He Came Down from Heaven for Our Salvation
Christmas is the celebration of the Incarnation of God: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). But why did God become human? Many people say that the only reason Christ was born was to save us from our flawed human nature. We know that Adam and Eve became subject to pain, suffering and physical death through their disobedience against God. From that moment, it seems that sin – against one’s own self, against others, and against God – became a basic human trait.
Without being aware, we slip into a mode of thinking where we believe that the whole reason why God became Man was only to save us from our sinful state and its consequences. This is part of the reason. After all, it is true that our Church services are full of the language of salvation. For example, during the Liturgy in most Sundays in the Church Year we chant, “Save us O Son of God, who rose from the dead.”
God loves us. He feels compassion for His creation. A phrase the Fathers use, which has become absorbed into our prayers is, “through the compassion which comes from the love of mankind.” Out of this compassion, He came down from Heaven, He took on flesh, and He saved us. Nevertheless, God was not compelled to come down to Earth to save us. God is above every need or compulsion. We know that He saves us because He is God. Saving us was only a partial reason, however, because the Creed says that Christ came down from Heaven “for us” first and foremost, followed by “for our salvation.”
Sin is the abuse of the free will that God gifted to us. But we must not believe that the abuse of free will, that sin itself, compelled the Word of God to become the God-Man, Jesus Christ. Some Fathers say that God so loved His creation, His children, that He always wanted to be a part of it, and would have become human even if mankind had not fallen.
As St Nicholas Cabasilas, explains, “man was originally fashioned according to a kind of yardstick and criterion … to be capable of receiving God. And God did not create human nature with any other purpose in mind … rather, He created it with this end in view, that, when it was fitting for Him to be born, He might receive His Mother from it; having first established this purpose [the Incarnation] as a kind of standard, He then fashioned man in accordance with it.” This is the climax of everything set in motion with the Birth of Christ. God made us with the purpose of becoming one with us. We were created to receive God. What could be more joyous?
Source: Lychnos December 2019 – January 2020