The God who lived in heaven took on human flesh, becoming a vulnerable baby. He lived among us and died, according to God’s plan, so we might spend eternity with him. The story of the incarnation – the story we celebrate each year at this time – is awesome and full of wonder.
By Ken Boa, Reflections Ministries
It’s a blessing that we have Christmas as a repeated reminder to meditate on all aspects of the story of God’s greatest gift.
The mystery of the incarnate God-man has spawned significant controversies throughout the history of the church, and the early church councils sought to avoid the extreme of rejecting his deity in favor of his humanity, and the opposite extreme of rejecting his humanity in favor of his deity. Only the God-man could fulfill the mission of bearing the sins of the world and giving his life as a ransom for many (John 1:29; Mark 10:45).
Even if Jesus was a “great teacher” or a “prophet from God,” if he was only a man, he would not be worthy of worship, and his death could never have atoned for the sins of others. And if Christ had not come in the flesh as one of us, he could not have died in our place:
Therefore, He had to be made like his brethren in to all things, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
Subsequent to his incarnation, the One who eternally possessed a divine nature now possesses a divine-human nature. In his resurrected body, the Lord Jesus will forever be the God-man. There is a Man in heaven, and He intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father as our Advocate (Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1).
There is a Man in heaven, and He intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father as our Advocate.
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Peter exhorts us to “follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). But the key to imitating Christ is identifying with him. We cannot follow in his steps until we walk in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit and understand that Christ is in us and we are in Christ. The spiritual life is based on an incarnational dynamic; it is a divine–human process. This is why Paul told us to “have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5, NASB). Just as Christ loved and served others by putting their interests above his own, so he wants to continue this process through us.
We cannot follow in his steps until we walk in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
There is a magic to Christmas, because it illustrates the way things should be and intimates the kingdom that is yet to come. In his first advent, Christ came in the weakness of infancy to become the Suffering Servant of those who were hopelessly lost; in his second advent, he will come as the sovereign King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
He first came veiled in the form of a child; but next time he comes (and it will be soon), he will come unveiled, and everyone will know him for who he really is.
In His first advent, a star marked his arrival; but in his second advent, the heavens will roll up like a scroll, the stars will fall out of the sky, and he himself will illuminate it.
The first time he came, the magi brought him gifts; but the next time he comes, he will bring gifts and rewards for his own.
The first time he came, there was no room for him; the next time he comes, the whole world will not be able to contain his glory.
At his first appearance, few attended his arrival; but at his second appearance, every eye will behold him.
He came first as a baby; but he will come again as the glorious Ruler of the universe.