What is the incarnation?

Last updated on May 10, 2023

And the Word became flesh.” (John 1:14)

In the beginning, God and man maintained a perfect communion. However, man sinned and the perfect communion was broken (Read Genesis 1 – 3). The world entered into a state of sinful darkness. But in Genesis 3, God Himself reached out to man and sought to restore communion. What did He do? He promised that through the “offspring” or “seed” of the woman, sinful man would be reconciled to Him (Genesis 3:15).

Galatians 3:16 shows that this “seed” is Christ. And we also know that Christ is the Word of God, that is, God Himself (John 1:1). So we can say that God himself is the promised Seed. This happened only through the incarnation. The apostle John presents this great mystery: “the Word became flesh”. What do we understand by this? In a few words: God became man. This mystery implies some fundamental truths to be considered:

God the Son became a man

As Christians, we believe in one God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Although we cannot fully understand this, much less accurately describe it, the Scriptures bear witness to this truth. Therefore, it is important to understand that “the Word” is God the Son, the second person of the trinity, the Son of God. So when the appointed time came, the Son of God, being true and eternal God, came into this world as a human baby, but without sin (Galatians 4:4). That’s what it means that He “became flesh”.

God the Son did not cease to be God when He became man

When the appointed time came for God the Son to become incarnate, He did not cease to be God in order to become man, but being God, He added to His divine nature a human nature. Therefore, the Son of God, being one person, possesses in Himself two natures (divine and human). He is truly God and truly man. Although these natures are united, they are not mixed or confused (Philippians 2:6-7).

God the Son was really, fully human

In John’s time, false teachings arose that claimed that the incarnation of God the Son was a mere appearance, that is, that Christ only somehow appeared human but was not really human. This teaching is called Docetism, and you can read more about it in 1 John 4:1-6. But John affirmed that “the Word became flesh”. Not that He appeared to be flesh, but that He became flesh. The Son of God is now both truly God and truly man. Indeed, Jesus’ favorite description of Himself was Son of Man. (Daniel 7:13; Mark 2:10)

Therefore, the birth of Jesus is the incarnation of the eternal Son of God. He is the promised Seed of God. He is the only human who did not assume a sinful nature or inherit original sin.

Why is it important to believe in the incarnation?

  • Because if we believe in this great truth we will be children of God (read 1 John 4; John 1:12-13).
  • Because it is the foundation for genuinely loving our neighbor (read 1 John 4).
  • Because it is the foundation for living in true humility. (read Philippians 2)

Lord, may this great truth strongly impact our hearts!

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