That’s a question that the German Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer asked at the same time that his native country came under the political influence of Adolf Hitler. The answer to that question – that Jesus Christ the man is Jesus Christ, God Almighty – would guide and sustain Bonhoeffer for the next 11 years. In 1933, just after Hitler’s election, Bonhoeffer warned the church of the dangers they faced. In a few years, he was the leader at a seminary for the “Confessing Church” movement in Germany that resisted conformity to Nazism. In 1944, he was in prison. Bonhoeffer was put to death, most likely by personal order from Adolf Hitler himself.
As I’ve reflected on the life and teachings of Bonhoeffer, I’ve been deeply impressed by his commitment to Jesus – the Jesus of the Bible who is fully God and fully human. The question Bonhoeffer asked his hearers in 1933 is still relevant today. Why” because it is the question that Jesus asks of us. As he asked Peter: ““But what about you? Who do you say I am?”
The miracle of Christmas is the miracle of the Incarnation. As Mary, Joseph, and the Shepherds were in the company of livestock of various kinds, they looked on baby Jesus in the manger. This scene is familiar and sentimental. But they were truly in the presence of God! Bonhoeffer writes:
“What happened? God had seen the misery of this world and had come himself in order to help. Now he was there, not as a mighty one, but in the obscurity of humanity, where there is sinfulness, weakness, wretchedness, and misery in the world. That is where God goes, and there he lets himself be found by everyone.”
The miracle of the incarnation is the foundation for our salvation. The true God is truly revealed. The holy God is wholly self-giving. The wonder of Christmas prompts us to wonder, what does this all mean? The miracle of the incarnation then leads to another question in response.
Who are we, for Jesus Christ, today?
Your Partner in the Gospel,
God is Good, All the Time!