What is Christmas really about? Our culture puts the Christmas emphasis on many things that miss the point of the holiday. Jesus truly is the reason for the season. And the specific profound theological truth that Christians celebrate during the Christmas season is the incarnation of Christ. As one theologian wrote “The Christmas message rests on the staggering fact that the child in the manger was —God.” (J. I. Packer,Knowing God). The Apostle John explained the meaning of Christmas by declaring the incarnation of Jesus as the Eternal Word & who was and is God:
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 1:14 ESV
This verse about the incarnation of Christ is loaded with massive theological implications. The Incarnation reveals the generosity of God, manifests the love of God, highlights the faithfulness of God, shows us the humility of God, points to the sympathy of God, brings us the presence of God and displays the power of God. Let’s take a look at each of these implications through which we see “his glory” displayed.
1. The Incarnation tells us of the generosity/grace of God
Eugene Peterson paraphrased “full of grace and truth” in John 1:14 as “Generous inside and out true from start to finish.”
The Apostle Paul wrote the Corinthians: “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 ESV
The incarnation was an act of the God of grace extending grace to a ruined and lost humanity desperately in need of God’s grace.
And if God has shown us such generosity and grace then we ought to show it to others as well especially during the Christmas season. As J.I. Packer wrote:
“The Christmas spirit does not shine out in Christian snob. For the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those, who like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor—spending and being spent- to enrich their fellow humans, giving time, trouble, care, and concern, to do good to others—not just their own friends—in whatever way there seems need” (J.I. Packer, Knowing God, Page 64)
2. The incarnation manifests the love of God
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV
God loves you and has displayed His love for you by sending his Son into the world to live a life as a human, experiencing struggle, temptation and then suffering and death for your sins.
3. The incarnation points to the sympathy of God
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. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted…15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 2:17-18, 4:15-16 ESV
J.C. Ryle wrote this about the sympathy of God revealed through the incarnation:
“Did the Word become flesh? Then He is One who can be touched with the feeling of His people’s infirmities, because He has suffered Himself, being tempted. He is almighty because He is God, and yet He can sympathize with us, because He is man.”
Another theologian wrote this about the the incarnation
“God was born as a baby, grew as a human being, and walked this earth as a man. This historical reality represents perhaps one of the strongest responses to the problem of evil. Rather than remain aloof and distant, God entered our world of pain, frailty, vulnerability, suffering, and death. He walked alongside us in every way and endured the full fury of evil, oppression, and injustice. When we suffer and when we have to watch those whom we love suffer, we do so knowing that God suffered alongside us and on our behalf in order to rescue us from suffering and provide an eternal home with no tears, death, mourning, crying, or pain.” Andreas J. Köstenberger, The First Days of Jesus: The Story of the Incarnation
God gets you. He knows your pain. Christ entered into your suffering and took it on himself so that eternally you may life without pain, suffering or death (Revelations 21:4).
4. The incarnation brought us the presence of God.
…and dwelt among us… John 1:14 ESV
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:23 ESV
The best present that we all get through the incarnation is God’s presence. We get God with us. After Jesus resurrected and ascended into Heaven he didn’t leave us with out his continuing presence because he gave us His Holy Spirit.
5. The incarnation shows us the humility of God
To come near to be with us Jesus had to go low for us. He lowered himself to becoming an embryo in the womb of a poor teenager of a small Jewish village. He lowered himself even further when he became obedient to the point of dying a shameful death unjustly between two criminals.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-9 ESV).
Jesus went low for you to serve you and I. May we do the same for others washing feet so to speak as our Lord did.
6. The incarnation highlights the faithfulness of God
The New Living translation translated the phrase “grace and truth” in John 1:14 as “He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness”. The incarnation is fulfillment of what God promised through the Prophets that He would do by sending a Messiah, a Deliverer, a Savior. Matthew helps us see how God was faithful to His promises by writing:
“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us) (Matthew 1:21-23 ESV).
God is a promise maker and a promise keeper. He is faithful to His promises. When He says He is going to do something He does it.
7. The incarnation was a display the power of God.
It was a supernatural occurrence for Mary the young virgin to become pregnant without having been sexually intimate with a man.
“And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her (Luke 1:34-38 ESV).
The virgin birth was a miracle just as many other redemptive events that God performed were. The resurrection of Jesus’ dead body was a miracle and a display of God’s power. Through the miraculous event of the virgin birth and incarnation the God the Son became killable. He took on a human body so that he could be killed for the sins of the world and then be resurrected from the dead. These are essential and crucial elements of the faith for the follower of Christ.
May this Christmas season be one of the most meaningful and worshipful seasons for you as you reflect on what the incarnation of God the Son means for us!