By Chaplain (Col) Stephen W. Leonard, USA, Ret.

“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

Incarnation literally means “taking on flesh.” This was exactly what was displayed to the world in the familiar Christmas account when Jesus was born in a stable, and the nine months leading up to the birth. It’s a difficult concept to humanly understand or even explain in terms of human science. The incarnation transcends science.

It is eternally essential to fully believe in the incarnation of Jesus Christ as the pathway He took to become the Savior and Redeemer. Why? Because this was God’s chosen and purposed plan for our redemption. It was His will to do this, and it is what God did.

As the Gospel of John recounts in the first few verses of chapter one, “the “Word” was with God, and the Word was God.” And then a few verses later, John says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Sound strange? Well, it is. For this never happened before. God, who has no beginning and no end; God, who has always been, took on a human body and spirit, the very nature of humanity, and then He lived in close fellowship with other humans as a true man. 

God is Triune. He is three persons in one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Nothing else in all creation is even similar to the Trinity. God is one of a kind. And He has always been, and ever will be. Nothing exists apart from God making it. He is THE Creator. “In Him all things consist and have their being.” (Colossians 1:16-17

One of the persons of this three-person God, namely, the Son, “emptied” Himself, as Philippians 2 (see vs. 6-7) explains, and became man. He emptied Himself of His “God-prerogatives”; for a time He gave up His “deity powers;” so that He could completely experience manhood, in every temptation, pressure, problem, and trouble common to man. To what extent and how Jesus emptied Himself cannot be fully understood. You must believe in God’s integrity when He tells you it is so. 

Luke 1:26-38 gives us a glimpse into how this incarnation was initiated, when Gabriel, an angel and a messenger from God, visited a young woman named Mary (who was shocked, but believing) and gave her the message that she would become “with child.” This would take place without any sexual relations with a man. The provider of sperm to Mary would be the Spirit of God. Yet this human fetus, a human baby, in Mary’s womb would develop and grow as a man with body and spirit, true to human nature, and He would be born as was prophesied in Bethlehem. 

But He was different than all other men in that He was the product of a virgin birth. Hence, He would be sinless. And due to Jesus’ perfect obedience to his Father, He would remain sinless throughout His earthly life, going to the cross as the only acceptable, sinless sacrifice for sin.

This is why He actually was the “perfect Lamb of God,” who died as your personal substitute on a Roman instrument of crucifixion.

The cross has been venerated ever since, has it not? It was never venerated before Jesus died on one. Before He died, the cross meant nothing to anyone. Now it is seen and worn everywhere, placed high on steeples, secured on walls, hung around necks, the shape of every kind of jewelry, displayed on t-shirts. The symbol of the most significant love in the world, it has become the statement of Christ’s death to the world. The cross is one more amazing proof to this world that Jesus is, and that He truly died on a cross, to save a people for His very own.

Jesus chose to wed himself to our flesh in the incarnation, and He remains joined to human flesh forever. In His incarnate body, He will return to this earth in the sight of every man, woman, and child (Revelation 1:7). He will be the judge of all, and He will reign forever in His incarnate body. 

Throughout eternity, in the new heavens and new earth, we will see God, in the person of Jesus Christ. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Incarnation is God’s wondrous gift that never goes away. He is yours, and you are His forever.


“Christ, by highest heaven adored; Christ the everlasting LORD; late in time, behold Him come, offspring of a virgin’s womb. Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see, hail the incarnate Deity! Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel. Hark, the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King!”

(2nd verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” 1739)

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