Christmas is a mystery. A mystery conveyed in the word “incarnation.” And what a mystery that is!
The Concise Oxford English dictionary defines “incarnate” as “embodied in human form.” The dictionary goes on to explain that this term comes to us from the Latin in- ‘into’ + caro, carn- ‘flesh’. Into flesh. Deity came into flesh. God Himself became embodied in human form.
The Apostle John puts it this way: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) God the Son, existing from all eternity past, stepped into human flesh at that precise moment in time when the Virgin Mary conceived Jesus in her womb. Mystery! Marvel!
But why? God’s revelation in Scripture does not unveil all the intricate details of exactly how the Incarnation transpired. It does, however, answer the “why” question. Indeed, God gives at least three reasons why the Son took on human flesh.
God the Son took on flesh to reveal God the Father to the world. (See John 1:14-18)
God the Son took on flesh to serve the will of the Father. (See Philippians 2:5-8.)
God the Son took on flesh to suffer for the sins of mankind. (See Hebrews 2:5-18.)
As we worship together on the Sundays leading up to Christmas, this will be our focus. The Incarnation is indeed a mystery. But the reasons for it are clear: Jesus came to show us the Father, to serve, and to suffer.
And our Lord calls us to the same, to participate in incarnational ministry—to show the Father to the world, to serve others in the name of Jesus, and to suffer by dying to self in order to do the will of the Father.