But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)
At this time of year we pause to consider and reflect on the entry of God into the world in human form. When we take the time to seriously ponder this wonder, the notion that He chose to make His entry as a helpless newborn baby, makes us marvel in awe. He, “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7, emphasis mine), as a baby. Why? And why in this way?
Too often we get caught up in the “story” of Christmas and overlook the greater significance. God had to intervene into the hopeless human condition in order to ransom back His most prized creature ruined shortly after creation. Man, Adam, disobeyed God’s only prohibition. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:16-17, emphasis mine). “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:6, emphasis mine). What weakness is there in man that even in a pristine environment that, without a need or care in the world, he cannot keep one simple commandment?
That single act brought the curse of death upon all subsequent generations – not only physical death (Genesis 3:17-19) but, worse, spiritual death separating us from our Creator (Ephesians 2:1). “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 8:12, emphasis mine). Being that man offended Holy God (and because God is eternal, the offense is eternal), only man can right the wrong, and the only thing that can reverse the curse of death, is the gift of life. God tells us in His Word, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11, emphasis mine).
As a temporary measure, God (I believe in the form of the pre-incarnate Christ) offered the first blood sacrifice to atone for (cover) the sin of the first couple. “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21, emphasis mine). In order to make “coats of skins” innocent animals had to shed their blood to cover the nakedness of the disobedient couple. But animal blood is insufficient; “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). Neither is the tainted blood of man sufficient to take away sins because the sacrifice must be “without blemish” (Exodus 12:5). The innocent blood of animals cannot qualify because the sin belongs to man, and the blood of humans cannot qualify because it is blemished with sin.
Enter Christ. Innocent animal blood was insufficient because they are not at fault; animals did not sin. The one responsible for sin and death is the only one that can pay the “wages of sin” (Romans 6:23). That responsibility falls on man, but man’s blood cannot atone for sin, because man’s blood is tainted by sin. So God became man, engendered in a virgin’s womb, gestated for nine months until the proper time to be delivered as a helpless baby. Then, He grew up as a normal child (Luke 2:52) into adulthood, and He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, emphasis mine). Jesus, God in human flesh, voluntarily became “a lamb without blemish and without spot” – the only acceptable sacrifice to atone for the sins of man. John the Baptist recognized Him at the beginning of His earthly ministry: “and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29, emphasis mine) – perfect man; sinless blood; problem solved! Thus, He is the only path to redemption. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
As we celebrate this Christmas, let us look beyond the baby in the manger. If you do not know the Savior, this is a great time of the year to get acquainted.