Thoughts On the Incarnation of Jesus…

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Bill Fowler, YTI Church Relations and Professor of New Testament and Practical Theology

December 14, 2017

God Is Present In Our World

Christmas is about God’s presence in our world in a radically new way. The God who had created the universe, and who had personally interacted with our world in amazing ways (recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures), got up close and personal in the incarnation. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Deity emptied itself and took on humanity in the person of Jesus Christ. God made himself available, knowable, even vulnerable, as Jesus walked among us. His presence lingers still through the work of the Holy Spirit. For the follower of Jesus, Messiah is not just “coming,” he is here!

Revelation About God

But the incarnation is more than simply presence…it is revelation, revelation of the character and nature of God himself. The Word, who eternally was God (John 1:1), became flesh and dwelt among us with the result that “we have seen his glory, the glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14). So, if you want to see what God is like, then look upon Jesus Christ who “has made him known” (John 1:17-18). “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (ESV, Hebrews 1:3). Because of the incarnation we can know God more intimately (in his presence) and more profoundly (in his essence) than ever before. Everything that we know of God has to be interpreted in light of who he has revealed himself to be in his son, Jesus.

God’s New Awareness

God knew humanity prior to the incarnation. He could say to Moses, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people…and have heard their cry…and I know their pain” (Exodus 3:7). This was no flippant, “yeah, I know what you are going through,” that we sometimes hear from thoughtless people. It was real. But in the incarnation, in the Word becoming flesh, God came to know us at a whole new level. Hebrews, which emphasizes Jesus as the exact representation of God, also tells us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). In some mysterious way, the all-knowing God knows us now as never before.

The Miracle of God’s Love

Incarnation is a miracle of God in so many ways. First, there is the miracle that a virgin could conceive a child of the Holy Spirit. Amazing! Then, there is the miracle that a God so big could become so small as to become a baby nurtured in a mother’s womb. Mind boggling! But the greatest miracle to me is that God would love us to such a degree that he would go to all that trouble in the first place. Truly humbling! In this glorious event called incarnation, celebrated at Christmas, God comes near, that I may truly know him, and that he can fully know me…the miracle of God’s love!