The Character of God

The Incarnation (Immanuel)

"His name (character description) shall be called IMMANUEL (meaning 'God with and among us')" (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1;22,23).

At Christmas we celebrate perhaps the most profound miracle of all: God’s unique intervention in history- the incarnation (God taking upon himself human nature and visiting man through the birth of Christ). When God made man in His image, He had in mind that He could identify with us and redeem us from sin, by becoming a man. He could not do this for angels for they were not made in His image. God became a man and lived among us in the Person of Jesus Christ! “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh” (1Timothy 3:16). “In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).

The incarnation means the second Person of the Godhead (the Son) taking upon Himself a human nature, fully becoming a man, without losing His Deity. God gave His only Son to die for us, that we might have eternal life (John 3:16).

Job expressed the dilemma of man’s inability to cross the gulf between man and God: "He is not a man, as I am, that I may answer Him, and that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on (identify with) us both” (9:32,33).   All human religions are man’s attempts to climb to God are must fail. In Christianity, God did what man could not do. He bridged the gap by becoming a man. That’s how important we are to God - that’s how much He loves us.

John1:1,14: “In the beginning was the Word (JESUS), and the Word (JESUS) was with God, and the Word (JESUS) was God. And the Word became flesh (His CONCEPTION) and dwelt (tabernacled) among us (His BIRTH), and we beheld His glory (His life and ministry).” God’s glory was housed in a human body. Since Jesus was born at the Feast of Tabernacles (Sept/Oct), Christmas marks the time of His conception in Mary’s womb.

The incarnation is the supreme revelation that God is a God of HUMILITY.

Philippians 2:5-10 presents this wonderfully:
“Let this mind (attitude of humility) be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form (having the very nature) of God (both inwardly and in outward display),

(1) did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped (first STEP of humility),
but (2) emptied himself, stripping Himself of His glory (the outward show and independant use of His Divine attributes),
(3) taking the form (inward nature and outward role) of a servant (in the Old Testament He was the Angel of the Lord), and
(4) coming in the likeness of men (in the incarnation He fully took on a human nature, spirit, soul and body, and became a man), and
(5) being found in (outward) appearance as a man (although He could have used His powers as God to His advantage, He restrained and humbled Himself to live as a man (dependent on God), appearing to others as a normal man,
(6) He humbled Himself (He then poured out His human life in service and ministry to others) and
(7) became obedient to death, even the death of the cross (ultimately He poured His whole life out in sacrificial death to wash us of our sins).

Therefore (8) God also has highly exalted Him ...”

Jesus acted out these steps of humility in John 13:3-12:
“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God,

(1) rose from supper (from the head of the table) and
(2) laid aside His garments (which symbolise His Divine Glory),
(3) took a towel and girded Himself (clothed Himself as a bond-servant).
After that, (4,5) He poured water into a basin (His life was poured into an earthen vessel of humanity)
and (6,7) began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded (His humanity was steadily poured out in a life of service, until it was fully given in His death, in order to wash us fromour sins (dirt).

(8) “When He washed their feet, He took His garments, and sat down again (Jesus was glorified)” (v12)

The eternal Son humbled himself being born as a man, named Jesus, to wash us from our sins.

The INCARNATION was one of the most important Divine interventions ever,
and so was prophesied clearly in the Old Testament:

(1) Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmity between you (satan) and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed (Christ); He (the Seed of the Woman) shall bruise your head and you shall bruise His heel." This first prophecy of the Messiah spoke ofHis unique virgin birth (being called the Seed of the Woman). We inherit a sinful human nature from Adam through our father by birth. So, to be born sinless he had to have a virgin-birth. The prophecy also tells that His victory over
satan, comes only after suffering the serpents bite, receiving the poison (sin and death) within Himself.

Their expectation that He would be a God-man is in Genesis 4:1: “Eve conceived and bore Cain and said, "I have acquired a man (with the help of) the LORD." Literally she said: "I have acquired a man even Jehovah (the LORD)." (Fulfilled: Galatians 4:4,5).

(2) Micah 5:2: “Bethlehem -out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth (origins) are from of old, from everlasting (eternity)." Fulfilled - Matt 2:4-6.

(3) Isaiah 7:14: "The Lord Himself will give you a sign: behold, the virgin (of Gen3:15) shall conceive and bear a son, and call His name Immanuel (God with us).” (Fulfilled: Matt1:22,23).

(4) Isaiah 9:6,7: “Unto us a child is born (His humanity), unto us a Son is given (His Deity); and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor (only used of God, see Isa 25:1, 28:29 - Jesus was wonderful in his conception, birth, perfect life, miraculous ministry, sacrificial death, glorious resurrection and ascension far above all and in His counsel and teaching), Mighty God (El Gibbor - only used of God, see Isa 10:21), Everlasting
Father (literally: ‘Source of Eternal Life’, only used of God, see Isaiah 63:16), Prince of Peace (God’s chosen King to rule in peace). Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.”

 (5) Psalm 40:6-8 predicts what He says just before becoming man , showing He dedicated Himself to do God’s will, and was born to die for us (Fulfilled: Hebrews 10:4-10).

These prophecies of the VIRGIN-BIRTH of the God-Man Messiah define the DOOR that He must go through to enter the earth. This DOOR into the world is so unique, that only ONE Person, the true Saviour, could possibly come through it. Therefore, by this most distinctive DOOR, we can easily recognise Who the true Messiah is.

Jesus talked about this in John10: "Most assuredly, I say to you, he (any false-messiah or saviour) who does not enter the sheep-fold (world) by the DOOR (Virgin Birth -according to the prophecies), but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But He (the true Messiah) who enters by the DOOR (the virgin birth) is the (true) Shepherd of the sheep. To Him the Door-Keeper (the Holy-Spirit - Luke 1:35) opens, and the sheep hear His voice; and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out (through the door of rebirth into eternal life). And when He brings out his own sheep, He goes before
them and the sheep (believers) follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers” (v1-5).

The Good Shepherd came from Heaven through the DOOR of Virgin Birth (through MARY) into the sheepfold (world), to lead us out of this world to Heaven through the DOOR of the New Birth (through JESUS). “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the DOOR of the sheep” (v7).

Those who say all religions are doors to God are wrong. There is only one DOOR to heaven - Jesus Christ. As there was a unique DOOR (Virgin-Birth) into this world, so there is a unique DOOR (New-Birth) into Heaven, for entrance into eternal life is only through Jesus. The Door-Keeper again is the Holy-Spirit who lets us through when we come in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ (the Door): "I am the DOOR. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (v9-11).

Jesus is the DOOR to LIFE. Through laying down His life in death and rising again He opened the DOOR for us to enter into new-life (see v14-18). When we believed in Him, in His death and resurrection, we walked through the DOOR into salvation (the New-Birth).

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