The Mystery that Is Not A Mystery
The incarnation of Jesus our Lord is a mystery. Such a mystery that we cannot comprehend it and yet sadly it is often not regarded as such. Why? I don’t really know for certain but I have a suspicion that it has to do with how we tend to look at ourselves. There is a thought in our hearts that often views all things as centered around us. Or to be more specific, all things centered around ME. We can see this in how so often our songs are in the first person rather than the second person. Songs of how I love the Lord or how He died for me. Nothing overtly wrong with these but they can often turn our minds toward how our Creator and Sustainer, the Lord of Heaven and Earth exists for our blessing and our purposes.
So when we then think about the incarnation we lose sight of the vastness between us and God. We have a greater connection backwards with a dog or an ant then we do with God. Not because of some evolutionary basis but because we are creatures and God is not. We are part of a vast creation and God is “outside” that creation (however that works). We are connected to Him through the imago dei but we still are creatures. The terms in the OT and NT that are often translated as “flesh” speak to that creaturely weakness that is part of the human experience.
Add sin to the mix, where we now stand as rebels against our Sovereign. Fools who believe that they do not need their Creator and decide that He does not even exist, all the while we breathe His air and we eat because of His goodness. The sun that we enjoy and the rain that refreshes us are enjoyed by all even though most shall not give thanks nor honor Him as God.
Then we come to the mystery. God in human flesh. The incarnation where Jesus enters into our weakness and our deadness and walks among us. Not as some demi-god nor as some shining being, but as the Son of Man. The scripture says that He sympathizes with us for He was tempted in every way but without sin. He is aware that we are but dust. He becomes our sin-bearer and He takes on our death and destroys them both. God in human flesh bringing us life that is beyond the here and now and moves us into a whole new sphere, the life that is His alone—eternal, full, complete life.
The puritan Thomas Goodwin says this of the incarnation:
What a wonder is it, that two natures infinitely distant , should be more intimately united than anything in the world; and yet without any confusion! That the same person should have both a glory and a grief; an infinite joy in the Deity, and an inexpressible sorrow in the humanity! That a God upon a throne should be an infant in a cradle; the thundering Creator be a weeping babe and a suffering man, are such expressions of mighty power, as well as condescending love, that they astonish men upon earth, and angels in heaven.
We sang a song Sunday that made me think of this whole thing. One of the lines goes like this, “Come behold the wondrous mystery in the dawning of the King. He the theme of Heaven’s praises, clothed in frail humanity. In our longing, in our darkness now the light of life has come. Look to Christ who condescended, took on flesh to ransom us.”