I think we secretly hope that baby Jesus did not do #2 in his angelic cashmere diaper, and yet, we must admit that if we deny him this low-level humanity, then he is not fully human. What embarrassing indignity to confess that we produce something so vile that we keep it in pipes and tanks buried under the earth. And to this day we are publicly reminded of our true humanity every time we purchase the white rolled up paper on a cardboard tube. You place it on the conveyor only to turn and look at people looking at you buying ‘Angel Soft’ for you know what. Heavenly? NOT!
What does it mean for baby Jesus to be fully human? Among many things it means that he was as human as a human can be. The scriptures teach that he became human, he humbled himself by putting on human flesh (John 1:1, 14; Phil 2:7ff). But our inclination is to keep him sanitized from our messy humanity. The famous Christmas carol, “Away in a Manger” is still unpersuasive. We are to rejoice and sing that baby Jesus was the perfect baby because, “no crying he makes.” Really? Baby Jesus never cried? Is that because he was nearly comatose from the methane gas emanating from the cattle stall?
It seems that we just can’t leave Jesus alone: we either strip him of his divinity or his humanity, or both. Throughout world history this has been and continues to be the tug-of-war. And it is a war, a spiritual one for sure. If he’s less human than what he showed us, then we have no Savior to save us from our sins, for God alone cannot save without a perfect sacrifice to take my place. God does not willy-nilly forgive sins without a payment. On the other hand, if he’s less God than what he showed us, then we still have no Savior to save us from our sins, for a human alone cannot save another human from his sins.
We must confess: There is no one like Jesus! He was born of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18) and at the same time was inside of a virgin girl named Mary (1:20). His name would be given to describe his mission: “. . . and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (1:21). He would not do this by his birth but by his death. But his death would not have been sufficient if he was not both fully God and fully human at the same time.
It may not sit well with us that baby Jesus was that much like us, but if he is not, then we have no hope of being cleansed of our sins – which is worse than not being cleansed of you know what.