Theology 101 — Jesus: The Incarnate Wordcomment (0)
February 6, 2014
By Jerry Batson
The Gospel of John opens by directing our attention to the Word that was — was coeternal, was coequal and was coexistent with God. When we reach John 1:14, we encounter the Word that became — He “became flesh and dwelt among us.” The theological term for Christ becoming flesh is incarnation. Incarnation means that the Word that “was” became what He had never been before; He became flesh.
In John 1:14, the incarnate Word “dwelt among us,” the verse uses the term that literally means that He ‘tabernacled’ or ‘pitched his tent’ among us. In the Old Testament, the tabernacle was where God manifested His presence. When Christ came, God was pitching His tent in the midst of humanity.
The real humanity of Christ shows up repeatedly in the New Testament. He had a human birth, although His conception was miraculous. He came into the world the way all human babies come, by way of a mother who knew labor pains. Like all of us, He grew from infancy, through childhood and youth into young adulthood. In those early years, He “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom” (Luke 2:40). Our only glimpse of His growing up years was the visit to the temple in Jerusalem when he was 12 years old. Beyond that visit, the record says He continued to grow, increasing “in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). The Gospels describe One who was fully human, without ceasing to be fully divine.
As the incarnate Word, Christ became the manifestation or expression of God to us. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being” (Heb. 1:3). Colossians 1:15 calls Him “the image of the invisible God.” By incarnation, Christ made the invisible God visible. It has been said that Christ put a face on God for the world to behold.
In His real humanness, Christ was subject to temptation like the rest of us are. In fact, the testimony is that He was tempted “in every respect” like we are, but with a major difference — He never sinned by yielding to any temptation (Heb. 4:15). Like most people of His day, Christ walked to get from place to place. His body knew weariness, requiring rest. He experienced hunger, thus needing food. He wept when other people sorrowed. The living, eternal, divine Word became fully human.
We celebrate the fact that Christ became as we are. When we get tired, we can know He has been there himself. When sorrow comes our way, we can know that it came His way also. Now we know that He is able to sympathize with our physical and emotional needs. His capability of feeling what we feel equipped Him to be our high priest (Heb. 4:15).
Supremely by becoming flesh, Christ was able to experience death, which He did in our behalf. By retaining His divine nature, He was uniquely qualified to become the saving link between God and us. In His humanity, it was as though He reached out a hand to us. In His divinity, it was as though He held firmly to God’s hand.
With a firm grip on being both God and human, Christ joins us to God. A guilty sinner and a holy God touch one another in the eternal Word who became flesh.