Why did God become man?: Advent, the time of year when many churches anticipate the celebration of the birth of Christ, is drawing near.
We will turn our attention to the “Christmas Story” and the birth of Jesus. Luke’s Gospel is a favorite for telling that story, but it is the Gospel of John that give us the why behind the birth of Jesus.
Jesus is God… Why did God become man?
Unlike the other gospels, John’s gospel begins with a dramatic salvo of fact…all designed to establish one, essential, undeniable truth…Jesus is God.
Matthew begins with the linage from Abraham to Joseph. Mark makes a brief reference to Jesus being the Son of God… Luke in journalistic fashion, tells the story with a linage going from Abraham to Mary.
But it is John who goes to great lengths to prove that Jesus is God. While the other three record details of the life of Christ, sort of like taking a snap shot of events… John creates a theological oil painting of the Messiah. It’s a love letter, but it is also an factual response to some of the false prevailing thoughts of the day.
John refutes Gnosticism
It is a direct assault on Gnostic thought. Gnostics held to a radical dualism… that is what was flesh was bad and only what was spirit is good… John attacks that.
They believed that because flesh was bad and spirit was good, Jesus could not have been God and man at the same time. However, that is just what Jesus was—God and man. John begins his gospel making that argument in the opening 14 verses.
John’s opening versus
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-14)
Jesus was always with God
The beginning of John’s gospel establishes one, primary and essential fact– Jesus is God. He firmly establishes that Jesus was always with God, a major force in creation and most importantly, the very meaning of grace and truth. The incarnation, God becoming man, is vital to the understanding of grace and God’s plan for redeeming mankind.
In Genesis we see that sin entered into the world because of the fall of Adam and Eve. Man let sin in, and so man must eradicate sin. But man, flawed as he is, cannot do that. Only God can do that and so, God had to take on human form and complete the task.
According to Bible commentator James Montgomery Boice there are four reasons why the incarnation is so significant.
1. Jesus Was Able to Die
The Christ being made man meant that He was able to die. God the Son is eternal, never ending, but when God took human form, that meant He was subject to all the limitations of human existence. In order to meet all of the requirements of the Law, a perfect, sinless sacrifice had to be made to cover the sins of humanity, past, present and future.
Isaiah 53: 1-10
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth;he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,and with the rich in his death,though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul,he will see the light [of life] and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
2. Jesus Was Able to Understand Us
Because Jesus came to us as a man, and because He experienced all that we experience, He fully understands what we are going through. Who better to guide us?
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin.
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Jesus is the great high priest. He was there with us. He was in the trenches and He knows what it means to go through temptation, or suffer loss, or even experience the common cold.
3. Jesus Is Our Example
Jesus was the perfect model. He showed us what, according to Boice, life fully pleasing to the Father is like. This example is for our relationships with each other, with the church and of course, with God.
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.
9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:7-10)
For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
“Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously (1 Peter 2:21-23)
4. Jesus Proves The Value of Life
Through the incarnation of Christ, God sanctified the value of human life. All human life is important to God, but before Jesus, life was cheap. The precious life of God was given to us as payment for sin.
Only God could irradiate sin and only God can determine the value of our lives. God paid the price. Therefore, because God came to earth, lived a sinless life, and offered His life on the cross, the value of human life is enormous, beyond measure. We are God’s prized creation.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
God became man, lived a sinless life and paid the price for the sins of all mankind, past, present and future. The Gnostics were wrong. Knowledge is meaningless without faith.
Because of the grace of God, we are invited into relationship with Him. Jesus made it all possible, because He and His Father are one—God.