By Robert W. Warren, Church of the Nazarene
Incarnation. A big word that you might hear often at this time of year. A theological word that you may or may not give two hoots about. But it is an important concept that makes all the difference in the world if you intend to make it to heaven when your earthly life is over.
So what does it mean? “Carne” comes from the Latin that means “flesh”; if you are carnivorous you eat meat or flesh; Chili con Carne is chili with meat in it (is there any other kind?) So incarnation means to “come in the flesh”.
It is used in a special sense of Jesus. He is the preexistent Son of God, one with the Father, coequal, and yet He came in the package of a baby human being, born of a virgin with no human father; rather conceived by the Holy Spirit. The prophet Isaiah had foretold it in 7:14 of his book: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son” (see Matthew 1:18, 20-23; Luke 1:34-35). Jesus is the incarnate Son of God.
So why is it so important? God was being more than just neighborly; it was a central part of His whole plan of salvation. So to get an overview let’s go back to the beginning, literally.
God’s initial creation of everything was perfect, including humanity. His goal was a loving relationship with mankind; however there was one catch. Adam and Eve could eat of any tree in the Garden of Eden except one. They ate of that tree and thus in that act of rebellion against God sin entered the world. Sin, in its essence, is rebellion against God. And that inherited depravity has been passed down through the entire human race until the Bible says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
So is it hopeless? It would be, if not for the incarnation. You see, a worthy sacrifice had to be offered in our behalf, a holy sacrifice, a perfect sacrifice. It had to be a sacrifice that could bear the punishment for our sins; after all, God’s sentence for sin in The Garden was death and God cannot lie. Yet if we die in our sins we are lost, and we cannot save ourselves.
Therefore Jesus, the divine Son of God came, for the precise reason that He could die for our sins, taking our death sentence for us, bearing them on the cross. But since God cannot die, He had to come in human form to qualify as that perfect sacrifice in our behalf, winning our redemption and reconciliation to God. Thus the incarnation.
All we have to do is repent of our sins and accept Him as our personal Savior, walking with Him daily, and all the benefits of the incarnation, and the atonement, are ours—for eternity! Merry Christmas, and don’t forget to attend one of the wonderful area churches of your choice this Sunday!