God became flesh so that I could become spirit.
My pastor, Tim Franklin, Ph.D. spoke this phrase during a December 2013 sermon. This truth struck me like an arrow. Simple, yet profound.
The mystery of the incarnation boiled down to 9 words. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
As a former Catholic, I am familiar with sermons on the incarnation. Every Christmas. But Pastor Tim’s words brought the ever so familiar incarnation message to life. Simplicity.
The Christmas story is not the story of a baby being born. It is the story of a King leaving His throne in heaven, lowering Himself to “take on flesh” and become human, for the sole purpose of dying in that human body He took on. To be born just to die? Yup. Why, you ask? Because blood had to be shed in order to satisfy the covenant that Father God had previously established years before with another man named Abraham.
Jesus birth was an act of humility. God, the Creator of heaven and earth, came to earth to become a baby (John 1:1-2, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God).
A tender, defenseless, vulnerable and fully dependant infant, identical to all other babies born before and since. Except for one major difference.
This baby did not cease being God. He was not God one minute, then man for 33 years, then God again after returning to heaven. Nope. He remained God the whole time He walked the earth as a man.
While all world religions acknowledge Jesus in their holy writings, only Christians believe that God literally became a baby yet did not cease being God. Hence, the gifts brought to Him by the 3 wise guys in Matthew 2. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Only a God/King could provoke wise, holy men to honor Him. A regular baby could not do that.
This is the mystery of the incarnation: Jesus at His birth did not become divine. He remained divine. Emmanuel, God with us. I like how Timothy says it in 1 Timothy 3:16, “This Christian life is a great mystery, far exceeding our understanding, but some things are clear enough: He appeared in a human body, was proved right by the invisible Spirit, was seen by angels. He was proclaimed among all kinds of people’s, believed in all over the world and taken up into heavenly glory.”
One Vital Question
So this holiday season, I pose one question to you, gentle reader. Do you believe that Jesus, the one who was born as a baby and died on the cross … do you believe that He was God? I pray you do. Salvation is that simple. Only religion complicates it.
Everyone who confesses openly his faith in Jesus Christ (the Son of God, who came as an actual flesh-and-blood person) comes from God and belongs to God. And everyone who refuses to confess faith in Jesus has nothing in common with God. This is the spirit of antichrist that you heard was coming (1 John 4:3, The Msg).
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. This is the promise found in John 1:12. So, again I ask: do you believe?