Advent Week 3: Incarnation
At one point in history, God made a promise that became a reality in the coming of Christ. His coming is known as the Incarnation in which He took on human flesh to rescue humanity through His life, death and resurrection (aka the Gospel). The Incarnation and its impact on us are the focus of our time this week, and I want to look at it through the lens of John 1.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
JOHN 1:1-5; 14
John opens his Gospel with the same three words Moses opened with in Genesis: “In the beginning.” This isn’t accidental or insignificant; rather, it is intentional and profound. What makes this breathtaking is that John’s “In the beginning” refers to a time before Genesis 1:1. As you read the rest of John 1:1, it becomes clear that he is referring to the origin of history before creation, when God and “the Word” existed eternally face to face. Then, when the Father decided it was time to create, it was the Word Who spoke creation into being. Through the Word, God brought into existence what had not previously existed.
The eternal Word “became” a man named Jesus. He Who eternally existed as God became human for humanity’s redemption. In this, He did not cease to be God. He came as fully God and fully man – on a mission of grace and truth, reflecting the glory He shared with the Father to the blind and broken world.
It’s about God Who became man in pursuit of you. He came to reveal the glory of the Father through your redemption, but this redemption did not come without a price.
The price paid is known and cherished as the gospel, and 1 Corinthians 15 puts it as straight forward as any passage: the gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus according to the Scriptures for the forgiveness of sin. Christ’s death on the cross absorbed the weight of God’s wrath against sin, thus displaying eternal glory, and Christ’s resurrection proclaimed victory over death. This gospel is the fulfillment of the promise God spoke through the prophets of old. God is reliable because the plan of salvation revealed in the Old Testament did not begin in the Old Testament. Salvation through Jesus Christ was not a reaction to sin entering the world. God’s redemptive purposes are rooted in eternity. Salvation through Jesus Christ is an eternal plan that began even before “In the beginning,” which brings us back to John 1.
As Jesus was sent to humanity with a mission, we are sent to humanity to carry out His mission. We have been sent to “incarnate” into our cities and through our jobs, homes, coffee shops, homeless shelters, etc. We are to integrate counter-cultural living into our city. Jesus shows us that neither of these implications can be taken in isolation. Rather, our holiness is stirred up by our mission, and our mission is accomplished in our holiness. This is the mission of the bride of Christ in the joy of Christ until the day we walk by sight and not by faith.
This is incarnation…