Many folks find this time of year to be one of joy, reflection, celebration and wonder. It is this last thing – wonder – I want to address in this post. Specifically, I want to share with you some of my own wonder as it relates to that thing we call the Incarnation.
I have had some time to reflect upon the Incarnation a bit more than usual this season. This is because I had opportunity to preach a sermon to my local church on the subject on this past Sunday. By drawing on what I learned in my study I hope to reinvigorate in all of us the wonder which I believe should accompany any contemplation of the fact that, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14). But don’t get scared, I intend to do this by providing a little bit of commentary and whole lot of Scripture. After all, Scripture is what we should be filling our minds with not the ramblings of someone given an outlet on the internet (insert winky face here).
The word incarnation is defined as “embodied in or taking on flesh.” It’s no wonder we use this term to describe the conception, birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, since he did all of these things by taking on flesh. So then what is so cool about the Incarnation, I think there are at least three things – maybe you can find more:
- God’s Demonstrates His Mercy through the Incarnation of Jesus
Let’s start off in Romans 5:6-11 and Romans 6:22-23.
6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.
9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We learn in chapter 6 “the wages of sin is death.” In other words the just payment for your sin, you’re sinful inclination, activity and life is that you die – that you die both physically and spiritually. But as stated in chapter five, God instead extends a gift, a free gift, a grace gift, a merciful gift and that gift is the eternal life which is found in Jesus Christ.
This is the same mercy that the Apostle Paul addressed in his letter to the church of Ephesus in Ephesians 2:4-7.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
God’s mercy is so vast, so immeasurable in our salvation that Paul speaks of it in terms of life and death.
We were dead, laying there lifeless and God resuscitated us—He made as alive. He filled us spiritually with Himself in doing so and made it so that we are able to both want to obey and then follow through on that desire.
Instead of condemning us for our sins, instead of paying us our just reward of separation from Him for eternity, God chooses to accept the sacrifice of Jesus – His blood, His Son’s blood as payment for our transgressions as a satisfaction of His wrath for our sin.
God chooses to accept one life for another – the life of Jesus Christ perfect, sinless, blameless, spotless, unblemished for yours and for mine.
This is an exchange of the righteous for the unrighteous. How merciful towards us must the Triune God be if He will sacrifice Himself in order that we might be saved.
- God Reveals His Grace through the Incarnation of Jesus
Let’s visit the book of Titus for a moment to review some things about the revealing of God’s grace:
12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,
13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,
14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
“The grace of God” is not some abstract principle of systematic theology, it is not a topic relegated to the ivory tower of academia. No the grace of God is a reference to the unmerited favor, goodness, kindness, compassion, and mercy toward undeserving sinners – demonstrated by the fact that the Sovereign God of all creation reached down from heaven and rescues those same undeserving sinners from the bondage – the slavery to sin! He rescues them from spiritual death and torment in HELL – eternal separation from Him!
And the joy we can have in relation to this truth about God’s grace is that He has not kept it a secret – He hasn’t left us wondering what it is because as this passage of Scripture clearly points out God’s grace has appeared!!! it has been revealed, it has been made known within the timeline of human history in a very particular way –
Jesus Christ is the personification of God’s Grace! Its appearing – His appearing is a reference not merely to His unique birth, but to His entire life – His life, His death, His burial, His resurrection, and His Ascension to the Right hand of the Father – All of this is included in the appearing of God’s Grace –
All of this is revealed, made known, manifested in the Incarnation of Jesus!
- God Reveals the Name of Salvation through the Incarnation of Jesus
10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead– by this name this man stands here before you in good health.
11 “He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone.
12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
It is only is only by faith in the Incarnate One – Jesus called the Christ – that anyone might be saved out of their sins, out of their condemnation!
There are volumes which could be written on this blessed truth alone, but alas I have reached my maximum word count so I will leave you to consider the wonder of the Incarnation. The wonder of “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” as we continue to enjoy this season for just such things.