Maybe you’ve discovered Christmas is a lot like life … it’s never quite what you dreamt it would be. Something always seems to go sideways – whether it’s a furnace that quits in the middle of a cold snap, a sense of disappointment in an unmet expectation, or a relationship that just isn’t right. Let’s just say that some years are better than others.
Hebrews chapter 2 has some relevant words for us as we pack away the last of our holiday decorations and get back into routine. When we stop and reflect on who is Jesus – Son of God – when we remember that Jesus also became human … there’s something tremendously comforting about that while many of us have been languishing. We’ve all been experiencing the ups and downs from the past number of months. It’s clear; we really do live in a broken world.
And now that the frenzy and fuss of the holidays has faded, we often turn to the harder questions of our faith like, “Why did God come to us as a baby?” and, “Did Jesus have to suffer and die?”
We ask “Who is Jesus?” now, but when the book of Hebrews was written, people were already asking this question and attempting to answer it.
One of Us
It really does boggle the mind, doesn’t it? Why would God, who created everything, Who could come into the world at any time and in any form, choose to become human? And why would God choose to commit to living this human life in the exact same way as the rest of us – to be born just like us, as a helpless child?
This is the question that the author of Hebrews raises, and answers by saying that, “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family” (Hebrews 2:11). In other words, when God decided to save us, it seemed fitting to do it as one of us. The apostle Paul often uses the metaphor of family to talk about the relationship believers have with one another. Here, the book of Hebrews says that by His humanity, Jesus is also able to claim all of us as his brothers and sisters:
”I will declare Your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing Your praises.” (Hebrews 2:12, in reference to Psalm 22:22).
Because Jesus became one of us, it makes sense that Jesus would also experience all that we do, including suffering. According to Hebrews, unless He lived and died just like we do, Jesus couldn’t overcome the separation from God and death that comes to all of humanity. Hebrews reminds us that Christ didn’t come down to earth to help angels, but to help us, so He had to be like us in every way.
Because Jesus became one of us, He’s also able to show us that even though living a life that honours God is difficult, it is possible. Jesus shows us what it truly means to be a merciful and faithful high priest. This made Him able to be the most perfect sacrifice for our sin.
As a pastor, I often connect with people who are struggling with hurt and pain – they share how they feel their suffering is so unique that no one else could possibly understand. I totally get that; I often feel the same way. But when I think of Jesus and how He came to be like us, how He experienced hunger, grief, betrayal, loneliness, and the fear of death – just like us – then I know that I’m not alone. You’re not alone. There’s great comfort in that!
Because Jesus became human, He embraced of all our human challenges – so we never have to fear that God doesn’t understand our experiences. God forgives us from a place of empathy, from a place of understanding. God’s forgiveness comes to us less like that of an intimidating judge, and more like a faithful friend who wants to embrace us and declare, “I love you!”
By overcoming suffering in His life through His death and resurrection, Jesus helps us in our own suffering. No one could ask for a more merciful and faithful act of love than to join in their suffering.
Jesus becoming human is absolutely one of the most puzzling things God does in all of history. But when we consider how the Incarnation made it possible for Christ to be our Saviour, we see how it was necessary. Jesus willingly accepted the challenges and suffering of human life so we could be released from that pain forever.
Jesus was born in a rather humble circumstance. It might’ve been a cave. It might’ve been a stable. There were no lights. There wouldn’t have been much heat. There wasn’t any help or support other than Mary’s husband, Joseph. There in that humble situation, Mary gave birth to a baby, wrapped him in strips of cloth, and laid Him in a feeding trough for cattle – a hay manger.
Yet the writer of Hebrews tells us that there was great glory in that birth, in the humanity of Christ – that Jesus became human to make a way for us to experience His glory (Hebrews 2:10). That begins right now and continues until that day when we’re fully made to be like Him, when we’re raised together with Christ in new bodies.
That’s all possible because of who Jesus is. He overcame death and guilt and shame. Jesus loves coming to us in our brokenness and hurt and chaos to remind us that the relationship is still open – that He loves us – and wants us to be with Him.
I hope you find great hope and peace in Jesus today. I don’t know about you, but I’m so thankful for God’s indescribable gift of life through Jesus.
Grant Sylvester is the Connect Pastor at FAC (First Alliance Church).