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In a recent post, I shared the link to a 34 page curriculum on Christology, which is the study of the person of Christ. Below I share 2 pages on the Incarnation. We can be so familiar with something that it becomes ordinary, and we lose our sense of wonder. Has the Incarnation ever astonished you?

The word Incarnation refers to the coming of God into this world as a human being. Jesus was God made man. We celebrate this at Christmas time, but I think we can forget about it the rest of year. Have you ever really contemplated that the Creator became a creature? I didn’t until just a few years ago.

The author of a book entitled God With Us shares that growing up in a Christian home and culture, he understood Christianity more as a religion of morality than “the amazing story of a God who became human, while remaining fully divine, in order to redeem his creation.” [1] He goes on to say that:

“Somehow I missed the incredible wonder of the mystery of incarnation, of God becoming one of us, of the transcendent God condescending to become a creature out of his great love for us (Eph.2:4). As a result, my worship was deficient, and my view of ministry was truncated. Coming to understand how the doctrine of the incarnation impacts all of life and ministry is transforming me.” [2]

John 1:14 states that “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

AW Tozer comments on this verse: “Within the statement of these few simple words is one of the deepest mysteries of human thought….How is it possible that God could join the Creator to the creature? If you do not engage in deep thinking, it may not seem so amazing, but if you have given yourself to frequent thoughtful consideration, you are astonished.” [3]

In the classic book Knowing God by JI Packer, the chapter on the Incarnation is outstanding.[4] Packer notes how faith can be a struggle for some, and there are aspects of Christianity that are hard to believe. But he further points out that some people make faith harder than it needs to be by finding difficulty in the wrong places!

For example, they have doubts about the virgin birth, the miracles performed by Christ, and the resurrection. However, the real difficulty or supreme mystery of Christianity is the Christmas message of Incarnation. It is from disbelief or inadequate belief in the Incarnation that the other problems arise. If we believe in the Incarnation, the other difficulties dissolve! Since Jesus was God, it only follows that his birth would be unique, that he would be a miracle worker, and that he would conquer death through resurrection! The Incarnation “makes sense of everything else that the New Testament contains.” [5]

Here are some basics about the Incarnation:

The word Incarnation derives from the Latin; the root word caro means flesh. The word itself is not in the Bible, but it is based on verses in the New Testament that reference Jesus as a person “in the flesh.” Besides John 1:14, consider Romans 8:3, Colossians 1:22, 1 Timothy 3:16, and 1 John 4:2. The verse in 1 Timothy appears to be an early Christian creed or hymn about Jesus:

“Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.”

In one sense, there is no debate about Jesus being in the flesh. Almost all secular historians and scholars believe that there was a Jewish teacher named Jesus in the early years of the first century. Arguments that Jesus did not exist have been debunked. But believing that Jesus existed does not make one a Christian. What you believe about the identity of Jesus is paramount. Jesus was human and divine. A Bible Dictionary offers this definition:

“The doctrine of the incarnation teaches that the eternal Son of God became human, and that he did so without in any manner or degree diminishing his divine nature.”[6]

Before we delve deeper into these things, here are thoughts/questions for reflection.

  • We can be so familiar with something that it becomes ordinary, and we lose our sense of wonder. Has the Incarnation ever astonished you? Take time to contemplate that God became one of us. Pray for a renewed sense of awe.
  • The Incarnation “makes sense of everything else that the New Testament contains.” Explain this in your own words. If a Christian friend was developing doubts about the miracles Jesus performed or about the reality of the resurrection, what could you share about the Incarnation?
  • Look up: John 1:14, Romans 8:3, Colossians 1:22, 1 Timothy 3:16, 1 John 4:2. Consider the verses in context, by looking at the verses immediately before and after as well. Jot down your observations about each text. What did you learn?

[1] Glenn Kreider, God With Us (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2014), 113.
Review of this book HERE.

[2] Ibid., 114.

[3] A.W. Tozer, Jesus The Life and Ministry of God the Son (Chicago: Moody Press, 2017), 47-48. Review of this book HERE.

[4] J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove: IVP, 1973), 52-64.

[5]  Ibid., 54.

[6] Merrill C. Tenney, editor, Pictorial Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1967), 373.