Thursday, December 17, 2009


My article from today's Algona Upper Des Moines about the Incarnation

Q:  I believe Jesus was a real man who lived around 2000 years ago, but I’ve heard that He is God.  Which is true?

It is correct to conclude that Jesus was a real man who lived in Jerusalem at the time described.  It is also a true statement that Jesus is God.  Jesus is a real person who was fully God, but at the same time completely human.  The Church’s ancient councils described this by saying that He was one person composed of two natures—divine and human.  It is not that he was half God and half human or sometimes God and sometimes human, but at all times He was both God and human simultaneously, and continues to be today.  It is also important to note the distinction that a man did not become God, but that God became a man.

Jesus is called the Son of God by scriptures because God is His Father.  Although there is only one God, He is three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  All are equally God, but there are not three Gods—only one.  Jesus existed as God with the Father and the Holy Spirit eternally, and He is called the Son of God because, by a supernatural act of the Holy Spirit, God is His Father and the Virgin Mary is His mother.  We call this miraculous event the Incarnation, which we remember as we celebrate Jesus’ birth at Christmas.

He was conceived when the Angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her about God’s promise that she would be the mother of God’s Son, and the Holy Spirit caused Jesus to be conceived even though Mary never had an intimate relationship with her fianc√© Joseph, or any other man.

Because of the miracle of the Incarnation, Jesus is like all other humans in every way, except for one.  He is sinless.  Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” 
While we are inclined to act against God’s laws from our very beginning, this was not so for Jesus because of the extraordinary way in which He was conceived and born.  While we continue to fail at living up to God’s law throughout our lives, Jesus faced every temptation known to humans, but did not sin against God’s law. 
When he had become an adult, and after three years of preaching and teaching, Jesus was executed by being nailed to a cross, and on the third day following His execution, He rose to life again.  By His death, he acted as a substitute for all people in suffering God’s wrath as punishment for sin, and by rising again, He proved that His sacrifice was accepted by God. 

Because God is righteous, He could not leave sin unpunished, but because He is compassionate, He does not desire to punish the people who He created.  So, it was necessary that He arrange a way in which He could be compassionate toward humanity while at the same time satisfying His righteousness.  Therefore it was necessary that God become a man Himself as Jesus Christ, and the Incarnation became reality. 

In order for Jesus to be the substitute to suffer God’s wrath in our place for sin, it was necessary that He be human, because only the death of an innocent human could pay the price for sin.  At the same time, only God could satisfy the requirement of perfect innocence according to His law. 

In the life, death, and resurrection of the God-man, Jesus, God did all that was necessary to save humans from the punishment they rightly deserve for their failure to comply with His law.  In order to accomplish this, it was necessary that Jesus be both God and human, and all who trust in Him for the forgiveness of their sins receive it as a gift from God. 

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