[The content for this post was from a recent message I delivered at a chapel service for the staff at the Southern Baptist Convention headquarters]
It is that time of the year where our thoughts and focus center on the Incarnation. We highlight how the Second Person of the Trinity came to Earth. The Savior, fully God and full man, stepped out of Heaven and took on flesh. Gregory of Naziansen, an early church father, said of the Incarnation, “Remaining what He was, He became what He was not.” We often focus – and rightly – on these amazing aspects. We discuss what happened, how it happened, when it happened, and where it happened. But in this post, I want to focus on the question: why? Why did God come to Earth? Why did God become a man?
The answer to this incredible mystery is found in the angel’s words to Joseph in Matthew 1:20-23, “do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).” Joseph, like any man would be, was concerned that his soon to be wife was pregnant. He knew he had not been with her, so his assumption – and presumably the rest of the town – was she had been unfaithful. But the angel tells him otherwise. This child is not only from God, he is God. He is Immanuel – God with us. And His name will be called “Jesus” for He will save His people from their sins. God the Son, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the Lamb of God, came to save His people from their sins. The baby born in Bethlehem would be the man crucified at Calvary.
But again we must drill down deeper and ask: why? Why did Jesus come down from Heaven to save sinners? This question is answer by Peter in 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God…” Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous one (Jesus) for the unrighteous ones (us). For what reason? That He might bring us to God. Through faith in the Savior who died for sinners at the cross, we are joined in both union and communion with God. We are joined in a union with God, which changes our legal status. We are now justified before God, sins paid for. And we are joined in communion with God, which is a change to our relational status. In Christ, we can walk in fellowship with God.
But once more the question must be asked: why? We have already answered multiple questions. Why did God become a man? To save us from our sins. Why did Jesus die for our sins? To bring us into communion with God. Why does God want us to know this communion with Him? Jesus answers this in John 15:11. After teaching about abiding in Him as a branch abides in a vine, he says, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” Jesus invites us to abide in communion with Him so that His joy may be in us and our joy may be full. This is incredible! He does not offer a joy, but His joy. He does not give us some glimpses of joy, He offers us heart-filling, soul-thrilling, fullness of joy. The joy is the fruit of our abiding in Him. The psalmist reminds us, “in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11).
When we sing Joy To The World this year, lets be reminded that joy comes as we walk in communion with God, a communion made available by the death of Jesus on the cross for our sins, a death only possible because God stepped out of Heaven and came to Earth through the Incarnation. Remaining what He was, He became what He was not. Joy to the world!