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A Brief Reflection on the Incarnation

May 8, 2014 | by: Mike Law | 0 Comments

As we come out of a season in which we spent some time meditating on the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and as we move into a series in the gospel of John (which opens meditating on the incarnation of Jesus Christ), I thought that it might be valuable to think through the immense theology of the incarnation. J.I. Packer notes in his book Knowing God that the incarnation might in fact be the greatest mystery of all. Packer writes,

“But in fact the real difficulty, the supreme mystery with which the gospel confronts us, does not lie here [in the atonement, the resurrection, or the Gospel miracles] at all. It lies not in the Good Friday message of atonement, nor in the Easter message of resurrection, but in the Christmas message of Incarnation. The really staggering Christian claim is that Jesus of Nazareth was God made man — that the second person of the Godhead became the “second man” (1 Cor 15:47), determining human destiny, the second representative head of the race, and that he took humanity without loss of deity, so that Jesus of Nazareth was as truly and fully divine as he was human.” (J.I. Packer, Knowing God, p.53)

In John 1 the apostle stresses Jesus’ humanity and his divinity. We see his humanity stressed by the word “flesh,” and we see his divinity stressed by John’s use of the phrase “and the Word.” When you connect those phrases, as John does in John 1:14 by saying, “the Word became flesh” we have quite clearly a description of the theanthropic person – that Jesus had two distinct natures united in one person.

Very early on, John defines what he means by the Word and the flesh. With his use of “Word,” John alludes to a period of time before the creation of the universe where the Word was not only in fellowship with God, but that the Word was God. John does not leave it at that for he goes on to say that the Word became flesh. In this John is stressing that the Divine Logos (the Son and Second Person in the Godhead) took to himself human nature. This is an important point for John. In fact, throughout John’s gospel this will be an emphasis, and it will become especially clear for in John’s passion narrative he would describe how the spear would pierce Jesus’ flesh. John is at pains to communicate Christ’s full humanity throughout his gospel, and especially in John 1.

But perhaps you wonder how should this effect your tomorrow. Recognizing the truth that Jesus is fully God should guard us from diminishing him, and positively encourage us to worship him. We should always remember that this man Jesus is our Lord, and we are to love him, obey him, and bow before him in humble praise. Still, recognizing the truth that Jesus is also fully man should bring us great comfort and encouragement, for our Lord and God has walked more than “a mile in our shoes.” He has known the trials and struggles of this life. He knows the fallen world that we have endured in pain and sorrow. Every word that falls from his lips comes from the mind and heart of our Redeemer and Friend. Jesus is not a person you want to reject or neglect, because he is fully God and fully man, he is a person that you want to come to know and love more and more each new day.

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