This past Sunday, to start off our Christmas series, Jonathan spoke on the Mystery and Wonder of the Incarnation. You can hear his full message here. This week, I’d like to reflect on that. I will address three things that show the mystery and wonder of the Incarnation, or Jesus coming in the flesh.
Jesus Coming Fulfills the Intent of Genesis 1
One of the things that is not widely known about how Genesis 1 was written was how it fit into the ancient world. But once we grasp what is happening in Genesis with in the context of ancient Israel, it brings a more profound understanding of God’s intent for creation and for the incarnation.
When we look at the ancient world and how patterns play out, we see that the number seven was considered a holy number across the ancient Near East (what is commonly called the Middle East). Israel didn’t hold the monopoly on the sanctity of the number seven. As a result of this reverence for the number seven, we see it greatly influence the religious practices from Mesopotamia to Canaan and everywhere in between.
So how is this related to the Incarnation during a Christmas series? Genesis 1 says God created the world in seven days. Six days of work. One day of rest. It is the exact same formula we see in Babylonian and Israelite temple dedication. The standard format for temple preparation was seven days. That doesn’t mean building the structure, but rather putting the final pieces in order before it is actually ready for use. This seven day process was a sanctification process for the temple to make it holy and ready for the deity to dwell in.
So with the creation pattern in Genesis 1, we see God making the heavens and the earth in a seven day sanctification period. According to the format, he is preparing a temple for himself to dwell in. God never intended to remain apart in a heavenly realm. His intent from the moment of creation was to dwell on the earth. It would be his residence.
This brings John 1:14 tells us “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” When Jesus came in the flesh, his time on earth was a partial fulfillment of the intent of Genesis 1, to make the world a temple for his own dwelling. This will be more eternally fulfilled at his second coming, but He will eventually come to earth to stay.
Jesus Coming Changed God’s Relationship to Humanity
When Jesus was born, he became limited by his humanity. He took off much of his power and glory from heaven and lived as a regular human, albeit in perfect relationship with the Father. As the author of Hebrews tells us, it is because of this and his experiencing temptation, that Jesus can sympathize with our struggles. He’s been through it. It says he was tempted in every way a man can be tempted, yet did not sin. Because he can identify with our struggles, even the pain of dealing with our sin, Jesus has a way of relating to humanity that wasn’t possible previously. Before he became flesh, he still lacked the limits and frustrations of the human experience. Now that is no longer the case.
We are in a new and different relationship with Jesus now, because he has walked in humanity’s shoes, and done so in complete obedience to the Father, upto and including death. Now we have a high priest who knows what we go through and can sympathize with our plight. This is a major change in how humanity can relate to God, not just on a formal level, but now in an intimate way with shared experiences.
We Have Access to Life Because of Relationship
Jesus said if we believed in him we would have everlasting life. Adam and Eve had to access the “Tree of Life” in the Garden to live forever. We, on the other hand, have access to Jesus, “the way, the truth, and the life.” Just as the Tree of Life offered immortality only by a continual return to its fruit, so we are offered immortality only by a continual return to Jesus. We must have a constant, ongoing relationship with Jesus to stay alive. As Jesus expounds in John “I am the true vine, you are the branches.” The branches only have life in them so long as they are connected to the true vine, or the main vine. Disconnection means death. So it is with us. Disconnection for Jesus means death.
Because Jesus came during that first Christmas season, he has made this possible. He has offered a relational connection to himself for all of humanity, to each individual person. We have eternal life as a result of the mystery and wonder of Jesus coming in the flesh to earth.
In conclusion, major things happened when Jesus came in the flesh. He began the process of fulfilling the Genesis 1 intent of making the world a holy temple to himself for a permanent dwelling. His time on earth afforded him the limits and the fullness of the human experience, thus changing the way he as God relates to us. Finally, we have access to eternal life because we have access to continual relationship with Jesus, who gives eternal life.
I hope you have a Merry Christmas season with friends and family this year. I also hope this post has encouraged you in your walk with the Lord, and that it has helped you better experience His