Nuclear Jesus

by The Rev. Marcus Zill

Psalm 2, Hebrews 1:1-6; Matthew 1:18-25

 

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

How does one even begin to comprehend the enormity of the holiness and the glory of God? Imagine a being so great and powerful that He created everything that is, everything that ever was, and everything that ever will be. Almighty, eternal, knowing all things. It’s just plain beyond all of our understanding.

Now there was a time when we did seek to grasp the wonder and power of the almighty God. In the Garden man had a perfect relationship with God, one based on love and trust, not fear. But Satan, that great deceiver, stole that away from us. He blinded our eyes to God, so that all we can now do is look inward at ourselves and think that we understand everything.

But it is not so. There is nothing inside you that is worth looking at. A great chasm separated you from God because of your sin. The only way that God could give you Himself, the only way He could restore your blindness and raise you up from the death of your own sin was by taking on your very life.

And so, as our conference hymn puts so well:

“He sent no angel to our race,
Of higher or of lower place,
But wore the robe of human frame,
And to this world Himself He came.”

(LSB 544:2)

Yes, God became one of His creatures.

So when you see Jesus, poor and helpless, an infant lying in the manger, you see God Himself. Hard to imagine? You bet. It’s more than hard. It’s impossible to imagine. But it is true. This is the very nature and character of faith. We can all imagine a God of judgment and fear and wrath. That somehow seems to come naturally to us. But a God who would come as a baby? Now that seems pretty strange.

And yet in that sublime mystery lies the heart and soul of the Christian faith. As we confess in the Creed: “Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was made man.”  Did you catch that? For us men, that is, for us sons and daughters of Adam, He became Man. It’s incredible, and beyond all imagination. And God did it all for you.

And this is no small task.

The Bible declares that God is holy, and God's holiness burns so hotly against sin that no one can see His face and live (Exodus 33:20). [You just don’t want to get close to someone like that!]

God warned Moses at Sinai that His people Israel must not approach the mountain, because if they forced themselves through to see God, they would perish (Exodus 19:21). Much later, the prophet Isaiah despaired of his life, because his eyes had seen "the King, the LORD Almighty" (Isaiah 6:5). St. Paul described this holiness as an "unapproachable light" (1 Timothy 6:16), and when St. John realized in the book of Revelation that he was looking at God Himself enthroned in splendor, he passed out cold (Revelation 1:17).

So how can we be restored in the presence of a holy God without being consumed by His wrath?

Well, let me try an analogy on you: Nuclear power.

Nuclear power gets generated when a high-speed neutron strikes an atom and splits it in half. The resulting energy is so violent and so destructive that special containment buildings must be constructed around the nuclear reactor to control its wrath.

Of course, God’s wrath is unimaginably and infinitely hotter and more violent than any nuclear reactor. And so a special containment building had to be built to house and to hold this all-powerful divinity whose holiness ferociously destroys sin.

And so the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

God gave us Jesus. He built Him. He knit His eternal Son in the womb of an earthly mother. An infant child who sleeps in a hay-filled manger and suckles on His mother's lap. Jesus is the special containment building that God has provided so that we would not be obliterated during His special forces operation.

When this Holy nuclear Child was miraculously conceived in Mary's womb, it is as if our God said, "Mankind cannot see Me and live. Therefore I must bury My holiness and hide it somewhere so that they will not be afraid of Me any longer. I will conceal the fullness of My godhead and holiness here in the flesh and blood of this woman’s Son."

And so the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

Jesus' physical body became the covering and the shield by which Mary and Joseph and you and I are all protected from the righteous wrath of God. Everything that God is and does now reduces itself to the confines of a baby boy.

Do you want to see the God of eternity, the one through whom the heavens were made, the one who fills all things? Well here he is! And guess what? The Gospel according to Ricky Bobby is actually true - He really is some 8 pounds and 6 ounces. "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form." (Colossians 2:9).

Some people fear their earthly governments or those in power. But what does the Almighty and all powerful God do for you? He comes to earth in the most helpless and harmless form of all - the form of a baby.

This little infant holds in His clenched little hands the full scope of your existence! He possesses, beneath His swaddling cloths and his well-sucked thumb, the divinity and might necessary to overcome every enemy who would oppose you. He is God Himself, not the God who comes to inspire your fear, but the God who hides and conceals everything you might fear about Him so that He can destroy everything that makes Him seem so fearsome in the first place – your sin that would damn you from His presence if you were left in it.

When Jesus takes your sin from you and carries it upon Himself, God's wrath no longer burns hot against you. When He robes you in His holiness and washes you with His perfection, nothing unclean remains in you that would stir God's holiness against you. Jesus is God's containment building and shield and defense for you, for in this Child even death gets swallowed up in victory.

And so the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

And “blessed are all who take refuge in him.”

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

The Rev. Marcus Zill is pastor of St. Andrew's Lutheran Church in Laramie, Wyoming, which serves as the campus congregation for the Lutheran students at the University of Wyoming.  Pastor Zill also heads the Christ on Campus work of Higher Things.

Created: August 2nd, 2007