Incarnate: Why the Manger Matters
Christmas is many people’s favorite time of the year. It’s a time to be with family, to go to Christmas parties, and to exchange gifts. It’s also a time to remember the reason for the season! Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The Christmas landscapes are full of Santa Claus pictures and blow ups, but they’re also full of nativity scenes. We see mangers everywhere. But why does the manger matter? The manger represents the incarnation of the Son of God. The manger reminds us that God the Father sent his Son to save us from our sins. The Nicene Creed says, “[Jesus Christ], for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.”
The manger matters because unless we understand who Jesus is we can’t understand how God saved us. We have to understand that the Word was with God and the Word was God (Jn. 1:1) and that that same Word (Jesus Christ) became flesh and dwelt among us (Jn. 1:14) if we want to understand what it means that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn. 1:29). The person and work of Jesus Christ are inextricably linked. As John Stott says, “If Jesus was not who the apostles say he was, then he could not of done what they say he did. The incarnation is indispensable to the atonement.”
So what exactly does the Bible say about the incarnation and why does that matter “for us men and for our salvation?” Those are the questions we want to answer in our Advent series this year: Incarnate: Why the Manger Matters.
Our Statement of Faith lays out what we believe about the incarnation in article 4: “We believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, fully God and fully man, one Person in two natures. Jesus—Israel’s promised Messiah—was conceived through the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life…”
During December we’re going to cover each part of this article and show its relevance for our lives:
Week One: Jesus Christ is fully God.
Week Two: Jesus Christ is fully Man.
Week Three: Jesus Christ is one person in two natures.
Week Four: Jesus Christ is Israel’s promised Messiah.
Week Five: Jesus Christ lived a sinless life.
Please join us for this series and prepare your hearts to receive Jesus as Lord and God, the representative and substitute for your sins. If you would like to do some reading on your own to learn more about the incarnation and to prepare for Christmas, I would recommend the following resources.
- Evangelical Convictions, chapter 4, “The Person of Jesus Christ.” This is the commentary on our Statement of Faith. A must read for members of First Free!
- Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology. Every evangelical home should have a copy of this book too! Read chapter 26 on the person of Christ. He does a great job of laying out not only the orthodox position on Christ, but also the ancient heresies, which provided the occasion for the church to articulate what we believe about Jesus.
- Murray Harris, Three Crucial Questions about Jesus. Read the third chapter called, “Is Jesus God?”
- Athanasius, On the Incarnation. This is a book by the great defender of the incarnation in the fourth century. I try to read it every year. It’s old, but it’s very readable and only about 100 pages. All of my kids over 12 years old have read it. And there’s a bonus introduction by C.S. Lewis that is worth the price of the book.
- Simonetta Carr, Athanasius. This is a children’s picture book on the life of Athanasius. Good for kids and adults.
- New City Catechism. Read the questions in Part 2 that have to do with the person of Christ (questions 21-23).