Since the dawn of time, a cosmic conflict has been raging on our planet. We live in the midst of that conflict, which is rapidly nearing its close. Believe it or not, it all started when a wily fallen angel tricked the first woman, Eve, into believing a soft-speaking snake:
“He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?’
“The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.” ’
“The serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’ ” (Genesis 3:1-5; emphasis added).1
“You will be like God,” the serpent promised. Unfortunately, Eve believed this flattering delusion and chose to eat the forbidden fruit. Then she gave the fruit “to her husband” Adam, “and he ate” (verse 6). This was how the human family plunged into sin—and we have been reaping the tragic consequences of pain, suffering, sorrow, and death ever since.
If you look closely at the teachings of many world religions, you will discover a belief either that man is a god or that he can become a god. Yet, according to God’s Book, this teaching is a lie and can be traced back to the first lie the serpent told Eve in the Garden of Eden.
“You will be like God,” the devil said (verse 5).
While numerous religions claim that man can become a god, only the Holy Bible proclaims the message that nearly two thousand years ago, God became a Man. And He did it to save us from sin.
the Christmas story
Upon appearing to a young, engaged, yet still virgin woman in the small Middle Eastern town of Nazareth, an angel named Gabriel declared,
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.” . . .
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” . . .
And the angel answered and said to her, “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. . . . For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:30–37).
This is how God became a Man named Jesus. Because Mary hadn’t yet consummated her engagement to Joseph, this one-of-a-kind conception inside her womb was wholly miraculous.
The Word became flesh
Today, the religion of Christianity is based on the miraculous conception, birth, and life of Jesus. He went on to die an agonizing death on the cross and was raised from the dead three days later. His life and ministry became the foundation of the largest religion on earth.
In Old Testament times, the prophet Micah predicted that our Savior would be born in the small town of Bethlehem, just south of Nazareth, where Mary lived. Notice his words.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting” (Micah 5:2; emphasis added).
This ancient prophecy declares that the One born in Bethlehem was “from of old, from everlasting.” In other words, prior to His becoming a Man, Jesus Christ existed and had no beginning. He is an eternal Being.
Describing Jesus, His preexistence, His divinity, and the incredible moment when God became a Man, the New Testament reports that
in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. . . .
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1–14; emphasis added).
Her “the Word” is described. “The Word was with God, and the Word was God” (verse 1). Such mysteries are hard for feeble mortals like us to comprehend, but we can still believe them. “The Word” who was “with God” and who “was God” is the very same One wh “became flesh and dwelt among us” (verses 1, 14).
Thus “the Word” is the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
During His life on earth, Jesus often referred to Himself as “the Son of Man.” Talking to His disciples about His approaching rejection by sinful men, Jesus predicted, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day” (Luke 9:22).
Many wonder whether Jesus, who in His human form called Himself “the Son of Man,” is still God. In other words, di “the Word,” who “became flesh” as the Son of Mary, retain His divinity? And is the Son of Mary still divine today?
The Bible plainly answers this question with a resounding YES. Approximately 700 years before the Christ Child was miraculously conceived inside the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit, the prophet Isaiah predicted:
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6; emphasis added).
Thus the “Child” who was “born”—th “Son” who was “given” to be our Savior—is still the “Mighty God” of the Holy Bible. In His attempt to teach this exact truth to a group of skeptical Jewish leaders, Jesus solemnly declared, “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). His hearers were stunned! The name “I AM” was well known to the Jews, for this was what the Eternal, Self-Existent One who anciently spoke from the midst of a burning desert bush called Himself. It was “God” who “said, ‘I AM WHO I AM’ ” (Exodus 3:14). By announcing Himself to be the mighty “I AM” of the Bible, the Child of Bethlehem proclaimed Himself to be God Almighty in human form.
God with us
But why did “the Word” who “was God” humbly step down from His heavenly throne and descend all the way down to our tiny, sin-ravaged planet to become human? In an attempt to answer this puzzling question, notice this enlightening blog post from a Christian writer.
When I think about God’s incarnation, I am always reminded of a story from a missionary named Bruce Olson. He taught to alienated tribes in deep jungles and forests, people whom no one had reached before. When he tried to tell them that God became a man—like us—they shook their heads and could not comprehend it. Bruce was beginning to think that describing “incarnation” was hopeless and useless—these people just had never heard of such a thing! But then he was told a legend of the people: A man had seen a host of ants scrambling about and building their home in the ground. He knew how to make the home better, and he wanted to help them. When he tried to help, however, they scattered in fear. Then he became an ant himself and since he was one of them, he was able to help the ants make their home better, and h “walked their trail” with them. He then became a human again, and since the ants had known him as an ant, they let him help them even as he was a man.
Bruce was thrilled to hear this story, and using the word that meant “became an ant” in their language, he told them, “God ‘became an ant’ into a man!” They were immediately filled with awe and wonder, and they understood! God became an ant to help us, to walk our trail, so we can know Him. What a wonderful thing! The knowledge that God became a man ought to humble us to worship and praise.2
In this heartwarming story, the Christian missionary made use of an old tribal legend about a mythical man who somehow “became an ant” to “walk their trail” and “help the ants make their home better.” His creative analogy worked! The natives could relate to the story, and it helped them begin to comprehend one of the greatest mysteries of the entire Bible: Why God became a Man.
Essentially, God became a Man to become one of us, to reach us where we are, to speak our language, to “walk our trail,” to enter our experiences, to feel our pain, and to die for our sins so He could win our hearts and save our souls. Matthew tells the story like this:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her [intimately] till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS (Matthew 1:18–25; emphasis added).
Here is the New Testament explanation of why God became a Man. He did it to become “God with us” in the deepest and most profound way possible—by becoming one of us. Not only that but He publicly sacrificed Himself on a cruel cross to pay the supreme price for the sins of the entire world, starting with Adam and Eve, who first bit into the forbidden fruit.
Search heaven and earth, and you will never find such a revelation of love. That love is reaching out to you at this very moment. Won’t you give your heart to Jesus Christ today?
Steve Wohlberg is the speaker/director of White Horse Media. His ministry website is whitehorsemedia.com.