How Does the Incarnation Touch
Our Personal Experiences of Hopelessness?
Every year in December, we focus on the Incarnation, through which Jesus experienced life as one of us (Hebrews 2). But we need to consider what the Incarnation means to us all year long. Unprotected and vulnerable in his humanity, Jesus entered directly into our own painful frustrations, engaged our precarious conditions, tasted our futilities, and embraced our despairs.
Think of it: Christ made possible for the Trinity something that they did not possess before he became a man—a direct, personal experience of human suffering as well as human triumph over that suffering (the victory toward which all of God’s promises had pointed to start with). Early Church fathers thought of it this way: In the God-Man, humility was embraced by majesty, weakness by strength, mortality by eternity.
But Jesus entered into our hopeless condition at an even more profound level. He laid hold of that which perpetrated our worst nightmares. By assuming our sin as if it were his own, Christ endured the penalty of our rebellion against the promises of God and against the God of all promises. In our place, he entered the black hole of humanity’s most horrifying form of hopelessness.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” he cried.
Under the judgment of the Cross, he shared our desperate straits, drinking our bitter cup to the end. Amazing grace! Jesus paid the ultimate price to allow us to re-enter the heavenly hope we had forfeited, the hope that Scripture calls eternal life. What supremacy belongs to Christ!
In human flesh, Jesus experienced the humiliation of exile from the throne of the universe. He put his own destiny squarely on the line as he submitted to the Father’s will. Christ emptied himself—he donated himself!—so that despite the godless sinners we are, God might bring to pass, even in us, God’s consummate plan for the ages through the life-giving reign of his Son. What supremacy belongs to Christ!
Consider further: By taking on human flesh, by abandoning himself to be the Servant of servants, Christ actually renounced any claim to final control over his own destiny. He placed himself totally at the Father’s disposal. He left the fulfilling of covenant promises completely in the Father’s hands. The Son made himself “nothing” (Philippians 2) because he chose to wait for the Father to vindicate him, for the Spirit to raise him, and for a lasting lordship to be bestowed upon him. To be sure, the glory that Christ received as he ascended on high was the same glory he had with the Father and the Spirit from all eternity (John 17).
Still, by lifting Jesus up out of disgrace and despair and destruction, and by giving him a name above every other name along with a throne above every other dominion, God sealed irrevocably every promise that Christ proclaimed (Ephesians 1).
The faithfulness of the Father to the incarnate Son, who surrendered so unconditionally to the Father’s will, was ultimately displayed when the Father presented the nations to Jesus as his inheritance (Psalms 2). The Son has become the heir of all for which we could ever hope (Hebrews 1). Even so, the Father will manifest the same faithful commitment to everyone who sets his or her hope on the Son and “kisses” him, as Psalm 2 puts it—an act of full allegiance to the crown he wears.
The incarnation of Christ provides irrefutable proof that our God is personally committed to the future of humankind. Why? Because through endless ages, a man, delivered from death, will occupy the praises of heaven—a man, who at the same time is God, One with the Father and the Spirit.
As a Scottish theologian once noted, we have hope because “the dust of the earth sits on the throne of the Majesty on High.” For the Father to renege on even one of his promises to us is for him to renege on his promise to glorify his Son. Quite rightly, the old hymn boasts: “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!”
What matchless wonders to celebrate at Christmastime—and throughout the year!
About the Author
Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com. Enjoy his regular CHRIST TODAY podcast.
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