“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.” -Matthew 1:18
Does the incarnation inform and teach us about the mystery of Jesus Christ being both God and man?
Does the incarnation give us an example of how we are to live as followers of Jesus Christ?
I think the answer to both questions is yes.
The gospel makes absolutely no sense if Jesus was not both God and man. The incarnation is a core doctrine of the Christian faith. Hebrews 9:11-14 makes it clear that our sins are atoned for because of the shed “blood of Christ”. The shedding of blood requires humanity. But this blood has the power to atone for all sins for all time precisely because Jesus was God. The incarnation informs and teaches us about the nature of Jesus and how he needed to be both God and man for his sacrificial work on the cross to be redemptively effective.
The incarnation also gives us some clues about how the body of Jesus Christ (the church) should conduct itself in the world today. Paul says in Philippians 2:4-8, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Paul is telling us to look at the birth of Jesus Christ and use it as an example of how we are to live.
Paul is not saying that we can “do incarnation.” Only Jesus Christ, as God-man, can do incarnation. Although we as mere humans can not duplicate the incarnation we can and should emulate the humility that Jesus demonstrated through his birth (God becoming a baby, scandalous marriage, poor, running from the law, etc…).
Few questions to consider this Christmas season…
Jesus came to earth as a weak, vulnerable baby. He came to serve others and die so that others may live. How does this guide the church today in how they should interact with their culture/world?
Jesus went into the brokenness of this world. He did not sit back and wait for people to come to him. How should this impact the way we live everyday life?
How does the incarnation reveal God’s great love for us?
Why was it necessary for Jesus to be both God and man?
Only the humble believe him and rejoice that God is so free and so marvelous that he does wonders where people despair, that he takes what is little and lowly and makes it marvelous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly…. God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings. God marches right in. He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would least expect them. God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
PS: If you know the creator of the above picture please let me know.