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What is Christmas but the Incarnation; God into Human Flesh?

Do you have a favorite Bible story? Perhaps it is the birth of Jesus Christ; Luke 2:1-20 is often recited in Christian homes on Christmas Eve. However, this is not my favorite Bible story, but another Christmas passage is my favorite Bible story. My favorite Bible story is the prologue to The Gospel According to John. Did you know that John 1:1-18 is a Christmas story? It is indeed a Christmas story and a very strong Christmas story for three reasons:
  1. In the beginning the Word was both with God and the Word was God. (1:1-5)
  2. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (1:6-14)
  3. The man Jesus Christ is the incarnate Word. (1:15-18)
To be a Christian means that you believe in the essential doctrines taught by the church and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ:
  1. God is Trinity: There is one God who exist simultaneously in three divine persons; the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
  2. Jesus is both fully God and fully man in one person.
  3. Jesus death on the cross was a sin sacrifice.
  4. Jesus bodily rose from the dead.
  5. There will be a bodily resurrection of all the dead at the judgment on the last day.
Every heresy throughout the history of the Christian church denies at least one of these essential doctrines. The second essential, that Jesus is fully God and fully man became an issue when Christianity became predominantly Graeco-Roman in its persons. The writers of the New Testament were Jewish, or in the case of Luke at least associated with Jews; therefore, the gospels were written from a Jewish worldview; and not a Graeco-Roman worldview. When someone asks, “Who is Jesus Christ?” If the question is asked from a Graeco-Roman worldview the answer that one would expect to hear has to do with his nature, but if the question is asked from a first century Jewish worldview the answer that one would expect to hear has to do with His function.1 Historical heresies that have to do with the person of Jesus Christ: Docetism,2 Arianism,3 and Nestorianism4 all sought unbiblical Graeco-Roman answers. However, the first century Jewish/Christian understanding had to do with his function; therefore, this is how we should understand the incarnation.

In John 10:31 the Jews pickup stones to stone Jesus because He made himself out to be God. Jesus did not say to them “I Am God,” but because he declared his function to be the same as the Father’s the Jews understood His statement to mean that He is God. (cf. Jn 10:33) When Phillip asked Jesus to show the disciples the Father, Jesus said: “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

God is all-powerful, all-knowing and morally perfect. Man has limited-power, limited-knowledge and morally imperfect. It is our sin that separates us from God. Jesus came so that we may have life and have it abundantly. (Jn 10:10) Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ, (Jn 1:17) He has shown God to man (Jn 1:18) because eternal life is knowing God. (Jn 17:3)

What is Christmas but the Incarnation; God in human flesh? “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” (Jn 1:18) This Christmas come to know God through the incarnation; the Word who was with God and was God became flesh and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus Christ the Son of God. (Cf. Jn 1:1-18)

1 Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd3d., (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 638.
2 Docetism: a belief the Jesus was a spirit and not a physical being like man.
3 Arianism: a belief that Jesus was man and not God.
4 Nestorianism: a belief that Jesus was two persons, one God and one man.

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