“The Son of God became man to enable men to become the sons of God.” — C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity“
It is 56 days until Christmas. But regardless of what the calendar says, there is something about the beauty and mystery of Christmas that is inspiring. The word incarnation captures so much of what Christmas means to Christians around the world. It is easy sometimes to rush over the story of Christmas and move quickly on to Easter. Every believer can appreciate the importance of Easter to the gospel message, but we should never move too quickly past the incarnation. How can we not pause for a moment and try to grasp the concept of the Creator becoming part of His creation? God entering the world, not as a conquering hero, but as an infant child totally dependent on a young mother for everything.
The idea of the incarnation is both so amazingly unexpected and yet so beautifully loving. Here is God, willing to fully experience His own creation in the most intimate of ways. He had equality with God: He was infinitely superior to us, but He came down, walked among us, and treated us as more significant than Himself. Then He taught us to do the same with one another: “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
The baby born at Bethlehem was God made man. The Word had become flesh: a real human baby. He had not ceased to be God. He who made man was now learning what it felt like to be man. The mystery of the Incarnation is unfathomable. We cannot explain it; we can only appreciate it. God coming to Earth to be with us.
Charles Spurgeon put it this way: “Can you conceive the increasing wonder of the heavenly hosts when the great deed was actually done, when they saw His priceless tiara taken off, when they watched Him unbind His girdle of stars, and cast away His sandals of gold? Can you conceive what must have been the astonishment of the angels when He said to them, ‘I do not disdain the womb of the virgin; I am going down to earth to become a man’? Can you picture them as they declared that they would follow Him? They followed Him as near as He would permit them; and when they came to earth, they began to sing, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men… in the dilapidated stable where the oxen stood, and in the manger where they fed, there the Savior lies, swathed in the swaddling bands of the children of poverty. Nor doth He rest long there; on a sudden, His mother must carry Him to Egypt; He must go there, and become a stranger in a strange land. When He came back and grew up at Nazareth, the angels must have marveled to see Him that made the worlds handle the hammer and the nails, assisting His reputed father in the trade of a carpenter.”
The incarnation tells so much about God’s desire to be close to us, and His sacrifice of love. But it still fills one with wonder.
- What comes to mind when you think of the incarnation?
- How should Christ’s coming in the flesh and dwelling among men change the way we live?