Rev. Jacob Ehrhard
What a ridiculous thing to say: God is born. A contradiction of terms. God is eternal. Without beginning. How can He be born? There must be some divine trick, some heavenly illusion at work at Christmas. But against all human reason, the angel appears to Mary and says, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35 NKJV). No tricks here, just the promise of the ages coming to its fulfillment in time: the Seed of the woman born to crush the serpent's head (Genesis 3:15).
The question, "Who is Jesus?" was one that kept coming up in the first 400 years of the New Testament church's history. Four church-wide councils were held to work out this question based upon the witness of Scripture. The statements of these ancient church councils were incorporated into the Lutheran Confessions. The Lutheran church is not a new church, but a continuation of the one, holy, catholic (universal), and apostolic church, and we boldly confess what the church has always confessed concerning our Lord, Jesus Christ.
The Formula of Concord takes up the issue of the person of Christ in its eighth article, and gives us a little Christmas cheer right in the middle:
We believe, teach, and confess that God is man and man is God. This could not be the case if the divine and human natures has (in deed and in truth) absolutely no communion with each other. For how could the man, the Son of Mary, in truth be called or be God, or the Son of God the Most High, if His humanity were not personally united with the Son of God? How could He have no real communion (that is, in deed and in truth) with the Most High, but only share in God's name? So we believe, teach, and confess that Mary conceived and bore not merely a man and no more, but God's true Son. Therefore, she also is rightly called and truly is "the mother of God."
God is born. It's a ridiculous thing to say according to human reason. But God often does foolish things to put to shame the wise in the world. And His foolishness is wiser than the wisdom of men. Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God-who is Himself God-unites Himself so completely with our human nature that the virgin who bore Him receives the title, "the mother of God." This is not so much to teach us about who Mary is, but about who Jesus is. The nature of God is so intimately united with the nature of man that now of Jesus it can be said, "God is born."
But even more importantly, because of this personal union of the divine and human natures in Jesus Christ, it can also be said, "God died." St. Paul writes to the Corinthians: "they crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Corinthians 2:8). If it was only a man, or only human nature that was crucified, then it would do us no good. But it was no mere man who hung bleeding on the cross. God has purchased us with His own blood (Acts 20:28). No blood except God's blood could pay such a price.
The great mystery of the Incarnation, of God becoming flesh-which we celebrate this holy day-has one last blessing for us. Because Jesus is risen from the dead and ascended to heaven to sit at the Father's right hand, this means human nature is also exalted. As true as it is that God was born on that first Christmas, so it is also true now that a man sits at God's right hand. This man feeds you His Body and Blood-the same Body and Blood born of His virgin mother, the same body that hung on the cross, the same blood that spilled from His veins. And as you join Him in this holy Supper, you also are raised to new life and exalted with the Man who is also God.
Rev. Jacob Ehrhard is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in New Haven, Missouri.
Created: December 25th, 2015