Every year TIME magazine names a person of the year. It is the person they consider had the greatest influence, for better or worse, on the events of the year. The Person of the Year 2016 is Donald Trump, as they say on the cover, “President of the Divided States of America”.
What’s astonishing is that is that this real estate baron and casino owner, who became a reality-TV star, who never spent a day in public office, is now president-elect of the USA.
Donald Trump lives in the Penthouse on 3 floors in the very expensive and upmarket Trump Towers in New York overlooking Central Park. And yet he won the hearts of the American working class who could never ever afford this kind of luxury.
It’s astonishing. And yet it’s true.
Christianity is also astonishing and true as it makes an astonishing claim; a true claim we celebrate every Christmas. In fact, it is a blasphemous claim; if it were not true: Christianity claims that the man Jesus was and is God. Christianity claims that Jesus Christ was fully human with flesh and bones; and he was also fully God.
As a human person: Jesus was born in the way all humans are born, grew older, got tired and hungry, matured in understanding, could suffer and die, and no-one thought he was weird or abnormal.
A God: Jesus never sinned, he knew the inmost thoughts of those around, he controlled nature, he healed the sick, he the raised the dead, and he himself was raised from the dead.
Christianity makes this astounding claim: Jesus Christ of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem of Judea, when Caesar Augustus was Emperor of Rome, was fully human and fully God. Jesus’ divine nature and human nature perfectly existed together.
C.S. Lewis wrote in his excellent book, Mere Christianity:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Jesus [namely that]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse…You can shut Jesus up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
At Christmas, we do not simply celebrate the birth of a human baby, we celebrate the fact that God the Son came into our world. Jesus is God. God became a human person. Astonishing, yet true.
Christianity does not teach that God pretended to be a human person; but that he actually became a human person.
Santa Claus gives presents to good people; but Jesus gives himself to those who realise they are not that good, but really quite bad, and need help.