But the question remains: Who was Jesus?
Some Christian apologists refer to this “trilemma” of incredible choices. If Jesus thought he was God but was not, and gave his life for that delusion, then he was certifiably insane. If Jesus was not God and knew it, but led countless people astray with a deliberate lie and encouraged them to be willing to suffer for it, then he was a cruel and sadistic man. The third option is that he was who he claimed to be: the divine Son of God. For Christians, the only three choices are that Jesus must be Liar, Lunatic, or Lord.
Dozens of Christmas hymns reflect this foundational Christian belief in the Incarnation, though for many people the words are so familiar that listeners might not focus on them.
“Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the incarnate Deity!” says Hark the Herald Angels Sing. “Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel.”
People continue to debate who and what Jesus was and is. All relevant authorities acknowledge him to be one of the most influential persons who ever walked the earth. But for observant Christians, he is infinitely more than that, and Christmas marks the keeping of centuries of promise, of a long-awaited Savior in whom the nations would put their hope.