What is the incarnation of Christ and why is the incarnation important?In Christianity, the word "incarnation" is used to express the idea of Jesus Christ coming to earth in human form. The word is a Latin term that literally means "the act of being made flesh." This Latin term was used in John 1:14, which speaks of Jesus who "became flesh and dwelt among us."
Theologically, the humanity of Jesus is an important aspect of His earthly life. Jesus is divine (John 1:1; Colossians 1:16), yet also took on a human body to identify with humanity. He was born of a woman (Matthew 1; Luke 2), ate food (Matthew 4:2; 21:18), slept (Luke 8:23), and experienced temptation (Matthew 4:1-11). Like other humans, he could perspire (Luke 22:43-44) and bleed (John 19:34). He also displayed human emotions, including anger (Mark 3:5), joy (John 15:11), and sorrow (Matthew 26:37).
In terms of His divine plan, Jesus also became human as part of His plan to die in our place as a sacrifice (Hebrews 9:22). Further, in order to resurrect, He first had to physically die, which required taking on a physical body.
In fact, our salvation completely depends upon Jesus coming to this world in human form. Romans 5:8 clearly states, "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." His love was fully displayed in taking on human form and allowing this form to be destroyed as a sacrifice on our behalf (Isaiah 53).
Unlike any other human, Jesus lived in a human body yet did not sin. Hebrews 4:15 shares, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." He resisted temptation perfectly (Matthew 4:1-11), revealing both His full deity and full humanity.
Also unique is the resurrection of Jesus. He raised others from the dead during His life, but only Jesus returned to life of His own power. His resurrection is only possible because He took on human form and first died. This resurrection surprised His followers, yet also compelled them to share His message with others. In fact, the apostle Paul called the resurrection a matter of "first importance" (1 Corinthians 15:3) and wrote, "if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17). He realized that apart from the death and resurrection of Jesus, Christianity's foundation would not exist.
The incarnation is valuable for our study in many ways. In it we discover a God who loves us so much that He came to earth and took on a human form on our behalf, ultimately to give up His life to pay for our sins and offer us eternal life with Him. As John 3:16 declares, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
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