The first couple of chapters of Luke and Matthew get worn out this time of year. That’s where we normally go to read about the birth of Jesus. However, the Christmas story found in the first chapter of John richly presents another aspect of our Savior’s earthly arrival.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.
The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John 1:1-4, 10, 12, 14 NIV
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” Ah, so much truth, so much hope, found in one statement. Jesus, who John meaningful calls the “Word,” left the glory of heaven and became human in order to walk the earth with mankind. To “tabernacle” or dwell with us. The Word – who was Himself God – became man. John 1:14 poetically describes what we refer to as the “Incarnation.”
The term “Incarnation” refers to the foundational Christian belief that God became man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Passage after passage in the Bible clearly presents Jesus as both fully divine and fully human. Two natures united together in one person.
Although hard to grasp, this concept is absolutely vital to our faith. That is why the early church worked so hard to battle against heretics and false teachers who wanted to twist the correct understanding of the Incarnation. After centuries of fighting those who would introduce incorrect doctrine, the church settled the matter once and for all at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD. The following is an excerpt from their lengthy treatise on the nature of Christ.
At once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man… recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ;
Why is the Incarnation – the truth that Jesus was both God and man – so vital to our faith? Here are a few things to consider:
- Without it we would still be lost, spiritually dead. Only God Himself can forgive our sins. Only the sinless God-man could offer His life as the once-for-all perfect sacrifice needed to make atonement for our sins. No incarnation, no salvation. (John 1:12, Heb 9:11-28)
- We have a High Priest who understands both our temptations and our sufferings. Because Jesus experienced both He knows exactly what we are going through and how to help us (Hebrews 5:14-15).
- Our earthly Savior is both God and King! Jesus is the eternal God, the Creator of all there is (John 1:1-3). He is worthy of our praise and worship.
- Jesus Christ is the true revelation of the Father to us. If we know Jesus, then we know the Father (John 14:9).
This Christmas don’t simply celebrate the birth of a wee babe in the manger. Celebrate the incarnation of Jesus Christ. God became flesh and dwelled among men so He could bring salvation to all who would receive Him! Hallelujah and amen!
How does the truth that Jesus is both fully human and fully God impact you and your faith? Share your thoughts with us.
If you have never received Jesus as your Savior, don’t let another Christmas go by without making that eternally important decision. Find out now how you can become a Christian. If you want to learn more about your need for a Savior check out Kathy’s book “God’s Truth Revealed.”