In "Hark! The herald angels sing" we encounter a near creedal statement on the divinity of Christ:
Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
late in time behold him come,
offspring of a virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see!
Hail the incarnate deity!
Pleased on earth with us to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.[i]
Some of us may take for granted that the Christian church has historically confessed what we read in the Living Faith, namely that Jesus is "God of God, Light of Light, begotten, not made. [That] To see Jesus is to see God incarnate. [That] To know the Son is to know the Father." (Living Faith 3.22).
We take this claim for granted. But for many people, the idea of God in-a-human-body is a radical claim that is hard to digest. Just ask your neighbours what they think of him. They may speak of Jesus as being God's 'son', but if you unpack this with them a little further you'll that Jesus is put in the same category of teachers/prophets who made much less extraordinary claims: Muhammad, Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), or Aristotle.
People have struggled with the divinity of Christ throughout the ages. The Arian controversy of the 4th century did not pose Jesus as only a prophet but something less than God--not eternal with God, but God's first creation (while this language is used in Colossians 1:15 scholarship argues that 'firstborn' refers to 'rank' and not 'origin'). This subordination of Jesus continues in some Christian sects notably the Jehovah's Witnesses.
I wonder if part of the struggle we have with God in-in-a-human-body is that we recognize our own brokenness and can't imagine One so holy, coming so near. What an incredible validation of humanity that God would choose to be born as one of us and walk this earth with us. Think about this the next time you look in the mirror or get cut off on the road. God so loved us that in Jesus, God became one of us.
[i] Charles Wesley “Hark! The herald angels sing #139” ˆThe Book of Praise