The incarnation is significant because it is God’s ultimate self-revelation. Consider for a moment all that we know of God that is reveled to us. He uses what the theologians refer to as “general revelation” to tell us that He exists and that we are responsible to Him. All throughout creation, the revelation of God is enough to hold men without excuse in the Day of Judgment. But all this is not enough for us to know God. There is still much missing. Thankfully there is yet another facet of revelation provided to us. The written Word of God forms a “specific revelation” given that we might know God. But still there is something missing.
Here’s the problem. With all that we know about God, no one has ever seen Him. We have heard that Moses saw part of His glory, but no one has seen God (John 1:18). How can you really know someone you haven’t seen, gone to a park with, watched their reaction as you tell stories to, and hugged? There is something wholly different between a cyber relationship and the real thing. This is something of the distance between God and His creation. This distance has existed from the primeval period of our history, because mankind has always wanted nothing to do with the one true God. We’ve rebelled against Him and His holiness demands that He leave us to our will, but His mercy keeps finding ways to reveal Himself to us throughout history. That’s where the two sorts of revelation that we just spoke of come from, but in the end God wasn’t happy just to speak to us in shadows.
The incarnation means that God spoke into our world with Himself. The invisible God sent us His duplicate image (Colossians 1:15) so that we may see Him for Himself (John 14:8-9). God all-glorious, mysterious, immortal, invisible, clothed in light, and high above every throne and dominion took upon Himself humanity. As He sustained the molecules of the known universe, He was birthed into a cattle feeding trough in a smelly cave in a little town in the Middle East.
I am often fascinated by the Apostle John’s use of the term “Word” to refer to Jesus. This was at one time a substantial source of confusion for me. Why would you call a person a “Word”? This makes very little sense to you and me, but it makes all the sense in the world to God. Imagine with me that you had been trying to communicate with your girlfriend in another state. You had emailed. You’ve tried Facebook stalking her. You’ve called and texted. You’ve even had friends try to contact her locally, but to no avail. You’ve tried every sort of message and now it’s time to do something extreme. You hop a plane and travel across the country to see her. You yourself are become the message. So it is with the Incarnate Word. Jesus is the message of God to a humanity that has ignored all of His prior messages. But consider the content of the message. It has often intrigued me that God’s message to man wasn’t one of hate and punishment. We had rebelled against him, after all! But quite to the contrary, God’s message to mankind was one of hope and peace through the work of Jesus Christ.
Every religion in the world is predicated upon the idea of man becoming a god, but the Christian teaching is that God became man that man could be reconciled with God. God put Himself on the line so that he could suffer for the rebellion that we chose over Him. As you celebrate this time of year I would encourage you to think of the fact that the incarnation of Jesus Christ was God shouting into the world with all His might. God wants to be known. God wants to reveal Himself to us and will go to the greatest lengths to do so. Are you listening?
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” (Hebrews 1:1-2)