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Meditations on the Incarnation


Meditations on the Incarnation

He Came to be Our Light
John 1:9–13 (ESV)
“The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Darkness is an awful thing, especially if it is prolonged. When our kids were young, we had a power outage that lasted for hours. At first it was an adventure with candles. Then it just became oppressive.  The kids became more agitated and fearful as the darkness persisted. Imagine living in perpetual darkness. This darkness is ignorance, ignorance of exactly who you are, where you came from, and where you are going. It is ignorance of meaning which only leads to despair, spending our lives groping in the dark for anything that gives purpose, control, and significance, and finding nothing.

The coming of Jesus turned on the lights once again. God Himself broke into the darkness of our sin and depravity to bring the light of the truth of God. In beholding the face of Jesus, we now can know our Maker once again, and in the knowledge of Him life finally makes sense. The light of the knowledge of God becomes personal, and we are invited out of our darkness.  More than that—we are no longer alone. We who embrace the light have an identity as beloved children of the Creator. In His light we are significant, valued, and loved. Give thanks for the gift of light.

He Came to be My Curse
Galatians 3:13–14 (ESV)
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”

As glorious and wonderful as the incarnation is, there is a dark side. Jesus comes to embody all that God is, so that we can behold the Divine. He also comes to embody the reason we were in darkness in the first place. Galatians 3 speaks of Jesus becoming a curse. Curse, in biblical language, refers not to some spell put on us by a witch or other malevolent being. It is rejection. It is being cast out of community. It is isolation. To be cursed was to be so offensive that there was no place for you in the community of God’s people. That is what we deserved for our sin. Our rebellion and rejection of God earned for us a curse.

Jesus embodies our curse, suffering its wrath for us. He came to embody our deserved judgment of total rejection so that we might be included once again in the family of the blessed. Jesus was not cursed because He somehow deserved it. He became us. He became like sinful man, and was thus treated as we deserve to be treated, so that we might be treated as the beloved that He truly is. In His incarnation, our curse is replaced with joyful fellowship and passionate love. Give thanks that He became our curse so that we might know and enjoy His blessedness.

He Came to be Our Peace
Ephesians 2:13–15 (ESV)
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace.”

Laws present barriers. In the Jim Crow era of the American south, there were many laws in place that separated races. Those laws stated that if you had a certain skin color, you were prohibited from sitting in certain places or drinking from certain water fountains. This is also what Jews did centuries ago. If you were not of their race or if you did not worship in the right way, you were second class or worse. Laws are used to exclude the “wrong” kind of people and to protect the “right” kind. What we often do not realize was that there was another “Law” that excluded everyone. It was the Law of God’s righteousness that required total love and devotion. Sadly, because none of us can get close to keeping it, that Law makes us all the wrong kind of people.

Jesus was incarnated to destroy that dividing wall of the Law. The Law first put us all in the same boat. We were all rejects and were excluded. But by becoming a curse for us, Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the Law, thus rendering it void. When He did that, there was no longer a dividing wall between us and God. We were now, in Jesus, the right kind of people. That also means that we are no different from everyone else who was in Jesus. Because of Him, we are all the right kind of people. There is no longer a dividing wall between us and God and between us and each other. Jesus became and embodied our “peace”. He shut the mouth of judgment coming from law and instead pronounces peace. No more hostility. No more dividing wall. No more separation. We come to Him together as one new community. Give thanks that Jesus became our peace and has brought all peoples together in Himself.

He Came to be Our Glory
John 1:14; 17:22–23 (ESV)
“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… The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

This is the most amazing thing about the incarnation. Jesus became like me, entered the world as a servant, entered into a world that was cursed because of sin, sin in which I am a full participant. He became like the guilty, and then acted righteously in the way we should have, giving us the credit for His service. He was punished in our place so that we could be blessed in His place. In other words, He became like us so that we might become like Him.

If you think about that statement very long, your jaw will drop and joy will well up from within. The gift that He came to give to us is so much more than we normally realize. He did not simply come to give me a better life here. Neither did He come merely to give me a better life up in heaven. He came to give me glory, a glory that is shared among the three persons of the Trinity. We are made the right kind of people to share in the fellowship of God Himself, in all of the love and passion that flows freely among them. It all now flows to us, because Jesus became man. This is what Christmas means. It is not just the birth of a sweet baby, or the coming of our Savior from sin. It is the doorway for us to know glory, to experience glory that this world cannot give to us, and a glory for which we were made. Glory to God in the highest! Give thanks for the coming of glory and the promise of the glory that is to come.