“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made…. 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 1:1-3, 14)
There are two words foundational to our Christian faith that are not words found in the Bible.
The first word is “Trinity” – a word that seeks to capture the mysterious scriptural truth of one God in three persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The reality of the Trinity is revealed, among other ways, by the presence of all three Persons of God at some of the most significant moments of Jesus’ life on earth, including His baptism, His crucifixion and resurrection, and His “Great Commission” to His disciples. (Matthew 3:26-17, 28:18-20; Acts 2:24; Romans 6:4, 8:11) This includes the precious time of Jesus’ birth.
The Father sent the Holy Spirit to “come upon” the virgin Mary so Jesus would be conceived in her womb and known as God’s Son. (Luke 1:30-35) The Holy Spirit revealed the truth about Mary’s pregnancy to Elizabeth and caused the baby John in her womb to leap for joy. (Luke 1:41-44) The Father sent angelic dreams to Joseph, a star to the magi, an angelic invitation to the shepherds, and an angelic choir to celebrate this unique birth in song. (Matthew 1:20-25, 2:1-14; Luke 2:8-14)
Our second word seeks to define this unique birth of Jesus that the angels celebrated. “Incarnation” is an English word with Latin roots that literally means, “embodied in flesh” or “taking on flesh”. God the Son, the firstborn of all Creation, assumed a human body as Jesus Christ – God Incarnate, or as His prophesied name Immanuel reveals, God with us. (Colossians 1:15; Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23)
John 1 and Philippians 2 are the most well-known revelations of this glorious incarnation, but there are several others. (Isaiah 9:6; Galatians 4:4-5; 1 John 4:2; 1 Timothy 3:16) Hebrews 2:14-15 is particularly important because God plainly reveals in those verses why this incarnation was necessary. God the Son became flesh, while remaining divinely sinless, so that He would be able to die, and by that death, atone for all of mankind’s sins as the unblemished Lamb. (Exodus 12:5; John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:17-19; 1 John 2:2)
As all bible-believing Christians know, Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16) My question for all of us this Christmas, however, is whether His incarnation is the only incarnation?
Those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord become children of God who are born of God: born of the Spirit. (John 1:12-13, 3:3-8) God’s plan through the incarnation of Jesus was that He would be the firstborn of many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:29) And the way God executes His plan is remarkable. As the resurrected Jesus explains to His disciples in Acts 1:8, the Holy Spirit “comes upon” us. This is the same Greek word and English translation used for Mary in Luke 1.
God the Holy Spirit enters us – human beings of flesh and blood – and our spirit and the Holy Spirit become one, bearing witness together that God the Father of Jesus is also our Abba Father and we are His everlasting children! (Romans 8:15-17; 1 Corinthians 6:17) This is truly a form of incarnation.
I am not suggesting here that when God is embodied in us, our incarnations are identical to the incarnation of Christ. We are sin-forgiven, not sinless, and our thoughts and behaviors often quench and grieve the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19) We become everlasting sons and daughters of God, but Jesus remains the eternal and only begotten Son.
I am, however, urging all of us this Christmas to remember that as Christians, we have far more than a religion and far more than just “a relationship”. We are called “new creations” because God the Holy Spirit lives within us. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Because the Trinity is still the Trinity, this means Jesus the Son and our heavenly Father can abide in us as well. (John 14:23, 15:4, 16:15) “Immanuel” takes on a new meaning.
He who is “in us” is greater than Satan and all the powers of darkness. (1 John 4:4) God is able, ready, and willing to do far more that we can ask or imagine through His power at work “within us”. (Ephesians 3:14-21)
Christmas was the first incarnation. We are the incarnations that followed. (John 12:24) When we begin to live in the reality of that miracle, we will see God’s light shine through us into the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it. (Isaiah 60:1-3; John 1:5)
God bless you, and God bless our community. Merry Christmas!