The focus at Christmas, so often, is on the Virgin Birth of Jesus. The Virgin Birth was a miracle, but the greater miracle was the Incarnation which communicates that Deity took on humanity. The Bible gives at least five reasons “why” the Incarnation was necessary. In other words, five reasons why Jesus had to be both 100 percent God and 100 percent man.
When theologians call Jesus, “God Incarnate,” they mean that He was human as well as Divine. The Apostle John wrote that the Word, another title for Jesus, “became flesh and dwelt among us” in John 1:14. He also wrote of Jesus “coming in the flesh” in 1 John 4:2 and 2 John 7. By this he meant that Jesus took on Himself humanity without losing His Deity.
In Isaiah 9:6, a verse we are very familiar with at Christmas, the prophet makes a prediction concerning this union of Deity and humanity. “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Notice that Isaiah said that a child would be born, a reference to humanity and that His character would be such that He would also be called Mighty God, a reference to Deity.
Thus, in this single verse, both the humanity and Deity of Christ are predicted.
Why was the Incarnation necessary? Why was it necessary that Jesus be born as a man? The Scripture gives us at least five answers to that question.
1. To reveal God to us — Only the Incarnation reveals the essence of God to us.
The only way man can see the Father is to know about the Son. And the only way we can do that, today, is through studying the record of Jesus’ life in the Scriptures. Proposition: Because He became a man, the revelation of God was personalized; because He is God, that revelation is completely truthful.
2. To provide an example for our lives — The earthly life of Jesus is held up to us as a pattern for our living today. Read 1 Peter 2:21 and 1 John 2:6. Without the Incarnation we would not have that example. Proposition: As man, He experienced the ups and downs of life and furnishes for us an experienced example; as God, He offers us the power to follow His example.
3. To provide an effective sacrifice for sin — Without the Incarnation, we would have no Savior. The law tells us that sin requires death for its payment, God cannot die, so, the Savior must be human in order to be able to die. But the death of an ordinary man would not pay for sin eternally, so the Savior must also be God. Proposition: We must have a God-man as Savior, and we do in Jesus Christ. Read Hebrews 10:1–10.
4. To destroy the works of the devil – In 1 John 3:8 we are told that one of the reasons Jesus needed to be born as a man, was so that He could destroy the works of the devil. Why was the Incarnation necessary to defeat Satan? Proposition: Because Satan must be defeated in the arena he dominates, this world; so, Christ had to come into this world to destroy Satan’s works.
5. To be able to fulfill the Davidic Covenant – In Luke 1:31-33, the angel Gabriel tells Mary that her Son would be given the throne of David. To have an occupant of David’s throne requires a human being. Therefore, the Messiah had to be a human being. But in order to occupy that throne forever requires that the occupant never die. Proposition: Only God qualifies. So, the one who ultimately fulfills the Davidic promise has to be a God-man.
The Incarnation has implications in relation to our knowledge of God, to our salvation, to our daily living, to our pressing needs and to the future. It truly is the central fact of history.
The fact that Jesus was a person of history is undeniable. The historicity of Jesus is every bit as viable as the historicity of Julius Caesar. Historians like Flavius Josephus, Suetonius, Tertullian, Thallus, Phlegon and Justin Martyr all documented the teachings and miracles of Jesus’ life while on earth. That Jesus was a man of history is beyond conjecture.
But, He is also Mighty God. You were created to know God in a personal way — to have a relationship with Him, through His Son, Jesus Christ, the one and only God-man!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
Editor’s Note: Steve Sager is pastor of Calvary Chapel of St. Helena.