Which is harder: To say that God is everywhere, or that God has become a human being? Is it easier to say that God is far away or very near?
What is harder to believe: That God is everywhere, or that God is one of us?
Philosophers go for the low-hanging fruit and pick the former rather than the latter. But if God is everywhere, then there is nowhere He can be found. God becomes abstract, like a force or a feeling. In times of trouble, it is very hard to find that sort of a god. Like moments of joy, such a god slips quickly through our fingers.
It is harder to say that God became one of us. This means that God is close. To say it in the way of Dr. Martin Luther (not King Jr.): He is so near that He cannot be any nearer.
“This is who Jesus is. God near us. Not far away, ignorant of our existence. Not just watching from afar. Not distant, aloof from our suffering. But near, in the flesh, available and present and distributed to His people every day, every week, all our lives. Christ Jesus is the God who is near.”
Jesus, the God-man, makes us think differently about God. God has come into our world. He is not up there somewhere — we are unsure where. He has come through a uterus, been washed and diapered.
He has cried and felt cold, pain and joy. He drank wine. He worked, sweated, grew tired, slept. He has eaten, been annoyed, felt the sting of rejection and ridicule. God has become one of us. God has done all these things, and all these things have happened to God. Jesus is God near us.
This offends. Philosophers prefer the god who is far away — and everyone can be such a philosopher.
No college degree is required.
But the God who is near, Jesus, will not be pushed far away. He becomes one of us to be most near us in every part of our lives. He is like us and, therefore, knows us. Although God is no sinner, He takes our sins on Himself and dies for them on a cross. In that moment, God is the most sinful of us all. God dies in our flesh, His flesh. He is come in our flesh to save those who have flesh, those who suffer from their flesh and those who sin in their flesh. He does this because of His compassion for those who are like Him. God is a great lover of sinners. That’s Jesus.
The Scriptures testify to this. Join us in listening to God’s Word as it tells us that in Jesus, God walks among us.
God tents among us
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
Read Luke 1:39–45, paying special attention to verse 43. The word “Lord” is a euphemism for YHWH, the divine name of God. What is Elizabeth saying by calling Mary the mother of her Lord?
Press this child, born of the Virgin Mary, who is also God’s son, close to your heart. When you have gotten this, then you are secure and well-protected against all the treacherous ambushes and dangerous attacks of the Devil. If you let this child, born of the Virgin Mary, out of your sight and in the meantime give in to speculation to understand the Divine, you will never recognize God. Believe me in this because I have also been to this school where I thought I was among the angels but found myself much more among devils. Learn to be wise from my misfortune and come down here with the Son who descended for this reason to you so that you would recognize God in him. “Wherever I am,” he says, “there my servant shall also be.” (John 12:26)
Martin Luther, Walch Edition, Vol. 6, p. 186