This is the time of year that Christians celebrate the “incarnation.” we do not often use this word in every day conversation, but it simply means “enfleshment.” The significance of the “incarnation” is profound and eternally significant in relationship to the meaning of Christmas. The Incarnation has to do with the historical reality that a child was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary and she gave birth to that child who was Jesus the promised Messiah.
Why does the coming of the eternal Son of God into this world as a true human being matter so much for every person alive today? Why does the birth of Jesus matter? Why does the incarnation matter? Here are Bible reasons for why the birth of Christ matters.
Because in the incarnation God visited us in the God-Man (John 1:1-14)
Consider this remarkable statement about Jesus the eternal Son of God, the very Word of God, who came into this world.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 6 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. 9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 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. 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1-14).
Among other things if you will examine these verses this becomes apparent: At the incarnation the Son of God did not come into being, but became a man such that as Jesus the Son of God walked around this earth He was fully God and fully man and remains so today as He sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
Why does the incarnation matter?
Because in the incarnation a substitutionary righteous life was lived before God
That Jesus lived a righteous life is very clearly displayed on the pages of Scripture. He was in submission to His parents:
And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart (Luke 2:51)
Unlike all those born into this world after Adam, Satan had no hold upon Jesus:
“I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; (John 14:30)
The testimony about Jesus even from those involved with His kangaroo trial before the crucifixion consistently pointed to His innocence:
I find no guilt in this man (Luke 23:3)
I have found no guilt in this man (Luke 23:14)
No. nor has Herod (Luke 23:15)
What evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death (Luke 23:22)
This man has done nothing wrong (Luke 23:41)
Certainly this man was innocent (Luke 23:47)
Jesus claimed and the Father confirmed that He only did what was pleasing to His Father:
“And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” (John 8:29)
“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
It is also true that Jesus lived that righteous life before God as a substitute for us the unrighteous. From the very beginning of His ministry Jesus identified Himself with sinners who must repent of their sins even though He was no sinner. He did this at the baptism of John the Baptist to declare His mission to be the substitute for sinners like us (Matthew 3:1-17). And this substitutionary righteous life that He lived in our place was lived before God in our place.
For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19)
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8).
Why does the incarnation matter?
Because in the incarnation a substitutionary sacrifice was offered to God
Not only did Jesus live His righteous life in our place so that by faith we might receive the gift of His righteousness to our account before God, but Jesus also offered Himself up in our place on the cross as a sacrifice that all our unrighteousness might be atoned for.
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; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. (1 Peter 2:21-24)
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. (Romans 3:21-25)
Why does the incarnation matter?
Because in the incarnation we have a sympathetic high priest
Jesus become one of us. He was tired, hungry, thirsty and His life was lived out in a world that was full of injustice and suffering. He lived in our world. And as such by faith in Him we have a sympathetic high priest. He is the perfect sympathetic high priest. That is, though He understands and is one of us, He did not become one with us in our sin. Therefore, He could be our solution though He understands our plight.
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. 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. (Hebrews 2:17-18).
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
As the perfect sympathetic high priest Jesus is the only mediator between sinful man and the holy God:
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5)
It is impossible to overplay the significance of the incarnation. Can you say this Christmas season that Jesus is your only hope before God? Have you trusted in Him alone? If so this is your testimony: Jesus is your life, you were made by Him and for Him, but also redeemed by Him. And why were you redeemed by Him? For His glory and the glory of the Father and Spirit. May God help our lives to be practically and daily marked by the significance of the incarnation through simple faith in this glorious Son of God who was born in Bethlehem.