DAY 18: Incarnation
Scripture: 1 John 1:1-4
We’re all familiar with the image of the baby Jesus in the manger. Even in our overly-secularized, post-Christian era, it’s still a ubiquitous part of the holiday season. But as familiar as that image may be, its real significance somehow gets obscured. That night in Bethlehem, when Mary delivered her first son, something even more miraculous than human birth was taking place. She was bringing into the world the very Son of God. She had been briefed about this day more than nine months earlier.
And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” -Luke 1:30-33, ESV
As bizarre as those words may have sounded to Mary, they were eventually fulfilled. She gave birth. And the incredible part of this story is that Joseph, her husband, played no part in this scene. He was not the baby’s father. God was. And the baby that was born that night was none other than God in human flesh.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. -1 John 1:1, ESV
And just exactly who was the Word?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. -John 1:1-4
John is talking about Jesus. But notice what he says: He is all-powerful and equal in deity to God the Father. And yet, John goes on to say that the eternal Word took on the physical form of a man. But in doing so, Jesus did not cease to be God. He became the God-man, the perfect blend of deity and humanity – 100 percent God and 100 percent man. And Paul reminds us of the incredible nature of this one-of-a-kind union.
For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. -Colossians 2:9, NLT
The man, Jesus, born that night in Bethlehem, was actually God coming to live among us. But He was not God wearing an “earth suit” or simply appearing to be a man. He became a man. He was born as a man, so that He could live as a man, but, as the writer of Hebrews tells, “yet without sin.” And it was His sinless life as a man that made Him the perfect sacrifice to pay the God-ordained penalty for the sins of man. The incarnation was the only means by which sinful men could be restored to a right relationship with God.
God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. -Romans 8:3, NLT
The incarnation is what made possible our salvation. So, this Christmas, when you think of the baby Jesus born in a manger, don’t forget the adult Jesus hung on a cross. The greatest gift ever given in the history of the world.
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