The Incarnation of ChristBy Pastoral Musings
The Incarnation of The Son of God
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the Word was made 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 1:1-4,14) KJV
The Necessity of The Incarnation of The Son of God
Man was in need of a savior. What was to be done to meet that need? For man to be set free from sin and its consequences there was a need for a sacrifice, because the Word of God specified that “the wages of sin is death.” (Rom 6:23) KJV The justice, holiness, and glory of God must be vindicated. Sinners could not simply be forgiven without restitution being made. That restitution must be made in the form of a death that would be the equivalent of the sufferings of the eternal wrath of God. We are told “almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Heb 9:22) KJV It was necessary that one die for man.
If one is to die for man, the one who dies for men must be a man so as to enter into all of the temptations into which man enters. When we consider the fact that Jesus is as much God as the Father is God, we begin to understand that there was no way for Jesus to endure temptation without becoming a man. James tells us “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” (James 1:13) KJV Since Jesus could not be tempted He had to become a man to face temptation and conquer sin. Jesus could not die either, because He is God. Paul told Timothy that Jesus is immortal (See 1 Tim 6:15,16). For this reason, also, Jesus had to become a man. The writer of Hebrews spoke of this saying, “We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (Heb 2:9) KJV
Another reason why the incarnation was necessary is the fact that the savior of men must not only be a man, but he must also be God. God stated to us that He is the only Savior. “I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.” (Isa 43:11) KJV Again, He said, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” (Isa 45:22) KJV The only way that we could have a savior was for God to become a man and be both God and man. This is the blessed truth of the incarnation: “Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.” (1 Tim 3:16) KJV
The incarnation was also necessary because there was the need for our Savior to be the head of the human race. Our savior had to be representative of all of humanity. There was in the past a representative head of the human race. His name was Adam and he caused mankind to fall into sin. The Scriptures tell us that Adam prefigured Jesus. “Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.” (Rom 5:14) KJV Adam was especially created by God to be the first man. Being the first (and ,in the beginning, the only)man, Adam represented all of humanity, because he was the head of his home and the only human head. He was actually a picture of Christ who is the second Adam who came to give us life through righteousness. “The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.” (1 Cor 15:45-47) KJV Thus we see why God had to become incarnate if He were to save men from sin.
The History of Christ’s Incarnation
The incarnation of Christ is a historical fact, but there are things surrounding that incarnation of Jesus the Son of God that go back much further than the historical happening. Before Jesus became flesh it was foreordained of God that He come in the flesh. “Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” (Acts 2:22,23) KJV The fact that Jesus was foreordained to die implies that before the worlds were framed Jesus was also determined to become a man. The writer of Hebrews understood this fact and wrote concerning Jesus saying: “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me.” (Heb 10:5) KJV Whatever arguments there may be about the correlation between this passage and the Psalm that it is quoting, we can be sure that this speaks to us of the fact that Jesus was sent into this world as a human being.
Not only was Jesus foreordained to become a man, but it was prophesied many years before He came that our Savior would be human. When Adam and Eve fell, God spoke to the serpent which had deceived them saying, “ I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Gen 3:15) KJV We find that this did indeed come to pass according to promise: “When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Gal 4:4,5) KJV
One thing that we must keep in mind concerning the incarnation of Jesus the Son of God is the fact that this is an utterly supernatural occurrence. There have been some instances in which ideas concerning the conception of Christ bordered upon a belief in some sort of divine/human procreation. In reality, the incarnation of Christ was the result of a special act of Divine creation. The angel Gabriel told Mary, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35) KJV Just as in the original creation of the world the Spirit was active (See Gen 1:2;Job 33:4; Ps 104:30), so He was active in the special creation of the body of the Son of God in the womb of the virgin Mary. Thus the incarnation became not only a promise, but a historical fact.
Results of Christ’s Incarnation
What are the results of the incarnation of Christ? What benefits are derived from it? The results are many. First of all, God revealed Himself to man in Jesus. God could not be seen by man. He told Moses, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” (Ex 33:20) KJV
Man needed to see God, however. Man needed to know God and His ways. Man needed God to come and save him. Yet, if God came in all of the fullness of His glory, man would experience destruction and damnation only. Thankfully, God revealed Himself in His only begotten Son, Jesus. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (John 1:18) KJV Jesus’ incarnation was the means by which God revealed Himself, His will, and His redemption to man. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” (Heb 1:1-4) KJV Jesus, being of the same essence and character as the Father, radiated the glories of God. In fact, John said, “The Word was made 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) KJV Those who saw Jesus also saw the glory of God in Him. Jesus also revealed the heart of the Father to men. God spoke through Him. Jesus’ incarnation was the gracious manifestation of God to a fallen world that could not otherwise see God in peace.
God can neither suffer, nor die. As the incarnate Son, however, He could suffer and die because He was man as God. Jesus’ incarnation enabled Him to enter into temptation and learn what how to sympathize with us. “We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb 4:15) KJV The wonderful blessing is that, while He was tempted, Jesus was without sin. In the midst of this suffering of temptation Jesus learned something else that is not natural to God – obedience. “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” (Heb 5:8,9) KJV Jesus experienced obedience by obeying the will of God for men in all things, and then submitting to the death of the cross (See Php 2:8). Jesus’ incarnation enabled Him to enter into every temptation, feeling, passion, and requirement that is common to man. Having done so, He died for our sins and bodily rose from the dead becoming our perfect Savior.