Jesus didn’t look like the long-awaited, great deliverer of Israel. If you had been there that night, if by some happy fortune you were in Bethlehem and heard the stirring outside the inn, you probably wouldn’t have noticed anything different about Him. Aside from finding a baby in the last place you would ever expect, peeking out from the swaddling cloths was a wrinkly face just like all newborns. A few tufts of dark colored hair covered His head that was a little extra pointy from the journey out of the womb. Sleep was broken by intermittent bursts of crying tended by an exhausted mother. Jesus looked like a normal baby.
In fact, throughout His life there was evidently nothing outwardly to catch your eye. The prophet Isaiah, over seven-hundred years earlier, had said there was no form or majestic appearance that we should desire Him (Is. 53:2). The patrons of the synagogue in Nazareth saw an ordinary teenage boy sitting next to his father. Those in Capernaum just saw an average Jewish man walking beside the Sea of Galilee.
Yet, as the saying goes, appearances can be deceiving. That man, the son of Joseph, the brother of James, was the very One inflaming the seraphim and inciting their cries in the year that King Uzziah died (Jn. 12:41-43, Is. 6:1-6). He was the One who led the children of Israel out of Egypt (Jude 4-5). Jesus was before Abraham and before the world began (Jn. 8:58, 17:5). All things in the heavens and the earth were created by Him, through Him, and for Him. Without Him nothing was made that was made (Jn. 1:1-3, Col. 1:15-18).
Even His humanity was utterly unique and altogether different from anything before or since. Jesus might not have stuck out in a crowd, but His very presence was a holy interruption in the history of men. He knew no sin, He committed no sin, nor did Jesus have the slightest inkling toward iniquity (2 Cor. 5:21, Heb. 7:26).
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Hebrews 2:14-16
Behold the mystery! He partook of flesh and blood without sharing in the corruption that besets our loins. Adam entered the Garden as a full-grown, mature man. Jesus didn’t come this way. His body didn’t just materialize one day by the audible voice of God. He came as a baby. He had an umbilical cord and shared the blood and the nourishment of Mary. And yet His humanity was created directly by the Holy Spirit and free from every trace of the depravity handed down from generation to generation since the beginning. He was a pure and holy toddler and teenager. His twenty-two-year-old life was undefiled and free from every stain of guilt just as much as this moment as He sits at the right hand of His Father waiting for the Day of His appearing (Heb. 10:12-13, Tit. 2:13).
When the angels fell, He made no attempt to reconcile. Yet when those made in His image stumbled, He took on their frame and was born to set them free. Jesus came near and dwelt among us, while being entirely unlike us. He became our brother in humanity so that He could represent us, while ever remaining the Lord who alone could save us. This Christmas season let us lift our voices and praise our Christ anew, for from all our fears and sins He has released us. By His all-sufficient merit Jesus has delivered His people. He did what we could have never imagined. Jesus did what only He could do. By His own arm He has brought forth salvation. Let our hearts run to Bethlehem and rejoice.