The Meaning of the Incarnation


Have you ever considered how much of a sacrifice Jesus made by becoming one of us?

As we celebrate our Savior’s birth, I wonder if we ever stop
to consider what a great sacrifice Jesus made by becoming one of us? Here is
how Paul describes it in his letter to the church at Ephesus.

“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of
himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that
he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all.
When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status
of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It
was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges.
Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient
death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.”
 (Philippians
2:5-8, The Message)

When theologians refer to the second person of the Trinity
becoming human, they sometimes use the word “incarnation.”  You’ve
probably heard that word before, although most of us probably wouldn’t use it
in everyday conversation. But do you know what it really means? No – it doesn’t
have anything to do with pink flowers, corsages or graduation
dances.  

Incarnation comes from the word incarn, which
rarely gets use today. It’s a medical term, used to describe the flesh that
grows over a wound, allowing it to recover. Its archaic meaning is to heal, by
covering with new flesh.

Do you see then, how incarnation is an ideal word to
describe Jesus being born as one of us? It is how God fulfilled the original
meaning of incarn. The Bible shows how we, the human race, have
been mortally wounded by sin, and the wages – or what sin has earned us – is death.
So Jesus came in the flesh, and his flesh covers our mortal wound.  God
comes among us in the form and in the weakness of humanity to bring healing to
our weak and wounded bodies.

He did it willingly, but it was a sacrifice. Think about it.
He had existed for all eternity as the Lord of Creation. But
now he was a helpless baby, unable to talk, to stand. He who had had all power
was now dependent on his mother for everything. He got cold, he got hungry, he
had his diaper changed. His glorious, divine existence had been exchanged for
the comparative squalor of life as a human being.

In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis
described it like this: “The
Eternal being who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became
not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a fetus inside a woman’s
body. If you want to get the hang of it, think how you would like to become a
slug or a crab.”

Usually, when we think of Jesus’ sacrifice, we think of his
crucifixion, which we remember on Good Friday. But the whole experience of
becoming human was a great sacrifice. Let us remember that as we celebrate his
birth.

I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking
of LIFE.

Archive