The Meaning of the Incarnation

Every year at Christmas, there are messages on the Incarnation – God becoming flesh and dwelling with us. Usually, the preachers would exposit Luke 1: Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she would bear Christ in her womb. Mary, an ordinary peasant girl from Nazareth, asked the basic question: How can I as virgin accomplish this? The answer:The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35).

Notice the answer: Gabriel never answered Mary with the mechanics.

I have been a Christian for over thirty years and I still don’t know the mechanics. Even more so, I am very okay with that. I am perfectly fine saying: “I don’t know.” After all, the Incarnation IS a miracle and by definition, miracles are supernatural events. For Christians, miracles follow us from the very beginning. If you experience one, the next one, and the one after that are easier to accept.

I was once dead but now alive in Christ. In a sense, we are reliving the Easter story. Christ died for my sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day. That’s the miracle of conversion. We don’t know how God reversed completely the process of necrosis and breathed new life, but so what? That’s God and if I could understand it, then He would not be God.

If you can accept the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ at conversion, then the miracle of the Incarnation is almost easy. God in his power overshadowed Mary and she conceived. Moving on…

If “Incarnation” is too mystical, there is another word worth meditating on: Condescension.

Condescension usually is used in a negative connotation – someone talking down at a person. However, there is a small positive exception. If you break down the word in its Latin roots, con means with, descend to go down. In other words, “to go down to be with someone.”

I don’t have any children of my own, but several of my first cousins have children of their own. Whenever I am with them, I have to stoop down to their level to interact with them and I don’t meant just physically. I have to use language that is at their level. I have to play at their level. For example, my cousin Elisha (pronounced Alicia) is nine years old and does karate. Having learned boxing and fencing, if I spar with Elisha, I have to pull my punches. Note: I don’t have to let her win when doing the crab crawl or the mountain climbers – she’s faster than me.

I am not the only one. Meet my friend Andrew on the left and his wife to my right. Andrew’s almost 6 feet 6 inches tall. For him to talk to children, he literally has to kneel down to talk to them at their eye level.

I have a good feeling that is how God interacts with us humans. Just as I have to hold back when sparring with Elisha, God who is omnipotent, has to pull back his own powers when dealing with us.

Back in 2017, I was visiting my cousin Jacob and his family. At that time, he and his wife had only two children then. They were about three years old and one and a half years old. We were reading Peppa Pig one night. For someone with two advanced degrees, Peppa Pig doesn’t even register on the difficulty level. I can’t talk to her about Martin Luther’s Commentary on the Galatians or the religion of the ancient Celts. Instead, I had to adjust to her reading level. I have to speak to her in terms that she could understand.

I had this epiphany that God does the same thing too. God who is omniscient has to speak at our level. He has to use words that we understand. God has to use terms that we understand. Perhaps that is why Jesus spoke in parables – farmers sowing seed, lost sheep, lost coins, and prodigal sons. We grasp those meanings immediately.

I find great comfort in the Incarnation – an all powerful, all knowing, an omnipresent, an all loving God – would kneel down, would stoop down, to my level. He chose to enter our lives at our levels. Jesus limited His knowledge and power.

Perhaps the Apostle Paul said it best:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

This is the meaning of the Incarnation. God coming down our level so we know He loves us.


One thought on “The Meaning of the Incarnation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s