The incarnation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is one of the most foundational truths of Christian faith. Today let us mediate for some time on this precious truth from a study I entitled, The Mystery & Miracle of Incarnation. Let us open our Bibles to Matthew chapter 1, starting from verse 1.
In the town I live I talk to a college student often. One day, I asked him about his spiritual life. He said, ‘I believe in God, but not like you. God for me is an abstraction. I took little bit of different religions, and made up my own view of God. I don’t want just Jesus, He is too close, too invasive. We ended our conversation at that point and after a few weeks, we met again and he looked very sad. I asked him, ‘You look so sad. What’s the matter?’ He said,
‘My dad is diagnosed with cancer, My mom got a tumor, she just got a biopsy done and we are waiting for the report. I have 6 siblings, all younger than me. I am worried what would happen to all of us if my parents die?’
I said, ‘it is a difficult time for you, why don’t you pray?’ He said, ‘I can’t pray, I am angry at God? I asked him, ‘why are you angry?’ He said, ‘God looks so distant to me. I feel He does not care. He left humanity floating around.’ I asked, ‘Josh, last time we met you were complaining God is too close and now you are angry that God is too distant’
He smiled sarcastically and nodding his head, he said, ‘I know, I know’. I looked at him and said, ‘Josh, you are saying, God left humanity to float around and God does not care. Let me ask you one thing, Have you heard about the word, Incarnation?’
Incarnation is a powerful word. Even Christians do not fully grasp the truth of incarnation. The unbelieving world does not even get the faintest idea about this truth.
Josh was not alone. We also groan in our hearts, where is God when I am suffering?
When the terrorists struck the United States on September 11, 2001, George W.Bush was the President. He recently released his autobiography. He wrote, after the attacks, ‘I had told my speech writers – that I wanted to accomplish three objectives: mourn the loss of life, remind people there was a loving God, and make clear that those who attacked our nation would face justice’. Remind that there was a loving God? Most people don’t even thank God for a moment as they sit before a sumptuous meal, but whenever a calamity struck them, they point their finger at God.
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) was an English novelist and poet. Through his poems he was speaking for a generation that questioned the presence of God in history. He was buried in the Poet’s corner in the Westminster abbey, so you can guess that he was famous during his lifetime. He befriended a nice Christian in one of our assemblies in England. But he refused to believe in a God who cares for this world. He was a gloomy figure with a tender heart, that he wrote in his will that he wish to be buried in his wife’s grave. Accordingly, they just took his heart and buried it in his wife’s grave. Now his body was buried in two different places. The whole ordeal resembles how his heart was wandering in two different places during his lifetime.
Is God really good and caring? One day he would say, yes. and then the next day he would say, it doesn’t look like that, God is asleep at the switch, and the universe runs by crash casualty diced in time. Hardy wrote a poem called God Forgotten. He imagines an angel going from earth to ask God on behalf of human race.
The poem goes like this:
I towered far, and lo! I stood within
The presence of the Lord Most High,
Sent thither by the sons of earth, to win
Some answer to their cry.
The angel is asking God, Lord God, the human beings sent me to ask you, Why did you allow so much misery on them?
God responds like this,
“The Earth, say’st thou? The Human race?
By Me created? Sad its lot?
Nay: I have no remembrance of such place:
Such world I fashioned not.”
God is saying, Earth? human race? I don’t remember
The Angel then says,
“O Lord, forgive me when I say
Thou spak’st the word, and mad’st it all.”
God then says,
“The Earth of men–let me bethink me . . . Yea!
I dimly do recall
“Some tiny sphere I built long back
(Mid millions of such shapes of mine)
So named . . . It perished, surely–not a wrack
Remaining, or a sign?
“It lost my interest from the first,
My aims therefor succeeding ill;
Haply it died of doing as it durst?” –
“Lord, it existeth still.” –
God is saying, Earth? Yea that little planet I made among many, I vaguely remember such a place but I have nothing to do with it now’
The secular world has created such hopeless caricatures of God’s dealings with this world. But the good news is God is actively interested in His creation. The Bible says, in Galatians chapter 4, verse 4,
4 When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
God did not forget this planet, His will is being unfolded according to his time. He is keeping tabs on everything.
What a beautiful, beautiful statement!
When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son.
Pleroma tou chronou….The fullness of time
The greek word used here for fulness of the time: Pleroma.
Apostle Paul used this word pleroma to convey the meaning of fullness, the perfection.
In Colossians 2:9 he wrote,
 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
Pleroma tes theotetos….the fullness of the Deity
Pleroma tou chronou….the fullness of time
Pleroma tes theotetos…the fullness of the Deity.
He came to us as the fullness of God at the fullness of time.
The perfect God at the perfect time.
He came at the right time.
Time was right religiously: Israel was waiting for their Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.
The time was right linguistically: Alexander the Great had thoroughly established Greek culture and language throughout the known world
The time was right politically: Rome had instituted the Pax Romana, the Roman Peace. Christian missionaries could travel safely and freely throughout the empire.
Charles Wesley, the great Methodist hymn writer wrote in his Christmas hymn,
Hark the HeraId angels sing
Glory to the newborn King
Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of the Virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail the incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with man to dwell;
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
I told Josh ‘Josh, God did not leave humanity to float around. He really cared for us. Have you heard the word ‘Incarnation’? He nodded his head. I asked him, ‘do you know what happened in the incarnation?’ God literally became a man. I said, ‘God became a human being and lived among us. Can you bring God nearer than that?’ He said, ‘now I can’t even complain. Can I?’
The Incarnation of God in Christ:
In my opinion, it is the most profound truth of all scripture. We cannot just reach the depth of it. It is also the most fascinating truth of all scripture. God became a human being! It never ceases to surprise me. I can’t get my head around it no matter how many times I think about it. It’s also the most beautiful truth of all scripture. The God of the whole universe came to this world as a tiny baby. God could have come as a gigantic angel, if he wanted to. God could have come in the form of a mighty space vessel, if he wanted to. But God desired to come to this world as a tiny baby. It’s also the most unique truth of all scripture.
The Incarnation of God: Judaism, Islam and Christianity are called monotheistic religions. God became a human being? Both Judaism and Islam say, No Way; But Christianity is about God coming to this world as a human being. It is also the most abused doctrine of Christianity. A few minutes ago, a white gentleman asked me, ‘Do you find it obnoxious that Jesus is portrayed as a white person?’ I told him, ‘God in His wisdom did not give us any details about the physical appearance of Jesus. His height, weight, skin color etc. are not mentioned in the New Testament. I think God willingly did not give us those details because He want all of us to identify with Jesus no matter what social and ethnic background we come from’. The image of man Jesus has been manipulated beyond recognition. I attended a college in Florida for little over 4 years. There were students from all over the world and when we meet and talk about Jesus, different versions of His person would spring up in our conversation.
The students from India would talk about Guru Jesus, who went to India, learnt sanskrit and practiced meditation in Kashmir. The students from China would talk about Yellow Jesus, who preached Confucian ideals to people. The students from Middle East would talk about Palestinian Jesus who fought against the Jews. Some students would talk about White Jesus who defended slavery and owned a few slaves, while others would talk about Black Jesus who fought against slavery and defended equal rights. The students from Latin America would talk about Brown Jesus, who looked like Che Guevara and fought for the rights of the poor and oppressed. So, if we are not careful we might draw a portrait of Jesus based on our own imaginations, biases and prejudices.
God wants to change us into the image of Jesus, but tragically, we are trying to change Jesus into our own image. It’s also the most hated truth of all scripture. Every false cult under the sun hates this truth. Jehovah’s witnesses hate it, Mormons hate it, Every false religion under the sun hates this truth. Modern Judaism says ‘we are still waiting for the Messiah’. Islam hates this doctrine. Nothing irritates a Muslim than the doctrine of the divinity of Lord Jesus Christ. Muslims tell us God sent a prophet called Mohammed. God himself came down as the last prophet to humanity. His name is Lord Jesus Christ. When you read Quran, one thing that surfaces in so many ayas is the rejection of the incarnation of Lord Jesus Christ. Hinduism hates it. Jesus is the exclusive incarnation of God? What about all the millions of gods and goddesses we have in our pantheon? So, it is the most hated doctrine of Christianity. But for us, it is the most beloved doctrine of the faith.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.
o logos sarx egeneto
The Word became flesh
The Son of God became Son of Man
the Supernatural became Natural
the infinite became finite
the eternity became time
the invisible became visible
the Creator became a creature
The types, pictures and shadows of the Old Testament now became a substance in the Person of Christ
What a transformation!
This morning, let us see 8 beautiful truths about the nature of Incarnation of God in the person of Lord Jesus Christ.
- The Meaning of Incarnation
Incarnation is the union of the divine and human natures in Christ. The technical name for this is, hypostasis union. The characteristics of the divine nature and the characteristics of the human nature coming together to form one person.
It is not part of divine nature and part of human nature. Earlier we saw from Colossians chapter 2, verse 9,
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
All the fulness of the Godhead.
In Greek, it says, pleroma tes theotetos
Pleroma means complete, perfect
It is not 50% of God, or 90% of God, it is the perfect embodiment of God.
The pleroma of Godhead dwells in Him.
He had a real, true body from the incarnation; but he also had all the fulness of Godhead dwelling in Him thus.
In His earthly life, he balanced His divine attributes with his human faculties. Recently I was attending the morning rounds in our local hospital. The doctors sitting there were talking about a little girl who died that morning. Five days ago she got a fever and became sick, but her parents did not seek medical treatment for her. Their reasoning was, ‘God will heal her. We don’t have to do anything about it except pray for her’. All the doctors in the room were looking at me. Because I often talk about God, it looked as if they wanted an explanation from me about this incident. I felt uneasy a few moments and then I said: ‘the little girl died because of the ignorance of her parents, not because of God. There are two things in action at any given moment in our lives: Divine providence and human responsibility. God will provide, but I still have to work. God will heal, but I still have to seek health care. God will protect, but I still have to drive carefully. Divine providence does not rule out human responsibility. Christian Medical College & Hospital in India became one of the best hospitals and medical research institutes in the world. Among other things, it performed the first successful open heart surgery in India in 1961, first kidney transplant in 1971 and first bone marrow transplant in 1986. This great hospital became a reality because of the labors of an American missionary, Dr.Ida Scudder. She did not look at people and say, ‘now you got sick, just stay home and pray. God will heal you.’ But she founded a hospital and provided treatment to suffering people. Jesus did not look at his parents and say, ‘mum and dad, you would never have to worry for your next meal as I long as I stay with you. Because I am the Son of God, I will create your every meal out of thin air’. Rather he took a hammer, chisel and a saw and worked hard as a carpenter to make a living.
He was the perfect human being. He was more human than us, because, our humanity has so much deteriorated and desensitized due to sin. He being the sinless human being, had perfect humanness in Him as God intended for Adam before the Fall.
On the way to his crucifixion, Lord Jesus asked a very poignant question,
For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?
He is comparing himself to a green tree.
We are the dry trees, dried, desensitized and deformed by sin.
He is the green tree, I am the true wine, He said…..full of juice, full of life.
The Roman soldiers had beaten him and inflicted many wounds on his body, yet not a single one of his bones was broken.
He was and is a perfect human being, more human than you and me.
The Bible starts with the words, ‘In the beginning God created…’.
‘Berashit bara Elohim’
The interesting fact about this first verse of the Bible is, the word for God is Elohim, a plural word.
The very first verse of the Bible, creation is attributed to God, and it is a remarkable fact that the word used there for God is a plural word, Elohim.
The triune God has been active in creation since the beginning of time, but through the incarnation of Christ, God had a perfect human body to work through. God works through our bodies, but even on our best days, we are still sinners. But in Christ, God had a perfect human being to fulfill His work.
William Kelly wrote these words: “The fullness of the Godhead never dwelt in the Father bodily, or in the Holy Ghost, but only in Christ. He was the only One of whom this wonderful reality could be affirmed. The whole fullness in Him dwelt and dwells still. “The Father that dwelleth in me [said He here below], he doeth the works.” Again, “If I by the Spirit of God cast out devils,” etc. Here we have not only the Son, but in and by Him the three Persons of the Godhead active in grace in this evil world.”
So, through the incarnation of Christ, the Divine Trinity acted through a human body. The Father acted through the body of the Son, the Holy Spirit acted through the body of the Son.
The incarnation of God also gave a new meaning to our own existence. Our existence is defined in relation to His incarnation. When we say, ‘I was born in 1986 or 1955 or 1976’ we are defining our place in time in relation to His incarnation. Sometimes, I wonder, ‘is there any meaning to my life? is there any meaning to my existence in this world?’ I derive meaning and purpose to my life from the meaning of the incarnation of Christ, ‘Because I live, ye shall live also’ (John 14:19). When we are grounded in the truth of incarnation of Christ and impart it’s meaning to our own lives, we get hope for our lives. Without meaning there is no hope.
In the first half of twentieth century, there was a lot of turmoil in Europe, especially during the interwar years, between the First and Second World Wars. There was a ‘crisis of meaning’. The intellectuals questioned, ‘Are we creatures of special creation of God or are we just accidental outgrowths of Darwinian evolution?’. If we are just another species born out of random mutations, how should we live now? On that platform, they questioned the certainties of religious, social and political orders in which they lived. From that worldview were born new philosophies of life and political ideologies like communism, fascism, naziism, feminism, atheism, environmentalism, socialism etc. Those political ideologies soon led the nations into second world war and the world found 61 million people dead. So much destruction, slaughter, devastation and wreckage in every direction. People became so despair that they questioned the very idea of progress the philosophers talked about.
American statesman and political scientist Henry Kissinger was born in Bavaria, Germany in 1923. Growing up as a boy during the Weimar Republic, he witnessed the transformation of a civilized society into a state sponsored hate campaign. In 1938, his family fled Nazi persecution and ended up in the United States. He watched all the terrors and barbarous savagery of World War in utter disbelief. He enrolled at Harvard University and as an undergraduate he wrote his honors dissertation on Immanuel Kant, the German philosopher who formulated a theory of historical progress that culminates into a universal bliss for all human beings. Kissinger attacked Kant’s view that the world was progressing towards a better future and presented a nihilistic perspective. Kissinger’s life exhibits the tragic end of all godless philosophies: the nihilism. But where did it start? It began during a period, which the historians call, ‘the Crisis of Meaning’. The point is, meaning and hope are related. A crisis of meaning ultimately led the world into nihilism. Without meaning, there is no hope. Today we see so much hopelessness around us, it comes from meaninglessness. We were meaningless before we became hopeless. But as Christians we derive our meaning from the meaning of His incarnation, and it gives us hope. ‘Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory’. (Colossians 1:26,27).
- The Metaphysics of Incarnation
Now, let us see the metaphysics of incarnation. Metaphysics means above and beyond the physical.
Martin Heideggar gave a lecture to a group of philosophers entitled What is metaphysics? He summarized his lecture saying there is nothing above. But we say, metaphysics is not ‘nothing’, it is not ‘something’, but for the Christian, metaphysics is everything. The physical takes meaning in the presence of the metaphysical, not the other way around. The scripture has very clear details about the metaphysical nature of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To understand the physical nature of Christ, first we must understand his metaphysical nature, ie, his existence before His physical existence.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
He is called Son because of his relationship with the Father. In July 2013, Prince William and his wife Catherine gave birth to a son and they named him Prince George of Cambridge.
The baby is called Prince George of Cambridge, a territorial designation, because his father, Prince William is the duke of Cambridge. The point is, the son is named according to the name of the father.
Jesus is called the Son, not because He was born to God the Father, but because of His relationship with God the Father.
That is why it says here in Isaiah 9:6,
A Child is born, but the Son is given,
Please notice the fact, Son is not born, He is only given, because He is eternally existing with the Father. In John chapter 8, we find Lord Jesus was speaking to the people in the temple. He told them, ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” Jews were so surprised to hear those words and they ask him, ‘you are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’
Abraham lived two thousand years before Christ, so Jesus could not possibly have seen him. Then he says to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am’.
Hearing those words, they were speechless and shocked. Because he was claiming for Himself the sacred name of God: I AM.
I AM: The name reflects His eternal existence, His timelessness, His divinity.
In Psalm 110, David said, The Lord said unto my Lord’. In Matthew chapter 22, Lord Jesus asked the Pharisees, how is it possible David’s Lord could also be David’s Son? The answer is Incarnation: The eternal Son of God had to born as a human being into the family of David. In Revelation 22:16, Lord Jesus says, ‘I am the root and the offspring of David’. How could He be both the root and offspring of David at the same time?
He was before and after Abraham, He was before and after David. That was possible because of His incarnation.
1 Corinthians 15:47 says, ‘The first man is of the earth, earthly: the second man is the Lord from heaven’.
He lived on earth in a natural body, but He came from heaven. Adam was from the earth, Christ was from heaven. When he was born, as we read in Luke 2:11, the angel told the shepherds, ‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord’. A prince is given titles at the moment of his birth. Jesus was called Christ the Lord at the moment of His birth.
In John 20:17, Lord Jesus says to Mary, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father’. He did not say, I ascend unto our Father. But He said, ‘I ascend unto my Father, and your Father’, because the relationship he has with God the Father is distinct from the relationship we have with God the Father. In the metaphysics of incarnation, we see man Christ as the eternal God in heaven before his physical existence in this world.
- The Mystery of Incarnation
Then we need to see the Mystery of Incarnation. 1 Timothy 3:16 says,
16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh
What is a mystery? In Biblical parlance, a mystery was a hidden, sacred truth that is revealed in the New Testament. Could God become a human being? In the Old Testament times, nobody even dared to think or imagine that far. God looked so distant to the people of Israel.
In the Garden of Eden, we see God in a close personal fellowship with Adam and Eve in the coolness and quietness of the Garden. Sadly, that fellowship between God and man did not last long. After the Fall, even though God reached out to humanity, we find that the lines were clearly drawn. And you know the story, out of the whole congregation of Israel, only Moses was allowed to interact with God directly. The book of Exodus is full of instructions, how we approach God, where we stand, what we wear, how to behave, what happens if we misbehave. Later in the book of Leviticus, we see only the high priest was allowed to go into the presence of God, that too, only once a year.
God looked so distant to the people of Israel. They could not imagine that one day in the future, God would come into this world as a human being, live and walk among them rubbing his shoulders with their shoulders.
It was a mystery for them. 1 Timothy 3:16 says,
16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
Great is the mystery…..It’s a great mystery.
They were aware of the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. But
Who would be the Messiah?
A great prophet?
A prophet like Moses? may be
A prophet like Daniel? may be
A prophet like Elijah? may be
A prophet like Isaiah? may be
……a prophet like God?
No way…..It is simply unthinkable….It is beyond comprehension.
And no wonder, they were not able to see it.
His villagers could not see it
The pharisees could not see it
The sadducees could not see it
Herod and his palace could not see it
His relatives could not see it
Even his disciples could not see it.
In John 14, we see Philip asking the Lord, ‘shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us’
Show us the Father…He is speaking for the group. The Lord chided him gently,  Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
So, the Incarnation of God in Christ was a mystery even to the disciples until the Lord revealed them his true nature. In Christ Himself, the hidden God manifested to mankind. In that sense, He is God’s mystery
- The Miracle of Incarnation
Now, let us see the Miracle of Incarnation. The Incarnation of Christ was a miracle of first order.
Isaiah 7:14 says,
“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel”
It was prophesied 700 years before Christ. That itself was a miracle.
It prophesied about the nature of his incarnation.
A virgin shall conceive…..
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
The critics ask us, oh, come on, how is that possible? Give us a natural explanation. It is impossible and it does not have a natural explanation. That is why it is called a miracle in the first place. Then, how can we explain this miracle? The same angel who announced the birth of Christ to Mary, also said, ‘with God nothing shall be impossible’. God himself is the explanation for all miracles recorded in the Bible including the virgin birth of Lord Jesus Christ. After all, God created Adam without a father and a mother. God created Eve without a father and a mother. God created the whole universe out of nothing: Creation ex nihilo. If God could create the whole universe out of nothing, it’s not a big deal for Him to create a baby from a virgin, and there is a reason for his virgin birth, which we will see in a moment. So, the incarnation of our Lord is a miracle of the first order. He took upon Himself a human body and was born as Second Adam. Adam was a man created in the image of God while Jesus was God born in the image of man.
- The Mission of Incarnation
Why did he want to become a human being? What did he want to achieve?
The mission of incarnation is to save his people from their sins. While the central event in the history of the world is the incarnation of Christ, the central event in the life of Christ was his crucifixion. The cross is the only point where God wants to confront and conciliate with the humanity. Yet the world rejects the cross. I Corinthians 1:18 says, ‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing’.
We see in our culture a strong aversion to the message of the cross. I have been living in America since 2001 and I grieve to see the rising tide of atheism in this country and Europe. Dr.Robert Bucholz, professor of history at Loyola University of Chicago said that Europe’s atheism started just after First World War.
Many people in Europe were so excited at the beginning of the first world war. They called it the Great War and men and women were standing in the streets, singing national anthems, they were exuberant in sending soldiers to the battlefield. The war was not what they expected and excited about. The trenches, the U boats, the bombs After millions of people were dead, Europe went into doldrums. They gave up their faith in God. The art, music and literature were filled with a sense of meaninglessness and despair.
You listen to Bach, Beethoven and Vivaldi..who glorified God through their music. Now, you listen to hip-hop. You feel the dissonance. You see the paintings of Rembrandt, The paintings became more abstract and fragmented. The literature became purposeless. T.S.Eliot wrote Waste Land in 1923 to depict the world as sterile Wasteland, devoid of divine purpose.
Ezra Pound (1885-1972) went through a mental breakdown after spending 25 days in a steel cage in a military camp. In 1920 he wrote Hugh Selwyn Mauberly, world is like a cage with false values. He turned to fascism to find meaning for his life and, then with a mental breakdown in a psychiatric hospital for 12 years.
WB Yeats turned to mysticism
Bertolt Brecht and Kafka depicted terrifying, oppressive, irrational world which swallows up people with situations beyond their control.
DH Lawrence filled his writings with characters that find meaning in sex, in works like Rainbow
Hemingway and Fitzerald encouraged to find meaning in sex and alcoholism. Fully distraught, Hemingway committed suicide.
Virginia Woolf wrote Mrs.Dolloway to give a message: find happiness in the moment, forget the rest. Paradoxically, Septimus, the hero of the novel commits suicide when he could not stand the stressful conditions of his life. She wrote that novel back in 1925, over 90 years ago, but I feel that novel describes the mood of our society at this time. We look at life as one big party designed to make us happy, and when circumstances change, we break apart. And the tragic fact is more young people are dying by suicide than in the battlefield.
Antidepressants, Illicit drugs are exploding
On the mount of Olives, it says in Luke 22:44, Jesus was in so much agony, and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Jesus was persevering himself though such stress, because, in His incarnation, his mission was to do what God ordained him to do: More young people are dying by suicides than in the battlefield
If there is one person that our depressed world could see and get inspiration from, it is the life of Lord Jesus Christ. His life was driven with a passion to accomplish the will of God.
What was the will of God for Him?
- To Pay the Punishment of Sin:
- To Destroy the Power of Death:
He was fully human and he was fully God. He was God-Man.
He came to be the Savior of the world. He had to be fully God in order for His sacrifice to have the infinite worth necessary to atone for the sin of mankind.
It is like debt.
If I owe $100, some of you might come forward to help me out.
If I owe $1000, a few of you might come forward to help me out.
If I owe $ 1 million dollars, I don’t think any of you would come forward to help me out.
If I owe $ 1000 trillion dollars, even if you gather all the wealth in this world, you cannot pay that amount.
If I owe infinite amount of dollars, only an infinite source can pay it off.
Sin is an infinite debt we owe, and only an infinite person can pay it off. Anybody who wants to deal with the sin problem, must be have infinite resources. In other words, the person who could save us would have to be God himself. On the other hand, the savior had to be fully man in order to redeem us. It was man who sinned, it was man who violated God, it was man who was under the curse, it was man who is under the punishment. In order take the place of man, the Savior had to be a man himself. so, on one hand, he had to be God to have the power to save us and on the other hand, he had to be man to take our place as our Substitute. Now, where is this God-Man heading to?
Philippians chapter 2 says,
6 (He) being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
The Incarnation is taking him to the cross, that is the destination before his death.
What did he achieve on the cross?
Hebrews 1:2-3 says,
3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
- The punishment of sin
- The power of death
14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
- The destroy the devil.
Devil had destroyed humanity’s loving relationship with God. And where is justice for his crimes against humanity?
Not long ago, I was reading the newspaper in our town. On the page 1, there was this story of young lady who was walking on the road. and somebody hit her and drove away. She died on the spot. I said to myself, what a sad loss of life, an young lady just 23 years-old. After a few days, a gentleman walked into our clinic. He was sobbing uncontrollably. I was handing him over napkin after napkin.
I asked him, ‘what is happening? Why are you crying?’
‘My fiancee was killed a few days ago. We were planning to get married soon.
I said, ‘I am sorry, I read about that tragic accident’
He said, ‘It is not an accident. She was murdered’
I have been studying the scene and the injuries on her body, it
-I met him again recently,
He said, ‘I am working on that every day. I am not going to give up until I find out who killed my fiancee’
When we are struck by such evil, we grieve, but we also ask for justice.
Why can’t he destroy devil without incarnation?
Devil’s power is the power of death. Sin brought death – the physical death, spiritual death and eternal death. We cannot escape death. Benjamin Franklin said nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. Satan’s plan is to keep people away from God until they die because once they are dead they can no longer get the opportunity for salvation. Death became a tool in the hands of satan. And as long as we cannot escape death we cannot escape the power of Satan.
We are dead in our sins and we need to be resurrected. Death precedes resurrection. To reach resurrection, Jesus had to die first in our place. To die he must be human. He went into death, through death, and came out on the other side, thereby conquering it. Then He could say, ‘because I live, you shall live also’. (john 14:19). The resurrection of Jesus Christ provides the believer with eternal life.
2 Corinthians 8:9 says,
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
In the incarnation of Christ, the eternal God became poor by taking on human flesh and humbling Himself even to the point of death on the cross. He defeated the powers of death and hell and gave us eternal life.
By his poverty we became rich: now we got the spiritual blessings – forgiveness, joy, peace, and eternal life.
So, the mission of incarnation is to deliver us from the punishment of sin, to deliver us from the power of death and Satan and to make us spiritually rich.
- The Memorial of Incarnation
“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me”
This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
When we break the bread, we are remembering our Lord in His incarnation.
“Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you”
When God made covenant with Abraham, he ratified the covenant with the blood (Genesis 15:9-10). It foreshadowed the blood of Christ. That is why Jesus told the Jews, ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad’ (John 8:56).
Abraham, when he was sacrificing the blood of the innocent animals, He was looking forward to the day when the Son of Man would shed His precious blood for the remission of sins.
The Old Testament looked forward to the incarnation of Christ, while we look backwards. The Lord’s Table: this is the memorial of incarnation. Our memorials from the past give us meaning in the present.
Not long ago, I was in Washington DC, I was walking through Smithsonian Museum of American History. There was a section dedicated to President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln’s hat, his shirts, his trousers, his notebooks and his pens were displayed in exhibits. People were glancing at them in awe. These are the clothes worn by Lincoln! This is the pen he used to write his letters! this is the hat he used to wear.
There is nothing special about those clothes by themselves. Those objects got their significance because of who wore them. Humanity gets its significance from the fact that God wore it.
What makes us human? There are million answers to that question in our world from a plethora of worldviews. Evolutionists, for example, say, ‘we are just another species of animals. There is nothing special about us?’
But, that is exactly where we differ. Humanness and human body is dignified and glorified because God wore it.
Needless to say, we see so much abuse of human beings in our world.
We got Reality TV today, where all kinds of filth is shown in the name of entertainment. It is nothing but abuse of human beings made in the image of God.
Violence is glorified starting from the video games played by little children.
Imagine what would happen if we seriously think about our lives in the light of the truth of incarnation?
Imagine what would happen if our society seriously think about itself in the light of the truth of incarnation?
The person engaged in violence would say,
I can’t do this, stop the camera, let me put on my clothes, for I am made in the image of the son of God.
it is subjected to lust, the sexual exploitations and pornography.
Same can be said about violence.
Genesis 10: Thou shall not kill, because I created man in my image.
I can’t hurt you, you are made in the image of the son of God
What would God say to us now? Thou shall not kill, because I created man in the image of my Son.
The Lord’s table is a memorial of his incarnation.
- The Message of Incarnation
Finally, we should not miss the Message of Incarnation.
Hebrews chapter 1 starts with these beautiful words: God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.
God spoke through His Son. There is a message in His incarnation. Son was sent with the Word of God. In fact the Son himself is the Word of God.
The Gospel of John starts with the words, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.
the Word became flesh….the Word: it’s a message.
The Word Himself Incarnated.
The Message Himself Incarnated.
That is why Jesus’ message was Himself.
I am the way, the truth and life
I am the life and resurrection
I am the good shepherd
I am the door
Incarnation has a Message which is the Person of Christ.
That is why the original disciples of Christ, the Apostles, put such emphasis on this truth.
1 John 1:1-2 starts with these words:
1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—
Many forces tried to silence that message. But the apostles did not heed to them.
In the town I live now, there lived a famous man named Joe Paterno. Whenever he visited the hospital, he used to pick his own room and own nurse. I asked people, what’s so special about him?. I was told he donates tons of money to the hospital, his statue was erected in the middle of the town, he is the head coach of the foot ball. He won so many games that he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. But his illustrious career came to an abrupt end when he was dismissed from the team for his role in a child sex abuse scandal. His former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was abusing young boys who were under his training.
Joe Paterno and Penn State President Graham Spanier both were dismissed because even though they knew about the abuse of children they did not do anything to stop it because they worried what would happen to their reputation. The judge looked at the university president and said, ‘You knew that children are being sexually abused and you kept quite. You are guilty of silence.’
The Judge called it, ‘Conspiracy of Silence’. …. what a description! In a different realm, I think we are guilty of silence. When it comes to the gospel, there is a conspiracy of silence. We don’t want to talk about sin, judgment, grace, and cross because it might offend people. But that is the message of Incarnation. As the Apostle said, this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance that Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners.
- The Mediation of Incarnation:
Mediation means intervention to resolve a dispute between two opposing parties. Jesus came to this world to be the mediator.
1 Timothy 2:5: For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
Who can resolve the dispute between God and man?
Who can mediate between God and man?
It is not a priest
It is not an angel
It is not a saint
It is not even Mary
It is man Christ Jesus
He is the one mediator between God and man.
The man Christ Jesus.
Many people are turning to mysticism to experience God, but their attempts would be futile. They have to go through Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ’s humanity is emphasized here because it is the man Christ who can stand between God and human beings. He goes from God to men as the representative of God He goes from men to God as the representative of men .That is possible because of His incarnation. How can put the enmity between God and man? Who can put away the enmity between warring groups? It is man Christ Jesus.
If you are following the news from Syria, over 100,000 people were killed over the last two years. Sunnis bomb shiites today, and shiites bomb sunnis tomorrow. Not just in Syria, if you look at the Middle East today, from Morocco through Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq all the way to Afghanistan, it is Muslims killing Muslims and then both of them persecute Christians. Both are just factions of Islam. Islam is the religion that explicitly denies the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Cross of Christ is the supreme manifestation and expression of all virtues: Love, Grace, Mercy, Forgiveness, Goodness, Gratitude, Humility,hope,justice,peace, sacrifice,selflessness. Apostle Paul said in Galatians 6:14, ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’.
Before we go any further, God says, I have to meet you at the feet of the cross.
Most people knew about Gandhi as the non-violent freedom fighter of India’s Independence Movement. Internally, Gandhi’s heart was also consumed by the enmity between Hindus and Muslims. Ultimately, his life ended when a Hindu fanatic shot a bullet at his heart. In 1924, he fasted for 21 days, drinking only salted water. His goal was to resolve the disputes and enmity between Hindus and Muslims. He ended his 21 day fast with an interreligious prayer service. At the start, an Imam recited the opening sura of the Quran and at the end, a Hindu priest recited a mantra. But in between Gandhi wanted his friend, Charles Andrews, a Christian missionary, to sing a Christian hymn. Gandhi called it ‘his favorite Christian song’. It was Isaac Watts’ 1707 hymn,
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Gandhi’s favorite lines were:
Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
On the cross, Lord Jesus became the mediator between God and human beings. He is the only mediator. There is no other way. I often hear statements like, ‘he is such a nice gentleman. Wouldn’t your God accept him?’ The answer is no. Being nice is nice, but that niceness does not take you to heaven. You have to go through the Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus. The Incarnated Christ is standing between God and humanity as the sole mediator.
The Incarnated is the only Savior of the world. The apostles preached the incarnation of God in Christ and they made faith in that doctrine an essential mark of salvation.
1 John 4:2 says,
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
The first test of faith is what you believe concerning the nature of Christ.
Do you believe that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate?
If you don’t, you are not a Christian. You don’t have the spirit of God.
If you don’t believe this truth, you have the spirit of AntiChrist.
That is that simple.
Islam: Islam denies that God came in flesh in Lord Jesus. So it is a false religion.
Judaism: It denies that God came in flesh in Lord Jesus. So it is a false religion.
Jehovah’s Witnesses. They deny that God came in flesh in Lord Jesus. So it is a false religion.
Mormons. They deny that God came in flesh in Lord Jesus. So it is a false religion.
You might say, they are nice people, they help others, they started charities, they help orphans and widows. But that is not the test of faith.
The test of faith is what you believe concerning the nature of Christ.
May God bless our hearts with this precious truth from the scripture.
Paul Kattupalli MD