Incarnation REALLY Means “Like Father, Like Son”

Christians maintain that Jesus was the incarnation of God, and it can be somewhat confusing to those who have never considered such a possibility. The whole notion of incarnation is somewhat mysterious and unfathomable. It literally means “in the flesh” and refers to God taking on human form. Matthew 1:20-21 speaks about it like this: “an angel of the Lord appeared to [Joseph] in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

So, according to Matthew, you take an infinite, all-powerful god and place him into a frail human body. He accepts limitations of time and space; and he walks upon the very earth he created! It sounds kinda like something out of Greek mythology, where the gods often came back and forth to earth. Those fanciful accounts are obvious fabrications, so why would Christians say that Jesus was God in human form? What evidence is there to suggest that the whole Jesus story is not just some first-century fabrication? Well, take a closer look at the incarnation and you’ll see it: Like Father, Like Son…

What, Exactly, Does the Bible Say About Incarnation?

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation… And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:15, 18-20 NIV)

Christ’s resurrection (which we celebrate every Easter) was important for so many reasons. 1) It AUTHENTICATED the incarnation, or who Jesus was: by overcoming death (doing something impossible) he demonstrated that he was not just a man, but the incarnation of God on earth. He was not just an itinerant rabbi, he was the exact image of the invisible God. An image can ONLY reflect the original, and do exactly what the original does. Stand in front of a mirror and try it! Your image will do what you do.

There are a different concepts out there about incarnation, but none of them are as simple and profound as Jesus. Several mystic and mythological religions have utilized the concept of a god becoming man, but they are only cheap imitations of the REAL thing. The mythological gods appeared in human form, usually to pursue some desire or act upon some whim. In the 11th century, the Hindu deity Vishnu was born as Rama to rid the earth of an evil dragon. (Sound familiar?)

If you want to determine whether or not physical representations of the Almighty are actually God, then investigate what they did and what they taught. Jesus of Nazareth was unique in his time, in his culture, in his approach, and in his impact. (Hmm, he is STILL unique in out time and culture, too!) As “God with skin on”, Jesus showed us what the Father looks like. The incarnation means that Jesus is the visible image of a spiritual God, and you know what? By being inhabited by his presence and power, we can be, too.

Evidence that Deserves Reflection

2) It CONFIRMED the possibility of eternal life. As the firstborn from the dead, Christ opened the very gates of hell and demonstrated a new possibility of triumph over death. If the resurrection didn’t happen, then Christians are the greatest fools in history; there is no evidence of eternal life; and we should be, as Paul says, “of all men most miserable.”

3) The resurrection VALIDATED Christ’s position as the incarnation: he is the head of the church, the pure expression of the Father’s fullness in human form… God’s fullness burst forth in new life not only for Him but for us. He has supremacy in everything. He earned his position not by conquest, not by coercion, but by humility and sacrifice; and He represented the pure incarnation of the Father in human form.

4) Finally, it proved that he RECONCILED us to God: the wages of sin are death, and every human after Adam was held to account for their trespasses. The only hope seemed to be in keeping the law (at which all men failed) or having faith in an unlikely promise of redemption. Christ’s position enabled him to keep that promise (since his voluntary death paid our accounts in full). His incarnation demonstrated the result of being reconciled: LIFE! If Christ is in you, then the reconciled, eternal life you have can now reflect the very image of God.

Reflecting the Attributes of the Original

Here’s an illustration about how that works: I may not be a great tennis player, but what if the spirit and presence of Roger Federer could unzip my skin and step into me and guide my body with his will and understanding of the game? I would think differently, and I would certainly play tennis differently. Yeah there would be some limitations (because after all he’d have to play with MY body), but if Roger put my skin on, I’d be able to play tennis at a much higher level.

God calls us to be yielded to His authority, and to be inhabited by His Spirit. He wants to express His love and character through us just as He did with Jesus; in fact, history is FULL of examples of people who committed acts of courage, or selfless love because they were touched by the incarnation of God, and allowed His Spirit to literally guide them into new behaviors and new actions. Doesn’t that just fill your day with new possibilities? Raise your game. Smile at someone today as if God was smiling through you to them. Then do everything else as if He was, too. You know what? He is.

Incarnation or Fabrication?

God resides in grandeur on a universal scale;
His majesty is cosmic in its space:
God created galaxies beyond the crystal veil,
And used His power to put each one in place.
Some say God Almighty then became the Incarnation
To execute a grand redemptive plan;
Others say that such a tale is only fabrication,
And there’s no way that God became a man…
And yet there’s Jesus: humbly serving, healing, loving, warm–
Showing us that there’s another way:
Is it somehow possible that God in human form
Was born in Bethlehem on Christmas day?

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