The Incarnation and the Mystery of Christmas
Dec 20, 2010 by Don Payne | 0 Comments
Advent and Christmas are wonderful occasions to ponder the broader significance of the incarnation for our salvation. Certainly, the incarnation was necessary in order for Jesus to provide forgiveness for sin on the cross. Yet the incarnation was itself one of God's unique acts of bringing something out of nothing: possibility from impossibility, hope from desperation, victory from defeat, freedom from bondage, life from death. What God did with the babe in the manger was the same as what He did with the resurrection and what He continues to do in order to bring us to life.
Scottish theologian T.F. Torrance once observed a theological similarity between how Jesus was "raised up as the appointed Messiah, the anointed Prophet, Priest, and King" and how "the resurrection implies the installation or enthronement of Jesus in his office as Christos" (Space, Time and Resurrection, 33). Even as far back as creation we see God creating--"raising up"--from nothing. That pattern continues throughout redemptive history. God takes the first step toward us in our sin, blindness, bondage, hopelessness, and death. In Jesus Christ, the Son of God experienced the full effects of our predicament and gave to the Father the faithfulness that we have all failed to give.
The redemption that was accomplished on the cross and at the empty tomb was in motion from the moment of His conception, and even before that! God brought Jesus' human life out of an impossible situation. Then, as the Son of God, Jesus brought back into being an obedient humanity by willingly enduring the limitations, fears, frustrations, and tears of our brokenness without an personal sin. God brought something out of nothing!
At this season we can be profoundly grateful for the gift of the incarnation. We symbolize that gratitude by giving and receiving gifts. A child may experience expanding gratitude toward parents as he or she becomes more aware of all that the parents have given. Likewise, we are enriched to have the dimensions of our gratitude to God expanded by getting a fuller glimpse of the ways God has been working to give us life--and to give us life again.
Associate Dean and Assistant Professor of Theology and Ministry