His divine nature still had all the divine attributes of God that he had before the incarnation. But in his humanity, the expression of those attributes was limited. In his humanity, Jesus took on all that means to be a human. That includes being little, weak and helpless.
Christmas continues to provide a rich source of blog material at the minute. A couple of days ago, I gave my yearly reminder that what you do at Christmas is not a measure of your spiritual temperature. Off the back of that, yesterday, I wrote about how we can go a bit gnostic at Christmas and how that often affects all sorts of aspects of our lives as believers. Today, I thought I would stick with the ancient heresy theme.
If ever there was a time that heresy slips under the radar in our churches, I think Christmas is it. We either stick it in our carols, or we pick up on lines in carols and then import heresy ourselves by ‘correcting’ what is already perfectly credible, or we just end up preaching it straight up. After all, the trinity and the incarnation are tricky business, are they not? One mere slip of the tongue and we’re in trouble. When the difference between orthodoxy and rank heresy boils down to one letter in a foreign language (ὁμοούσιος, homoousios or ὁμοιούσιος, homoiousios) I can understand how people end up in shtook.
I am reminded of the year that we sang the carol, Once in Royal David’s City. The following lines caught the attention of the person leading the meeting:
For He is our childhood’s pattern,
Day by day like us He grew,
He was little, weak, and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us He knew,
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.
Those lines met with the incredulous comment: ‘I take real issue with this. Jesus was NEVER little, weak and helpless. He was the eternal Son of God!’
Except, of course, whilst he was the eternal Son of God incarnate, the eternal Son of God had indeed submitted to all that it meant to be a little human baby, including being little, weak and helpless. Unless we believe that Jesus – much like our Muslim friends – was chatting in full sentences from birth, what else are we supposed to think?