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.
I sometimes have to stop and think about what it really means that the Word became flesh- that He was a man, made up of cells and tissue with a heart that pumped blood through His thoroughly human body.
“..he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17)
And if He was indeed human, that means He got tired and hungry. It means He could feel the constant pressure of His life in the public eye. He wept. He got angry. He felt disappointment when his closest friends misunderstood Him and failed Him.
And if He was human, then He was tempted.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
If He indeed faced the same temptations that we do, I have to believe that means that He was tempted to give up, to be selfish, to walk away from His role as Savior. And yet He did not sin.
Given all the opportunities in the world to choose to please Himself- He never did.
If ever I become proud of my own efforts (which I too often do), I only need a glimpse of Jesus to put me in my place.
No matter how holy we may think ourselves, Christ was more holy. No matter how many right decisions we make, Christ’s choices were better. No matter how pure our motives, Christ’s motives were higher and purer. No matter how much we do for others, how much we give, how much we strive: He was always and perfectly and completely selfless.
And yet, no matter how many times we fail, He loves us. No matter how ugly our thoughts, He knows them and He loves us. No matter how disgustingly self focused we are, He loves us.
And so we look at the life of Christ, not to feel more badly about ourselves, but to put ourselves in perspective.
This is the great contradiction of a life of unearned favor and grace. We are incapable of earning God’s love, and yet, seeing it, we can’t help but want to be more deserving of it.