The greater miracle, it has been said, is not the virgin birth of Jesus but the fact that in that wondrous conception the eternal God took on human nature and the Creator condescended to join his creation. Mary’s son is none other than Immanuel — “God with us” (Matt. 1:23). Like the Magi, we fall down and worship him. The Christmas carol has it right: “Hail, the incarnate deity!” He who existed in the form of God emptied himself and was made in the likeness of men (Phil. 2:6-7). It is part of the mystery of godliness that in Jesus of Nazareth God was “revealed in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). He who was greater than any angel became one of us, and in so doing became for a little while lower than angels (Heb. 2:9). As marvelous as it is, compared to this truth the virginal conception is merely the mechanics.
In Jesus Christ, all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form (Col. 2:9). Here we see God in his entirety in human terms. “I’m afraid of God,” the little child said while being tucked into bed. “Are you afraid of Jesus?” asked the parent. “No,” replied the child. “I love Jesus and Jesus loves me.” “Whenever you think about God,” the parent said, “think about Jesus. Jesus is God — and God is just like Jesus.” Jesus would approve this conversation. “Whoever has seen me,” he told his apostles, “has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
We may emphasize both sides of this equation. Unto us a child is born who is God himself; in this son given to us God truly becomes man. But we may say a word more. When God emptied himself to take on human flesh in Christ Jesus, he accomplished an eternal transformation. As man he lived and died. As man he rose from death and ascended into heaven. As man, he lives forever to intercede for us (1 Tim. 2:5). In Jesus, the dust of the earth sits on the throne of the universe. By the grace of God, he experienced our death to bring us to the glory for which we were created but which sin had robbed (Heb. 2:9-10). When he appears, we will be like him (1 John 3:2). When he is revealed, we will be revealed with him in glory (Col. 3:4).