Written by Bob Schindler, Executive Director of CEDE Partners – an Initiative of CEDE Sports
The Word Became Flesh
“The Word became flesh.” You are familiar with these words, but when was the last time you stopped to ponder the depth of their claims?
Christmas is the season when we become more aware of the Incarnation, but it can also be a time that illustrates how cavalier our approach to that Incarnation is. We throw around phrases like:
– Fully God, fully man
– The Godhead
– Three in one
without much reflection on their mystery. The result? We lose the sense of wonder and awe that should surround this amazing reality.
Mystery and Wonder
Recently, I have been studying and thinking about the early church’s grappling with the Incarnation and the Godhead. These folks had no background or language to describe what they had just seen and were now experiencing. They worked hard, at great cost, for several centuries to come up with that language to accurately and faithfully describe this miracle. Most of us, like me, are not aware of this challenge, this struggle. We end up with an attitude toward these words that feels like we are using precious gems as paper weights – we have lost the special nature of their character.
However, through my study God has restored some of this wonder at this mystery. As I have wrestled with the concepts the early church did such as
– What is the difference between the Son being housed in flesh and the Word becoming flesh?
– What is the difference between mixture and union?
– What is the difference between substance and essence?
– What is the difference between being and person?
– And most importantly, what are the implications of these answers on our salvation?
God’s Plan, His One Begotten Son
One thing has become abundantly clear. Jesus Christ had to be all God and all man. Anything less corrupts the salvation we claim. If he is mostly God but not all man, then his death isn’t human enough to pay the debt each of us owes to God. If he is mostly man and not all God, then his death and resurrection are sufficient enough to spread that payment to whoever believes in him for life. Only someone who is fully God and fully man could say and deliver on such a claim as “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51)
One final thing. As I have grappled with these concepts not only in the light of the first century but also the whole story of the Gospel, I have become more deeply convinced than ever that this was God’s plan from the beginning. He told about it throughout the story and then brought it to pass with the virgin birth through a humble teenage girl in Nazareth. For truly only God, this wonderful three-in-one God, the Godhead, could pull of such a miracle, move in and accomplish such a mystery.
I write today so that you also might ponder this miracle and mystery anew and watch God move you to greater wonder this season.