WHY THE GOD-MAN?
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.