The Word Made Flesh
By Reed Benson
Few in our generation truly comprehend that Christianity is unique among all religions. The goal of virtually every religion, except the Christian faith, is to raise man to the level of God. Immortality, they claim, is gained by man lifting himself upward in a spiritual ascent. Only among the followers of Jesus Christ does deity take on human flesh and walk among men. Christian creeds alone endorse the concept of the incarnation of the incarnation of Christ in human form. Note the clarity with which this truth is stated in the Nicene Creed: "And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man." The foundation of the incarnation of Jesus Christ in human form is found in the prophets of old, who spoke clearly of this hope. In the prophet Isaiah, we read: "Therefore the LORD himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14). This hope was brought forth in reality as witnessed by Saint John when he wrote: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . And the Word was made 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 1:1, 14). Well known, these words from Johnís gospel contain the unalterable truth that sets our Faith apart from every other. It divides out the heretics and the unbelievers. On this untarnished testimony hangs the superstructure of the Christian faith.
It was not God in His triunity that became man, but the second person of the trinity. Thus, the Word (Logos) became flesh. It is not the birth of the Logos that must be emphasized, for that would imply a beginning in history. Since Christ clearly pre-existed in the triunity of God, His incarnation is what must be accentuated. It is a remarkable concept that the second person of the Godhead assumed human nature without losing His divine nature. This process is mentioned by Saint Paul. He writes: "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:6-7). When the Word became flesh, it did not mean that the Logos ceased to exist. His essential being was unchanged in the process of the incarnation. It is not that the Logos changed into flesh, but simply added that particular characteristic without altering His original nature. Let it also be understood that Christ did not take on a human person, for He was a personage in the Godhead. He took on human nature, which included a flesh body and a soul.
Each of the three persons in the Godhead was active in the incarnation. The role of God the Father is evidenced by his active part as found in the epistle to the Galatians. We read: "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law" (Galatians 4:4). Contextual reading of the entire passage clearly shows that this can only be referring to God the Father. Note that God the Father sent the Son, indicating that the Father had mush more than a passive role in the incarnation. As a second witness to this truth, we read from Romans: "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son I the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh" (Romans 8:3). Again, contextual usage shows that the Father is being discussed, and that He was active in sending His son. The Holy Spirit was the means by which the incarnation was made a reality. Joseph was told of the Spiritís active role. We read in Scripture: "Behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 1:20). When Mary was unable to understand how she could give birth while yet a virgin, Gabriel gave this explanation as recorded by Luke: "And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee" (Luke 1:35). The working of the Holy Ghost was the agent that caused the conception of the persons in the Godhead played a key part in the incarnation.
Foundational to the incarnation is the immaculate conception. It can be stated unequivocally that Mary had not engaged in any sexual activity prior to the birth of Christ (Luke 1:34). To stop at this paint, however, does not fully explain the requirements of Scripture as stated in 1 Peter 1:19: "But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." For this verse to be upheld, it must be noted that the egg of Mary was not used in the conception of Jesus Christ. Under normal conditions, the female egg is fertilized in the fallopian tubes. Conception does not occur in the uterus of womb. The fertilized egg attaches itself to the wall of the womb only after conception has taken place in the fallopian tubes. Luke, the physician, records that conception took place in the womb. We read: "And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus" (Luke 1:31). Thus, Mary was literally an incubator for the incarnation of Christ. Both the egg and the sperm contribute twenty-three chromosomes to the first single cell that makes up human life at conception. Resident within this gene package is fallen sin nature. It is impossible for Maryís egg to have been utilized in the conception of Jesus Christ, for this certainly would have communicated fallen sin nature. The Holy Spirit, through miraculous means unexplainable to mortal man, contributed both the egg and sperm necessary for the development of a sin-free human being.
An intriguing prophecy concerning the birth of Christ is found in the prophet Isaiah. He states: "Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child" (Isaiah 66:7). It is clearly evident from this passage that Mary did not experience the labor pains which normally accompany the birth of a child. The significance of this is clearóit is another indication that Mary did not provide the egg used in Christís conception. Remember that travail in birth is a curse that was placed upon Eve when they were expelled from the Garden of Eden. In the Book of Genesis, we read: "Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children" (Genesis 51:5). This refers to the common transmission of sin nature at birth.
If Mary is not the genetic mother of Jesus Christ, how can it be said that He was the kinsman redeemer of Israel? According to the Law, only a kinsman of the flesh was eligible to redeem another. First, let it be established that Scripture declares Jesus Christ to be the seed of Abraham. This is evidenced in Galatians, from which were read: "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ" (Galatians 3:16). As a second witness to this vital truth, Saint Paul writes: "For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham" (Hebrews 2:16). Clearly, Jesus Christ would be eligible to meet the requirements of the Law in becoming a kinsman redeemer for His people. To fathom how this could be accomplished, remember that the entire incarnation of Christ was a twofold miracle. First, that a virgin would conceive and bear a son is impossible, except through supernatural means. Second, Christís donning of the seed of Abraham was a miracle. To rationalize it in any other manner does not do justice to the totality of Biblical truth. There is ample evidence to demonstrate that the components which comprised Christís flesh body were in actual existence prior to Abraham. A hint of this comes from the prophet Micah: "But thou, Bethlehem Ephrata, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2). What was brought forth that holy night in Bethlehem did not originate there. The fact that Christís physical being already existed prior to his birth is evidenced by His own cryptic statement found in Johnís gospel: "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58). Jesus Christ as the Messiah is often referred to as the Son of David. However, Scripture also calls him the Root of David, meaning the genetic source from which David sprung. Concerning this, we read: "Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals" (Revelation 5:5). Perhaps the most compelling verse on this subject is Christís own words: "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star" (Revelation 22:16). This brings new meaning to the idea that Christ is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. The marvel of His human body existing as the seed of Abraham, before Abraham and David were born and prior to the formation of Adam, is mind-boggling but nonetheless true!
The doctrine of the incarnation is a linchpin of Christianity. Without it, Christ is not deity, and our Faith is Him as our kinsman redeemer is vain. Apart from this essential truth, His vicarious atonement and resurrection power is naught. Let us embrace this teaching that it may pierce to the core of our beings. Upon this simple ideaóthe Word made fleshóour hope of eternal life is founded.