Published on December 24th, 2013 | by Josiah Batten
The cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet, without incarnation there is no resurrection. The birth of Christ was the necessary condition for everything He would ever do as a man. The teachings and work of Christ give His birth meaning, the birth of Christ makes His teachings and work possible. What we do during the Christmas season is celebrate the birth of the single most important person in human history. In fact, history is His story.
In the course of Christ’s life He:
- Defeated sin. This is a big one. Sin is the fundamental human problem. War, death, destruction, injustice, and hopelessness are the fruits of sin. To deal with sin is to deal with humanity’s fundamental flaw. We were under the wrath of God because of sin, enemies of the King of Kings. Jesus comes, as one of us, and defeats sin. Because Christ assumed humanity, humanity has assumed redemption in Christ. Someday at Christmas there really will be no war, and it’s all because Christ defeated sin.
- Showed us how to live. Of course, being sinful, we were way off in terms of living rightly. Christ became one of us and He showed us how we ought to live. Jesus Christ is the consummate moral example. His life is the highest standard of fairness, love, justice, and goodness.
- Defeated Satan. Satan was (and is) our adversary. “Adversary” is actually what the term “satan” means. Satan was against us, actively promoting and encouraging the evil we participated in. But in accordance with Genesis 3:15 Satan’s head has been crushed by Christ. The incarnation left Satan reeling with a mortal wound. Satan still does his worst, but it is no match for Christ’s best. Satan’s power was all dependent on sin and death, and Christ made those non-issues.
- Reconciled us to God. Sin had to be dealt with for this to be possible. Because sin has been defeated and the Adversary crushed, genuine relationship with God through Christ is now possible. Christ was not merely seeking the defeat of sin, but the restoration of all things to the plan and purpose of God. Chiefly, Christ reconciled men to God through the remission of sins in His death, burial, and resurrection. We are restored to relationship with the God Who made us.
- Inaugurated the Kingdom of God. Christ has not reconciled us to God so we can return to business as usual. Rather, He defeated sin and Satan, provided us an example of how to live, and reconciled us to God so that we can participate in His Kingdom. The kingdom of this world truly has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. We are now tasked with glorifying Christ as Lord in all areas of human endeavor, from art to medicine and from biology to political science. Christ has inaugurated His Kingdom, and we now participate in it. The reconciliation we have received individually we are to enact culturally as all things are brought into accordance with God’s plan and purpose.
This is just a small sample of what Christ achieved for us, but even so it is worth rejoicing and celebrating! The virgin really did give birth to the Son, and God has been with us ever since. It all began with the incarnation of the Son of God. Jesus Christ, God of God and light of light, abhorred not the virgin’s womb. Very God became man and dwelt among us.
What can we do but celebrate incarnation? And I believe the greatest celebration of incarnation comes when we incarnate incarnation. Of course, none of us are God. But we can make the light and love of God tangible as we follow the example of Christ and represent Him before the watching world. Our lives should speak to the reality of the incarnation from start to finish.
When we love those the world hates we incarnate the incarnation. When we value those the world treats as valueless, we incarnate the incarnation. When we stand for the right against the wrong we incarnate the incarnation. Incarnating the incarnation is simply a matter of acting as Christ would act in the world for the glory of God, and this as we are empowered by the same Holy Spirit that made the virgin pregnant with child.
May you have a very Merry Christmas as you celebrate incarnation!