“Jesus was not born just to die; He was born to give life. He wasn’t brought up to be the ultimate temple sacrifice. God doesn’t do human sacrifice; He’s not Molech. God is, and always has been, a good Father.” I said this in my post series, “Why The Incarnation Matters – Part One.”
This is why we need to know why Christmas: why God became flesh and dwelt among us.
I’m not trying to minimize that Jesus did come to take our sins away. I’m trying to point out that this was a means to a greater and more glorious end. And if we miss this, we will miss something truly wonderful in the Christmas story. As Richard Rohr points out:
“If you believe that the Son’s task is merely to solve some cosmic problem the Father has with humanity, that the Son’s job is to do that, then once the problem is solved, there’s apparently no need for the concrete imitation of Jesus or his history-changing teachings. Yes, we continue to thank him for solving this problem, but we’ve lost the basis for an ongoing communion, a constant love affair, not to mention the wariness we now have about the Father and the lack of an active need for a dynamic Holy Spirit.” (Rohr, “The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation,” Kindle loc. 3423)
The line, “not to mention the wariness we now have about the Father” was a very subtle but real aspect of my personal relationship with God for over 20 years, which is why I started this blog and wrote my book. The theology I was taught essentially created a cognitive dissonance for me, pitting God against Himself. An “angry Father” and a graceful, loving Jesus. A Father who could not forgive unless He killed His own Son. I wrote about what I considered a dysfunctional view of God in “Our Father is Not Molech.”
Like everyone else I knew, I celebrated “baby Jesus” on Christmas, then the next thing I celebrated was His death, burial, and resurrection at Easter. But what about His life? Again, from my post, “Why the Incarnation Matters”:
When we start our gospel message with Adam’s fall and our sin, the focus is on forgiveness rather than adoption. The result is devastating to our identity. We see ourselves as no more than pardoned criminals instead of beloved sons and daughters. We’re left with a Christianity that’s not much more than getting saved from hell and waiting for heaven when we die.
So, if we’re missing the main point, then why did Jesus come? In this series I will cover what I consider critical reasons for “why Jesus.” Here’s the first reason.
So we could know God as He actually is
18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:18 *)
27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matt.11:27 *)
Think about what these verses are telling us. They’re saying no one knew God before Jesus, and the only way we’re going to know Him is if Jesus reveals Him to us. This includes Adam, Abraham, Moses, David…no one!
This doesn’t mean they didn’t have a relationship with God; it means that they didn’t truly know Him. They had prophetic inklings, encounters, and revelation, but it wasn’t until Jesus appeared on the human scene did we ever really know what God is actually like.
Bill Johnson said it succinctly: “Jesus Christ is perfect theology.” Whatever is like Jesus is like God; whatever is not like Jesus is not like God…and it doesn’t matter who said it. This includes the Old Testament. This is why we cannot read the Bible rightly when we read it as if Jesus never happened.
Some translations of John 1:18 say that Jesus is in the “bosom of the Father.” What this means is that the eternal Christ, God the Son, proceeds from the innermost being of the Father. More about that here. He came from the divine essence of God.
After all, how could we know God? God is Spirit (John 4:24); while He intimately interacts with our physical world, He’s not a physical being. There is no way for us to know God’s true, unchangeable, immutable essence; we only know the divine energies of God.
Yet, from the beginning, humankind has intuited a transcendent creator–God–but from afar, and they expressed their experience with God in sacred writings. Notice how Paul addresses their religious understanding of God with the Athenian philosophers:
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ (Acts 17:24-28 *)
Paul said God revealed Himself to them as we see in verse 28: ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”
But the point is, they didn’t know this God they were intuiting. While these writings may have been inspired, it doesn’t follow that they had accurate knowledge of God Himself. And Paul told the Athenians that God overlooked their ignorance…until Christ:
“God overlooks it as long as you don’t know any better—but that time is past. The unknown is now known, and he’s calling for a radical life-change. He has set a day when the entire human race will be judged and everything set right. And he has already appointed the judge, confirming him before everyone by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31 MSG *)
The advent of Christ changed everything about knowing God. This is why I believe Robert Capon was correct when he said “Christianity is not a religion; it is the announcement of the end of religion.”
We will look at another reason for Jesus next time.