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Pursue the Mystery and Glory of the Incarnation

It is said that as Philip Melanchthon, the longtime associate of Martin Luther, was on his death bed he took a piece of paper and began to write down the reasons why he was not sorry for leaving the present world. Among the reasons he listed were that he would finally be able to understand the mysteries of this life that confound him so and that he would finally learn fully the union of the two natures of Christ. I picked out these two reasons to highlight the theological curiosity that drove many of our grandparents in the faith. They daily meditated upon, wrestled with, and sought to better understand God and his word—even the difficult stuff.

As we come upon the season of Advent we have a particular opportunity to give ourselves to such thoughtful meditation. Have you given much thought to the union of the two natures of Christ?

In effort to stimulate thoughtful worship, I’ll try to state the matter briefly and pray that God makes it rest profoundly upon your heart.

Doctrine Stated

The doctrine of the two natures of Christ refers to the union of his nature as fully God and wholly man. This means that Jesus was 100 percent human (Phil. 2:5-7; Heb. 2:6, 16; etc) and 100 percent divine (Col. 1:15-20, 2:9). Perhaps the most clear reference to this doctrine is stated in John’s gospel:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

In Christ then resides the perfect union of two natures, divine and human. As Calvin said, these are “two natures united but not mingled.” Mystery of mysteries indeed.

Why it is so profound

This is profound because it is utterly without precedent or parallel. It has no similar example for us to compare it. The incarnation of God stands alone in its manifold profundity. It is meant to obliterate our categories and provoke us to cover our mouths and gasp for our God-given breath. God became a man.

Why it is so precious

Here are some basic reasons:

1) Without this we would be eternally lost.

As Calvin said, “The situation would surely have been hopeless had the very majesty of God not descended to us, since it was not in our power to ascend to him. Hence, it was necessary for the son of God to become for us ‘Immanuel, that is, God with us” (Isa. 7:14; Matt 1.23″>Mat. 1:23).”

2) In the incarnation God identifies with us.

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Erik is a pastor at Emmaus Bible Church (EmmausBibleChurch.org), a church plant south of Omaha. Converse with Erik on Twitter at @erikraymond.