The Incarnation: God Reconciling Creation to Himself in Jesus

Reading: Colossians 1:15-20

 

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.… 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us…” (John 1:1-3, 14a NIV).

At Christmas, we celebrate the Incarnation—God becoming human. The Incarnation is essential to the very essence of the Christian faith, for apart from it, humanity could not be reconciled to God. Why is the Incarnation essential to reconciliation with God? We could approach it the other way: How is it that in Jesus Christ, we have reconciliation? Answer: It has everything to do with the Incarnation.

Let me restate the question. How, through the death of one man, Jesus, does God deliver all who trust in Him, from the dominion of the dark lord and bring us into an inheritance in the Kingdom of the Son of His love…in the realm of light (Colossians 1:12-13)? How can death and resurrection do all this? Answer: It all depends on who died and was raised!

How can death and resurrection do all this? Answer: It all depends on who died and was raised!

John tells us that through Jesus all things were made. In fact, without Him, nothing was made that has been made. Paul writes, “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him” (Col. 1:16 NIV). Scientists make things in test-tubes; God created everything in Jesus Christ. The Big Bang theory tells us that everything came to be in a field of energy (except energy itself apparently); Paul tells us that everything came to be in the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ.

If everything was made in Jesus, then everything holds together in Him (Col. 1:17). As Athanasius put it, “For the nature of created things, having come into being from nothing, is unstable, and is weak and mortal when considered by itself.” Therefore, if creation were to be sustained, even in its rejection of the Creator, the Creator would have to sustain it in Himself. Not only sustain it, but redeem and reconcile creation to Himself. For as Athanasius went on to say, “he did not abandon it to be carried away and be tempest-tossed through its own nature, lest it run the risk of returning to nothing.”1

As Athanasius put it, “For the nature of created things, having come into being from nothing, is unstable, and is weak and mortal when considered by itself.”

How does incarnation, God becoming human, solve this? The Creator, desiring to reconcile (bring back together) the rift between heaven and earth, reconciled them in one man, Jesus Christ. Jesus is God in human flesh. He is the reconciliation of heaven and earth. Once the Creator joined the creation, He could die. He was not subject to death, since He had never sinned, but He could lay down His life as a creature. The Creator could not die, but the creature that He became could. Mystery of mysteries.

If we go back to the test-tube analogy, whatever is in the test-tube goes wherever the test-tube goes. If the test-tube goes to Paris, whatever is in it goes also. As Creator, all created things were created in Jesus and hold together in Him. When Jesus, in human, created flesh, died, then everything which had been created in Him died in Him for it was in Him. And when Christ Jesus was raised bodily from the grave, everything in Him was raised bodily. In Him it became possible for everything in heaven and earth to be reconciled (Col. 1:20). And through faith in Him, by sworn allegiance to Him, this reconciliation is appropriated (Col. 1:21-23).

The Incarnation that we celebrate today is what made reconciliation with God possible.

Not only was everything created in Jesus (meaning He has preeminence over all creation), but He is the first-born from the dead, the first-born of a new beginning, of a new creation. The old creation dies because of sin. And for those who trust in Christ, His death is that death for us. Therefore the old dies in Him, and in Him all are raised to a new creation of which He is the beginning – the start.

The Incarnation that we celebrate today is what made reconciliation with God possible.

Merry Christmas,

Jerry

Photo courtesy of Carissa Fassnacht, thegracefullight.

1Athanasius, On the Incarnation (Yonkers, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2011) Kindle, Introduction.

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