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What is the Significance of Incarnation?

To the believer, incarnation speaks of God becoming man in the person of Jesus Christ. The word incarnate means enfleshed, as John the apostle indicated when he wrote, “The Word was God....and the Word became flesh” (John 1:1, 14). Paul also proclaimed, “In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). In the person of Jesus Christ, God is united and perfectly mingled with man. At His birth He was at once both the Son of God (Mark 1:1) and the Son of Man (Matt. 11:19), for His being is of two natures—divine and human. Thus, He is the God-man, truly God and truly man. He is the complete God and the perfect man.

Although the fact that God became a man is a mystery that is beyond our ability to understand, it is not beyond our ability to experience, for it is through incarnation that God has become knowable and can even be experienced by us. This can be seen in the naming of the newborn God-man. Joseph and Mary were told that they were to name the child Jesus (Matt. 1:21; Luke 1:31), meaning Jehovah Savior. We are also told He would be called Emmanuel, which means God with us (Matt. 1:23).

God is no longer unapproachable or far away from us.

Before the birth of Christ, God was separated from mankind because of sin, and all mankind was destined to eternal punishment. As a sinner, every human being needs a Savior to deliver him from God’s righteous judgment. The only solution to mankind’s problem was a sacrifice that could take the sinner’s place in death. God had to become a man, for He alone was capable of paying such a price. To die for man, He had to take on flesh and blood (Heb. 2:14). Jesus, who is God incarnated to be a sinless man, is our Jehovah Savior. All humanity can now rejoice with the words penned by Charles Wesley, “Amazing love! how can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?” The wonderful name of Jesus reveals depths of unspeakable love and sacrifice. It reveals that the almighty God condescended to be a lowly man (Isa. 9:6) to be our Savior.

Through incarnation, God is now Emmanuel, God with us. On the one hand, today Christ Jesus as the embodiment of God sits upon the throne (Rom. 8:34; Rev. 22:1). On the other hand, He is now also with His believers (Matt. 28:20), indwelling them as the Spirit (Rom. 8:9, 10) in their spirit (2 Tim. 4:22). God is now with us believers in such an intimate and subjective way.

Since His incarnation, God is no longer unapproachable or far away from us. God has acquired humanity! Once God became incarnated, He committed Himself to humanity so that He might become our Savior, and even more, so that He could be joined with us. He is now, as Charles Wesley wrote in one of his many hymns, “Pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus, our Immanuel...”

For further reading on this subject, please see The Four Major Steps of Christ and God’s New Testament Economy , chaps. 2-5, both by Witness Lee, published by Living Stream Ministry.

From Issue No. 38, June 2001

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