Jesus is like us and unlike us
…the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:10-14
Jesus’ birth is historical: Christianity is based on fact. It is theological: God entered humanity in order to save us. Finally, it is biographical: What does Jesus’ birth mean for you and me? What does this possibly have to do with our life?
- Jesus is like us
Since Jesus is like us, the Bible says, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15–16).
In other religions, the concept of God is that He is transcendent, far removed from the messy lives of sin and sinners on the earth. But Jesus knows what it’s like to have your family turn their back on you. He knows what it’s like to have friends betray you. He knows what it’s like to be homeless, poor, mocked, lied to, and beaten. He knows what it’s like to die. Our God is like us, especially in his suffering. When you’re suffering, hurting, and tempted, you can talk to Jesus and He can sympathize. Our God gets it, because we have a real God with a name and a face: Jesus. He understands us.
- Jesus is unlike us
If Jesus was completely like us, He would not be very helpful in our suffering. But Jesus can actually do something about it because He’s different from us. Unlike us, Jesus never sinned. He was tempted. He suffered. He died. But He did not sin. He said “yes” to the Father and “no” to sin every time.
When we’re tempted, we can run to Jesus and He can identify with our struggle. In that moment He can say, “I faced that temptation, too.” When we sin, we can also run to Jesus. In that moment He can say, “I said ‘no’ to that sin, but I died for it anyway. I forgive you. I will save you from the mess you’re in, and I will change your whole life.” Because He is unlike us and never got into the sinful messes we do, He knows how to keep us out of trouble, and get us out of trouble when we have wandered into harm’s way.
- Jesus came to make us like Him
History: Jesus was born in Bethlehem to the Virgin Mary. Theology: Incarnation, God is with us. Biography: Jesus changes us and gives us a new life. If we believe the truth about Jesus by faith, we’re reconciled to God from now through eternity.
This changes everything, and it culminates in doxology: life as worship in response to Jesus. Part of this worship is the adoration of Jesus, but it’s also being empowered by the Holy Spirit to follow the actions of Jesus. Like Jesus, we’re not to separate ourselves from the world, and we’re not to enter into the world to participate in its sin and folly. We enter into the world to be a redemptive agent for the world on behalf of the kingdom of God. That is the ministry of Jesus and the mission of Jesus.
God became a man and got his hands dirty. The incarnation compels us to do the same, through his life at work in ours. He is Immanuel, God with us, and also He is Immanuel, God in us at work through us for his glory, others’ good, and our gladness.
In what five very practical ways has Jesus changed you to make you more like Him?