Incarnation: The Miracle of Christ's Birth
December 1, 2003 - On the night of Jesus' birth, an angel announced to shepherds in a field outside Bethlehem, "I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. A burst of heavenly glory pierced the darkness of that first Christmas night, and "suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:10-14, KJV).
by Ross Rhoads
As we celebrate Christmas, we sometimes fail to realize the extent of the miracle of Christ's birth. Christmas means more than just the birth of a baby. Christmas is when God became a man—a miracle we call the Incarnation. But what is the meaning of the Incarnation?
The Incarnation is the ultimate and final disclosure of the eternal God. It answers the mystery and quandary of who God is, what God is like and what God wants. God reveals Himself not just through, but also in, Jesus. The Incarnation is the self-revelation of the Absolute Being Himself, the pre-existent Son of God, the second person of the Trinity taking human form. Jesus is the "fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9).
In the Incarnation, "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). The Word is the name of the eternal God. The flesh is the designation of a time-bound human being, in contrast to God. God sent His Son, born of a woman. Yet the Word, who is God, continues to be what He was before becoming flesh (John 1:1).
Isaiah foretold that the Savior would be called Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14), which means God with us. In a manger, the most humble substitute for a princely birth, Immanuel—God with us—is fulfilled. The Scripture says, "Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh" (1 Timothy 3:16, KJV). The eternal God is born: the One who sits in the heavens now lies in a cradle. The One who formed Eve in creation is now born of Mary, the virgin. He who is the Son of the Highest is now made lower than the angels.
The Bible's profound statements constitute the unequaled essence of the entire Christian faith. "God becomes man" is the meaning of Incarnation. Jesus in every manner experienced humanity and was subjected to all earthly weakness, self-limitation, sorrow, suffering and death. Jesus, in His Incarnation, completely identified with all mankind in testing and temptation—even of the devil himself—yet without sin. Jesus was both man and God, an impeccable duplex.
What is the result of this incomparable intervention of God into the world "to be made in the likeness and similitude of mankind" (Cf. Philippians 2:7)?
- The eternal love of God is revealed in its fullest expression so that all who believe will have everlasting life (John 3:16).
- Jesus, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, gives a new birth to all who believe in Him (John 3:6-7).
- He who shared of flesh and blood (Hebrews 2:14) causes those who believe to share in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).
- Jesus, who committed no sin, was made sin, that those who believe might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
- In the human body of Jesus, through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, all those who receive Him as Savior and Lord are saved eternally.
- Jesus, who came to reconcile the world unto Himself, has committed to those who believe in Him the word and work of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19).
"And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever" (Revelation 5:13, KJV).
May the celebration of this season go beyond traditional cultural symbols, such as gift-giving, to a celebration of "the Gift of God, eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Cf. Romans 6:23).
If you have not received Jesus—the Gift of God who came from heaven to die for your sins and to rise again for your salvation—accept God's Gift now.