See the eternal Son of God, immortal Son of Man,
Now dwelling in an earthly clod whom Heaven cannot contain!
Stand amazed, ye heavens, look at this! See the Lord of earth and skies:
Low humbled to the dust He is, and in a manger lies!
Mirabile mysterium declaratur hodie, innovantur naturae:
Deus homo factus est, id, quod fuit, permansit,
et quod non era, assumpsit, non commixtionem passus neque divisionem.
(A wondrous mystery is proclaimed today; all natures are renewed:
God has become human: He remained what He was,
and what He was not He became, suffering neither confusion nor division.)
—Jacob Handl (1550-1591)
Though in our sin we are rebels deserving only the censure and judgment of God, in our human state apart from sin, that human experience into which Jesus entered, we are the glory of the entire creation. We are made like Him, as like Him as any creature could be made; and we are made for Him, for fellowship with Him to all eternity. The real marvel of incarnation is not that God should become man, but that He should do so for us men and for our salvation. At the end of the day, it is not chiefly a marvel of the mind, but a marvel of the heart.
—Nigel M. de S. Cameron, Complete in Christ, p. 28
Now our whole souls are filled with one thought—the condescension of God. Now we shall not be stumbled at passages which speak of the exceeding humiliation to which He stooped. As we assign no limit to the height of His glory, we shall assign none to the depths of His grace. Yea, so far from taking offense at the inferiority of the position which He assumed, the very lowliness of His incarnation and very degradation of the death He died, will kindle in us a brighter and more burning gratitude, when we remember that though rich it was for your sakes He became poor; and that for us, His wayward and wandering sheep, the chief Shepherd offered up Himself as the Lamb of God, laying down His life of His own accord, and taking it up again to die no more.
—Edward Henry Bickersteth, The Trinity (1892)
Yes, Christmas is a feast for children, not just because of the tree that we decorate and light, but in the much deeper sense that children alone are unsurprised that when God comes to us on earth, He comes as a child.
Article 18: The Incarnation
- So then we confess that God fulfilled the promise which He had made to the early fathers by the mouth of His holy prophets when He sent His only and eternal Son into the world at the time set by Him.
- The Son took the “form of a servant” and was made in the “likeness of man,”^33 truly assuming a real human nature, with all its weaknesses, except for sin; being conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, without male participation.
- And He not only assumed human nature as far as the body is concerned but also a real human soul, in order that He might be a real human being. For since the soul had been lost as well as the body He had to assume them both to save them both together.
- Therefore we confess, against the heresy of the Anabaptists who deny that Christ assumed human flesh from His mother, that He “shared the very flesh and blood of children”;^34 that He is “fruit of the loins of David” according to the flesh;^35 “born of the seed of David” according to the flesh;^36 “fruit of the womb of the virgin Mary”;^37 “born of a woman”;^38 “the seed of David”;^39 “a shoot from the root of Jesse”;^40 “the offspring of Judah,”^41 having descended from the Jews according to the flesh; “from the seed of Abraham”—for He “assumed Abraham’s seed” and was “made like His brothers except for sin.”^42
In this way He is truly our Immanuel—that is: “God with us.”^43
^33 Phil. 2:7 ^34 Heb. 2:14 ^35 Acts 2:30 ^36 Rom. 1:3 ^37 Luke 1:42 ^38 Gal. 4:4 ^39 2 Tim. 2:8 ^40 Rom. 15:12 ^41 Heb. 7:14 ^42 Heb. 2:17; 4:15 ^43 Matt. 1:23
—from the Belgic Confession 1567, 1619)
God in disguise . . . and the thrill of the Divinity lay in the completeness and perfection of the disguise. A certain Everlasting Essence, when He chose to become Man, chose with superb irony to become the humblest of men.