“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3a ESV).
“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 2:7).
In a moment of seeming antithesis the Creator descended into His creation. He became flesh and was cradled in the arms of His mother. The Word of power was embodied in the tearful cries of an infant. We can’t even begin to comprehend it. What did the incarnate Christ remember from His timeless existence before He came down from heaven? What did He know without having to be taught as a little child?
When something is so far beyond our comprehension, we are likely to oversimplify it. I know at times I’ve thought of Jesus as having an adult consciousness in a child’s body, but Luke 2:52 says He “increased in wisdom and stature.” He apparently did not just grow physically but mentally as well. We may imagine that Jesus heard His Father’s voice constantly, like some kind of invisible earbud. If that were true, why did Jesus need to spend long hours in prayer? “All night He continued in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His disciples and chose from them twelve, whom He named apostles” (Luke 6:12b-13).
Scripture is clear that Jesus entered fully into the human condition except that He was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). One author makes this observation about Jesus’s prayer in the garden of Gethsemane just prior to the crucifixion (Mark 14:32ff):
“The Greek conveyed the idea of being terror-struck, troubled, and fearful. This was no stoic Savior yielding without wrestling. He was overwhelmed—engulfed in grief and agonizing. He was anguished and agonizing. But terror-struck? Was it possible Jesus had felt afraid? …He was always perfect in obedience and trust. But was it possible trust and terror weren’t mutually exclusive? That someone could be full of trust while being terrified? …Was it here that he entered even more fully into the experience of human frailty by feeling afraid?” (Shades of Light, by Sharon Garlough Brown, ch. 32).
There is much we do not know and cannot comprehend about Jesus being both fully God and fully man. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). In humble flesh He still exhibited the glory of God through His words and deeds. It’s little wonder that the disciples didn’t get it either. “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know Me, Philip? Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9b).
by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
late in time behold Him come,
offspring of the Virgin’s womb:
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th’incarnate Deity,
pleased as man with us to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
We don’t fully understand it now, but one day we will. “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12b). We’ll not only understand, but “we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2b).
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).
© 2019 Dawn Rutan. Image copyright free from pixabay.com. The opinions stated do not necessarily reflect the views of my church or employer.