Rejoice! Your King Has Come! The Purpose of the Incarnation, Part 1
Rejoice. Your King has come. Born of a virgin, wrapped in cloths, and laid in a feeding trough. Rejoice.
But why? It’s a great story, but so is Cinderella. I don’t hear anyone telling me to rejoice over Cinderella. The most immediate answer to that question, of course, is that the story of the incarnation is true, while Cinderella is a fairy tale. But even that doesn’t really answer the question. Even if the incarnation is true, there is no cause for rejoicing apart from the meaning that we attach to it. So, again I ask, “Why?” Why rejoice in the incarnation?
Beginning with this post, and extending out over the next days or weeks, I’ll be seeking to briefly answer that question by asking the question that will answer the original question. What are the purposes of the incarnation? If we understand this, then we will understand the reasons for rejoicing.
Let us begin.
Rejoice in the incarnation. In it, God reveals Himself to man.
“No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” John 1:18
This statement concludes the prologue to the Gospel of John in which the apostle sets forth the deity of the Word who was with God and was God, and who became flesh and dwelt among John and the other apostles. Now, many years later, John has taken pen in hand to describe those things which he had witnessed and heard so that those who read his gospel might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing they might have life in His name.
This Word which became flesh, John tells us, did so for a reason. As we will see in upcoming posts, He did so for a number of reasons, but in John 1:18 the apostle focuses in on but one: He became flesh, and dwelt among us, so that He might explain the Father to us.
The truth is that God is so far above His creatures that we would know nothing of Him if He did not see fit to reveal Himself. But He has seen fit to do so, and He has done so in many ways, according to the author of Hebrews.
“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways…”
God has revealed Himself in His creation, and God has revealed Himself through what we call “special revelation”. That is, He has revealed Himself through the prophetic word, both spoken and written. But those are not the only ways that He has revealed Himself, for the author of Hebrews goes on.
“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son…”
He has spoken to us in His Son. He has revealed Himself to us in His Son.
Why should we rejoice in the incarnation? We should rejoice because God has revealed Himself to us in the “enfleshment” of His Son.
“Show us the Father”, the disciples asked Him. “If you’ve seen Me, you have seen the Father,” Jesus replied.
And what have we seen? What has Jesus revealed? What has He explained? J. C. Ryle, in his wonderful devotional work, Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of John, explains it this way:
In Christ’s words, and deeds, and life, and death, we learn as much concerning God the Father as our feeble minds can at present bear. His perfect wisdom–His almighty power–His unspeakable love to sinners–His incomparable holiness–His hatred of sin, could never be represented to our eyes more clearly than we see them in Christ’s life and death. In truth, “God was manifest in the flesh,” when the Word took on Him a body. “He was the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of His person.” He says Himself, “I and my Father are one.” “He that has seen me has seen the Father.” “In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” (Coloss. 2:9.) These are deep and mysterious things. But they are true. (1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:3; John 10:30; 14:9.)
Yes, they are indeed true. More than that, they are reason to rejoice.
The King has come, and He has shown us the Father! Rejoice, indeed!