Beholding Christ - The Glory of God in Flesh
In a year when we are well acquainted with uncertainty we should be zealous for the opportunity to dwell on things that are certain. And in a year when things have often been bleak, we should be eager to dwell on what is beautiful. Each year as we move toward Christmas we set aside time to focus very specifically and very purposefully on the coming of Christ into the world. Our goal this year is the same. We desire to behold Christ and to allow our beholding of Him to remind us of our hope.
In the three weeks leading up to Christmas we are ‘Beholding Christ’ by considering three different aspects of who He is.
- Beholding Christ – The Revelation of the Glory of God (Jesus is God)
- Beholding Christ – The Glory of God in Flesh (Jesus is Man)
- Beholding Christ – The King of Glory (Jesus is King)
Behold Jesus - The Glory of God in Flesh
At Christmas we celebrate that God became man. This is a truth we affirm, but what does it mean? How did God become a man? Did He cease to be God? And, even still, why did God become a man?
The word we use to describe God’s entrance into our world is incarnation, the reality that God took on flesh. And understanding both the means and the reasons for the incarnation should lead us to worship and obedience.
What does it mean that Jesus came to earth as God in flesh?
(What is the incarnation?)
- Essentials of the incarnation (Philippians 2:5-11)
- Jesus is God and yet was willing to become man (vv. 5-6) The fact that Jesus was “in the form of God” is a reminder of His deity (John 1:1; Hebrews 1:3). And yet while remaining fully God, Jesus doesn’t cling to that position so tightly that it keeps Him from an act of humility on behalf of fallen men.
- Jesus became fully man and yet did not cease to be God (vv. 7-8) The text tells us that Jesus emptied Himself, but that’s not to say that He ceased to be God (Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:19; Matt. 1:21-23). Rather the act of being emptied was accomplished by addition, not subtraction.
- He emptied Himself by taking the form of a servant (Matthew 20:260-28; 2 Corinthians 8:9)
- He emptied Himself by being born in the likeness of men (Galatians 4:4)
- He emptied Himself by humbling Himself in obedience (Philippians 2:8)
Why should we strive to behold Jesus as God in flesh?
(Why do we celebrate the incarnation?)
- We celebrate the incarnation because it is the only means through which we can be saved (Hebrews 2:14-18)
- The Scriptures are clear that there is only one way that sinful man can be saved – someone must pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus became like us in every way so that He could be our substitute and die in our place (Galatians 4:4-5; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Romans 8:3).
- We celebrate the incarnation because through it Jesus understands and sympathizes with our weaknesses (Hebrews 2:18, 4:14-16)
- Not only is incarnation necessary for our salvation, but it also provides us with a God who is intimately acquainted with our weakness, not only because He’s God, but because He has walked where we walk and felt what we feel (2 Corinthians 8:9).
- Jesus is not cold toward our suffering. We can find comfort in His solidarity with our pain and hope in the fact that He is the One who can help.
- John Owen – When we go to someone for help, two questions arise.The first, Is the person to whom we are going for help willing to help us, and secondly, Is he able to help us? We need to know that Christ is both willing and able to help us and to meet all our needs.