Jesus' Incarnation

This is the contents of the "Jesus' Incarnation" section of the "Jesus Himself Alone" series



In the Incarnation a star shone brightly; in the Crucifixion darkness covered the land.

In the Incarnation people came joyously to see the child; in the Crucifixion people left beating their breasts.

 In the Incarnation people brought gifts; in the Crucifixion they striped Him and stole His clothes.

 In the Incarnation an innocent baby was brought into the world with much gladness; in the Crucifixion the Innocent One was sent to His death with much mocking.

The Incarnation brought the promise of hope; the Crucifixion fulfilled the promise of salvation.

Two of the greatest events in human history, both involving the same Person, and yet they could hardly be any different. Nonetheless, they are tied together by one theme—to take the unloved, the useless, the broken and bring us into a personal relationship with God the Creator. Without the Incarnation we are orphaned forever. Without the Crucifixion we are guilty forever. And without the Resurrection we are hopeless forever. But because of those three events we can be born-again to a living hope. We have been delivered from the Domain of Darkness and Transferred to the Kingdom of His beloved Son. The unloved has been adopted, the useless sanctified, and the broken glorified.

The Incarnation was not just another event. It was an event that shook the universe and for those of us who have made the incarnated God our Savior, it shook our lives also.


Jesus was given two names at his birth – Jesus and Immanuel (Mt. 1:21-25). Jesus is the transliteration of the Hebrew name “Joshua” which means “God is Savior.” This looked back to the human deliverer Joshua who helped lead Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land of Israel. Immanuel means “God is with us.” This looked to the present when God Himself would walk among us. Both names together reveal the dual God/man nature of Jesus.

Why did God choose to become a human?


The term incarnation is of Latin origin, and it means “becoming in flesh.”

The Incarnation revealed God to us


Hebrews 1:1-3a

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature

John 14:9, “… He who has seen Me has seen the Father…”

Jesus showed us what God is like. It is one thing to say that God cares about us. It is quite another to show it by allowing Himself to be nailed to a piece of wood and left hanging to die. It is one thing to say, “Sure, God can do miracles; He can do anything.” It is more tangible to see Jesus feed over five thousand people with just five loaves of bread and two fish. It is abstract to say that God is compassionate. But after John the Baptist was beheaded, Jesus went away to be by Himself to grieve. When He came back, the crowds surrounded Him, but He did not shoo them away. He did not say, “Look, my best friend just had his head cut off. Can you people leave Me alone for just once?” Rather, He felt compassion for them and healed them. This reveals the heart of God more than a declaration that “God is compassionate.” We can study the Gospels, meditate on every interaction that Jesus had with people and see the true character of God. Jesus is God in intimate action with us. It was not God in a flaming altar or in the Holy of Holies blocked by a thick curtain and see by one man only once a year. It was not even God in a cloud at day and a flame at night. This was God walking in the same dust as we, eating the same food, and physically touching us.

God wired us to respond more deeply and broadly to stories than to naked facts. Yes, a fact can change our lives: Jesus Christ died to pay for my sins. But a vivid story wraps itself around us and does not let go for days, sometimes even for a lifetime. Listen to this condensed story. “My time is near… One of you will betray Me… My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me… Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy… Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists… Crucify Him!... They came to a place called Golgotha… It was the third hour when they crucified Him… The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him… Father, forgive them; for they know not what they are doing… And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. The Tomb was empty.” This story draws us to a Person. We see Jesus with blood and dirt caked on His lips as He stumbles while carrying the cross. We reach out and grab His arm and help Him up. We feel His flesh in our trembling hand, and we look into His watery eyes when He turns His head to see who touched Him. In the comfort of our room we shudder and breathe heavily. We are more than convicted, we are affected. This is what stories can do. Our minds lift us beyond rock hard facts and plunge us into swirling waters of experience and then demands that we respond. God among us.


The Incarnation revealed our sinfulness


But God incarnate also reveals to us just how sinful we are. If during one of our greatest triumphs in life when we are surrounded by people shouting our praise and we are the center of attention a blind, filthy beggar started shouting our name and ruining everything how would we react? Most likely we would ignore him and keep going. Or possibly tell the biggest guys next to us to shut him up and take him somewhere else. I doubt that we would stop and focus everyone’s attention on that beggar and ask him how we could help him. Yet this is what Jesus did during His triumph entry into Jerusalem.

When one of our best friends betrays us don’t we lie awake at night scheming against them? Well, at least I do. Jesus sinned not.


We cannot read the Gospels and not be amazed at how perfectly Jesus responded in every situation whether it was His humility at a time of triumph or His complete trust in His Father at His lowest moments. Our lives are far closer to that of the Pharisees than to that of Jesus.

We can re-interpret rules and commandments. We can bend principles to match our own standards. We can compare ourselves to other people and always come out on top. But when we compare ourselves to Jesus Christ we must necessarily shrink back. We are not perfect. We are not as good as we think that we are. We need redemption. Jesus makes that perfectly clear.

The Incarnation emphasizes relationship


The Bible is not a book of rules; it is a book about relationships and primarily our relationship with God. In Genesis 1 right after man and woman were created we read an amazing sequence in verses 27 and 28, “… He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them...”: creation, blessing, and then immediately personal interaction.

Then 1189 chapters later we come to the last quote in the Bible. Revelation 22:20 is from Jesus, “Yes, I am coming soon.” We see God’s promise of coming to be more intimate with us. And everywhere in between these two passages we continually read the premium that God places on relationships with us. He is our Father, we are adopted as sons and daughters, we are the bride of Christ.

It is crucial that we read the Bible not just to learn about God but to know God. A fascinating example of this is Job. In Job 1:1 Job was “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” He had a true heart for God, but there was one thing that lacked. It was not until he had persevered through his terrible trials that he was then able to conclude, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42:5). Job had made that transformation from knowledge to relationship.

We are incomplete unless we are in relationship with God. May we have a deep and constant desire to be with God and to be in His presence where there is “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forever” (Psalm 16:11 NASB).

God does not keep us at arm’s length. He is not a timekeeper who winds up a watch and walks away. Nor is He a king who rules His kingdom high up in His castle unsoiled by the filth and sin in the streets below.

History is all about God drawing closer to us. At first, before sin, God walked with Adam and Eve. Then the Fall separated us from God. In the OT, God resided in an ark in the Holy of Holies that only a chosen few people could enter but whom an entire nation could see at a distance. Then in the Gospels, God once again walked among us but was accessible to only a relatively small number of people in the nation Israel. Then in the church age God dwells in all of us through His Holy Spirit. Finally, in Heaven we will be with God forever.

We can see how God puts such a high premium on relationships in the words that He uses. He refers to us as brothers and sisters, as sons and daughters. We are the bride of Christ. And what does He ask us to call Him? Is it King, Most Sovereign Creator, Most High and Holy One? He is all of these things, but what He asks us to call Him is “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6—“Abba” is Aramaic for father). Then ultimately, God has created Heaven not so that He can give us a bunch of fun stuff so that we can be forever happy but He as He says in Revelation 21:7, “I will be his God and he will be My son.” Our true joy in Heaven will be being with God.

We are able to unite with God in a special and unique way


Because Jesus was one of us, it enables us to feel more of an intimate relationship with our Creator. God is not some unreachable, incomprehensible being. Instead He looked like us. He spoke our language. He wore clothes and worked. He brought near to Himself those who were outcast, rejected, and opposed.

2 Corinthians 8:9, “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 through His poverty might become rich.”

He gives us a perfect example


Jesus’ life as we can read it in the Gospels gives us a perfect example of how we should live our lives in general.

1 John 2:6, “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”

What are some of Jesus’ examples that we are to emulate?

·         We return love for hate.

·         We forgive even the worst of sins against us.

·         We listen to and actively work with the most oppressed and lowest of society.

·         We feed His flock in whatever ways that we can.

·         We try to calm the fears and anxieties of others.

·         We consider others to be more important than ourselves.

·         We share God’s truth with believers and with non-believers.

·         We entrust ourselves to our Heavenly Father when we are in trials.

·         We learn and know the Bible inside and out and can accurately quote the Bible in times of need.

His life shows us how we should respond when we are suffering.

1 Peter 2:21-23,

21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;

Hebrews 12:2-3

2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

How does Jesus’ example help us in trials? Just in these two passages alone we can see several ways.

1)      When Jesus was suffering by being treated poorly by others, He did not revile them, He did not threaten them, He did not lie to them or make them worse than they were to justify Himself. Rather, He focused on not sinning but on doing what was right.

2)      He trusted in His Father to judge them. Jesus did not seek vengeance.

3)      Jesus looked past the present suffering to focus on the joy of Heaven that is promised and set before Him. He didn’t play the victim. He didn’t play the pity card. Rather He stayed fixed on the eventual joy that He knew would come.

Of course, in other passages we can find many more examples of how Jesus properly thought and acted when suffering. But even here, we can read that two of the benefits of imitating Jesus during trials is 1) we will not grow weary, i.e. we will not give up on doing what is right and 2) we will not lose heart, i.e. we will stand fast in the Christian faith, fight the good fight, and finish the course.

This is a tough example to follow but God will give us the grace to do it when the time comes.

Jesus’ life gives us future hope because, ultimately, we will not be forever stuck being what we are now. But, rather, we will become like Him. That does not mean that we shall become God but that we will take on God’s attributes more fully.

1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”

Jesus’ incarnation helps us overcome temptation


Hebrews 2:18, “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”

Think of any hardship that you can endure and you will see that Jesus, at least in a general way, faced that same temptation and yet overcame it without sinning.

·         Betrayal

·         Homelessness

·         Grief

·         Death of close relative

·         Being misunderstood

·         Abandonment by friends and family

·         Physical torture and suffering at the hands of others

·         Intense temptation

·         Being made fun of

And many, many more. We can find all of these in the Scriptures regarding Jesus. When one of us is going through the same trial we must look to Jesus. How did He respond?

If God did not become a person then our example of what to do would mostly consist of other people and then we are in the dilemma of trying to separate the virtues from the flaws.

And, of course, the biggest problem is that no one would be able to wear “WWJD” bracelets because we would not know what Jesus would do.

It proves that the flesh is not inherently sinful and evil

Gnosticism was a Greek philosophy that taught matter and hence the body or flesh was evil and only the Spirit was good. They taught docetism, a dualism which made a definite separation between the material and the spiritual world. Because matter was evil, they claimed that Jesus could not really have been incarnate, that He couldn’t have taken on a human body. Therefore, His human body and suffering was only an illusion.

However, the fact that Jesus became a physical person proved that the physical body was neither bad nor evil. It is not matter or the body that is the problem but, rather, our desire to find pleasure in that which contradicts the character of God.

According to God’s law of redemption, the redeemer had to be a descendent and preferably a close one


Leviticus 25:47-49

47 ‘Now if the means of a stranger or of a sojourner with you becomes sufficient, and a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to him as to sell himself to a stranger who is sojourning with you, or to the descendants of a stranger’s family, 48 then he shall have redemption right after he has been sold. One of his brothers may redeem him, 49 or his uncle, or his uncle’s son, may redeem him, or one of his blood relatives from his family may redeem him; or if he prospers, he may redeem himself.

Notice that when someone falls into such a destitute state that they have to sell themselves to a stranger. There were only two ways that they could be redeemed. 1) By one of his blood relatives. The person who did the redeeming was called the kinsman-redeemer thus emphasizing that he had to be kin, i.e. related.  2) If he is prosperous enough then he could redeem himself.

 In the same way, we have sold ourselves to sin; it is our master. Likewise, we can only be redeemed by one of our blood relatives. The problem is that every one of the billions of our blood relatives is likewise sold to sin. So every one of us needs their own redeemer. The second way is if we can redeem ourselves. The obvious problem here is that we each owe an infinite debt and it only gets worse the longer we live. So how can we be redeemed?

By God becoming one of us He thus became our kin; He became our blood relative. He was, therefore, able to be our redeemer.

Hebrews 2:7, “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

Notice what this verse in Hebrews says. Jesus had to made like His brethren so that He could make propitiation (make favorable, appease, conciliate) for our sins (our debts).

Jesus is our kinsman-redeemer. He is our close blood relative.

And even more perplexing, why as a helpless baby?


Why did God not just show up for the first time as a man; someone who just walked into town as in the old Westerns and there He was?

If Jesus was not born of a human mother then we could never be convinced of His humanity


If Jesus just walked into town like an old wild-West gunfighter then we would never believe His full humanity. There would always be questions like:

·         “How can He prove it?”

·         “If He is fully human then why is He so mysterious about it?”

·         Where did He come from?

·         “If He just showed up as an adult then how can He say that He is really human? He never experienced childhood or the teenage years. Those are formidable and very crucial times in every person’s life. How can someone say that he is fully human when he skipped those tough years?”

But Jesus was born a baby and He did go through those tough years. Therefore, these questions are never asked because we know the answers.

Why was Jesus being born of a virgin important?


Yes, it fulfilled prophecy. Isaiah 7:14 reads, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” Immanuel means “God is with us.”

But God didn’t have to put that prophecy in there and, if He didn’t, then it wouldn’t have been a needed requirement of fulfilling prophecy.

But there are other reasons.

It was a supernatural event


If there ever was a supernatural event then God entering the realm of humans and becoming one of us would certainly be in the top three. The incarnation is indeed a supernatural event and being born by a virgin surely emphasizes that this was God’s hand at work.

Jesus was unique in all of history in that no one else was ever born of a virgin. Some people were raised from the dead, many people were martyred and even crucified. Many did miracles. But no one was ever born of a virgin. In this, Jesus is unique in all of history.

We can truly say that Jesus was God’s son and not Joseph’s son.

Isaiah 40:4, “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.”

We have many modern engineering marvels. The Big Dig (Boston) took 16 years and cost $15 billion. The Channel Tunnel that connects the UK to France took six years and $7 billion. The world’s longest suspension bridge (Akashi Kaikyo Suspension Bridge) at four miles long took two million workers 10 years to build. These great feats that moved a lot of dirt and steel were created to bring people from one place to another more easily,

God also wants to move us; however, not from one location to another but from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). To accomplish this, as this passage foreshadows, He had to be born as one of us and, in His sovereignty, He would allow no obstacle to stop Him. If necessary, He would have leveled every mountain and lifted up every valley to prepare the way for the Savior. No barrier would hinder His being born a child, growing and living among us, and then dying for our sins. This engineering project would have infinitely eclipsed anything that we could ever do.

God also greatly desires to show us compassion and comfort. This spiritual journey is impossible for us; we need God to tear down every barrier to reunite us with Him. God can shake the entire world to accomplish His purposes.  He did this when He chose to be born a human in order to bring us to Himself.

Sin is passed through the man


Many believe that the sin nature is passed down through the man. Therefore, in order for Jesus to be sinless He could not have been born with a sin nature. Therefore, an earthly father had to be out of the picture.

Some use Romans 5:12 to valid this, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

This concept is called Federal Headship. This means that the father represents his descendents.

It shows that God can use anyone for anything if He so chooses


Luke 1:34, "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

Throughout the bible there are people who had a reason or excuse as to why God could not use them. There were those who never started (the rich, young ruler in Matthew 19), those who gave up (Demas in 2 Timothy 4), and those who compromised (Abram with Hagar in Genesis 16). But then there were the ones who believed God and acted despite their own inabilities. Moses protested, “I have never been eloquent” (Ex. 4:10). Abraham questioned, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old?” (Genesis 17:17) And here in Luke, Mary asked, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

Sometimes these reasons are legitimate: we have a limiting weakness or, as with Mary, the situation seems impossible. Sometimes they are not: we are simply lazy or do not want to be bothered. But in all situations, God provides all sufficiency. God gives us His promises because He knows that we are weak and afraid. In this passage God provided to Mary that which He promises to all of us: “the Holy Spirit” and “the power of the Most High.” Because Mary obeyed and acted there was a great result: God was true and faithful and the virgin bore “the holy one… the Son of God.” The weak gave birth to the Almighty and the doubter gave us the surest thing: a Savior.

So the Incarnation proves to us that no matter how weak we may think that we are, no matter how much we have failed, no matter what sin we have committed, God can still use us. If a young virgin girl in an obscure city in ancient times can give birth to “God became flesh” then what limit can we impose on God to use us?


Ultimately we can look at John 1:1, 14

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

14And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of [l]the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

In verse 1 “Word” meant “speaking, a message, or words.” This Word was with God. The word “with” suggests “in the company of.” Whatever this Word was, it was in the company of God. But then we learn that this Word was actually God Himself. Thus we see a hint of the Trinity here.

Then we discover that this Word became flesh. God did not merely look like a person. It was not an illusion. He actually became a person. The word “dwelt” means “tabernacle” or to say that "he pitched his tent among us." Paul also compares our body to a tent in 2 Cor. 5:1-9.

So in this magnificent passage, we see that the eternal God became one of us. Why? The answer harkens back to verses 12 and 13:

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.


How can I know that someone really exists? I can see his name in a telephone book, but maybe that is just someone else with the same name. I can interview someone who claims to have spoken to him, but perhaps she is lying. However, if I actually meet and talk to this person then I will be convinced.

God is unseen. How do we know that He really exists and cares about us? The first time when God dwelt (tabernacled) with His people was in Exodus 13:21. He led Israel in pillars of cloud and fire at the Red Sea. This was evidence to many of the invisible. Then in Exodus 40:34 God took up residence in the temple as the Shekinah glory. But because Israel turned from God, the Shekinah glory left the temple in 586 BC (Ezekiel 11:23) and for hundreds of years God was again invisible.

Then in God’s perfect timing He chose once again to dwell among us. But this time instead of appearing as a “consuming fire” He came in “grace and truth.” Instead of appearing at a distance, He walked among us. Because God became human we can read His actual words, weep at His brutal crucifixion, and rejoice at His resurrection. Does God exist and does He care? He became flesh and we saw His glory. What greater proof do we need?

It all comes together. Jesus became flesh so that we might become children of God, i.e. so that God and we might have a close and intimate relationship. Not just so that we might go to Heaven, but more so, that we might become the temple of God and then one day spend an eternity glazing at His glorious face.

The Incarnation was not merely something interesting. It was not a mere setup for the Crucifixion.  It shook history. It changed everything. It was God becoming human, becoming a baby, and walking among us, living amidst sin while remaining perfectly sinless Himself.

Isaiah 9:6a reads, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

In 2005, thieves broke into a British museum and stole a modern sculpture whose value was $6,000,000. It was never recovered and it is feared that they melted it down for perhaps a few thousand dollars of scrap metal. They did not understand or appreciate its value. Today we each have that same challenge when faced with someone of even greater worth.

This passage has perhaps the greatest set of paired words of anywhere in the Bible. “Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Eternal Father,” “Prince of Peace” (“of” is not in the Hebrew). These describe someone who is caring and wise, all powerful, timeless, loving, and harmonious. This is one who is transcendent and majestic; who sits on the throne of Heaven surrounded by angels who continuously cry out in adoration and worship, “Holy, holy, holy.”

Yet perhaps the most glorious and also confounding pair of words in this passage are “to us.” We slander God and rebel against Him. We are sinners who deserve the full and eternal wrath of God; a people who do no good and whose mouths are full of cursing and bitterness (Romans 3). And yet, the One who is the most magnificent was given “to us” who are most undeserving so that He might redeem, regenerate, and glorify. This He did not grudgingly but with great zeal and with great love.  The Incarnation is God given “to us.”