God created us to know Him and to have a close relationship with Him. But because of sin, humanity lost that intimacy with God. To restore us to relationship, God took on the form of human flesh, visited His creation, and made the ultimate sacrifice.
- This fallen and sinful world has lost its intimate connection with its creator.
- While some are ignorant of His existence, many know of Him and reject Him.
- It's God's passionate desire that we know Him and are restored to Him.
- God Himself took action paid a great price so he could restore us.
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The World Did Not Know Him
John tells us that expression of God that we have been calling "The Word," which was the creator of all things and the source of all life, had come into His creation. Unfortunately, the creation had been so far removed from the creator, that it did not know Him.
That concept of being known is more than just being recognized or identified, but also means to have an intimate understanding. God created us to be close to Him and have intimate fellowship with Him, but since sin entered creation, mankind lost that intimacy.
His Own Did Not Receive Him
There was a group that God had set apart and called His own. The descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—the Hebrew nation—were God's chosen people.
The concept of coming to His "own" suggests "His own kind." The word "own" can also suggest a personal, private possession. They belonged to Him, and He belonged to them. He made them His own and then He made Himself one of them.
But they did not receive Him. They did not welcome and accept Him for who He was.
Welcome to the Family
Those who did receive Him, who believed in His true identity, they received a wonderful gift of grace and were welcomed back into relationship with God as sons and daughters. By faith, believing in Jesus as our savior and putting our hope in His finished work of salvation, we are adopted into the family of God with full rights of inheritance (Romans 8:17).
This restoration is not by our own will, nor by any rights we possess naturally. It's only by God's will. God so passionately desires to restore us as His children that He Himself took action to secure us. To accomplish this, the Word became flesh and took on the form of humanity.
He Pitched His Tent
The image John uses to describe God taking on human form and living among us suggests that the incarnation of Jesus was like God was pitching His tent and camping out with us. In the old testament, God instructed the Hebrew people to construct a tent where He would come and dwell with them.
The old testament tabernacle was a tent where God would manifest His presence among the people. Before there was a permanent structure or temple, God met with the people in a temporary, portable tent. It was the center of the community. It's where sacrifices were made. It's where worship was focused. In the same way, Jesus "tabernacled" among us and became the place of sacrifice and the focus of our worship.
Why Did Jesus Come In the Flesh?
1. To Be Known
Jesus is the exact representation of the Father. Every attribute of the Father is found in Jesus and vice versa. God wanted to be known by His creation. Jesus revealed the nature of God in a way that we could comprehend. The only way for humanity to experience the invisible God was for Him to come in a form that we could see and to which we could relate.
God said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” Exodus 33:20
"For this purpose I [Jesus] was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth." John 18:37
He [Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature. Hebrews 1:3
2. To Be a Sacrifice
Our sin separated us from God (Isaiah 59:2), and the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). Just as God is all loving and all merciful, He is also a God of justice and cannot ignore sin. But the cost was too high for us to pay, so He decided to pay the penalty on our behalf. To be a sacrifice, Jesus had to be able to die. He had to have blood that could be spilled. To be a worthy sacrifice, He had to be without sin.
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. Romans 5:12
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:10
3. To Be a Redeemer
God designed into the ancient Hebrew legal system the ability for a near relative to redeem what had been sold or lost so that a family could be restored to its position. For Jesus to legally restore us, he needed to be our near kinsman. To save all mankind, He needed to be made of the same flesh as Adam.
If your brother becomes poor and sells part of his property, then his nearest redeemer shall come and redeem what his brother has sold. Leviticus 25:25
For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:21-22
Did Jesus Stop Being God When He Took on Flesh?
John has shown us that Jesus was the eternal, pre-existent expression of God that was with God before the beginning and was eternally the same as God. But did He stop being God once He became flesh in the form of Jesus?
For in him [Christ] the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily. Colossians 2:9
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. John 2:19-21
While Jesus took on additional attributes that relate to His humanity, scripture clearly shows us that the deity of Christ that was found in Him before His incarnation is the same as what is found in Him after His birth in Bethlehem (1). It's an important part of Jesus identity to recognize that He was BOTH fully God and fully man.
Additionally, God was not any less God whether He dwelt in a tent of flesh in the old testament, or if He took on a tent of flesh as Jesus, or now that He dwells inside each of us.
Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?
1 Corinthians 3:16
God With Us. God In Us. God Through Us.
Thankfully, God chooses to draw near to His beloved creation and dwell with us. Jesus was "face-to-face" with the father and left that position of intimacy for a time (Philippians 2:6-8) so that he could come and be face-to-face with mankind and bring us back to God.
Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18
Now that we are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, and He is restored to His position with the Father, God's Holy Spirit now dwells in believers. God is now working through His Church to show His face and represent His name so that He would be known by all and that all would be reconciled to Him.
1. John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord. (Moody Publishers, Chicago, 1969)