On the Incarnation (1) : What does “word made flesh” mean?

(This is a short series of short posts on the incarnation as we lead up to Christmas)

What do we mean when we say that Jesus is God’s Word in the flesh? It’s primarily from John 1…

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The word incarnation is a Latin rendering of “become flesh” (e.g. a carnivore is something that eats flesh).

So how should we explain this idea?

We need to start with the concept of Jesus before he was human – that’s what John does. Before Jesus was human, before he was “Jesus” – he still existed. He’s different to you and I… we didn’t exist before we were conceived (apart from being an idea in God’s mind) but the Son of God DID EXIST before he was conceived. In fact, the Son of God existed before the creation of the world. He existed WITH the father for eternity-past. There was NEVER a time when the Son of God did not exist.

What was the Son of God? He wasn’t a “thing”; he wasn’t made of atoms and creation-stuff. But he was something of God the Father – God the Son was the WORD of God the Father. So if you think about your relationship with your words, that’s analogous to the Father’s relationship with the Son in eternity. The Son was always the perfect expression of the Father; such that whatever the Father (or the Speaker) willed, it was expressed in the Son (the Words). Hence in creation we see God creating through speaking – the Father’s will and character expressed through the Son perfectly.

The incarnation is simply (haha!) a further step in this same direction. The Word that so perfectly expressed the Father’s will and character in creation now knits himself into that very creation – still perfectly expressing the will and the character of the Father. This is the idea in Hebrews 1…

2 But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

And John 14…

9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.

The Incarnation means that all of Jesus; his life, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension and session – they are all the prefect expression of the Father’s eternal character.

When God speaks to his creation it looks and sounds like Jesus – becoming one of us, living perfectly for us, dying in our place, rescuing us from wrath, taking us to his side, all for his Glory. That’s why Paul can say the very strange sentence…

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

What is God like? Look at Jesus. He is God’s word in the flesh.