(This is a short series of short posts on the incarnation as we lead up to Christmas)
There are two aspects of the incarnation; one is to focus on how creation received the eternal Son; humanity received a new member, a special member, a glorious member. Jesus was a human but in a very new way. Jesus was a new Adam. Jesus was something humanity had never been before – not just with God (as they were in the garden), but united together with God. The incarnation is the amazing union of God with humanity.
The other aspect is to focus on humanity being caught up in God himself. As we looked at yesterday, there once was a time when God was not fully and completely united with humanity – but not any longer. Since the incarnation, God – in the person of the Son – has taken on human-ness. God has absorbed¹ created-ness into Himself. The Eternal has united Himself with the temporal, with the fleeting.
The incarnation is an eternal commitment from God to be for human-ness.
There is no denying this is a dangerous idea that must be held tightly within the bounds of scripture. We must never allow ourselves to think that God absorbed¹ all humanity (meaning all humans) into himself – this leads to a universalism. The eternal Son took on the form of a human, and bound himself to human-ness, not humans. He is able to help every human, but not bound to help every human.
Another danger is to allow ourselves to think that the incarnation IS the atonement… as if God dealt with his anger towards humanity in the moment the Son took on human-ness. No! The incarnation sets us up for the atonement to work. the atonement is not a fiction, and the incarnation doesn’t save, it just paves the way.
However, this union of God and man; apart from being the eternal basis for atonement, it is also the basis for our Spiritual union with God.
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
God the Son can share God’s Spirit with us because that Spirit was already united with human-ness in Jesus. In other words, when God the Son brought human-ness into the God-head, he was paving the way for you and I to be united to God though his Spirit. In crude terms… the incarnation is the first date, the atonement is the promise to wed², the spirit is the engagement ring, and Jesus’ return is the wedding day!
¹absorb isn’t the right word… but at the risk of further confusion, I’ve decided to go with it here.
²Jesus doesn’t propose… he tells you the plans