The question we give the confirmands is the same every year:
Why did Jesus come to earth?
In other words, why Christmas?
Every year the questions are the same and, remarkably, every year so are the answers. The needle doesn’t move at all.
More than 3/4 answer, year in and year out:
that Jesus comes
in order to die.
And the problem with that answer is…it’s wrong.
So I thought what better way to anticipate the ‘Feast of the Incarnation’ than with a series of posts, mining the riches of saints and church fathers on the logical necessity of the incarnation irrespective of the Fall.
In other words:
That if Adam had never sinned God still would have taken flesh in Mary’s womb. Or someone like her.
That Joseph (or someone like him) still would’ve laid God in a manger even if God had not needed to die for our sin.
That the Son still would’ve donned golden fleece diapers even if we hadn’t needed a Suffering Servant to bear our iniquity.
#6 Reason Why Christmas Doesn’t Need the Cross:
It was the Council of Chalcedon in the mid-5th century that hammered out the Christology (‘speech about Christ’) that became orthodox for Christians everywhere. According to the Chalcedon formula, the best way to refer to Jesus Christ is as ‘the God-Man.’
Makes him sound like a super-hero, I know, which is unfortunate since that’s the last thing the Church Fathers were after. Their formula was just the best way to insure that latter day Jesus-followers like us didn’t forget that Jesus the Son is true God and true Man, without division or confusion between his two natures.
And, in a latent sense, he has always been both.
In other words, the Son who is the 2nd Person of the Trinity was always going to be the eternal Son who became incarnate and thus the son of somebody like Mary.
According to Maximus the Confessor– indisputably one of the greatest minds in the history of the faith, someone who could even out smoke, out drink and punch out Karl Barth:
the Chalcedonian formula necessitates that we affirm that the incarnate Logos is the elect unifier of all things that are separated.
Whether- and this is key- by nature or by sin.
We all know Sin separated us from God. That’s an every Sunday, altar call kind of presumption- so much so, in fact, that we neglect to remember or notice that less nefarious but even more fundamental fact separates us from the infinite.
Our finitude. Our createdness. Our materiality.
That the son of Mary is the eternal-eventually-to-become-incarnate Son of the God we call Trinity shows, says Maximus, that the Logos is the One through whom all things physical and spiritual, infinite and finite, earthly and heavenly, created and uncreated would be united and made one.
Union, says Maximus, was God’s first and most fundamental aim.
At-onement of a different sort.
Jesus isn’t made simply to forgive or die for our sins. Because if Christ is the God-Man, then everything goes in the other direction.
Jesus isn’t made for us; we were made for him. By him.
We are the ones with whom, through him, God wants to share God’s life.
It’s not that Jesus is the gift God gives us at Christmas; it’s that at Christmas we finally discover that we’re the gift God has given to himself.
We’re the extravagance the superabundant love of Father, Son and Spirit gratuitously seek to share with one another.
Jesus is the reason for the season, but the reason for Jesus is that before the stars were hung in place, before Adam sinned or Israel’s love failed God’s deepest desire is, was and always will be friendship.