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CHAPTER 18: THE INCARNATION “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of only Son from the Father. (John 1: 1, 14)
INTRODUCTION: The Gospel according to John begins with an amazing truth: The Word of God, God the Son, who existed before creation and by which everything in the universe was created, became human and lived with us. …for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1: 16 -17)
God became flesh. That is literally the central events in history. We call it the Incarnation— from the Latin that simply means “becoming flesh”. Jesus Christ was the Son of God, who have existed from eternity. But Jesus was also a man, born at a particular time in history and killed thirtythree or so years later outside Jerusalem in the Roman providence of Judea. Jesus was both true God and true man.
THE SON OF DAVID John emphasizes that Jesus was the Son of God, who existed at the beginning of creation. But the human nature of Jesus is just as important. The whole New Testament begins with the genealogy of Jesus Christ, “the son of David, the son of Abraham. ” Matthew introduces his genealogy with these words: The Book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ… 1 Matthew has sometimes compressed generations. Why? He is using his literary art to show us an important truth about Jesus.
The genealogy shows that Jesus descended from David. But Matthew makes it clear that Jesus is more than just any descendent of David: he is the perfect or ideal descendent of David. Matthew has arranged the names in three groups of fourteen. Three is a symbolically a perfect number. And fourteen is twice seven. Seven is another symbolically perfect number. Fourteen, fourteen: by repeating the number of David’s name a perfect three times.
Matthew divides the history of Israel in three important events that sum up history: 1. 2. 3. The covenant with Abraham The covenant with David The deportation to Babylon. The first two involve promises that would not be fulfilled until Christ. The third seemed to mean the end of the promises The exile ends only with the coming of Jesus, who draws all people together in the Kingdom of God.
HAIL MARY Only Luke gives the familiar stories of the Annunciation and the birth of Jesus. He probably heard the stories from Mary herself. Story of Mary: Mary was a young woman engaged to be married to a carpenter. In Jewish custom, an engagement like that was considered equivalent to a marriage: although the couple did not live together until after the marriage ceremony, it took legal divorce to break the marriage.
Marry first learned that she would be more than a carpenter’s wife when the angel Gabriel appeared to her. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. " But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man? " And the angel said to her in reply, "The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. (Luke 1: 28 -35)
Mary’s response is what makes her the model for all the faithful people of God. —Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word. (Luke 1: 38) Mary’s submission to God’s will contrasts with Israel’s long history of rebellion. As the mother of the Lord’s Anointed, Mary had been kept “full of grace” from her birth, free from the taint of sin that caused Israel to wander so many times from the right path. She remained a virgin before, during, and after the birth of her Son. When Luke tells the story of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, who also was pregnant with a son who would be name John, he uses more suggestive language to point out Mary as the new Ark of the Covenant. The details Luke gives us remind us of David bringing the Ark of the Covenant up to Jerusalem.
THE BIRTH OF JESUS Luke is very careful to give us the exact historical setting for Jesus’ birth: It was in the reign of Caesar Augustus When Quirinius was governor of Syria Augustus decreed that “all the world should be enrolled. ” “Enrolled” meant(it might have been a census for taxation or an oath of loyalty).
Joseph lived in Nazareth, but he had to go back to his native city of Bethlehem—the ancient town where King David had been born—to be properly enrolled. Even though Mary was almost ready to give birth, she and Joseph made the trip from Galilee down past Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Once they got there, they found that everyone else was making the same kind of trip. There was no room for them in the inn, and they had to be put up in a stable. In the fields outside the town, a group of shepherds had an astonishing visit from an angel: “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy, which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. ” (Luke 2: 10 -12)
1. 2. 3. Shepherds—were more or less outcasts. Most religious Jews avoided them. By the titles the angels had used, the shepherds knew right away that the Messiah had been born. He was… A Savior, who would rescue his people from bondage The Christ, the Anointed One, the promise successor to David The Lord, the one who sits at God’s right hand.
NUNC DIMITTIS (Presentation at the Temple) Forty days after his birth, Jesus was presented in the Temple as the Law specified. Read Luke 2: 23 -32. Inspired by the spirit, Simeon (a righteous and devout man) recognized the Christ, and he prophesied the fulfillment of the promises made to the Son of David; glory to Israel, and salvation for all nations. But Simeon also saw that his arrival would tear Israel in half. A prophetess named Anna recognized him, too, “and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. ”
THE EPIPHANY (Gifts of the wise men) King Herod received some distinguished visitors: three wise men from the East. They may well have been astrologers from Persia. Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? They asked. “For we have seen his star from the East, and have come to worship him. ” Herod, like any tyrant, was nervous about any new claimant to the throne. He summoned the wise men secretly and told them to go and search diligently for the child, that he too may go and worship him. Worship wasn’t really what was on Herod’s mind.
The wise men set off to Bethlehem, and the star led them straight to Jesus. They bowed before him and gave him their expensive gifts… Gold—means Jesus is King Frankincense—means Jesus is God Myrrh—means Jesus is a priest and also points to his sacrifice on the cross
THE HOLY INNOCENTS The three wise men didn’t go back to Herod. A dream warned them not to see him again, so they left by a different route. Joseph also had a dream to take Mary and Jesus and escape to Egypt because Herod is about to search for the child to destroy him. With no way to find the child he thought might be the Christ, Herod went into one of his towering rages and send to kill all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under.
TEACHING THE TEACHERS (Lost in the Temple) After Herod’s death, Joseph and Mary were able to bring Jesus back to their home in Nazareth. From then on we know almost nothing about Jesus until he was an adult. Except Luke who has one isolated story from the time when Jesus was twelve years old. Read Luke 2: 46 -51. At twelve, Jesus was a master of the scriptures, astonishing the world’s greatest Scripture scholars with his knowledge and wisdom. But he was also a human little boy who had worried his mother sick. For three days she thought she had lost him forever; only on the third day did she find him again, alive and well
CONCLUSION That is a mystery of the Incarnation: God made flesh. Jesus the Christ, chose to go through all the stages of growth—physical and intellectual—that the rest of us pass through. He passed through childhood and adolescence before he finally became a man, fully human like us. But this man was also God.