The Continuation of the Series. Scroll down to view the archive to read Part 1.
In its strictest theological context incarnation refers to the embodiment of the eternal Spirit of God within the human flesh of the man Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ we find the only true example for all time of a genuine permanent incarnation of God.
God is a Spirit and as such, has always been invisible. Jesus told the Pharisees on more than one occasion, “Ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape.”(John 5:37)
Paul taught the Philippians that the invisible God
1. Took on the form of a servant
2. Was made in the likeness of men
3. Was found in fashion as a man. (Philippians 2:7-8)
Isaiah prophesied, “The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man.” That man would be Jesus Christ.
The saddest plight for any man or woman is to live and die without knowing who Jesus is. Do we, as Christians, really understand exactly who Jesus is? He was more than just a man. This should have been obvious to everyone from the beginning.
Both Joseph and Mary had a supernatural visitor announcing the impending birth of Jesus. An angel of God delivered the announcement with instruction to them both. Mary took the news to her cousin, Elisabeth. Elisabeth was several months pregnant at the time. The baby in her womb leaped for joy at the announcement.
Many ancient prophecies were fulfilled at Jesus’ birth. Prophecies pointed to Nazareth, to Bethlehem, where baby Jesus was born, even the flight to Egypt when Herod threatened the child. The angelic host announcing His birth in the shepherd’s fields should have been a testimony to everyone that this baby was not ordinary. The Magi from the east came hundreds of miles to visit the child Jesus because their own supernatural instincts led them to follow the star to the place where Jesus was.
Jesus was called the son of Joseph. Jesus declared to the Jews that He was God’s bread sent down from heaven. They were disturbed at this bold assertion. They argued, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?”(John 6:42)
They wrongly assumed that it was Joseph seed that had conceived Jesus. This was not possible because at the time of Jesus’ conception, Mary had never known a man. More specifically, the angel had explained to her that it was the Holy Spirit that would overshadow Mary. God’s Spirit had overshadowed the blessed young virgin girl. Thus, Joseph was not truly His father. God was His father. Joseph was only His earthly guardian. Jesus is the only human begotten of God. (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9)
Jesus was said to be an illegitimate child. “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” they asked. “Is not His mother named Mary?” Matthew 13:55 reveals that these points offended them. They could not comprehend Jesus’ miraculous conception. Jesus was in their eyes, an illegitimate child and certainly not worthy of His claims to be the Son of God. Their unfortunate blindness prevented Jesus from doing mighty works in His hometown of Nazareth.
Some insisted that Jesus was just an ordinary man. The entire fact of Jesus’ virgin birth was incomprehensible to the general public. This caused Joseph, Mary and Jesus the object of much scorn and reproach from unbelieving people. While they personally had no doubts about His miraculous birth, the public crowds found it impossible to believe. The end result was a public rejection of Jesus’ claims to divine origin. His many miracles and wonders were called the works of the devil. Jesus was said to be operating in the power of Beelzebub, prince of the devils.
His identity is a Divine Revelation. A sobering fact is that God never expected everyone to comprehend Jesus’ divinity. The knowledge of Jesus’ true identity was reserved for those who truly hungered and thirsted after righteousness. Jesus was sent first to the “lost sheep” of the house of Israel. His presence on earth was redemptive. On a variety of occasions, Jesus would have completely ignored those who were not Israelites. Even among the Jews, Jesus would have remained anonymous, unless the inquirer demonstrated a certain spiritual hunger or desire to know the truth.
Jesus reveals the conditions, saying, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day,” (John 6:44). When Simon Peter demonstrated that he had received the revelation of Jesus’ true identity, saying, “Thou art the Christ,” Jesus responded by saying, “flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven,”(John16:17).
Jesus is the Son of Man. Forty-three times Jesus was called the Son of Man. This refers to the fact that He was human, born of a human. The doctrinal significance of this is that although Jesus was divinely conceived, He lacked nothing of the human nature. Everything that might be said of mankind in general could be said of Jesus. The notion that Jesus was somehow “divine flesh” of a different nature than ordinary men, and incapable of sin, is absurd. His fleshly nature descended entirely from Abraham’s descendants. “[He] was in ALL points tempted like as we are, yet without sin,” (Hebrews4:15).
He exercised all the five senses of a human: touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing. He survived on food and water just like any other human, with all the normal human appetites. He had every human tendency common to us all.
He was tempted in all points just like we all are tempted. This clearly refutes any notion that He was incapable of sin. He had to refuse to succumb to temptation just like we do He might have yielded to temptation in the Garden of Gethsemane if He had not prayed so agonizingly “…not my will…” Because He was the son of man, Jesus might have easily sinned if He had not been so consecrated to the will of the Father.
He suffered the agonies of temptation victoriously, and has become the captain of our salvation, showing us clearly how we may also overcome our temptations.
He was the Son of God, not God the Son. There is no female counterpart to God, no female deity to bear Him a Divine Son. Man and angels were called sons of God because they were CREATED by God, but Jesus is the “only BEGOTTEN Son of God.” The only time that God ever conceived a child was in the womb of the human virgin, Mary.
David prophesied of that day which would come, “I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee,” (Psalms 2:7)
Luke’s Gospel tells us that Adam was the son of God. Adam was personally fathered by God when He formed him from the dust of the earth. God did not conceived Adam in a womb of a woman; therefore Adam was not begotten of God. All other men have been conceived by earthly men and born of earthly women.
Jesus Christ is the only son of God who was begotten, or fathered by God within the womb of a woman. Jesus is called the Son of Man because of a human, Mary, carried Him to birth. Jesus is called the Son of God because God literally conceived Him. God was His actual Father.
It is extremely important to grasp the truth of Jesus’ conception. In Luke 1:35 it says, “….The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.” If the Holy Spirit is a different person in the Godhead than the Father; if the Holy Spirit is the third person of a trinity and the Father is the first person then, who is the father of Jesus Christ?
Is the Father the father or is the Holy Spirit the father? Here we frustrate the notion of God in three persons. Plainly, God is one Spirit- our Father- and that Spirit is now incarnate in the person of the Son of God.
Jesus is the Son of Prophecy. He would be the Son of Adam and Eve, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel,” (Genesis 3:15). Jesus is the promised seed of Adam and Eve who would avenge God of Satan’s ruinous acts in the Garden of Eden. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil,” (1 John 3:11).
He would be the Son of God. God’s promised seed would be far greater than Abraham, Moses, David or any other Old Testament character. He would surely be the Son of Adam and Eve in descent, but more importantly, He would be the Tabernacle of God in flesh. Only by this would He overcome the world, the flesh and the devil. His deity, God’s Spirit within us, gives us power to do the same.
David played the lead role in establishing the Kingdom of Israel. God was moved by David’s devotion, and enter into everlasting covenant with him saying, “David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel,” (Jeremiah 33:17). God’s covenant with David was an eternal one, “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”(2 Samuel 7:12-13) The angel Gabriel carefully identified Mary’s child, Jesus, as the heir to the Davidic Covenant and to David’s throne. “And, behold thou shall conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of his father David,” (Luke 1:31-32).
Jesus is the Eternal Deity. Jesus is not merely one-third of an alleged triune being. Jesus IS the fullness of God bodily. John made a crystal clear observation in 1 John 3:16: “By this perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us…” Notice the real truth here: God laid down His life. The eternal God did not die because as Spirit, He cannot die. Rather, He took upon Himself the shell of a man and suffered the agonies of death Himself in that body. He experienced the pain and suffering of death in that body for us.
The reality is that the man on the cross was not the second person of a triune entity, suffering while the first and third persons stood watching from some grandstand in heaven. All of God stepped down from heaven, robed Himself in flesh, and as the Father WITHIN the Son, died for us.
The Word was God. We all know the creation story: “In the beginning God…..”(Genesis 1:1). God spoke His word and created the universe as we know it, complete with sun, moon, stars, land, oceans, and all the living creatures. His word is the creative force. Then John 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then the Word was made flesh. Not a fragment of the Word, a paragraph or a chapter, but the WORD. “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the father), full of grace and truth,” (John 1:14). Jesus was the earthly manifestation of the eternal word.
The same word that said, “Let there be….” in Genesis, is now embodied in Jesus Christ. That is why Paul taught the Colossians, “by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him,”(Colossians 1:16). This does not teach us that the Son of man was present at creation. It tells us that the Word of God was present at creation, and THAT WORD was made flesh-incarnate.
The Hebrew people never worshipped but one God, “the Lord our God is one Lord….” (Deuteronomy 6:4). The one Lord declared to them, “I am the Lord thy God, the Holy one of Israel, thy Saviour,” (Isaiah 43:3). God instructed them to hold to only one saviour-Himself. “There is no God else beside me; a just God and a saviour; there is none beside me,” (Isaiah 45:21). Jesus was the Savior. God had always guarded that title. He boldly declared in Isaiah 42:8, “My glory will I not give to another.” Jehovah-Saviour means, God is become my salvation—that is the meaning of the name Jesus. (Isaiah 12:2)
He is the Mighty God, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient, and He is from Everlasting to Everlasting. One of the reasons why many people assume that God exist in more than one person is that He took on several forms throughout the Old Testament. These forms were essentially temporary. None but the final form of God in Christ was an eternal, permanent image of God. Every example of God working in the Old Testament, the Burning Bush, the Pillar of Fire, and Moses’ Vision, “A cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked to Moses in Exodus 33:9. Then in verse 11, “the Lord spake to Moses face to face, as a man speaketh to a friend.”
Even though God was “face to face” with Moses, Moses did not actually see a face The only physical manifestation was a cloud, for in verse 20, God said, “thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me, and live.” Exodus 34:5 describes exactly what happened: “And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him.” God had not promised to show him a body; only the “back parts” (verse 23) of “my goodness” (verse 19) and of “my glory” (verse 22).
Fifteen hundred years later, on the Mount of Transfiguration, God showed Moses the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only permanent image of God.
The one Lord of the Old Testament is the Father in creation and in the New Testament He is the Son in redemption and He is Holy Spirit in regeneration. Jesus was not merely the incarnation of the so-called “second person of the trinity.” Jesus was the incarnation of the entire substance, nature and revelation of God, as a father, as a son, and as Spirit. Every nature and attribute of God is embodied in Jesus. That is why Jesus said, “I AM HE.”
In Colossians 1:15 Paul says that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” in 2 Corinthians 5:19 Paul says, “….God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto HIMSELF.”
The God who had been invisible forever, and had never been seen except for temporary manifestations, or “theophanies” was finally made forever and permanently visible when God took on the form of man.