The Incarnation

Colossians 1:15-20
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
     The Incarnation isn't just a Christmas story; it's the story of God entering human history in a most unexpected way. My aim is to explore the depths of this central tenet of Christianity, to understand what it truly means when we say, "the Word became flesh."
     The Incarnation, the act of God becoming human in the person of Jesus Christ, is a cornerstone of Christian theology, yet it remains one of the most profound mysteries of faith. This concept is beautifully encapsulated in Scriptures like Philippians 2:6-11, where Paul describes Christ, who, "being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness." This passage, alongside others like Colossians 1:15-20, underscores the paradox at the heart of the Incarnation: the coexistence of full divinity and full humanity in Jesus. This union of divine and human natures in Christ is not only a foundational truth of Christianity but also presents a profound theological puzzle. How can the eternal, omnipotent God coexist in the frail, temporal confines of human flesh and experience?
     Many theologians have grappled with this mystery throughout history. Athanasius, an early Church Father, famously stated, "God became man so that man might become God," highlighting the redemptive purpose of the Incarnation. C.S. Lewis, a prominent Christian apologist, referred to the Incarnation as "the grand miracle," a pivotal moment where the divine narrative intersected with human history. And John Calvin, a key figure in the Protestant Reformation, saw in the Incarnation not only a theological truth but also a source of comfort, knowing that God truly understands human suffering and joy.
     By reflecting on these perspectives, we begin to grasp the layers of wonder and significance embedded in the idea of God taking on human flesh. It challenges us to rethink not only our understanding of God but also our perception of humanity. The Incarnation is not merely a theological doctrine; it's a transformative reality with far-reaching implications for human existence. At its core, the Incarnation bridges the seemingly insurmountable gap between the divine and the human, offering hope and a path to redemption.
     In Jesus, God intimately identifies with human experience, encompassing the full spectrum of human emotions and struggles. This shared experience provides a unique perspective on suffering, love, and the potential for human transformation. For instance, in the Gospel of John, Jesus’ weeping at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:35) reveals a God who not only understands our grief but also shares in it. Similarly, the temptations faced by Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11) demonstrate a profound solidarity with our own battles against temptation and hardship. The practical impact of the Incarnation is vividly illustrated in the way Jesus interacted with those around him. Consider the story of the woman at the well (John 4:1-26), where Jesus breaks social barriers to offer hope and a new life. Or reflect on the transformation of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), whose encounter with Jesus led to a complete turnaround in his life. These stories aren't just ancient narratives; they are testimonies to the ongoing power of the Incarnation to change lives. The Incarnation, therefore, is not just a Christmas story; it's a year-round invitation to experience and share the profound love and grace of a God who became human.
     The life of Jesus serves as a model for how we can embody this divine love, compassion, and service. In imitating Christ, we are invited to engage with the world in a way that reflects the heart of God. This means showing unconditional love, extending grace to those who may not seem to deserve it, and serving others selflessly. The Incarnation teaches us to look beyond ourselves and our immediate circle, challenging us to see the image of God in every person we encounter.
  1. The Incarnation, as described in the scriptures of Philippians 2:6-11 and Colossians 1:15-20, presents a profound paradox of Jesus Christ's dual nature—fully divine and fully human. This theological concept raises intriguing questions about the nature of God and humanity. How does the concept of Jesus being both fully divine and fully human challenge or enhance your understanding of God? What implications does this dual nature have for our understanding of divinity and humanity?
  2. The Incarnation is seen by theologians like Athanasius, C.S. Lewis, and John Calvin not just as a theological truth but also as a source of comfort and understanding. It emphasizes God's intimate involvement in human experience, including suffering and joy. How does the Incarnation, as a demonstration of God's deep empathy and solidarity with human experiences, affect your perception of suffering and joy? Can this idea offer a unique comfort or perspective in times of personal trials?
  3. The Incarnation is more than a story confined to the Christmas season; it's a transformative reality impacting every aspect of human existence. The life of Jesus provides a model of divine love, compassion, and service. In what practical ways can we embody the spirit of the Incarnation in our daily lives? How can the example of Jesus’ life inspire us to engage in acts of love, compassion, and service in our communities?

1 Comment

Theda - December 23rd, 2023 at 9:13am

I read today about the appearance of Jesus to the disciples after He rose from the grave. Below is my daily poem that ties in with my responsibility to be His representative.

Despite seeing Jesus and His wounds they did feel,

Despite prophecies fulfilled they didn't believe it real.

Jesus is as real today as He was then,

He came He died, He rose for the sins of all men.

I may be the only Jesus some people will ever see.

Will they want to know my Jesus to seek Him and be set free?

The fruit of the spirit is what people need to see and feel from me: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control. The fruit required nutrient will be different for different people at differing times so I need to be faithfully going to the source of all good things to have the fruit readily available.

Jesus us the reason, not just for the season, but for gifts of the fruit of the spirit all year long!




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