This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
Matthew 1:18-19 NLT
The shocking thing about the story of Jesus birth is that it is both extremely holy and extremely human. In one sentence we have the statement that Mary became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit (supernatural!), and in the next the statement that Joseph doesn’t want her to face the difficulty of a broken engagement, so he decides to break it quietly (mundane!).
The juxtaposition of these two statements should make our heads spin as we read them. One is talking about the power of God: to create life where there’s been no mechanism for life to be created. The other is talking about how to avoid giving the neighbors something to talk about (actually, the censure Mary would have faced would have been more serious than that…but you KNOW people would have talked. It’s what people do when something scandalous happens.).
But this is the thing about God’s story: it is a both/and kind of story, rather than an either/or kind of story. The holy and the human are not separate in God’s story. They mingle. Because God is holy, but God loves people. God loves us enough to refuse to remain separate from us. Even before the birth of Jesus – who was the embodiment of God’s desire to be-with us – God always chose to walk with and to work with humanity.
He walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day in the Garden of Eden; he lead his people to freedom as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night; he spoke words of comfort and of reckoning through his prophets.
Far too often we want to make the story over into an either/or scenario. Either we are speaking of holy things or we are speaking of human things. But that’s not how God’s story goes. We need to remember that and to embrace it, because otherwise we run the risk of pushing God away, of making him that “wholly other” (100% not human) – which is, of course PART of his character, but not the full scope of his character.
God IS “wholly other” but God CHOOSES to set that aside, to not only walk with humanity and work with humanity, but to actually become HUMAN.
That is mind-blowing stuff.
That the all-knowing, all-powerful, creator of everything would choose to limit himself, to subject himself, to become human. For us.
This Christmas, may you find joy in the thought that God cares THAT much about YOU.