When Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin, He did not surrender or compromise His Deity in any way. Instead, God the Son added something wonderful and entirely unexpected to His nature: He became a
Christ, by highest heav’n adored, Christ, the everlasting Lord! Late in time behold Him come, offspring of the virgin’s womb. Veiled in flesh the God-head see; hail th’ incarnate Deity, pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel. Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King.”
One of the key verses in the Bible that explains the incarnation is John 1:14: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” In that lowly stable of
Immortal became Mortal. John says “And the Word became flesh.” Just as we use words to communicate our thoughts to others, so God used His “Word” to reveal His mind to humanity. This “Word,” of course, refers to Jesus Christ (cf. John 1:1, 17). D. A. Carson writes, “God’s ‘word’ in the Old Testament is His powerful self-expression in creation, revelation and salvation, and the personification of that ‘Word’ makes it suitable for John to apply it as a title to God’s ultimate self-disclosure, the person of his own Son.” Apart from Jesus Christ - the Word - it would be impossible for us to know God! But at the incarnation, the immortal Word of God took on mortal flesh. Though God could not die, Jesus could die. And this provided the means for His substitutionary death. Without the manger, there would have been no cross.
Heavenly became Earthly. After becoming flesh, this incarnate Word “dwelt among us.” The Son of God did not stop for a brief visit, but settled down to be with us. John pictures the Lord “pitching a tent,” dwelling in the midst of His people much like the tabernacle in ancient Israel. Jesus didn’t consider His glorious Deity and heavenly throne something to flaunt or cling on to, but humbled Himself to be like you and me (Phil. 2:6-7). As a human, He was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15), thus succeeding where Adam had once failed (Rom. 5:18-19).
Invisible became Visible. In the second half of verse 14, the Apostle John gives an eyewitness testimony. He says with absolute certainty, “we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” In other words, when John and the other disciples saw the glory of Jesus Christ, it was just the kind of glory you would expect to see radiating from God’s one-and-only Son. Of course, the baby Jesus had no visible halo as many Christmas cards depict. Isaiah said “He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him” (Is. 53:2). However, there were certain times when Jesus pulled back the cloak of His humanity and let us gaze into His Divine glory. As John wrote these words, he undoubtedly thought back to that night on the Mount of Transfiguration when “the appearance of [Jesus’] face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming…but when [Peter, James, and John] were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him” (Lk. 9:28, 32). Finally, in Jesus Christ, the glory of the invisible God was put on display for all the world to see. And we are to radiate that glory today in the church (Eph. 3:21).
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift, and for His marvelous incarnation!