We live so deeply intrenched in the physical parts of this life that we forget the ever important parts of the spiritual. We worry about food, clothing, and finances, instead of prayer, spiritual warfare, and sanctification. We concentrate on our family and our friends, but forget God and His angels. In such a culture, God is strongly disconnected from our natural way of thinking. We cannot see Him. We cannot hear Him. We cannot feel Him, as far as our five senses tell us. And because He is of such a different nature–His character perfect and His sovereignty absolute–it is hard to remember that we were made in His image.
When I think about God’s incarnation, I am always reminded of a story from a missionary named Bruce Olson. He taught to alienated tribes in deep jungles and forests, people whom no one had reached before. When he tried to tell them that God became a man–like us–they shook their heads and could not comprehend it. Bruce was beginning to think that describing “incarnation” was hopeless and useless – these people just had never heard of such a thing! But then he was told a legend of the people: A man had seen a host of ants scrambling about and building their home in the ground. He knew how to make the home better, and he wanted to help them. When he tried to help, however, they scattered in fear. Then he became an ant himself and since he was one of them, he was able to help the ants make their home better, and he “walked their trail” with them. He then became a human again, and since the ants had known him as an ant, they let him help them even as he was a man.
Bruce was thrilled to hear this story, and using the word that meant “became an ant” in their language he told them, “God ‘became an ant’ into a man!” They were immediately filled with awe and wonder and they understood! God became an ant into a man to help us, to walk our trail, so that we can know Him. What a wonderful thing! The knowledge that God became a man ought to humble us to worship and praise.
Ants are such little things that walk under our feet. We feel no pain when they die. They are just little, metallic insects which we do our best to keep outside. But God saw us trying to build our home, and He became one of us. He came into our ant home, under the ground with many problems and pains. He walked our trail.
Hebrews 2:17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
To walk our trail meant He had to live life like us and grow like us. He had to be a baby, carried around by a mother, fed and burped, put to sleep, and cared for when He cried. He had to be a young boy, learning carpentry, learning school, with skinned knees and smashed fingers. Then He was a man, betrayed by a good friend, denied by another, given over to His fellowmen to be killed in the most painful way possible. He had the same bodily needs as us, He needed food and sleep. He suffered pain, both physical and emotional. He lived just as us and yet without sin. And then He died to have us, to show us how to get to His home that He made for us.
God ‘became an ant’ into a man.
Hebrews 2:18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Hebrews 4:14-16 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
That is what Christmas is about: A God who knows us and understands us. A God we can turn to. A God we can love, for He loves us.