The humility of Jesus coming as an infant is central to our theology and salvation. It is a fundamental piece of God’s mission of restoration and shalom.
The celebration of the Christmas season is a celebration that we have available to us a way out of sin and its punishment. Christmas is a time to recapture God’s intention for humanity and set our sights on something far greater than any of us. A child we would come to know as King and Lord of all Creation could only accomplish all of this.