Immanuel

In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.
—Colossians 2:9

The reason we rejoice at Christmas is that the Baby born to Mary and Joseph on the first Advent was no ordinary child. As Matthew records, this Baby was the ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of Immanuel—“God with us” (Matthew 1:22–23). The ultimate self-revelation of God to humankind, Jesus the Christ was and eternally is God incarnate (literally, “in flesh”).

Although John’s gospel does not include a narrative of the birth and infancy of Jesus, the doctrine of the incarnation is aptly summed up in his introduction: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” ( John 1:1, 14).

The clear testimony of Scripture is that, in the incarnation, Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man; that is, He existed as the perfect unity in one person of a divine and a human nature. Paul eloquently expressed the profound truth of the incarnation in his letter to the Philippian Christians saying: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5–8).

As Theanthropos (“God-Man”), the spotless “Lamb of God” ( John 1:29) lived a perfectly sinless human life and died a sinner’s death to sufficiently atone, once and for all, for the sins of humanity (Romans 5:1–21; Hebrews 10:11–18). Without both natures, Christ’s payment would have been insufficient. As God, His sacrifice was sufficient to provide redemption for the sins of humankind. As man, He did what the first Adam failed to do. Says Paul, “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). Or, as Paul explained to the Corinthians, “As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

 

Reading

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5–11)

Questions

What makes the Child of Mary special?

Why was it necessary for God to be incarnated as the Theanthropos or “God-Man”?

Christmas Carol

 

O Come, O Come Emmanuel
—Translation by John Mason Neale

O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine
own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save, and give
them victory o’er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring come and cheer,
our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s
dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come, and open
wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high, and close
the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, great Lord of might, who to
Thy tribes on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times once gave the law in cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.