Luke 2:52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
Nearly every time an angel appears in the Bible, his first words are, “Don’t be afraid!” Little wonder. When the supernatural makes contact with planet Earth, the human observers usually end up flat on their faces in fear.
But Luke tells of God appearing in a form that does not frighten. In Jesus, born in a barn and laid in a feeding trough, God uses a mode of approach that causes no fear. What could be less scary than a newborn baby?
Imagine becoming a baby again: giving up language and muscle coordination and the ability to eat solid food and control your bladder. That gives a mere hint of the “emptying” that Jesus chooses to undergo.
Both God and Man
According to the Bible, Jesus is both God and man. As God, he works miracles, forgives sins, conquers death and predicts the future. As he does all these things, Jesus evokes awe in the people around him. But for Jews, accustomed to seeing God in a bright cloud or a pillar of fire, Jesus also causes much confusion. How could a baby in Bethlehem, a carpenter’s son, a man from Nazareth, be God? Jesus’ skin gets in the way.
All through his life—and even today—Jesus remains a puzzling figure for skeptics. God could have made his identity more smashingly obvious, but he chose not to.
What does God gain by coming in “disguise”? Why does God empty himself and take on human form? The Bible gives many reasons, some densely theological and some quite practical. Luke’s story of Jesus as an adolescent in the temple (see Luke 2:41–50) gives one clue. For the first time, ordinary people can hold a conversation, a debate, with God in visible form. Jesus can talk to anyone—his parents, a rabbi, a poor widow—without first having to announce, “Don’t be afraid!” In Jesus, God comes close.
If Jesus came to visit you in person today, what would you want to talk with him about?