The Incarnation Is Good News for Tempted Sinners: A Christmas Meditation
It’s Christmastime here in Brazil yet again. Which means it’s time for 90-degree heat, swimming on Christmas Eve, and Santa in Bermuda shorts.
The mall in our city even has an attraction each December that provides Brazilians with a “white Christmas” experience. We don heavy coats, enter the faux winter wonderland, and take happy photos in the fake snow—only to reemerge in the tropical heat of a Brazilian summer.
This is our third Christmas in Brazil, and I must confess: it takes some getting used to. Perhaps most difficult is being away from home. This season intensifies loneliness, discouragement, and homesickness.
But whether you’re at home or in another country, Christmas can be a time of unique temptations. They might be wrapped differently than usual, and if we’re not careful we’ll get caught by surprise. But Christmas also comes with a unique opportunity to consider a certain theological truth that helps us fight temptation—the incarnation.
This is the beauty of Christmas. The Son of God took on flesh in the person of Jesus to help those who are tempted. That’s what the author of Hebrews tells us:
Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Heb 2:17–18)
Jesus came to be our Helper. This is good news for weak, struggling, tempted Christians. He was “made like his brothers in every respect” (Heb 2:17) so that he could save us.
So this Christmas as in every Christmas, consider the incarnation. And as you do, consider how Jesus’ incarnation enables you to combat sin.
1. Jesus became human to make propitiation for our sins.
Why did Jesus become a human? Why the God-man? He came “to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb 2:17). The wrath of God aimed at us has been absorbed by the only One capable of both paying for man’s sins and enduring the brunt of God’s wrath.
In doing so, Jesus rescues us not only from the penalty of sin but also from its power. When you’re tempted, meditate on the gospel. Jesus can help us because he is our Savior.
2. Jesus is sinless.
I don’t know about you, but I used to imagine that Jesus was unfazed by temptation, like it bounced off an invisible force field. And again, I don’t know about you, but that isn’t my experience. My story is more like a knock-down, drag-out fight.
Jesus is unlike us in that he never once sinned, entertained the thought of sin, or desired to sin. But he is like us in that he came as a human and “has suffered when tempted” (Heb 2:18). Yes, he was sinless. But he experienced temptation and, in the process, suffered.
It’s comforting when our buddy says, “Dude, I’m with you; I failed last week, too.” It’s nice to know we’re not alone. But those kinds of conversations don’t empower us to conquer sin in our own life. In contrast, Jesus says, “I totally understand; I was tempted to do that—and I never gave in. So let me help you overcome!”
Jesus is the perfect Helper as we struggle against sin and temptation. He’s not a fellow failure, but he endured temptation and came out on the other side victorious. That kind of Savior can help us when we’re tempted. So run to him when you’re tempted. He understands.
3. Jesus is powerful.
Jesus will not merely try to help us. No, “he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb 2:18). He has both the ability and the inclination to help.
This means that he’s not just our Helper, but also our Keeper. Just the other day, I read this beautiful prayer in Valley of Vision:
“I bless thee that thou wilt keep the sinner thou hast loved,
and hast engaged that he will not forsake thee,
else I would never get to heaven.”
Jesus will bring many sons to glory (Heb 2:10). He will sustain his people to the end (1 Cor 1:7–8). He will keep us from stumbling and present us blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy (Jude 24). What a Helper!
4. Finally, Jesus will lead us home.
Do you still feel weak? Here’s a bit of Greek that might encourage you: The word for help means take hold. He will take hold of us.
When my son and I were navigating the Christmas crowds at the mall to see the fake snow, I made sure to hold his hand. I guided him safely to our destination. There was no way I was going to let him go!
In the same way, when God led his people out of slavery in Egypt, he “took them by the hand” (Jer 31:32). Jesus will help us—he will take hold of us and lead us to glory.
Jesus will get us home safely. He came to our world so that he might bring us to his heavenly world. So when we’re fighting temptation and we feel like we simply can’t do it anymore, we should never give up—not because we trust our own grasp on our sanctification, but because we know Jesus will never let us go.
The very next verse in Hebrews tells us to “consider Jesus” (Heb 3:1). This Christmas season, we should do the same. Let’s gaze upon the glory of Jesus, our wrath-absorbing, sinless, powerful Helper who never leaves his people behind.
Even though I’m still getting used to Santa in sandals, I hope I never get over the reason Jesus came. He came to be our Helper. The old hymn, “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” says it well:
O Savior, child of Mary, who felt our human woe;
O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know,
Bring us at last, we pray, to the bright courts of heaven
And to Thy endless day.
 Arthur Bennett, ed., The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1975), 92.