Bible Reading: Luke 1:24-56
God became man. Okay, admit it. That’s a hard thought to get your arms around. At least it is for me. Someone said that the Bible doesn’t explain how God became man…it just proclaims that God became man. So, if God decided that was all I need to know…then I guess He means for me to take the rest by faith. I’m good with that. But what the Bible does tell us is why God became man. One reason was so that He could identify with our humanity through personal experience. A second was so that I would know that He understands me from His personal experience. When I know that, I am confident that when He takes my prayers to the Father, He will do so from my perspective of life, a human perspective of life.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
Okay, how many times have you been outside and played Tarzan? Come on…I know you have. Okay, I’ll go first. I used to play Tarzan. You know. Climb in the tree. Swing from a rope. Build a tree fort. Pretend that I could talk to the animals. Rescue some helpless native. Fight off lions, and crocodiles, and other wild animals. Tarzan was the man!
Tarzan first appeared in a magazine in 1912 and then in a book in 1914. He was the creation of a writer named Edgar Rice Burroughs. If you remember the story, Tarzan was the son of a man and woman from England named John and Alice Clayton (also known as Lord and Lady Greystoke). They were marooned on the Atlantic (east) coast of Africa by a group of sailors who forcefully took over the ship that they were sailing on…put them ashore, and left them there. When Tarzan was an infant his mother died. Then, not long after, his father was killed by the leader of a tribe of great apes called the “Mangani”. The Mangani were similar to gorillas, but more intelligent. They also walked upright on two feet, hunted other animals for food, and could talk to each other in a language of their own. After his father’s death, one of the female Mangani, named “Kala”, adopted Tarzan and raised him as her own.
So, where did Tarzan’s name come from? Edgar Rice Burroughs, the man who wrote the story, was from Chicago, Illinois. But his favorite place in the world was in California and was named “Tarzana”. He even bought some property, there. When he was writing the story he was trying to come up with a name for the boy who would be raised by apes. He decided to name him after Tarzana. He dropped the “a” off the end and named him “Tarzan”. Then, in the book, he said that Kala had named him. He said that in the language of the Mangani, “tar” means “white” and “zan” means “skin”. Put those two together and you get “white skin”…which is what his pale, hairless, baby skin looked like to the Mangani.
Tarzan was raised by the Mangani and he became part of their tribe. They protected him from other animals. They showed him what foods to eat. They taught him how to survive in the jungle. As Tarzan grew, he earned the respect of the Mangani. He was strong, and agile, and intelligent. On many occasions he fought wild animals and even some of the African people in order to save the Mangani.
Later, when Tarzan was a man, he was rescued. He went back to England and found out that his parents had been very rich and had left him a huge home and much land. People loved to sit and listen to him for hours as he told stories about his life in the jungle. He knew things about the jungle, and understood things about animals, that no one else did. Why? Because he was Tarzan…Tarzan of the apes, Tarzan of the jungle. He had grown up his entire life in the jungle. And when he finally went back to England…he had an understanding of the Mangani that no one else had. Why? Because he had lived with them, he had lived like them.
The Gospel of Luke tells us something amazing. God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world as a human. He was born as a baby, grew up as a child into a teenager, and finally, matured into manhood. We don’t know much about the early life of Jesus. But we do know that when He was a baby his family had to flee to Egypt to escape the King. The King had heard that a baby had been born who would become the King of the Jews and he was afraid of him…afraid that He would take over his Kingdom. So, he had all the children who were the same age as Jesus killed. Several years later, his family returned to a city named Nazareth. There, His father, Joseph, taught Him the family business…how to be a carpenter. We don’t know what happened to Joseph…but he is never mentioned again after Jesus’ 13th birthday. We do know that Jesus had brothers and sisters and that His mother, Mary, was alive when He went to Heaven. It wasn’t long after Jesus began His public ministry that the leaders of the Jews turned against Him. He was ridiculed. They said that He was doing the work of the Devil. They made up lies about Him. And eventually, they had Him crucified.
Why do I remind you of these things? Well, think about all that Jesus experienced during His life.
- His family was threatened so much that they had to move to another country.
- He grew up with brothers and sisters…probably in poor circumstances.
- He had to learn how to work, to make a living.
- It is possible that for some time He didn’t have a father…and as the oldest son He had to provide for His mother, brothers, and sisters.
- When He began to serve God, instead of being accepted and appreciated…the people that were the head of His religion turned against Him.
- One of His own disciples betrayed Him.
- And finally, He was tortured and crucified.
Wow, if I was God, I’m not so sure that I would have sent my Son to be human. But then, I’m not God (and I know we are all glad of that!).
You see, God had a purpose for sending His Son to become human. As a human…Jesus experienced life as we do.
- He learned what it means for us to love someone.
- He knew what it meant to struggle.
- He learned about faith and obedience.
- He had friends who died.
- He learned how hard relations with other people can be.
- He found out what it means for people to disappoint you and let you down.
As a human…Jesus found out exactly what it means…to be human. And He did so personally. Then he went back to Heaven.
The Bible says that now, in Heaven, Jesus talks with God, the Father, about us. He tells him how we struggle. He tells Him what our needs are. He tells Him our prayers. And here is the amazing, wonderful thing…He isn’t telling Him about those things like He read about them in a book about a foreign country that He had never visited. No. He tells the Father what our lives are like…from personal experience. Jesus was human. He was one of us. He lived with us. He lived like us.
That kind of changes the way that I talk with Jesus. When I am struggling with something…a difficulty, a worry, something I don’t understand…I tell Him about it. And in my heart I hear Him say, “Jim, I know what you mean. I’ve been there. Something like that happened to Me. Trust Me. I’m going to take care of it.” He’s been there. He’s experienced that. He knows exactly what you are talking about.
God sent His Son, Jesus, to be human…for you. Whatever you are going through…tell Him about it. Tell Him about it like He is your best friend who knows everything that is going on. Trust Him. He’ll take care of it. He’ll take care of you.
Love you more than bunches and bunches,