Sweat, hunger, pain, cold, heat, sickness, fatigue. Are these the first things that come to your mind when you think of Christmas?
Imagine this: Jesus is in Heaven with the Father, the Spirit, and all the angels. They are basking in the wonderful fellowship of each other. There is no evil, pain and disease. Paradise is filled with the limitless joy of God and the fullness of His presence.
Then, at just the right time, Jesus leaves Heaven. His destination: earth. And in that miraculous moment, the Son steps out of eternity and into time. The One who is Spirit puts on flesh and bone. The Ancient of Days becomes a baby. The Lion becomes a lamb. Strength is clothed in weakness.
Instead of grasping equality with God, Jesus was grasping straws. They just happened to be in a manger.
Why would the One who had never known skinned knees and chapped lips and thirst willingly come into it? Was there something particular about subjecting himself to human frailty?
Years after the Nativity, there was another scene in the Garden of Gethsemane. After agonizing prayer, Jesus walked back to His disciples and found them snoozing away. He woke them up and said something like this:
“Look, guys. I know you want to stay awake and pray with me. I know your spirit really desires to do this. But I know how those eyelids get heavy. I know the flesh is weak!”
Jesus said those words not out of condemnation, but out of sympathy. And how can He do that? Because of Christmas. Because in the Incarnation, Mary wrapped him in swaddling clothes and He wrapped himself in flesh and bone.
He knows what it’s like.
The writer of Hebrews echoes out to us this Christmas. Because we have a High Priest who is able to sympathize with us in our weaknesses, “Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Peace of Christ to you this Christmas.