Happy Incarnation!

This Christmas season, I want to try out a new greeting: “Happy Incarnation!”  Do you think that will offend anyone? Probably not. In a recent Bible study, I asked what The Incarnation was. One lady said, “I’ve heard the term but I don’t know what it means.” I’m sure she’s not alone.

The mystery and wonder of such a spectacular event is pretty much lost on today’s popular celebration of Christmas. Maybe I’m extra sensitive since I’ve been studying about this, but I gotta say my stomach turned when I was browsing the circulars and saw an ad from a major chain. For only $99 you too can have a 6′ inflatable Peanuts nativity! There was Lucy as Mary, Linus or Charlie—not sure which under the costume—as Joseph, Snoopy sitting by the creche and none-other-than Woodstock in the manger. Really??? Is anyone with me that’s worse than poor taste?

We can hardly conceive of what it meant for the creator of the universe to stoop to become One of His creatures in order to know their pain and ultimately save them from it, all because of Love. A love that led Him to a cruel death. What God does this? Only Jesus.

Until recently, for me The Incarnation always meant an event—yes, an important one, like The Resurrection. But I had never stopped to think about what it entailed. Jesus, King of the Universe, was willing to leave Heaven to enter the womb of a young human girl, and go through birth, and life, and even death, just to incarnate with us. He wanted to know every part of our lives—our joys and sorrows, our triumphs and our struggles, and even our sin that separated us from Him.

In his Person of Jesus study, Paul Miller says:

God was driven into our world by who he is—pure love. The character of God inevitably leads to a manger in Bethlehem. (p. 96)

But Jesus’ incarnating didn’t end there.

The big pattern of Jesus’ life (incarnation) is identical to the small patterns of his life (incarnating with specific people). Jesus’ mini-incarnations with people are just reflections of the big incarnation of God becoming man. When Jesus slows down to look, feel compassion, and act, it is a mini-incarnation. Sharing in people’s humanity = incarnating. Jesus had to share in our humanity in order to bear the burden of our sin. (p. 93)

How often do we recall The Golden Rule that Jesus—not Ben Franklin— quoted. “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) Miller calls The Golden Rule “a ‘how-to’ guide for incarnation.” (p. 83)  Jesus is our continual example of love.  In order to love as He did, we have to take the time to incarnate.

Who is that person you need to incarnate with? A difficult family member? A spouse? A neighbor? A street person? Your boss? Take a good look, ask Jesus for His Spirit of compassion, and love like Jesus loved you.  Have a Happy Incarnation!

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us – John 1:14



  1. Carol Robbins says:

    Great post. I have a lot of incarnating to do! Merry Christmas ygg.