Christmas is always a busy time. But strip away the hustle and bustle, the trees, cookies, and extra pounds; get rid of the reindeer, the dancing snowmen, and the jolly ol’ elf; remove the pageants, programs, and parades.
What’s left? The humble Birth story and Incarnation of the Son of God!
Only Mark omits the Birth of Jesus from his Gospel, beginning with John the Baptist. Matthew and Luke both give accounts of the Birth of Jesus, indicating Jesus was born a human being.
Both agree He was an unusual Person, lacking a human father. Both agree His Birth is linked with the Holy Spirit, and Matthew and Luke agree that Jesus was both divine and human at Birth.
The term “Incarnation” means “enfleshment,” a word that is not found in the New Testament. We get the idea of the “Incarnation” from John’s Gospel: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
Let’s think for a moment about the Incarnation of Jesus. First of all, for Jesus, the Incarnation was not the beginning.
I remember when our son was a teenager and he was surprised when his Mom and I sang along with a song on the radio.
He couldn’t imagine how we knew that song. I told him, “Son, that’s a remake of an old song – we were there!”
John begins his gospel with Jesus in heaven: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2)
Jesus was there, before Creation! Jesus was there when the stars were hung in space, when Joshua was going into battle, when three teens were thrown into a fiery furnace, when prophets foretold His Birth!
In the second place, the Incarnation shows the humility of Jesus. Unlike the typical king, Christ did not come to be served. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Someone said, “His humility was on full display from the beginning to the end, from Bethlehem to Golgotha.”
Thirdly, the Incarnation fulfills prophecy. It was not random or accidental but was predicted in the Old Testament. “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given” (Isaiah 9:6) The Child was “born,” but the Son was “given.” He already existed! The Apostle Paul brought these prophecies together: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman.” (Galatians 4:4)
Number four, the Incarnation is mysterious. (John 1:1-5,14) Scripture doesn’t answer all our questions. How is a Virgin Birth possible? How can someone be fully God and fully man?
Dr. David Jeremiah said, “He was fully God in every way, divine eternal, the Ancient of Days, who had set aside His glory for a brief season, entered into humanity through a virgin’s womb, and became a man while remaining God.”
Jesus was fully God, but He was also fully human. In humanity, Jesus became tired and thirsty! (John 4:6-7) Jesus showed emotion! (John 11:35) Jesus felt compassion! (Matthew 9:36)
Finally, the Incarnation is necessary for salvation. Rome was in control. Underneath the luxury and wealth was poverty. Two out of three men were slaves. There was heavy taxation and overpopulation! It was the midnight hour of moral standards! (Romans 1:21-32) The world so needed a Savior. God became man – the Incarnation is the “Enfleshment” of God!
Edwin Lewis said, “God does not stay in his heaven, as one ‘sitting apart, contemplating all,’ but enters the arena of conflict as a personal participant.”
Not only was Jesus One of us, but He experienced all that we experience!
Are you discouraged? (Matthew 23:37) Has anyone been stressed? (Luke 22:44) Have you been abandoned by friends? (Matthew 26:56) Have you lost a loved one? (John 11:35) Have you been physically abused? (John 19:1-3) Have you been hurt and betrayed? (John 13:21) Have you doubted God? (Matthew 27:46) There’s nothing we experience where Jesus hasn’t already been! (Hebrews 4:15)
The Rev. Danny Goddard is senior pastor at New Castle First Church of the Nazarene.