Settle yourself into prayer and get ready to reflect on the Word of
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who,
though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with
God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the
form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found
in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the
point of death — even death on a cross.
Do you ever wonder what those shepherds must have thought when an angel told them they would find the Messiah lying in a feeding trough for cattle? Did the shepherds scratch their heads, look at one another and wonder if they had heard the angel right correctly? The Savior of the world in a barn!
Can you imagine a more contemptible, more humble entrance into the world than this one! The King of Heaven and Earth does not make His appearance with the splendor of a king, the power of a conqueror, or the comfort of a nobleman. The one who shares “equality with God” lies helpless amidst the stench of a barn.
What must the wriggling newborn Jesus have looked like to those shepherds? “He looks anything but a king. His face is prunish and red. His cry, though strong and healthy, is still the helpless and piercing cry of a baby… Majesty in the midst of the mundane.” (Max Lucado, It Began in a Manger)
And yet, their eyes do not deceive them, for this little Baby is fully God and fully human. He has made Himself one with us. He will cry. He will hunger. He will endure rejection. He will be tempted. He will struggle with His Father’s will. He will take the sin and the guilt of the whole world as His own, and suffer and die. And in doing this He is the embodiment of divinity, God’s body language of love. He longs to empty Himself and “to be born in human likeness.”
The apostle Paul chooses his words carefully, saying that Jesus was “born in human likeness”. To say that Jesus is in human “likeness” is to say that He is similar to us, and yet dissimilar; like us, and yet not like us. He is without sin. God came down to us in human likeness because only by acting as God could He save us from sin and death. And only by acting as human could He own sin and death.
However you picture Jesus, remember that in His birth, His life, and His death, He looked to others as fully human. That was His humility. The prophet Isaiah said of Jesus Messiah, that “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2b).
When God became human, He was not just playing the part. He was fully God with us, living out a fully human life. You look at the gospel record and you see that Jesus never used His divine powers to make His life easier. We would not “suppose that Jesus in his carpentry shop ever laid aside the hammer and used the Holy Ghost to drive an awkward nail.” (Austin Farrer, The Triple Victory)
The Son of God came to be what we are to make us what He is – sons and daughters of God (John 1:12). The great Athanasius said it like this: “For that was the very purpose and end of our Lord’s incarnation, that He should join what is man by nature to Him who is by nature God.” (St. Athanasius: Selected Works and Letters, “Against the Arians”) Let us dare today to take on the mind of Christ Jesus!
- What is it about Jesus’ humanity that stirs and inspires you?
- Does Jesus’ full humanity say anything to you about your humanity? If so, what?
- Take a moment to talk with God about Jesus humbling Himself to make you a son or daughter of God.
“But the decision to become human, and to go all the way along
the road of obedience, obedience to the divine plan of salvation, yes,
all the way was not a decision to stop being divine. It was a
decision about what it really meant to be divine.”
N. T. Wright, Paul For Everyone: The Prison Letters