Christmas is a time for thinking about the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The incarnation is the whole reason for Christmas. It is, however, quite wrong to think about the incarnation only in terms of an idyllic, star-bedecked nativity scene, complete with gentle bovines, tender ewes, and a warm glow emanating from the Child. The incarnation was a whole lot more significant—and probably a lot less halcyonian—than we’d like to think.
Three Things We Can Learn from the Incarnation
The word incarnation means “in flesh.” The incarnation is the truth that Jesus became a human being (“flesh”) in order to live and die as an atonement for our sins. Some like to use the term “incarnational” as a term to describe the way that Christians should live in this world, and certainly there is nothing inherently wrong with many of these methods. At its essence, however, the incarnation is about what Jesus did and what only He could do. It is a truth about Christ that has everything in human history.
What can we learn from the incarnation as we reflect on it this Christmas season?
- The incarnation shows us Christ’s vast love for us, and the importance for us of loving others. John 3:16 gives us one of the main reasons for the incarnation: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son.” This is love so vast that it becomes incomprehensible to us. This is God becoming man, and doing so because of HIs incredible love. Christ’s love is our example for loving others. There is no such thing as going “too low” to help and serve others. From the incarnation, we learn what true love is and looks like.
- The incarnation shows us the incredible humility of Christ’s coming, and the necessity of our own humility. Humility characterized the King of Kings, and should characterize His followers, too. John 1:14 explains that the “humility” of the incarnation was the way that Christ’s glory could be revealed: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Philippians 2:8-11 explains this humility/glory paradox: “Being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him” (Philippians 2:8-11). Humility is necessary for Christ’s followers, too—a humility that rejects all human pretense, and rests entirely in Christ alone for merit and worth.
- The incarnation shows us that “nothing will be impossible with God,” and reminds us that this is still true today. The angel Gabriel summed up the incarnation, when he told Mary, “Nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). The Christmas story is a series of fulfilled prophecies, shocking revelations, mind-blowing miracles, international upheaval, and a a single epoch-making event of love and power—the birth of Christ. Nothing is impossible with God. This truth has implications beyond the event of the incarnation. This truth is part of the character of God. It is still true today.
Christmas is about the incarnation, and there are few truths so radically life-changing. This Christmas, take time to reflect on the reality of the incarnation, what it means for you personally, and how it can change the way you interact with others.