Jesus did not have his beginning in a stable in Bethlehem. The Son of God existed in eternity past with God the Father. He was involved in the great work of creation. And in the fulness of time, he took on human flesh and dwelt among us. He did not remain distant. He did not wait for us to make the first move. We refer to this as the incarnation.
This is significant for numerous reasons. It is certainly significant for redemption. Jesus had to take on humanity in order to be a fitting sacrifice for human sins. It is a humbling reality to think that God has bound himself to humanity in such a radical way. The fact is that Jesus is still human (think bodily resurrection) and he sits currently at the right hand of the Father advocating for humanity.
But the incarnation of Jesus is also significant for sanctification. Jesus provides us an example of how to live. When Jesus took on humanity, he emptied himself (Philippians 2:5-7). He did not cease to be God. But he did voluntary divest himself of his divine attributes. He put aside his infinite knowledge and his boundless power. The all-knowing Son of God had to grow in wisdom and stature (Luke 2:40). Jesus only performed miracles after his baptism and the descent of the Holy Spirit. Jesus did not go around utilizing his “God-powers.” Instead, he acted in the power of the Spirit. When Jesus said that he didn’t know the day or the hour, he meant it (Matthew 24:36). When Jesus stood at the tomb, he didn’t simply wave his hand or recite an incantation. Rather he prayed that God would raise Lazarus from the dead (so we can connect the dots) (John 11:41-43).
Jesus is first our Savior. But he is also our Example. We should respond to temptation like Jesus. We should respond to opposition like Jesus. We should pray like Jesus. Jesus models for us what it is to be fully human and what it is to live by the Spirit.
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