The Incarnation of Jesus is the terminology used to describe what happened when the second person of the Trinity, the eternal Son of God, “became flesh” or “became embodied,” to become completely like us for our salvation (Heb 2:17). Jesus was miraculously conceived in the womb of Mary, the great hope of the nations. This is a great mystery—the divine nature of the Son was perfectly united with human nature in one Person. This person, Jesus Christ, was both “truly God and truly man.
Here are four problems God solves through the incarnation of Christ:
1. Imperfect Children
In Adam, the first child of God, mankind fell into sin and death. Adam didn’t do all that his heavenly Father had commanded; and yet, in Christ we have the perfect Son bringing life and adoption where there was once death and alienation:
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned….But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (Rom. 5:12–17)
2. Imperfect Obedience
Mankind has sought to reach out to God by continually offering imperfect obedience. Yet, God reached down to humans because there was no other way they might be saved. Christ took on the likeness of men in humility, being obedient to his Father even to the point of death:
Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And 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 and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:5–11)
3. Imperfect Humanity
Man’s mortality was sealed in the sin of Adam, and none could reach the immortal life God promised. With the incarnation of Christ, man’s nature was not only restored but also brought to the immortality promised him by the resurrection:
Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being;” the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15:45–57)
4. Imperfect Sacrifice
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Ever since the fall, mankind has endeavored to appease God through sacrificial religion. In the incarnation of Christ, we find the perfectly willing sacrifice that perfects all who believe in him:
It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book. . .’” And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Heb. 10:4–14)