In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He gave authority over the earth to humans. Satan tricked Adam and Eve and they submitted to him, which gave Satan and his follower's authority over the earth.
The powers of evil had stolen God's earth. He had given authority to humans, so he could not intervene without their permission. Humans continued to sin, which made them slaves of the spiritual powers of evil. They made sure that humans did not seek him, so God was shut out of his own creation. For a millennium, the spiritual powers of evil had a free reign to attack and destroy the earth. They did terrible harm (Gen 6:5).
Then men like Lamech, Noah and Abraham began to call out to God and invite him to get involved. Moses led the people into Canaan and established a land where God would be free to operate. However, that did not last long, because the Israelites rebelled against God and were taken into exile. The land where God should have been free to work was controlled by evil empires.
The world was a mess, but God had decreed that only humans could exercise authority on earth. But only a human who had not sinned could be free from the spiritual powers of evil and take back authority on earth. None of the descendants of Adam could do it, so the situation looked like a stalemate.
God had created a dilemma. He had given authority over the earth to humans, and he does not go back on his word. Only a human could win the world back from the spiritual powers of evil. However, the spiritual powers of evil controlled humans, so they would not let humans give God authority to intervene.
- Only a human could do it.
- No human was human was good enough to struggle free and do it.
God had an amazing solution. He would become a man. That was amazing enough, but he could not just becomes an adult man (like Adam), he had to be a descendant of Adam (and Abraham). The only way that could happen was for God to be born of a woman.
The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and Jesus was conceived in her womb. He was truly human, so he would grow to be a man with legal rights to authority on earth. He would live a righteous life, so he could be defeat the spiritual powers of evil and take authority over the earth back from them.
Why a Baby
Why did God send Jesus as a baby? Why did he not send him as an adult? He could have done that as he did with Adam and Eve. It would have been much safer.
The problem if Jesus had come as an adult is that the spiritual powers of evil could argue that Jesus was not truly human and not entitled to authority on earth. He had to be born helpless and grow to be a man, so there could be no argument about his humanness, and his right to take authority over the earth. He had to be a true descendent of Adam. Being born to an Israelite girl was the only way that it could happen.
We have heard the story of Jesus birth so often, we have forgotten how amazing it is. Imagine a toymaker making wooden dolls. If something went wrong with the dolls, the toymaker could turn himself into a wooden doll so that he was small enough assist them. This children's story has never been written, because it is just too absurd. Why would a creative human being turn himself into a tiny wooden doll?
What human would turn themselves into an ant to rescue an ant's nest that was in danger of being destroyed? A kind person might stoop down to look. They might try to remove the danger. But no human would think of turning themselves into an ant to live with them and rescue them. The idea is totally stupid.
Yet that is what God has done. Our creator became a human, so he could rescue us from the mess that we created in his world.
No wonder the angels went mad with Joy. I guarantee that when the idea was first mooted, some angels were surprised and said it would not happen. God would not became a human, a little lower than the angels. Yet that is what he did. That is why the angels sang, "Glory to God in heaven" and "Wow, the humans who messed up the earth have got a lucky break".
Coming to earth as a baby was highly dangerous for God. If the spiritual powers of evil could kill him before he grew up, they could foil God's plan to recue his people and his creation.
That is why the spiritual powers of evil stirred up Herod to kill all the baby boys living in the vicinity of Bethlehem. They hoped to wipe him out, before he became a problem for them.
An angel spoke to Joseph in a dream and he and Mary fled to Egypt. The wise men had provided them with wealth to support themselves while there.
I believe the spiritual powers of evil did not notice Jesus fleeing during the night, because they believed that they had destroyed Jesus when Herod killed the children.
Or perhaps they were so arrogant, they did not believe that a baby boy could be a threat to them.
Whatever the reason, Jesus was able to grow up to be as a normal young man.
I am sure that a host of angels continued to surround him for protection. The prayers of Mary and people like Anna and Simeon gave them authority to surround Jesus and protect him. God had to wait for them to be there, before he could send Jesus.
When Jesus was baptised, the spiritual powers of evil realised that he really was a threat. They went into the wilderness and tried to get him to disobey God and disqualify himself for his mission. Or to take a rash action that would result him being killed.
Jesus resisted the spiritual powers of evil and defeated them. He was then able to enter his ministry and fulfil his calling.
Although the angels were there to protect Jesus, it was an enormous risk. What if the people has stopped praying, or Joseph had ignored the angel and stayed in Bethlehem. God loved us so much that he was willing to risk his son on a mission to rescue us.
Imagine if you had rented your house out to someone that you trusted to look after it, but they let some gangsters move in and live with them. Would you send your child to live in the house for a couple of years, in order to get it back. If that was the only way to do it, most of us would give up and look for another house. We would not risk a child to save a house. But that was what God did. He sent his son, to save the world. He loved us so much that he was willing to risk his son to rescue us.
When God became man, he did not just become a human, he became an illegitimate child.
When Mary became pregnant, her explanation was absurd. She said that the Holy Spirit had overshadowed her, and that she was still a virgin. No one would believe that story. Everyone would assume that, at worst, she had been seduced by someone, or at best, she had been raped by a Roman soldier. She could not name the father of her child, so everyone would assume that the baby was illegitimate. I presume that she went to visit Elizabeth to escape the insults.
Joseph assumed the worst. He could not marry a woman who was already pregnant, but he was a kind man so he offered to divorce her quietly. Only when an angel spoke to him in a dream and confirmed Mary's account of what had happened did he agree to marry her and care for her baby. Marrying Mary was a tough choice for Joseph, because everyone in the village would see that she was pregnant, but not married. He would be labelled as the man with an illegitimate son.
The label stuck with Jesus when he was growing up. When he entered the synagogue at the beginning of him ministry, the people scoffed.
Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son (Mark 6:3).
The were offended by Jesus. They called him "Mary's son". That was a reminder that his father was not known. Deut 23:2 said that an illegitimate person could not enter the assembly of the Lord. They believed that he had no right to speak in the synagogue.
When the Jewish leaders challenged Jesus they threw the same insult at him. They asked him.
Where is your father (John 8:19).
They were reminding him that his mother had refused to name his father. When Jesus reminded them that they were spiritual slaves, they said,
We were not born of fornication (John 8:41).
They were trying to insult Jesus by reminding him that he was born illegitimately.
God loved the world so much that he sent his only Son. He did not just becomes man. He was born amidst poverty and insults. What amazing love.
God with Us
When Matthew described the angel announcing the birth of Jesus to Joseph in a dream, he quoted from Isaiah 7:14.
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son,
and they will call him they will name him Immanuel,
which means "God with us" (Matt 1:23).
What a wonderful promise.
Many peoples used to carry their gods around with them, but they were tinpot gods that did nothing.
We have our God with us, and he is the God who created the universe, so there is no limit to his power. What a privilege! To have such a wonderful God with us.
Jesus came to be God with us. When he ascended into heaven, he sent the Holy Spirit, so that we could continue to have God with us.
Paul explained the incarnation of Jesus to the Colossians.
For in him all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form (Col 2:9).
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory (John 1:14).
This Word was with God in the beginning. Everything that was made was made through him. He became flesh and dwelt among us.