The Wonderful Works of God: Incarnation

Closing the preceding article, we took a less-than-bite-sized look at the “What” of the incarnation. We will now continue that theme, considering vital truth regarding the perfect humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ. This will help us trust the ability of our Great High Priest to fully identify in every detail of our lives.

His Dependence

While the conception of Christ was divinely miraculous, the growth and development of that body in the womb was completely normal. Mary’s womb was not merely an incubator for Christ. Physically linked to her via the umbilical cord, He experienced normal fetal development. In relation to the birth of John the Baptist, Doctor Luke states that when Elizabeth’s full time was come, she “brought forth a son” (1:57).[1] By this, we understand that she gave birth in the natural way. Luke maintains this precious truth concerning Christ, affirming that when the days of Mary’s gestation were accomplished, she “delivered” [to be in travail] and “brought forth her firstborn Son” (2:6-7), causing us to appreciate that the birth of Christ was by the natural process.

In keeping with the decree that the Son of God take real humanity, God allowed His Son to be “born of a woman” (Gal 4:4). Wonder fills our minds as we observe Mary carefully taking swaddling bands and binding up the limbs of that perfect Babe, delicately laying Him in a manger while she recovered from that incredible experience. Psalm 22:9-10 makes it plain that as a man Christ experienced what it was to be dependent upon God. “Thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.” Note that we don’t read, “Thou art my Father from my mother’s womb.” No! The Sonship of Christ is eternal.

His Experience

Christ experienced what it was to grow up a hearty, vigorous little boy (see Luke 2:40, with identical language used of John – cf. 1:80). He developed normally through every stage of life to a 12-year-old and on, increasing in wisdom and physical stature, finding grace with God and man (Luk 2:52). In his commentary, A.T. Robertson writes, “His physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual development was perfect.” Alfred Plummer states, “At each stage, He was perfect for that stage.” We need not imagine that His deity was ever diminished by His real humanity. This was demonstrated in that He accepted worship (Mat 2:11), forgave sins (Luk 5:20-21), was omnipresent (Joh 3:13), omniscient (v19), omnipotent (10:18), was equal with the Father (v30), and much more! Marvellously, He eternally took on something He never was, yet perfectly and wholly remained who He ever is. Truly, only God could veil His glory, confine Himself to a human frame, and yet remain fully God. With our faces to the ground we utter, “Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh” (1Ti 3:16). “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Mat 1:23).

Although Christ remained fully God, He never exercised His deity as an “advantage” to make life easier. As a perfect Man, He would feel the rigour of life in a sinful world far greater than we who are roughened by sin. With no ingredient of sin, it goes without saying that Christ never contracted personal sickness or knew what it was to commit sin. Does this make Him inadequate to fully understand what we feel during these experiences? No! Baptised in Jordan without confession of sin, Christ was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested (Mat 4; Mar 1; Luk 4). As a real Man, He possessed a body, soul and spirit and therefore would be tempted by the devil in each of those spheres. Facing physical temptation (lust of the flesh – instant gratification), moral temptation (pride of life – instant recognition), and spiritual temptation (lust of the eyes – instant possession), Christ proved beyond doubt that Satan found no foothold with that impeccable Man. He combated Satan with the sword of the Spirit, leaving an example for when we face the enemy.

Matthew 8:17 records that Christ “took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” In demonstration of His Messiahship, our Lord had just healed Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever, and “when the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick” (v16). This corresponds to the statement that He “took [away] our infirmities.” Matthew is quoting Isaiah 53:4. With Calvary in view, we see the Lamb of God bearing away the sin of the world and its consequences, including sickness. Some quote this, teaching that people should not be sick, but that’s not what’s being communicated. We could understand it as follows: “He took away our sicknesses [His earthly ministry] and bore the burden of our diseases [Calvary].” It may be the will of God that His child pass through the dark waters of sickness (Php 2:26-30; 2Co 12:5-10; 1Ti 5:23; 2Ti 4:20), but because of the infinite sacrifice of Christ, it will be removed forever someday. In the eternal state, the human race will say goodbye to sickness, knowing that sin will never raise its ugly head again (Rev 21:4).

His Competence

With the suffering of physical disease or crushing shame of sin, there comes emotional, mental, physical and spiritual pain and ultimately death. Ask yourself which aspect of these sorrows did our Lord not personally experience. Christ endured the reality of physical (Mar 14:65), emotional (Joh 11:35), mental (Luk 22:44) and spiritual (Mat 27:45) pain and suffering. He knew what it was to be rejected, reviled, mocked, misrepresented, misunderstood, hated and hurt by people, ultimately accepting the entire responsibility for sin and its universal consequence. He bore the crushing judgment of God, before entering into the physical reality of death. Beloved, as Great High Priest, our Lord Jesus is both sympathetic (having shared the same) and empathetic (fully able to understand) to every circumstance of your life.

The incarnation of God’s blessed Son is to be explored and enjoyed, but let us ever remember that this is holy food. The priests of old received a portion of the meal offering, which spoke so eloquently of this subject, but the divine instruction was that it should be eaten in the holy place (Lev 6:16). We likewise do not contemplate this subject with worldly thinking. We need the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and a place apart to enjoy and absorb such awesome truth. What infinite privilege that, because of the incarnation of Christ, we look forward to possessing a body like unto His glorious body, free from the taint of sin forever!

[1] Scripture quotations in this article are from the KJV.