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. The Incarnation

THE INCARNATION

 

 

Every year as the Church approaches Christmas it tends to focus on the Christmas stories…

And that’s good … today though, I WANT TO FOCUS OUR ATTENTION ON A THEOLOGICAL TERM.

The INCARNATION, that’s the theological term for the birth of Christ.

 

The Oxford Dictionary defines it as:

“The embodiment of God the Son in human flesh as Jesus Christ…”

 

I.O.W. It literally means "in the flesh." So to incarnate means to put  something in fleshly form.

It can also mean to give form and substance to an insubstantial quality.

For example..... an extraordinarily giving person may be called the very incarnation of generosity.

Iow…..Their actions give substance to the quality.

 

Theologically the incarnation is the essence of God taking fleshly form in Jesus.

 

John records,

(Joh 1:14) The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Let’s just be reminded again:

 

The Word became flesh… The Word ( Logos) John speaks of is more than the things God says.

It’s a title of the Son of God; and this can be shown from an in-depth study of John 1 : 1-18, (which isn’t the study for today). But to summarise:

The “Word” in the first 18 verses of the Gospel according to John speaks to us of many aspects, amongst them are:

  1. Christ’s distinct personality
  2. His relation in the Godhead
  3. His Diety
  4. His pre existence
  5. His creative power
  6. His totally human existence and
  7. His Glory.

To be told that: “The Logos (Word) became flesh” is to be told that JESUS is the very mind and person of God Almighty.  The Logos is also the character of God......including God's love, righteousness and mercy.

The Logos (the Word) is Jesus, and He is at the same time fully human and fully divine.

 

FOLKS…..

The incarnation is a mystery that theologians and philosophers have  pondered for many centuries.

They asked in ages past and still do even today. How is it possible for the God of the entire universe to take fleshly form?

 

Some even argued that it was impossible.

 

They said……. God could give special guidance or He could possess someone in a special way like a prophet or holy person. But God could never be limited in the way humans are.  So some said Jesus was really and angel or a great prophet. There were many who denied the reality of the divine nature of Jesus.

 

The EBIONITES in the 2nd Century for instance, taught that Jesus was the natural son of Mary and Joseph. And they believed the divine nature of God only descended upon Him at His baptism.

 

This of course ignores:

 

(Mat 1:18) This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.

 

The Arians again believed that Jesus was created by God and that He was a SUPER-ANGELIC creature.

 

The Gnostics where even greater in their heresy, they declared that Jesus was just an illusion neither being born nor did He die.

 

My only comment is: there is no limit or excuse for such stupidity.

But let’s get to our own times and to the more well-known so called Christian denominations:

 

  1. A) Jehovah’s Witnesses.

For them Jesus is also regarded as a created being.

In support of this doctrine they refer to their “EMPHATIC DIAGLOT” version of the Bible.

In which…John 1:1 is rendered:  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and a god was the Word” They teach that when Jesus was on the earth He was a perfect man, nothing more and nothing less.

To quote them even further:

“Jesus was not God the Son”  or “Christ Jesus the divine was born three days after the Crucifixion”

 

  1. B) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. (Mormons)

They also claim that Jesus was the natural product of an earthly mother and father.

I would like to expand some more, but I think we get the picture of the extent of the heresy and false teaching out there. And it’s not difficult to see why some thought that way…..

 

Consider the dilemma involved.

 

How could an all knowing God live like a child having to learn how to eat and walk. ?

How could the one who constructed the foundations of the mountains and the depth of the seas learn to stack toy blocks ?

Could God experience fear and ignorance like a person ?

Could God be in nappies or be scolded by His parents ?

 

SO…..The Incarnation is a mystery.

 

But friends, the Bible doesn’t hand it down to us as a theological discourse.  It was given to us as a statement of fact and faith, in the form of a story. The most theological the Bible ever gets about the incarnation is the introduction to John which we read. And even that is merely an introduction to a story.

The Bible doesn't try to work out the details of how God did it…OR how it could be possible.

It merely tells the truth in story form. Which brings me to the Christmas story, which we are all so familiar with.

We’ve heard it over and over.

Nothing changes ….yet each year December we listen again……We tell it and read it and hear it until it becomes part of us.

How does the story go?   Let me remind you….

 

An angel came to a maiden, a virgin,  and he told her she would give birth to the Son of God.

She and her fiancée’ were, by law, required to go on a long journey…to register in Bethlehem.

At the end of the journey she went into labour in a town called Bethlehem, where there was no place to stay. And God's Son was born in a stable and was cradled in a feeding trough. God became a poor homeless refugee, and the victim of a ruthless government.

AND….Common people (shepherds) and wise religious men were the only ones to recognize him.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes we could even wonder….Why do we repeat this seemingly absurd story over and over? Year after year.  We do it so that the story AND the recounting thereof becomes part of us.

Stories are like that. They don't always contain the ridged logic of the theologians work.

But they can contain the truth.  And in a special way this story of Jesus’ birth contains the truth in a way no theological treatise can.

I want to quote from Pastor Nicki’s sermon: “The meaning of Logos”

Quote:

The word ‘Logos’ itself communicates something very powerful about the Lord Jesus.

When Jesus Christ came to this earth He made God known to us in a way that we otherwise could never have known God.

He was the audible expression of God in all He said and did; in other words, He was the continuous visible expression of the invisible God.

Think about that. You cannot see God but when you saw Jesus you saw the visible expression of the invisible God. John 1:18 (ESV)

18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”

The word ‘has made him known’ is the word from which we get our word ‘exegete’ which means to lead out, to unfold, to teach, to recount”. (My emphasis) END QUOTE.

 

FOLKS…This recounting of the story every year brings us  the following truth of the incarnation?

 

God is with us, …..Emmanuel!  God isn’t merely in the Holy of Holies of the temple.

God is not merely on a holy and inaccessible mountaintop. God isn’t just where His Church gathers on Holy days,

GOD IS WITH US, wherever we are.

God is with the poor, the blind, the widows and orphans. God is with the refugees and the persecuted.

God is even with shepherds and in a barn among the dispossessed.

So we repeat the story until its truth becomes a part of us.

We repeat it until we can see God at work among the unwanted and unneeded in our world.

We repeat it until we can grasp that God is with us in an intimate and personal way….

He’s with us in our greatest moments of Joy…

….with us in our most intimate relations,

…with us when we stand amazed at His creative display of beauty,

…with us when we celebrate achievements,

…with us when we enjoy His grace in provision.

Then again He’s also with us when we face adversity and challenges..

He’s with us when we are in pain/illness and disease…

…When the doctor says, there’s no more medicine can do.

…….. when you mourn for a loved one, no longer there… (this is especially relevant this Sunday for the van Heese family).…and for other families here, who face their first Christmas without a loved one.

Friends… God is with us in our stress and struggle and when we feel like giving up,

…..when our finances are in trouble   ….  Or out of work  …….when the children rebel

…..  or the adults misunderstand their children….. when your spouse stops loving you….

Conclusion.

Christmas is about the Word becoming flesh, it’s about God with us… and, we repeat it until we begin to live the story that God is with us…. We repeat it so that it is EMBEDDED into our conscience.

Until it governs our actions, We repeat the story until by the grace of God we become convinced of the truth it tells. Until our faith and actions give form and substance to the truth of God.

FOLKS …an element of Christmas is the INCARNATION… Grasping and embracing this theological truth…

That : God is with us…. Makes, not only Christmas, but every day a day of JOY, and I mean an inner joy…A joy, not governed by our circumstances, but by the Word  becoming flesh in our whole being.

 

AMEN.