Why did Jesus come as a baby? We are so used to the Christmas story, have we stopped and asked this question?
Jesus could have come to earth 2000 years ago as a full grown man. He could have jumped right into ministry at 30 years of age and shortened His time away from heaven. He could have sent His angels to clear all the sinners out. This may sound good, “yeah Jesus get them sinners”, until we realize that would include all of us….well, never mind. God could have simply appeared and “boom” like Emeril instantly brought His reign to the Earth.
Instead, Jesus was sent as a defenseless, helpless little baby. God incarnate arrives and He could not feed Himself, keep Himself warm or otherwise do anything for Himself. He arrives into the arms of a poor teenage girl and her husband in a manger of all places. Why?
So that He could be the perfect Savior for this very lost and very fallen world.
Jesus is born to poor parents in a small city in a small country on the fringes of the glory of the Roman Empire. After arriving as a baby, he waits 30 years before beginning His earthly ministry. Most of His life was not spent teaching and healing on the way to the Cross. We don’t have much of a record of what went on other than knowing that His family was likely very poor. His life would have been hard. An agrarian society in the ancient world involved backbreaking labor, sweat, and toil. The most simple tasks in that day involved hard work. Jesus as the eldest son would have been involved in much of it.
He would have also experienced all of the dirt, grime, and difficulties of life during that time period. As fully man, He would have experienced all of the hunger, exhaustion, pain, sweat, and temptation that any man did during that time. He would have also lived it with the knowledge that it was very different from the Eden that God intended for His people.
We know specifically that He was tempted. exactly like we are, but did not sin. He lived the hardest things in life and yet stayed without sin following His Father’s will. He did it so that He could intercede for us and love us in a way that only He can.
The Book of Hebrews says that Jesus was made perfect and learned obedience through suffering. This does not mean that Jesus did not know obedience before His incarnation or that He was not perfect. He is eternally perfect and always united in will with the Father. Rather, when Jesus left the throne of heaven and put on humanity, He experienced the frailty and sinful nature of man in a way that He had never done so before. Putting on the nature of a man experientially was a new thing. Fully God, fully man had not been done before. God came into contact with the full nature of man. He was exposed to and experienced the horrible pull of His flesh tempting Him to turn away from the will of the Father.
We see the cost of this clearly on a number of occasions in the life of Jesus. It is only after Jesus spends 40 days in the Wilderness that Satan shows up and tempts Him. Jesus’ human body is suffering immensely and the temptation to create bread for His own benefit must have been all too real. He was exhausted, worn out and hungry. And yet, Jesus does not relent. he puts His flesh under obedience and is faithful to God. When He resists the Devil and he flees, then angels come and tend to Jesus.
He was clearly tempted and He did not ever sin.
The sweat that is filled with blood in the Garden of Gethsemane is another example. The cost of Jesus’ obedience when faced with the cross is so hard on His flesh that blood is coming out of His pores. His flesh is being crushed like the olives that they used to press in the area – Gethsemane means olive press in Hebrew. He tamed His nature as a man and marched willingly to the aful suffering of the Cross to make a point.
“I understand,” Jesus says to us. “I know what it is like to be weak, cold, hungry…”, the whole Christmas story testifies.
Do you think that God whose very flesh sweated blood knows what we go through when we struggle with our own flesh?
Hebrews speaks of this:
We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect was tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Tempted in every way. God knows that left on our own we see Him as the unapproachable, scary, bearded guy in the sky perpetually angry with us – a lie of our own creation. It is no accident that the Greeks created Zeus as angry, mean and petty. He is just a more powerful version of us. He also knows how terribly we fail in our pursuit of holiness. On our own, we can never approach God and we know it.
So what does He do? He sends His Son to become a baby one of us. Jesus lives just like us so that we have a Savior that knows exactly what it is like to be us and that we can relate to. Who is afraid of a baby or a toddler or the local carpenter? Who does not want to approach a Savior who sits by a well alone, exhausted and thirsty. Who can’t run to a Savior who weeps with us over a friend’s death?
One of my favorite moments from the life of Jesus is when He is in the synagogue at Nazareth, His hometown and reads from the scroll of Isaiah then does the mic drop sit down – Today this has been fulfilled in your presence. Bam! That is just awesome. Sorry, I digress. He reads from Isaiah 61:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
It is a great proclamation of the Messiah but read the bolded text and it gets even better. Jesus came as Messiah to preach good tidings to the poor. Jesus lived a life of poverty. This life makes Him the perfect One to give good news to His people in poverty.
Jesus lived a life that involved being brokenhearted. He weeps great, bitter tears for Jerusalem. This makes Him the perfect Healer for those who are brokenhearted.
Jesus mourned, He was a prisoner, He dealt with a spirit of heaviness. He lived just like us alongside starting as a little baby so He could experience all the things He was going to defeat for other and then could go into the throne room of God and intercede tenderly on our behalf. He is a Savior that knows how bad it is for us and in us and yet still say, “Come to Me” and “Come boldly to the throne of grace.”
We do not have a Savior that is far off, but one who walked with us, grew with us, and played with us. Jesus was tempted like us and experienced life and death like us. All so we can live like Him, now and for all eternity. It is a wonderful deal from a perfect Savior.
Why did Jesus come as a baby? He came as a baby because it was better for us. So that we can be confident that no matter how far we go or what sins we indulge, we know that Jesus understands and is willing to love us anyway.