The Incarnation is God the Son putting on flesh and becoming man. God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, the self-existent, the uncreated, became a human, lived among sinful men, in a world He had cursed, in order to die for those who had sinned against Him.
What an awe inspiring fact! We cannot fully comprehend the magnitude of the holy God, Himself, becoming man. But why did He come as a baby? Why didn’t He come as a fully grown man?
We cannot fully comprehend the magnitude of the holy God becoming man. Click To Tweet
“The virgin birth does not stand alone as a biblical doctrine, it is an irreducible part of the biblical revelation about the person and work of Jesus Christ. With it, the Gospel stands or falls.” ~ Dr. Albert Mohler3
Jesus Came as a Baby to Fulfill Prophecy
The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15)
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:2-3)
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: (Matthew 1:22)
which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, (Romans 1:2-4)
Jesus’ birth fulfilled prophecy by being born in a stable, in a small town, to a poor family. If He had not, we would know He was not the promised Savior. He may have come as a king, as a fully grown man, or as a woman, but those were not ways in which God had inspired the prophets to foretell. He chose the most humble beginnings for the King of kings to come into the world.He chose the most humble beginnings for the King of kings to come into the world. Click To Tweet
Jesus Came as a Baby to be the Perfect Sacrifice
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth. (Isaiah 53:4-9)
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. (Hebrews 2:9-10)
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Hebrews 2:14-15)
“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
We are born sinners (Romans 3:23, Psalm 51:5). We are condemned under the Law. Nothing we do can atone for our sin. No amount of good will erase even one sin from our record.
God set up the sacrificial system in Israel to atone for the sins of the people. However, even the most spotless lamb or bull could not fully erase their sins. They had to continuously make sacrifices for their sin. This system was never created to actually remove the sins of the people but to point to the One who would come as the perfect Lamb to cover the all sins of all His people for all eternity.
The only perfect sacrifice had to be man in order to pay for the sins of man but had to be so much more than man.
Jesus could not merely be a perfect man because there is no such thing. All men have sinned (Romans 3:23). All men are born sinners (Psalm 51:5). He had to be man but also something more than man. He had to be God.Jesus had to be man but also something more than man. He had to be God. Click To Tweet
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)
Since He came to atone for the sins of man, He had to live perfectly under the Law. In order to fulfill this requirement, He had to begin from conception. Since He was born of a virgin, He did not carry the stain of Adam’s sin upon Him. We are all born sinners (Romans 3:23, Psalm 51:5). Adam’s sin has infiltrated the genetics of every human (Romans 5:12). Jesus was not conceived in the same manner as all other humans are and thus, was not born sinful. (Note: Sex in marriage and natural conception are not sinful. However, since the first sin in the Garden, sin has infected all humanity from conception to death.)
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)
Christ has fulfilled every requirement of the Law. Because of this, He is the perfect Lamb to cover the sins of His people.Christ has fulfilled every requirement of the Law. Click To Tweet
“But the two elements of Christian truth belong logically together; the supernatural Person of our Lord belongs logically with His redemptive work; the virgin birth belongs logically with the Cross. Where one aspect is given up, the other will not logically remain; and where one is accepted, the other will naturally be accepted, too. There may be halfway positions for a time, but they are in unstable equilibrium and will not long be maintained.” ~ J. Gresham Machen2
Jesus Came as a Baby to Impute His Righteousness on His Children
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:11)
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4)
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith (Philippians 3:8b-9)
I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Galatians 2:21)
If Christ came only to atone for our sins, that would make us morally neutral. However, Christ’s righteousness is placed on us. He came not only to die for our but to also live for us. Our sins were laid upon Him and His righteousness was laid upon us. He has not only made us sinless but has made us righteous.Jesus not only made us sinless but has also made us righteous. Click To Tweet
Jesus Came as a Baby to be a Merciful High Priest
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)
Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:17-18)
After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:3b-4)
Jesus was born as a baby and grew up and lived in a sin soaked, cursed world. He suffered, He was tempted, and He endured the pains of this world. This is one more way in which Jesus is different from all other false gods. He can relate to His creation. He is not like the Pharisees and Priests. He lived the life of a poor carpenter’s son. He was tempted by Satan himself. He endured mistreatment and denial from those closest to Him. He endured torture and death. He suffered much more than many of us will ever be asked to endure.
We have a High Priest who knows what it is like to be human, He knows what it is like to be tempted, He knows deep physical and emotional suffering. He is a merciful and faithful High Priest who sits at the right hand of the Father and makes intercession on our behalf. How wonderful to have a Mediator to God the Father who knows and understands our struggles!How wonderful to have a Mediator who knows and understands our struggles! Click To Tweet
Do not feel bad if you have difficulty wrapping your head around the concept of the Incarnation or if you continue to have many questions about it. We all do. Even the smartest, most learned Biblical scholars do not understand it fully.
The topic of the Incarnation is one of the most mysterious topics in theology. There is much our human minds cannot understand about it but there are some parts that we can and must learn.
God has chosen to reveal some of the mystery to us and we must become knowledgeable about those parts and learn to explain them to others. What God has not revealed to us in His Word about Himself is not for us to know.
We strive to understand what He has revealed and rest in His wisdom and sovereignty regarding all the things we do not understand.
“The truth is this: the Incarnation is not only connected to our salvation, our salvation is dependent upon the Incarnation. We depend upon the Godness and maness of the God-Man. Take away the Incarnation and there is no ‘the man Christ Jesus.’ There is no Mediator. There is no ransom to be paid. An alien righteousness requires an alien Mediator.” ~ Dr. Owen Strachan4
- Deffinbaugh, Robert (Bob). 2004. “The Importance Of The Incarnation”. Blog. Bible.Org. https://bible.org/seriespage/1-importance-incarnation.
- Machen, J. Gresham. 2016. “The Virgin Birth Of Christ By J. Gresham Machen”. Rediscoveringthebible.Com. Accessed December 29. http://rediscoveringthebible.com/MachenVirginBirth.html.
- Mohler, Albert. 2003. “Can A Christian Deny The Virgin Birth?”. Blog. Albert Mohler. http://www.albertmohler.com/2003/12/19/can-a-christian-deny-the-virgin-birth-5/.
- Strachan, Owen. 2016. “Why The God Man: The Mystery Of The Incarnation By Various Teachers”. Ligonier Ministries. http://www.ligonier.org/learn/conferences/the-gospel-2016-west-coast-conference/why-god-man-mystery-incarnation/.
- “Today On The Dividing Line: Incarnational Thoughts, Callers”. 2010. Blog. Alpha And Omega Ministries. http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php/2010/12/14/today-on-the-dividing-line-incarnational-thoughts-callers/.
- “What Is The Incarnation Of Christ And Why Is The Incarnation Important?”. 2016. Compellingtruth.Org. Accessed December 29. https://www.compellingtruth.org/incarnation-of-christ.html.
- “What Is The Meaning Of The Incarnation Of Christ?”. 2016. Gotquestions.Org. Accessed December 29. https://www.gotquestions.org/incarnation-of-Christ.html.