Gospel Matters: Why the God-Man?

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Gospel Matters: Why the God-Man?

“Are you saved?” This is the question many Protestants and Evangelicals put to me as I walked across the university campus during my student days. It was a question that always stumped me. As a Catholic, how do we answer? “Yes, but not yet.” The question lies at the heart of the Gospel message and the heart of the meaning of Christmas.

Christmas is the celebration of the Son of God becoming human in the Person of Jesus Christ so that humans might become God. This is the deepest meaning of the Gospel. Salvation is found in Jesus Christ who is the natural-born Son of God. Humans need to be saved from our inability to love in the right way, our ignorance of moral truths, and our broken relationship with God and others. We yearn for heaven but it is beyond our reach. We need a Saviour—we can’t save ourselves.

Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. The celebration of Christmas highlights the humanity of Christ, particularly in his humble state: born in a stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. And yet the angels came to adore him, singing the praises of God. Wise men also travelled from the East to pay him homage. He was no ordinary baby: he was both the Son of Mary and the Son of God.

Why did God become man? According to Scripture, to redeem us from sin and death. Christ also came to save us for the great good of becoming God’s sons and daughters so that we might share in his inheritance. This is the great exchange—God became human so that humans might become sons and daughters of God.

We can’t obtain salvation by our own merits; we must have faith that God will bestow it upon us. In this faith we are united to Christ and are led to re-birth in Christian baptism. Through baptism we become sons and daughters of God, and coheirs with Christ. Although children in a natural household are heirs to their father’s property, they must still grow to be mature, responsible members of that household. Likewise, Christians must grow in their divine sonship as they journey in Christian discipleship. If asked, “Are you saved?” they can legitimately respond, “Yes, but my salvation is not yet fully revealed.”

It should be clear, then, why the Church so gloriously celebrates the birth of Christ. At Christmas we see how God “divinises” human nature by uniting it to himself in Jesus Christ. In so doing, he enables us to share in his own glory. This is a great mystery for which we should give God thanks and praise. This Christmas, come let us adore Him!

By Dr Christine Wood, Director of the Office of Evangelisation