God had to become a Man, because only God was qualified to pay the horrible price of sin. We have all heard many times during the Nativity, how Jesus had to become a Man so that He could truly understand, truly relate to us in every way.
But, do you realize, unless He had become a Man, unless we had that Tiny Babe in a manger on that night, we would know almost nothing of God's true Character—of His Personality, His Tenderness, His Compassion, His Servitude—we would not know that God had the heart to quietly approach one sinful old crippled man and secretly heal him in love, beside a pool at Bethesda. Or that God would have the sweet, personable love to have John rest his head on His chest as they sat together for the last Supper. Or that God would care nothing of the good lifestyle, the praises of men, or even simple luxuries as a Man—living in poverty and need—for us. Or that God would push Himself to the limits of exhaustion and need to serve us with every ounce of His energy and strength because He was driven with compassion, to just reach, "one more!" Or that God would long to reach out and literally, physically touch those who were shunned from society because of disease or sin; because of a desire to comfort their hearts and souls in real cradled love at that moment. Or that God would kneel in front of the very man who planned to have Him murdered, and lovingly wash the smelly scum from between his toes. Or that God would walk for many, many miles, simply to open the eyes of one totally unloved person, and show them how precious they were to Him. Or that God would be completely heartbroken to the point of uncontrollable crying, because He saw us hurting [Mary and Martha losing Lazarus]. Or that God would push Himself to the point of complete and utter exhaustion and emotional breakdown as His own Fate overwhelmed Him, and yet He would still choose us over His loss. Jesus also became a Babe in that manger to show us the true Face of God Himself. So we could see firsthand, how precious and real His love really was. So we could love Him back for the right reasons—for His heart, His strength, His compassion, His struggles, His undying devotion—all shown through Christ as never before.
What Must It Have Been Like For God To Become A Man? As incredible and overwhelming as these things may be, there is something even more unfathomable, and amazing that I want us to explore together this Christmas. Something which I personally feel expresses more importance and more reality about what was really happening on the night of that first Christmas than anything else, and that is: Can we possibly even try to imagine how great the cost and sacrifice must have been to pay the price which the Father and the Son paid that night: John 3:16. What were those moments of the Nativity truly like in God's eyes? What did He think of that first Christmas?
I have shared this experience once in my career as a pastor, about six years ago. Some may have heard, few will remember the details. To me, God has used it these many years later as a Modern Parable of an amazing Truth of Christmas. As most of you know, I use to be a Deputy Sheriff. While working in the City Jail one night, the inmates in one block began frantically yelling for me as I made my rounds past their area. They said an inmate was in serious need of medical help and asked me to get him to the nurse immediately. This was a common trick to pass contraband, or get rid of an unwanted inmate; or just get time out of a block with a cute nurse. So I was obviously very skeptical. And on top of that, this inmate was an especially troubling case because he was an alcoholic who was so mean and selfish he had driven every family member and friend away and had no one that wanted or trusted him. This guy acted all sick, and was shaking all over, begging to go to nurse. I got him out of the block and began walking him to medical when he reached over and grabbed me as if he needed help (I thought it was a trick, so I was very leery). Then he began to lean completely on me, to the point, I almost carried him to station, which was not too hard, because he was emaciated. I was very angry because I thought it was a trick to be smart and burden me more. Then came the smell, as he collapsed in my arms and I had to basically carry him the rest of the way. The smell was from a complete loss of bladder, bowels and stomach—all at once—from extreme, "delirium tremens seizure", or DT's in his fragile state. We arrived at the Nurse's Station and laid him on floor, contacted EMS, cleared his air passage, prepared an ambu bag, and waited. The nurse and other deputies arrived while waiting for EMS to get through, which would take a good while. Everyone gathered around to watch this man lying alone on the floor, only semi-conscious, dying in a pool of his own vomit, blood, urine and stool, anemic, and emaciated, with no one that was going to care if he didn't make it. Everyone literally watched him with no compassion or concern, actually making comments like, "Stupid drunk, look what he did to himself!" "You know he ain't gonna make it, look at him!" "See dude, you gonna' die right here in prison, alone!" My heart was broken for him and I thought, "How would Jesus react to this man?" So, I got down on the floor with him, pulled him up onto me, held his head in my lap, held onto his hand, and began to softly speak words of comfort and encouragement, as he lay there dying. Later on, some that were there watching the "Acting Sergeant", behave in such a way were annoyed and ridiculing. Some touched and even tearful. But, I didn't care either way, because I felt strongly led to do what I had done because that was how Christ treated the sinful and the sick. But, you know what? In reality that is not a picture of all Christ would have done at all. In reality, this is a picture of what Christ did: He switched places with that man. He got down in the floor, in the blood, puke, urine and feces—as God. He took the pain, mocking and disrespect on Himself. He died in filth, locked away in prison, alone, feeling like no one cared if He died, and let that unworthy bum walk out free and healthy: 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13. That is what Christ did for him—for us—for you. And even in our sickness, like that bum and his alcohol, sin is what some still desire. Even as it destroys you, as alcohol destroyed him, until to a Holy, Loving, Righteous God, you look exactly like, smell exactly like, that man, dying in a pool of filth, alone. What would you think and feel if you had to lay your innocent child down in that bum’s place? In excrement and shame, alone in a jail? What would you think and feel, if while they lay there dying, they look up and ask, "Why did you do this to me, daddy?" What would you think and feel if that unworthy bum got up healthy, walked out of that jail free, and then, turned around and thumbed his nose, laughing at your child? That is how God the Father must feel when we purposefully reject what Christ has done for us. What would you think and feel, if you were forced to take your child to that jail and put them behind bars with the brutal, sick riff-raff there? Knowing they would be terribly abused and tortured by these animals; knowing that one day soon, they were going to end up on that floor in the Nurse's Station as I just described, dead and alone? That my friend, has to be a glimpse of what God the Father faced when His only innocent Son was delivered to Mary on that Awesome Night. Have you ever thought about that reality? Or the reality that Jesus faced when He made the choice in absolute love, to be the one put into such a situation? But I'm sure that God did not look on that night with nothing but sheer pain, and grief because later, during Jesus' Transfiguration, God's spoke these words: Matthew 17:5. God the Father was proud of His Son for His love, courage and devotion to the ones who were helpless; for His desire to do God's will no matter the cost; for His love to us even in His last moments of betrayal and murder. Imagine sending one of your grown children on a mission to save our country—that you knew they would not return from again—imagine feeling the pride and love in knowing their sacrifice, and how much greater would the pain and pride be if the people they were going to save didn't even know they were going—didn’t know the sacrifice happening; didn't know what was being given up for them? The Babe born that first Christmas Night, that we look at so sweetly and gently, was the departure of a King from Heaven; was the loss of a Son to God; was the giving of an innocent Child to a prison of brutality and indifference: Isaiah 53:8. All done because Jesus has a love for us so strong, that being King didn't matter anymore; and Equality with God was not important; and all the humility, mistreatment, and torture He had to bear, even by the one He loved was welcomed, to bring us Home. When you celebrate Christmas as a Christian--this is what you are celebrating; this is what you need to be sure your children know about the Holiday. And if you have neglected or scoffed at an act of love that cost this much pain and sacrifice to God Himself, maybe it's time you accepted the only Gift that even matters this Christmas: Romans 6:23.
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