(This is a short series of short posts on the incarnation as we lead up to Christmas)
So, if Jesus is the perfect expression of God the Father – why did he need to become human? Couldn’t he have remained not-incarnate? Couldn’t he have just appeared human; like pretended to be human, so we can understand him and learn from him? Was there any real need for the eternal Son to go the whole-hog and unite himself with creation so fully?
Yes – but only if you think the atonement is the centre of the gospel.
If the eternal Son only came to teach us things, then no – he didn’t need to become incarnate.
If the eternal Son only came to be a model and show us how God loves and how we should love – then no – he didn’t need to unite himself to creation.
But, if the eternal Son came to bear the full wrath of God in the place of humanity – then yes – he needed to become human.
If the incarnation isn’t real, then the atonement isn’t real.
Hebrews 2:14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
The eternal Son knitted himself into creation, as a human, not simply to teach them or guide them, but all so that he could die for them and save them from eternal death and hell.
Without the atonement, the incarnation is pointless and silly.