The Riddle of Humanity & the Incarnation

The basic story of Christmas, what Christians actually believe, is that God broke the barrier of time and space. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Christians believe God is the Author of time and space; the Maker of matter and energy. And they believe the Author has written himself into His story. This is the plot of Christmas.

The Incarnation, God taking on flesh to enter the space-time realm, is the foundational miracle to which all other biblical miracles point or from which they flow. It is a doctrine, if accepted, that makes a good deal of sense out of the human experience. If the Incarnation is true it validates our religious longings, our optimism, and our sense that history is heading somewhere.

The beloved Christian author C.S. Lewis used the allegory of a fragmented novel to illustrate the explanatory power of Christmas. If we had a story that was clearly missing an important passage and someone claimed they had found the lost section we would test their claim against the part we already possessed. If the alleged piece explained the rest of the story we might consider it to be authentic. Lewis writes:

“Let us suppose we possess parts of a novel or a symphony. Someone now brings us a newly discovered piece of manuscript and says, ‘This is the missing part of the work. This is the chapter on which the whole plot of the novel really turned. This is the main theme of the symphony’. Our business would be to see whether the new passage, if admitted to the central place which the discoverer claimed for it, did actually illuminate all the parts we had already seen and ‘pull them together’. . . if it were genuine then at every fresh hearing of the music or every fresh reading of the book, we should find it settling down, making itself more at home and eliciting significance from all sorts of details in the whole work which we had hitherto neglected.”

Like Lewis’s analogy, the puzzle of the human experience comes together in light of the Incarnation. Herein, the religious impulse is realized. There can be peace on earth only because of the descent of Heaven. God stooped, condescended, to our fallen terrain to take on our greatest enemy. Christ invaded the cosmos to crush evil and reverse the curse plaguing the human race.

The Incarnation shows us what humanity is all about. In the “Word becoming flesh,” we find a door leading to abundant and eternal life. It is in the living, and dying, and rising of Jesus, that we understand the way, the truth, and the life. From the cradle to the cross to a crown: this is the progression of the perfect life. It is the narrow road that leads to life.

Jesus showed us how to be human. By looking at the child born to be king we can find the missing piece to the human narrative. We were born to know our Creator. And since we cannot get to him, he came to us. This is the story of Christmas. This is the hope of humanity. This is the joy of the world.

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