It’s easy for us as Christians to “get used” to the idea of the Incarnation of Christ. We’re especially reminded of it at Christmas time. We don’t minimize the Incarnation, but we can, I think, become a bit too familiar with it.
In the Incarnation the eternal Word and Ruler of God’s Kingdom set aside certain of His divine prerogatives and took upon Himself the form of a human being. In that form, born of a virgin, He submitted to the Law and will of God in perfect obedience, in exhaustive detail. Most Christians understand that Jesus did this so that He would be a fitting Sacrifice – a perfect Sacrifice – for our sins.
But He also did it in order to achieve the righteousness we require in order to live without fear before the eternal and holy God. Jesus’ righteousness not only qualified Him to be our Savior. It achieved a standing for us so that, in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, the Incarnated One, we may stand before God without fear of annihilation.
In the Incarnation Jesus bridged the gap between a fallen cosmos and the God Who made and loves it. The love of God for His creation comes to fullest expression in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, for it is by His work that He reconciles the world to God and is making all things new. The Incarnation thus means not only our salvation, but the redemption and renewal of the entire cosmos. In short, without the Incarnation the new heavens and new earth would not be possible. Jesus has taken away the sins of the world – the sins of fallen men and the sins of a groaning creation.
And Jesus, in the Incarnation, ruined once and for all the schemes, wiles, and powers of the devil to keep us from realizing the full and abundant life of shalom for which we were created. “This little Babe, so few days old,/has come to rifle Satan’s fold.” So wrote Robert Southwell in the 16th century. Jesus came, John explained, to destroy the works of the devil. That powerful victory began at the Incarnation, continues in the present, and will be brought to finality upon the Lord’s return in glory.
All that is good and true and wonderful and redemptive and glorious depends on Jesus, the Word of God, becoming Incarnate among us. “Joy to the world! The Lord is come!” No wonder we sing with such exuberance and boldness at this glorious time of the year!
Here are some resources and activities to help you take the next steps in making the most of Jesus’ Incarnation.
Resources for this topic
Chuck Colson, “It’s Not about the Manger: Christmas and the Incarnation”
Timothy George, “The Word Became Flesh”
T. M. Moore, “Obedience Restored”
T. M. Moore, “Only God Could Redeem Us”
Gerald Zandstra, “Reflections on the Incarnation”
Be sure to order your copy of our new DVD series, Doing the Right Thing. Here’s a great resource for understanding why the world cannot do without the underlying assumptions of a Christian worldview.
1. Take one of the Christmas carols that deals with the Incarnation specifically: “Joy to the World,” or “Silent Night.” Study the different stanzas. How much can you find about the whole work of Christ for the whole of creation? Use your findings as a “conversation starter” with Christian friends, leading to a discussion and season of grateful prayer for the Incarnation of the Lord.
2. Study the resources listed above. Ask some non-Christian friends to explain their understanding of the Incarnation. What, in other words, is their understanding of why Christians celebrate the Incarnation at Christmas? Use this as an opportunity to share the Good News of God’s love.
3. Email today’s Talking Points column to several Christian friends. Challenge them to read some of the resources, watch the Two-Minute Warning, and take on one of the activities.
A conversation starter
You should be able to use this conversation starter just about anywhere: “Do you think Christians really believe that, in the birth of Jesus, the very Word of God became Incarnate for us and for our salvation? How should such a belief affect the way we live?”