This sermon was preached Christmas Day at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Taylor 2022.

For truly he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the nature of Abraham. – Hebrews 2:16

This verse follows from the passage we heard from Hebrews this morning you can hear how it echoes and condenses its theme. On this great and joyous feast we will hear how this verse proclaims the Christmas message. We will look first on the comparative reality that God took human nature rather than angel nature upon himself. We will look at what it means that he took our nature upon himself. We will look at what it means that it is the nature of the seed of Abraham that he took up into his divine nature.

1. Not the nature of angels

At Christmas we celebrate how God glorified himself by bestowing upon the human race a dignity denied to angels and spiritual beings. 1 Peter 1:12 tells us how the angels behold the mystery of the incarnation with longing, wonder and awe. When one angel declared to shepherds that God had come to man as man to dwell a whole choir could not keep from singing the wonder of this.

If we were take human and angel nature and weigh them in the scales, what would we see? Do we understand how excellent these celestial beings are? When St. Stephen was stoned to death a miracle happened and his face shone with beauty, the beauty of an angels face -Acts 6:15. When a woman trying to deceive King David is found out by him in her confession she compares his wisdom to the wisdom of the angels of God -2 Samuel 14:20. When St. Paul speaks of love he says that we spoke with eloquence in the tongues of men, or better yet the tongues of angels, but we have not love we are but a clanging symbol the eloquence of angel voices is set before us. Weighed in the scales our earthy bodies, our earthy nature has none of the excellence of angel nature.

There were rebellious angels as all of humanity was in rebellion from Adam, they had the need as we have the need, of redemption. But in no wise, the not is much more emphatic in the Greek than in the English, did he take their nature upon him. He chose for himself dust of the earth, he chose for himself helpless crying babes. He chose for himself suffering and swearing sinners. He chose we who dying pour forth magots and worms, who living defecate and belch. This scandal chases the angels to wonder. We should hasten there also and in ecstasy beholding what great matter our nature partakes in say “Lord, let it be according to your will.” What is man that you are mindful of him, who are we that you should seek us out?

2. He took on him

The Lord God, who was before the world was made took our nature upon him. This took supposes our flight from him and his pursuit of us. Adam and Eve fell, and fled, and hid themselves in the garden. And when man fled God pursued him, sought to pursue us, “Why have you done? Why have you done so?” he asked. He sent after us prophets to beg us to return to him, to teach us how to be in his presence. And when that did not serve he went after us in person. He left the ninety-nine sheep to pursue the one that was lost. And he followed us, he pursue us through the thickness of human life and suffering, he sweat in pursuit, he sweat even tears of blood. This scandal offended some of the angels, but he pursued still. Through danger, distress and yes even a very human, very earthy death. And overtaking us he laid his hands upon us with gladness and is loath to let us go again. Finding us he lifted us up. He placed us on his shoulders. And he is presently taking us home. When we are drawn to him, when we are gathered to him, it is because he first pursued us and has overtaken us.

This incarnation ripples backwards and forwards in time. In the seizing of our nature God brings humans back from error into truth, back from sin to grace. He pulls Abraham away from his Father’s house and the idols he worshipped in Ur of the Chaldeans. He pulls Paul back from the persecution of the Gospel on the road to Damascus and seizes him. He pulls Peter back, in the very moment of denying his intimacy with Jesus. All these branched he laid hold of when he grabbed his nature.

Friend let your heart move up higher. Celebrate Christmas. It is not that God has ceased to be God, by some kind of alchemy converted his divine nature into human nature. He, being God has seized, has taken our nature as it were some great prize to him, he has taken, he has lifted humanity up into the Godhead. See how Jesus is so earthy and yet so lifted up. Let yourself be so seized, so taken up, into God’s zealous love for you, his adopted children, his prize.

3. The seed of Abraham

That which our Lord took, that he pursued and prized was the seed of Abraham, the nature of man under the Law, the just condemnation, of himself. As much as it is our nature to be but dust, to be formed from the earth, to consist of frail flesh and changeable blood, the Word of the Father Jesus took these up into himself and was conceived in a womb and was born a helpless child.

The reason he took our nature up into himself was to save that which he treasured from perishing eternally. He became mortal, lived among us, made himself known, and dying he destroyed death and prepared a way for us to be held lovingly by him who loves us so.

He was born a Jew, a child of Abraham’s covenant, that he might fulfill the promise to make that nation a blessing to all nations. He was born a Jew, that he might be circumcised on the eight day and raised as a debtor to the Law. That fulfilling the Law’s demands he might recover on behalf of all humanity the note that was written against us, that we might meet the measure of the holiness required of us to fully show forth the image of God in our persons. For the Law was the condemnation of God against Man, the path shown for us to be holy as God is holy. A path we could not walk. Jesus, God with us, walks it for us. By faith Abraham turned from the ways of the world to the Light of the world who was coming into it, he needed not the law for Jesus would fulfill it for him. By faith he was accounted right with God, just. May our hearts be seized with faith, and by faith may the Lord take us as a prize into his hands.

In conclusion let us Celebrate Christmas heartily. To whom much is given much is expected, and you see how rich a Christmas present we have received – the very love and pursuit of God, the scandal of heaven and earth, justice and mercy in our souls, participation in the divine nature. If angels had such a feast they could give jubilation so excellent. Let us give such excellent jubilation as dust impowered from on high can give. God, who desired us as children, said to himself “because they are partakers of flesh and blood, I also will take part with them.” It is wonderful to take part with him in that which he takes part in us. He offers us by promise in these earthy tokens to receive his body and blood given for us. He has made the receiving of the Eucharist a way by which we may dwell in him, and he may dwell in us. As we take hold of the bread and wine, may he take hold of us, as we receive may he take us into himself, may we partake in his divine nature, his gospel story unfolding into our lives, into our festivities.

For truly he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the nature of Abraham. – Hebrews 2:16