Incarnation – Who?
Unquestionably, the central figure of the Bible is the Lord Jesus Christ. Pictures, poetry, prophecy or Psalms, the Old Testament is full of Him. Woven like a golden thread through every book, the magnificent person of God’s Son is revealed to our wondering eyes. In the first article of this series, we observed that the message of the Messiah was stamped by God into the creation week, spelled out in the very first chapter of Genesis. While the word “incarnation” is not found in our Bible, the truth of it is etched upon its pages. We have sufficient information regarding where (Mic 5:2), through whom (Isa 7:14) and why (Isa 11,53) Christ would come.
But who was this Christ? In John 10:30-33, the Jews took up stones to kill Him because of His unique claim that God was His own Father. The nation of Israel collectively knew God as Father and stated it so (Mal 2:10; Joh 8:41), but no individual dared claim this alone. Christ went further, asserting complete and eternal oneness, unequivocally making Himself equal with God, bearing testimony to John’s declaration that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (Joh 1:1-14). Secular dictionaries describe incarnation as “the embodiment of deity in human flesh,” and without argument the Scriptures reveal that Jesus Christ is none less than God manifest in flesh (1Ti 3:16). Deny the incarnation of Jesus Christ and you’re left with a mere man who died as a fraud.
Incarnation – Why?
As we read Genesis 1 and 2, the scene is bursting with joy, but step into chapter 3 and dark clouds loom over the Garden of Eden. Concluding the chapter we see a forlorn man, the crown of glory and honour that once adorned his head now at his feet, surrendered to Satan through a single act of disobedience. The voice of God rings out through the universe: “I will put enmity between thee [Satan] and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (3:15). If the human race would ever be rescued, a second Man was needed. Please note that it wasn’t a “second Adam” that God called for; that would never do. We needed one who would be termed the “last Adam,” who would close the door to the Adamic race, and as the “second Man” open a door to a new race. We needed one who as “the Lord from heaven” had power to abolish death, yet who as Man would receive the literal stroke of divine judgment that sin deserved (1Co 15:45-47).
Understanding the necessity of there being a Saviour who is both divine and human, we grasp the importance of the incarnation of the Son of God. Upon this rests the entire biblical framework of the Christian faith and the totality of our salvation. Remove the truth of the incarnation and the Church has lost its foundation stone, Israel its Messiah and the world a Saviour!
Incarnation – When?
Any reader of the Bible will observe that God is working on an orderly timetable. The dispensations were masterminded by God and purposed in His Son (Heb 1:2; 11:3). There are preincarnate appearances of Christ in human form in the OT (Gen 16:7; 18:1; 32:24), but these were not the incarnation. There must be the voluntary “taking part” of blood and flesh, the experience of conception, birth and physical growth from babyhood to manhood. But centuries would pass since the promise of Eden; the OT would close and God would remain silent for a further 400 years. Had He forgotten or changed His mind? No! In the climax of the ages, Christ would appear to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Hebrews 10:5 makes clear that on the official occasion of His ultimate appearance, the Son of God took a body that had been specifically prepared for Him. In the words of another, it was a body “prepared by the Father, produced by the Spirit and possessed by the Son.”
As we open the NT, the sunshine of this anticipated truth dawns upon creation. As Son of David, we appreciate the eternal sovereignty of the incarnate Christ, and as Son of Abraham, we note His earthly identity as a Hebrew. Galatians 4:4 confirms that at the precise time of God’s choosing, the eternal Son of the living God emerged, born of a woman, born under the law.
Incarnation – What?
First, we note that the Holy Spirit is careful to leave on record the total absence of any human male being involved. Luke 1:26-35 explicitly testifies that Christ was conceived in a virgin womb, with Matthew 1:25 adding the fact that Christ was born through a virgin woman. What, then, took place in the womb of Mary? We must be exceedingly careful not to transgress into territory God has not given us permission to enter. Luke records that the Holy Spirit would “come upon” Mary and the power of the Highest would “overshadow” her. She was enveloped by the entire Godhead. Did Mary feel this? We don’t know. We Christians are indwelt by a person of the Godhead. The present writer didn’t physically feel the supernatural entrance of the Spirit when 20 years ago at the side of a road he surrendered to Christ. We confess that these are mysteries beyond human grasp. Even the angel Gabriel himself would not have understood the details surrounding his message.
The Son of God, taking human form, entered the womb of a virgin woman. From this we learn another lesson, that God fully acknowledges the life of a person at conception, not at birth, as some profess. Finally, the message was this: “That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luk 1:35). We learn that although He was intimately linked to Mary, no ingredient of sin contaminated this conception. In Genesis 18, the Lord appeared in human form, and Abraham requested that in the preparation of food Sarah take three measures of fine meal. The fine meal would point us to perfect humanity, and in the three measures I like to remember that in Him was no sin, He did no sin, He knew no sin – complete perfection! Let us remember that our Saviour, as the eternal Son of God in perfect manhood, occupies a place we never will. The distinction in the NT between the sons and Son of God teaches us that although He calls us “brethren,” we would not refer to the Lord as our Brother. Also, He is not the “God-Man,” but rather one who is fully God and perfectly Man. Who could express it better than the Holy Spirit: “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col 2:9).
“I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works” (Psa 145:5).
 Scripture quotations in this article are from the KJV.