The Christmas season is a very good opportunity for Christians to celebrate Christ Jesus and present him as the Saviour of the world. Many people love to celebrate the birth of Christ with Christians, but do they understand the significance of Jesus? Do they know how he came into this world, how his personhood is unique, and why he came in the first place? This article focuses on the uniqueness and the benefits of the incarnation of Jesus.
THE PROCESS OF INCARNATION
In India, there is already a belief in the incarnation of gods, so it is hard for many to see the uniqueness of Jesus’ incarnation. Other religions believe in avatars (incarnations) who are their gods descending to earth by taking the form of a human being or an animal in order to set things right. Christ’s incarnation differs from these avatars.
To begin with, the way Jesus was born was unique. His birth was prophesied hundreds of years before he was born. Also, the Bible claims that Jesus was born of a virgin. Brandon Crowe notes that, “The virgin birth also is the means by which Jesus was born holy and sinless, in distinction from all other children born naturally since Adam.” This is quite unique in the history of mankind. Referring to this Jesus as the Word, John writes, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14). This infinite God uniquely became a finite man in the person of Jesus and lived on this earth among the people whom he created.
THE PERSON OF INCARNATION
Not only are the birth of Jesus and his coming into this world unique, but also his personhood. Easton, referring to the incarnation, says it is an “act of grace whereby Christ took our human nature into union with his Divine Person, became man. Christ is both God and man… the two natures are not mixed or confounded, and it is perpetual”. There is both divine and human nature in him.
In the person of Jesus, his deity as God was not compromised. Paul says, “For in Christ all the fullness of Deity lives in bodily form.” (Col. 2:9). At the same time, Jesus is also fully human. Greg Nichol points out that, “Scripture states plainly that Jesus had a genuine human body in his earthly life and continues to have a genuine human body even after his resurrection.” That makes Jesus’ personhood very unique.
THE PURPOSE OF THE INCARNATION
The purpose of the appearance of Hindu avatars, according to Philip Yalla, is to bring order in the disorder of the world by destroying evildoers and establishing righteousness again, by “saving the virtuous.” However, the Bible says that, “None is righteous” and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:10, 23). This means that nobody deserves to be saved. It is in this context Jesus was born. But, why did he come? The Bible shows us different aspects of why Jesus stepped into history.
The Perfect Saviour
When Jesus was born, the angels announced: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Lk. 2:11) John along with others testified about Jesus saying, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” (1 Jn. 4:14) But how does Jesus actually save people?
The Bible teaches that Jesus came as a substitute for sinful men and women. He came to offer himself as a sacrifice for our sins through his death on the cross and his victorious resurrection on the third day. The author of Hebrews says that, “he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Heb. 9:26) This is quite unlike avatars who “never take away sin. Taking away sin is not their way of acting and not their purpose for coming to earth.” Jesus did this so that those who repent of their sins and believe in his life, death and resurrection might receive salvation, which is, the forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God. This is the good news of Christmas!
The Only Mediator
Jesus, being truly God and truly man, came to stand in the gap that sin created between God and man. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). Since Jesus is truly God and truly man—a sinless one—he alone is uniquely qualified to fulfill this role as a mediator. He has both the divine and human qualities in him to represent both sides, which he did ultimately on the cross.
The True Liberator
But it did not end there. An empty grave and First Century eyewitnesses remind us that he is risen and alive. Though science has tried to disprove it, history cannot not deny it. I think this unique historical event not only gives us confidence to believe, but also a greater hope to live in anticipation of resurrection and complete liberation from our sin and sinful bodies.
We can see that everything about Jesus’s incarnation is unique—its process, its person, and its purpose. No representations of gods among the avatars come close to the incarnation of Jesus. This makes him the only God-man and the only risen Savior. His work on the cross is the only way to obtain salvation. I hope and pray that in this Christmas season many will come to the understanding and the saving knowledge of Christ Jesus to live a hope-filled life.
Charles P. Thaluri serves as the pastor at Symrna Bible Church. Hyderabad, Telangana.