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echoes of thought in love with God through Christ crucified

Tag: Incarnation (page 1 of 4)

He took to himself what He was not,
while remaining what He was;

He came to us in a man
without ever departing from the Father (in heaven);

He continued to be what He is
while appearing to us as what we are;

His divine power was confined in the body of an infant
without (His presence) being withdrawn from the (entire) universe.

—Augustine
Sermon in A. D. 396

The first angel, who appeared to the shepherds, gave them this message, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” That word “Saviour” reminds us of what the angel of the Lord said to Joseph, “Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His Name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.”

The condition of Joseph, when he heard this Name for the first time, is not altogether without instruction. The angel spake to him “in a dream.” That Name is so soft and sweet that it breaks no man’s rest, but rather yields a peace unrivalled,—”the peace of God.” With such a dream, Joseph’s sleep was even more blessed than his waking.

The Name of Jesus has evermore this power, for, to those who know its preciousness, it unveils a glory brighter than dreams have ever imaged. Under its wondrous spell, young men see visions, and old men dream dreams; and these do not mock them, as ordinary dreams do, but they are faithful and true prophecies of what shall surely come to pass. This Name brings before our minds a vision of glory, in the latter days, when Jesus shall reign from pole to pole; and yet another vision of glory unutterable when His people shall be with Him where He is, and shall reign with Him for ever and ever.

The Name of Jesus was comforting at the first mention of it by the angel of the Lord, because of the words with which it was accompanied; for they were meant to remove perplexity and anxiety from Joseph’s mind. The angel said to him, “Fear not;” and, truly, no name can banish fear like the Name of Jesus; it is the beginning of hope, and the end of despair.

It is worthy of note that the angel commenced his message to the shepherds in a similar way: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.” Let the sinner but hear of “a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,” and, straightway, he hopes to live, he rises out of the deadly lethargy of his hopelessness, and, looking upward, he sees a reconciled God, and fears no longer.

This Name of Jesus appears to us even more full of rare delights when we meditate upon the infinite preciousness of the glorious Person to whom it was assigned. Ah, here is a Jonathan’s wood dripping with honey from every bough, and he that tasteth it shall have his eyes enlightened! We have no common Saviour, for neither earth nor Heaven could produce His equal. At the time when the Name was given to Him by God, Jesus had not been seen by mortal eyes, for He lay as yet concealed from human gaze; but soon He came forth, having been born of Mary by the power of the Holy Ghost,—the matchless Holy Child Jesus. He bore our nature, but not our corruption. He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, but yet in His flesh there was no sin. He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” This Holy One is the Son of God, and yet He is the Son of man; this surpassing excellence of nature makes His Name most precious.

—Charles H. Spurgeon
Christ’s Incarnation (Passmore and Alabaster, 1901).

To Glorify God in Propitiatory Death

WHY THE GOD-MAN?

REASON #4:

To Glorify God in Propitiatory Death

Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect … to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
— Hebrews 2:17 —

When “Christ came into the world” He came to glorify God the Father, not only in perfect life, but ultimately in propitiatory death. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), but God “sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins;” and this He did in love (1 John 4:10). A propitiatory death means a sacrificial death, in substitution on behalf of the guilty, that satisfies the just and righteous wrath of God. A propitiatory death fully satisfies or exhausts every legal demand—all penalties owing to sin’s rebellion. No penalty remains for the guilty when the guilty is substituted by a propitiatory death.

The aim of the glory of God in the substitutionary death of the incarnate Son is underscored in Hebrews 10:5-7, where the pleasure of God is the focus and contrasts are used to highlight this point. “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired” is contrasted with “a body you have prepared for me.” “Burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure” is contrasted to the pleasure that God the Father delighted in according to the pledge of God the Son, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.” Here we get a glimpse of God’s triune intrapersonal communication concerning the incarnation.

In the Gospel of John we see yet another illustration of this same purpose. Christ, being very near His betrayal and crucifixion, cries out to the Father with an eager entreaty that the Father be glorified. Christ openly declares, “for this purpose I have come to this hour” referring to His imminent sacrificial death. It was in response to this request that the Father declared that He had glorified His name and “will glorify it again.” Now, when He says that He will glorify it again, the most immediate pointer is to Jesus’ death. There is no question that God came in humanity “for this purpose” to lay down His life in the only sacrifice capable of satisfying the good and holy demands of God’s justice against humanity’s sin. Christ came not only so that He who is God could die, but that He could glorify God in propitiatory death.

Why the incarnation? Why the God-man? One central reason was to glorify God in propitiatory death.

—Pastor Manny

To Glorify God in Perfect Life

WHY THE GOD-MAN?

REASON #3:

To Glorify God in Perfect Life

You know that he appeared … and in him there is no sin.
— 1 John 3:5 —

I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.
— John 17:4 —

Our chief end speaks also of our chief sin. The basic principle of sin is idolatry, the worship of something other than God—the glorifying and enjoying of something chiefly other than God.

The Psalm says, “There is none who does good” (14:1). Man seeks not after God but after his own self-adoring will. Isaiah says, “we have turned—every one—to his own way” (53:6). Man naturally rebels against God as his King; thinking, desiring, living and doing, in principle as the ancient people of Israel, of whom it is said, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).

Christmas is a reminder that God came to glorify God, even, and especially, where man failed. Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). And again, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34). Jesus repeatedly draws attention to the fact that He came and was sent to glorify God through perfect obedience to the will of the Father. Before John the Baptists, Jesus affirmed, “it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness … and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’” (Matthew 3:15–17). This was part of His mission. Jesus said Himself that He was sent and lived a life marked by intimacy with the Father. Regarding His coming and living, He said, “I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (John 8:29). Hebrews reminds us that when “Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me . . . Behold, I have come to do your will’” (Hebrews 10:5–7).

Where Adam failed to glorify God in perfect life—where Israel failed, where you and I fail—Christ came to undo, invert, reverse, and correct through His substitution. The penalty of our rebellion and belittling of God, Christ came to absorb through His death and to magnify the worth of God through His life.

Why the incarnation? Why the God-man? One reason was to glorify God in perfect life.

—Pastor Manny

So That He Who Is God Could Die

WHY THE GOD-MAN?

REASON #2:

So That He Who Is God Could Die

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
— Hebrews 2:9 —

God cannot die and the salvation of sinful men depends entirely on the death of a perfect Substitute. Since no man is righteous and without sin (Romans 3:10; Ecclesiastes 7:20), God Himself came, in grace, to be our perfect Substitute, that we might glorify and enjoy Him forever. As Hebrews 2:9 says, we see Jesus, who is God, for a little while made lower than the angels—this is the Christmas story; this is the incomprehensible wonder of the incarnation and suffering and exaltation of Christ. It is all a testimony of the grace of God. Its purpose was so that He who is God “might taste death,” so that we who are sinners might enjoy eternal life.

B. B. Warfield said it well: “The Son of God as such could not die; to Him belongs by nature an ‘indissoluble life’ (7:16). If He was to die, therefore, He must take to Himself another nature to which the experience of death were not impossible (2:17).” This is an encompassing reason for the incarnation, the purpose for which Christ came. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. … Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour” (John 12:24–27). There would be no hope of any other lasting benefit of His coming without His death. Therefore, we can summarily agree with Robert Culver, “The Passion and death of Christ … were designated by Jesus as the chief reasons for the incarnation.”

Why the incarnation? Why the God-man? So that He who is God could die.

—Pastor Manny

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