C. S. Lewis on the Coming of Christ to Earth
Did you ever think, when you were a child, what fun it would be if your toys could come to life? Well, suppose you could really have brought them to life. Imagine turning a tin soldier into a real little man. It would involve turning the tin into flesh. And suppose the tin soldier did not like it. He is not interested in flesh; all he sees is that the tin is being spoilt. He thinks you are killing him. He will do everything he can to prevent you. He will not be made into a man if he can help it.
What you would have done about that tin soldier I do not know.
But what God did about us was this. The Second Person in God, the Son, became human Himself: was born into the world as an actual man – a real man of a particular height, with hair of a particular colour, speaking a particular language, weighing so many stone. The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a foetus inside a Woman’s body.
The result of this was that you now had one man who really was what all men were intended to be: one man in whom the created life, derived from His Mother, allowed itself to be completely and perfectly turned into the begotten life. The natural human creature in Him was taken up fully into the divine Son. Thus in one instance humanity had, so to speak, arrived: had passed into the life of Christ. And because the whole difficulty for us that the natural life has to be, in a sense, ‘killed’, He chose an earthly career which involved the killing of His human desires at every turn —poverty, misunderstanding from His own family, betrayal by one of His intimate friends, being jeered at and manhandled by the police, and execution by torture. And then, after being thus killed – killed every day in a sense – the human creature in Him, because it was united to the divine Son, came to life again. The Man in Christ rose again: not only the God. That is the whole point. For the first time we saw a real man. One tin soldier —real tin, just like the rest – had come fully and splendidly alive.
Consequently, when Christ becomes man it is not really as if you could become one particular tin soldier. It is as if something which is always affecting the whole human mass begins, at one point, to affect that whole human mass in a new way. From that point the effect spreads through all mankind. It makes a difference to people who lived before Christ as well as to people who lived after Him. It makes a difference to people who have never heard of Him. It is like dropping into a glass of water one drop of something which gives a new taste or a new colour to the whole lot.
What, then, is the difference which He has made to the whole human mass? It is just this; that the business of becoming a son of God, of being turned from a created thing into a begotten thing, of passing over from the temporary biological life into timeless ‘spiritual’ life; has been done for us. Humanity is already ‘saved’ in principle. We individuals have to appropriate that salvation.
(From Mere Christianity, Bk IV, ch.5.)