The Incarnation: What it Means and Why it Matters
Nov 28, 2020 · Courtney Jacob
During Advent, as we anticipate Christmas, Christians around the world decorate with nativity scenes, sing cherished songs, and read stories to celebrate and remember the birth of Jesus. Whether we’re gathered in church or around the table with our family, we read and reread the gospel accounts of angelic proclamations, a census that brings Mary and Joseph to Jerusalem, and the Son of God’s untimely birth in a stable.
It can be easy to get distracted by the activity and sentiment of the season but the fact that the Son of God became a human is a history-changing truth that deserves our attention. Join Groundwork as we turn to the Apostle Paul’s New Testament letters to gain a better understanding of this important truth in our Groundwork series, “The Incarnation: What it Means and Why it Matters.”
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, to be incarnate means to be “invested with bodily and especially human nature and form.” But when Christians talk about the incarnation, we’re talking specifically about Jesus Christ, the Son of God taking on human flesh. The doctrine, or teaching, of the incarnation articulates what we believe about the Son of God taking on human flesh and why it matters for us.
So when we celebrate Christmas, we’re celebrating more than just a birthday. We’re celebrating the fact that Christ took on human flesh and was born into our human world. He is one of us.
This truth was central to the Apostle Paul’s theology and therefore, remains central to our theology today. Studying Paul’s teaching to understand what he thought and taught about the incarnation helps us grasp the profound meaning of Christmas and why it matters.
Quite simply, Christmas matters, because without it, Easter isn’t possible. We need a savior that is fully human and fully divine to save us from our rightfully deserved death sentence. Our understanding of the incarnation enhances our understanding of salvation and its cost.
A More Profound Christmas
Studying Christ’s birth from the perspective of Paul’s teaching might seem like it takes all the excitement and sentiment away from the Christmas story. However, if we listen closely to what Paul teaches and examine the details with him, our understanding of God’s greatest gift to us will deepen and grow.
I invite you to marvel with us at the incredible gift of grace and the demonstration of God’s great love through our Groundwork series, “The Incarnation: What it Means and Why it Matters”:
- The Son of God Became Like Us - Galatians 4:4-7
- Jesus Willingly Humbled Himself - Philippians 2:1-11
- Jesus Christ Came with a Purpose - 1 Timothy 1:12-17
- Focus on Jesus - Colossians 1:3-23
...and together we’ll encounter the Christmas story anew with great awe and deep appreciation for the profound significance of Christ’s birth and its eternal impact on our lives.