Apostle Barbara Childress
The Son arrives
In eternity past God the Father gave God the Son a people for his own with the understanding that the Son would come into this world as a man and lay down his life for them. That plan was announced to the human race after Adam and Eve sinned, and men and women began to look forward in faith to the coming of the Son of God.
The author of Hebrews brings us to that grand, sparkling moment when the Son of God rose from this throne of glory and said to the Father:
In these words, we have the Son receiving a body and revealing a spirit.
The Son receives a body
The body prepared for the Son was the body he assumed in the incarnation. The word 'incarnation' comes from a Latin word which meanS 'in flesh'. When we speak, therefore, about the incarnation of Christ, we are referring to his taking our humanity.
The plan of redemption to which the Father and the Son mutually agreed required the Son to take our humanity. There was no value in the blood of animals. These sacrifices had no power actually to deal with sin. The only reason God required them was as a means of pointing to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The animals did not have a human nature and could not, therefore, actually take the place of human beings, and they certainly were not in a position to consent to being offered in the place of sinners. In taking the body God had prepared for him, Jesus was able to do what the animal sacrifices could never do.
The penalty for man's sin must be paid by a man. That penalty is death and the Son of God could not die apart from becoming a man. Athanasius explains, 'As the Word who is immortal and the Father's Son it was not possible for him to die, and this is the reason why he assumed a body capable of dying...He put on a body so that in the body he might find death and blot it out.
So the Second Person of the Trinity took our humanity. This is the central miracle of the Christian faith, the miracle against which all other miracles seem pale. The truly startling and staggering claim of the Christian faith is wrapped tightly and tersely in a package of four little words from the apostle Paul: 'God was in Christ' (II Corinthians 5:19).
It is possible for us to become so familiar with truth that we no longer feel the sharp, cutting edge of it. We can hear it so often that we no longer appreciate the wonder of it. But this is truly stupendous! God actually became a man. He took our flesh and our blood (Hebrews 2:14). He had arms and legs, feet and hands, eyes and ears, nose and mouth.
If we had been there with the shepherds on the night the Son of God came into this world, we would have seen a real baby who cried and kicked just like any other baby. Quite often we see the baby Jesus depicted with a halo around his head, but that night in Bethlehem there was no halo. The baby in the manger was a real, human baby.
As a man the Lord Jesus experienced all that is common to men. He grew tired, hungry and thirsty. He knew what it was to feel pain and to weep tears of sorrow.
But while the Son of God took real humanity, he was no ordinary man. In taking our humanity, he did not cease to be God. Without losing or diminishing his deity, he added our humanity so that he was at one and the same time both God and man - the God-man.
The apostle John summarized it perfectly: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth' (John 1:14). John saw the humanity of Christ, and there was no doubt in his mind that it was real. So he was able to speak about 'flesh'. But as he and the other disciples closely observed Jesus they saw something else - namely, beams of glory shining through the veil of his humanity so that they had to conclude that he was indeed 'the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth'.
Two natures; one person; and no contradiction or opposition between the two - do we understand it? Of course not. We should not expect to. This is the work of the sovereign God and, as such, it is completely above and beyond us.
The Son reveals a spirit
The Son of God did not take the body prepared for him reluctantly, or grudgingly, but gladly and willingly. There is not a trace of resistance to be found in his words. The will of the Father was his will.
Some have tried to drive a wedge between the Father and the Son on the matter of redemption. They picture God the Father as being harsh, severe and unwilling to forgive, and the Son as one who was loving and had to wring forgiveness for sinners out of his Father. Nothing could be farther from the truth. God the Father willed the salvation of sinners, and God the Son submitted to that will and perfectly carried it out.
The Son's spirit of willingness is revealed in other passages of Scripture as well. Paul says Christ did not consider equality with God as a thing to be clung to at all costs, but instead was willing to strip himself of all the trappings of deity and become a man. His spirit was such that he 'made himself of no reputation', but rather took 'the form of a servant' (Philippians 2:7). He then humbled himself even further so that he 'became obedient to...the death of the cross' (Philippians 2:8).
The same willingness that brought the Son down from his glory was consistently expressed and reflected in his earthly life and ministry. Throughout the Gospel of John we find him saying he had come to do the Father's will (John 6:38; 7:16; 8:29; 9:4).
The Father's will finally brought Jesus to the garden of Gethsemane the night before he was crucified. Jesus knew the cross was hovering over him. He knew all about the physical and mental anguish he would have to endure. He could foresee that awful moment when he was to be completely forsaken by the Father. But still he prayed, 'Not my will, but yours, be done' (Luke 22:42).
Let us never lose sight of the fact that Jesus received a human body and revealed the spirit of humility for our sakes. The apostle Paul writes, 'For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich' (II Corinthians 8:9). Did you grasp what Paul is saying? Jesus did all that he did for the sake of those whom the Father had given him. It was all because of his amazing grace. There was absolutely nothing in us to commend us to him, but he willingly became one of us that he might suffer for us.
Oh, what a chasm he crossed! From heaven to earth, from heaven's glory to Bethlehem's crude stable and manger, from riches to poverty, from angel's praises to the hostility of sinners, from a perfect environment to a world of sin and shame! And it was all for us - for us!
The angels stood in awe as they beheld the Son crossing this chasm, and they were not even the beneficiaries of it. How much more should those of us who are the beneficiaries stand in awe! If they worshipped, how much more should we! We should be amazed that he would come. We should be amazed that he would come as he did. We should be amazed that he would come to do what he did.
JOURNEY TO THE CROSS, by Roger Ellsworth, Copyright 1997, EVANGELICAL PRESS.