Who here has ever felt full? You felt this full? This word full is such a versatile word. We can feel full. We can see things that are full. These things look full (moon, donut). We can fill things up so that they are full. (glass of water, gas guage). There’s even a noun for it, “Full House.” We can even talk about full as an experience – “Full service.” Sports teams will often bring a fan in for a day of practice to get the “full-experience.” (Browns/Indians; Cavs, Chargers) Full is complete. Filled up. Full is what it is. Full.
So why the big deal about “Full”? Because that word full has everything to do with this story. Let me ask you something. Jesus has a mother but his father was God the father who caused Mary to be pregnant. The Bible says it was a miraculous conception since she was still a virgin. So what does that make Jesus? Half man? Half God?
This account in Luke of the birth of Jesus states he was born in Bethlehem. Witnesses of his birth saw a real baby, flesh and blood. Born of a woman. One of us. Born on this planet. Mom is from this planet. He is one of us. Historians inside and outside of the church confirm that he was born and lived. Read on through the gospels and we see a man who eats, sleeps, hears, thinks, and relates. Isaiah 53 has this prophecy about Jesus.
Isaiah 53:1-7, 10:
“Who has believed what he has heard from us?[a] And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected[b] by men; a man of sorrows,[c] and acquainted with[d] grief;[e]
and as one from whom men hide their faces[f] he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief;[a] when his soul makes[b] an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.”
This prophecy was given around 500-600 years before Christ. Did you catch the words that define this life? Grief? Sorrow? Despised? Chastised? Afflicted? Crushed? Stricken? It was a prophecy of Christ’s life that proved true. He felt all those things. He bled. He wept. He grieved. He was fully human.
In John, Jesus talks about how he had to learn to obey the father. He was faced with moral decisions just like each of us. He faced temptation just like you and I did. Fully human.
“14Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Yet without sin. Yet without sin. A man who could sympathize with us. He was fully human.
He is fully human. Who here has been through grief? Who here is in grief today? He knows what that feels like. Who here has felt lonely or abandoned? He knows what you’re feeling. Who here has ever felt weak? Who here feels weak today? Who here has said, “Father, please take this away?” Oh, he knows! He knows because he became like us. Fully like us. Not halfway. Not almost all the way but Fully Man. All they way. Completely human.
Why did he have to become fully human?
This is where we get to the part of beginning to understand the full meaning of Christmas. It’s a simple word really, representation.
(Illustration) A few years back Superman was released. Russel Crowe was Jor-El – superman’s father. He and his wife sent their son Kal-El– Superman – in a ship to escape the destruction of their planet. His wife started having second thoughts of how people would reject him and mock him. Jor-El said, “No, he will be a god to them.” The movie is replete with inferences to Jesus. But the problem is that superman was never one of us. He wasn’t from here. Wasn’t born here. And the whole movie we see him wrestle with the fact that he’s not one of us.
Superman fell short of being fully “us.” But Christ doesn’t.
In Romans, God inspired Paul to write about this idea of representation. Romans 6 says “Just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men.” Adam represented the entire human race and through Him we all inherited his sin nature and condemnation. “Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men so also the result of one act of righteousness brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” Do you hear and see the repeated word “man”? A man disobeyed and all were condemned and so it would take another man to undo that condemnation. A like kind. It couldn’t just be part man but fully man. An animal could not do this. It was inadequate. Either each man or woman paid with their lives the judgment or someone else did. The problem was the fact that there has been no other person in the history of the world that was righteous and perfect. Which meant that every person had to face their own death.
But if there was ever such a man that could come along and not be born with a sin nature and also live a perfect life of obedience and righteousness then He wouldn’t have to die and he could possibly die for someone else. A life for another life. The only hope the human race had was for a man to come for us. Someone like us. Someone fully human.
And yet without diminishing His humanity, Jesus was also fully God. It’s the great mystery. Fully God and also fully man. Let me set this up. In the very beginning of the Bible it says, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth.” More specifically, “In the beginning God.” In the beginning of this world God was already there. Pre-existent. Eternal. The Bible starts with the existence of God. Tracking with me? Jump forward to Exodus when Moses and God were talking and God described himself as, “I am”. “I am” literally means “to be” or “to exist”. By definition then, God exists as God by his very nature. God is eternal. He is not bound by time and space.
Jump forward about 500 years and Isaiah records God speaking of His power to hand nations over to men and subdue kings and asks the rhetorical question in 41:4 “Who has performed and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? (Remember how the Bible begins: “In the beginning GOD created”?) I, the Lord, am the first; And with the last I am He.’” This name “I am” is pretty big to God. He doesn’t share this name with anyone and here He reveals that He is the first and the last. The name “I am” is fully God’s claim. No one else has a right to this title. In the bible and in the practice and tradition of Israel, “I am” is only reserved for God.
Now let’s jump to Jesus’ life. In the book of John, it starts out with these words. Chapter 1:1-4 says this, “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men.” This Word is Jesus. Jesus was and is God. He was there in the beginning. He was with God. He was God. There are not titles given to men except in this particular case. But when we jump over to chapter 8, this is where it gets interesting. It’s a really long chapter and throughout it Jesus was explaining who He was and where He came from and His relationship to God the Father. But at the end He stops being cryptic and boldly states who He is. John 8:54-59 says, “Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; 55and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. 56“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” 59Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.”
Every Jew that heard Jesus knew what He was saying and that’s why they wanted to kill Him. End of conversation. That was blasphemy! He had just claimed to be God. Look, Jesus was not crucified for being a good man. He was crucified for claiming to be God. Fully God. Not created by God but God.
But it doesn’t stop there. The Bible says this inn Revelations 1:17, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then He placed His right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.” Here Jesus is applying the Old Testament name from Isaiah 41:4 to Himself: The First and Last of Isaiah is the First and Last of Revelation. Jesus is the promised I AM of Isaiah. The only God. Fully God. Paul in fact wrote those very words, “For in Christ all the Fullness of Deity lives in bodily form.”
I’ll ask the same question I asked about Jesus being a man. What’s the big deal of why Jesus has to be God? It’s a critical question. The answer is critical we know or else the whole idea of Christmas is incomplete and empty of meaning. Go back to that passage in Romans and representation. If Jesus was just a man and had theoretically lived a perfect life as a man, he could only substitute his life for one person. With no divine nature He was limited like we are. A life for just another life. But as God His life is unending. His could offer His righteous life and justification through his blood shed on the cross for the every person who has ever lived. Him being fully God is crucial.
Jesus posed that question to people. “Who do you say that I am?” It was the acid test. Fully God and fully Man? Who do you say He is? If you disagree, listen to what Jesus says to those who would choose not believe. John 8:24 says, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am (He), you will die in your sins.” Pretty intense but if He is fully God and fully man then He’s actually being merciful by telling us the truth before it’s too late. Where do you fall out?
If you believe He really is fully God and fully Man who has come to represent us on the cross and by His eternal being offers us all salvation then we must honor the name of Christ and all that means. You want the full experience of Christmas honor His name. Honor Him with praise. Honor Him with obedience. Honor Him with surrender. Honor Him.