Last time, we opened our Christmas series by looking at the promises God kept when Christ came. We found that, while God desires to help us in our time of need, he came to call us to repentance, to open a pathway to salvation and many more promises that lead to relationship with Him. Christ performed the sacrifice necessary for man and God to reconcile. These promises and actions came about because God chose to robe Himself in flesh and dwell among us and it all started in a manger. Today, we turn our attention to another gift from God that came with Christ's coming: The Revelation of the the One True God to all man.
A Face For the Unknown
Up until Christ came, nobody had seen the face of God. Moses had seen a part of God (Exodus 33:20). Others heard his voice and some had delivered specific messages from Him. Many saw God's actions as He performed miracle after miracle for His people. However, nobody had seen the face of God. In other faiths and religions, people had idols so they could see what their god looked like. However, the Children of Israel had never received that privilege. Then Christ came. After generations and millennia of waiting, Jesus showed up and he was pretty common.
Though the Bible does not give specific descriptions of Christ, we have a clue. Isaiah claimed he would not look very handsome (Isaiah 53:2). This isn't to say that Jesus was ugly. He just wasn't looked upon as a glamorous or attractive individual. He was common. An every man. That God, who could have chosen any representation for himself, chose a common form shows how much God wants to relate with us. He got down on our level and gave himself no advantage, not even in physical appearance. This might sound trivial, but look at the other representations of gods by other religions.
gods vs God
The Greeks and Romans made their gods look chiselled and perfect in every feature. Whether it was Ares/Mars, Apollo, Athena or Aphrodite/Venus, the pagan gods were all beautiful and held respect by their followers for their perfection. The people used to represent them for sculptors were the most prized and beautiful people of the day. These gods were unapproachable and their glory unattainable and their physical representation reflected it. Other religions such as the Egyptians, Persians, Babylonians and Phoenicians did the same and it is still practiced today.
However, while other faiths have represented their gods in both their writings and their idols as perfect, Christ was a common man of no reputation (Philippians 2:7). In that particular scripture, the Bible said that God "made himself of no reputation" when He came as Christ and had the countenance of a servant. That's absolutely the opposite of what other religions purported about their gods. Our God is perfect, but he doesn't need a sculptors chisel or a painters brush to prove it. He showed what the common visage of man could do by living as a man that looked not unlike any other. It testifies to what is possible for men who believe on God and receive His Spirit (Mark 16:16-18, Romans 8:14-18). We can do great things because Christ did great things. When we get into relationship with God, we have Christ in us. God resides in us. With Him, nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37).
The Approachable God
Our God is not an unapproachable or distant porcelain figure. While God rules and reigns over us all, He chose to be completely accessible by becoming exactly like you and I. He wanted to relate with us such that He would strip Himself of His glorious visage so that we could connect with Him instead of just being in awe of Him.
When we imagine Christ in that manger poor and without a true home, God's Spirit was experiencing poverty and lack, too. When the young child Jesus is fleeing to and living in a foreign land and out of place, God's Spirit was experiencing that anxiety and uncertainty, too. When Jesus was spit at, had rocks thrown at him, was nearly thrown off a cliff, chastised, hated and rejected, the Spirit of God Almighty experienced it all, too. When Jesus saw people hurt and feel forgotten, God Almighty was there to feel that pain, too. Everything Christ felt, God felt. The Creator of the Universe felt it all for 33 years because Christ is God, The Word made Flesh, God With Us and now in us.
So this Christmas, when we think of Christ or see an image of the baby Jesus in the manger, remember we are looking at the face of God from the beginning of His greatest act of love to His Creation.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.