I was born in a Navy hospital in Pensacola, Florida. No one knew I was breach until the wrong end of me presented itself to the doctor. Fortunately I didn’t take too long coming out and there were no complications. I did earn the affectionate nickname of “Froglegs” for the first few days of my life.
Everyone has a birth story. Children delight in hearing about their births, and mothers love telling the details of how their babies came into the world. A birth is a miracle and often brings tears to the eyes of those who witness it.
Most births quickly fade from memory, but there is one that will never be forgotten, even into eternity. It was ordinary from outside appearances, but its significance was felt around the world and continues to affect the lives of people everywhere.
When Jesus was born, he became Emmanuel, God with us. Until Jesus came, God was “with us” only in specific ways and with certain people. He showed his presence in the pillar of the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. He was with Moses in the burning bush and with Joshua when the walls of Jericho fell down.
But his birth as a human made him touchable, gave him eyes, ears and a mouth. He ate with us, talked to us, listened to us, laughed with us and touched us. He cried and felt pain. Through his suffering and sorrow, he understood our suffering and sorrow. He was with us and he was one of us.
By becoming one of us, Jesus answered the lament that so many people say today: “No one understands me.” Hebrews 4:15 says he is a high priest who can sympathize with us because he went through the same kinds of temptations we all face. As The Message puts it, “We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality.” He has walked the proverbial mile in our shoes.
A common misperception is that God lives in a heavenly ivory tower, far away and far above us. But the Son of God came to us as one of us. And God with us is still with us. When he died, we died, and when he rose, we rose. Because he lives, we live. And because he started out as a baby just like we do, he knows us and understands us—and loves us anyway.
The birth of Jesus was more than the account of one more human born into this world. It was God’s way of showing how much he loves us.