For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Heb 4:15)

As Christians, it is easy for us to forget the true significance of the Christmas story. We rightly remember the wonderful work of redemption and salvation that the Lord accomplished on the cross that was testified to by His resurrection. But we must not neglect the importance of the Christmas story. Christmas tells us that Jesus was born as a man, that He lived a life that was fully human and experienced the full extent of a life in a way similar to all of us. And this is the important message of this verse in Hebrews, that having experienced a life similar to ours, He fully understands both the joys and the sadnesses, the strengths and the weaknesses, the issues, struggles and challenges that we face and can come alongside us and strengthen, encourage and support us constantly! We no longer have to go through this life alone, but we have someone who can ‘sympathize with our weaknesses’.

There is a second point that we must pay attention to about His humanity. The writers of the New Testament were constantly at pains to emphasise that He was a man. John records Pilate, referring to Jesus, saying, "Behold the Man!" (Joh 19:5) and Paul writing about the Lord’s mediating work writes, “the Man Christ Jesus” (1Ti 2:5). In Philippians, Paul explains that [Jesus] emptied himself (Phil 2:7) as He came to earth. This does not mean that He somehow gave up His divinity when He came, but that He deliberately laid aside His divine powers and lived on this earth as any ordinary man or woman. And He lived this way ‘yet without sin’. He lived a life in the manner which God had originally intended Adam to live. He lived a life without sin, to demonstrate that for an ordinary human being this was possible, even in the worst of circumstances.

At first sight this is a glorious testimony, but as we meditate upon it further, it can bring a realisation of despair. If He could live like that, then I too can be expected to live in a similar manner. But try as I might, I don’t! And this brings into focus the third aspect of the wonder of Christmas. Not only did Jesus come and live a perfect life, fulfilling all that God had wanted for mankind, but through His death and resurrection, He made it possible to give to us the life that He had lived. He could share with us the power to live in the way that He lived, that we would no longer be subject to the weaknesses of our flesh, but able to live in the power of His life.

Christmas truly is the hope for mankind, but not just for mankind, but for me, individually! Have you received this hope in your heart, today?