Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Ongoing Mystery of Incarnation

If you think you're not qualified to represent God, you’re just the kind of person he’s looking for.
God entrusted the care of his creation to two people: Adam and Eve. When Creation was threatened by unbridled wickedness, he entrusted life on earth to one man: Noah. When God determined to bless all the nations of the earth, he entrusted his plan for restoration to one man: Abraham. From the very beginning God has chosen to partner with people. God uses people—deeply flawed people. It’s a heck of a way to run a railroad, but after all, he is God.
The book of Exodus not only reveals God’s heart and mind, but also his method: Exodus 3: 7 – 8 depicts God’s compassionate heart and his determination to rescue all of Israel:
The Lord said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
God told Moses “I’ve seen, I’ve heard, and I’ve come down to deliver.” Then, just two verses later, God reveals the agent of his deliverance—Moses himself:
So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt. (3:10)
When God is determined to act, he is equally determined to use people. Even the most magnificent act of God, the redemption of the world, required a man. In Jesus, God himself came to earth and became a man. He did not pretend to be human: he became human. When only God could do the job, he still came as a man. The mystery of the Incarnation is that Jesus of Nazareth is 100% God and at the same time 100% man. The humanity of Christ is a theological mystery--and a revelation of God’s way of doing things, all rolled into one.
We should not be surprised that it is so. God has always used people. Moses objected. Jeremiah complained that he was too young. Jonah ran away. Isaiah knew he was unclean. Whatever excuse they were trying to sell, God wasn’t buying. He believes in us even when we do not believe in him. 
In fact, part of the scandal of Jesus Christ is that in Christ, the Father by-passed all the “qualified” people and instead assembled the most unlikely team. Working stiffs, tax collectors and prostitutes were his chosen vessels. Religious professionals didn’t make the cut. Even after training his team for three years, they experienced epic failure just when the stakes were the highest. Jesus didn’t care even then. He re-assembled eleven men on a hillside in Galilee and said, “I have accomplished what only God can do; the rest is up to you.” 
Our partnership with God begins when we determine to give up our self-assessment and surrender to his promise of who we are in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul encourages the church in Rome to see things God’s way:
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. (Romans 8: 32 – 33)
Singer John Mark McMillan puts it this way: “So what if I’m not worthy? You have made me clean.”
It should not surprise us that God became a man in the person of Jesus. God had been using men to accomplish his work since creation. The mystery of the Incarnation extends beyond the humanity of Christ. The mystery includes you and me.


  1. Oh the excuses we use! Yes, excuses are so persistent! It's so comforting to know that God persists in using us despite our history of using the same old excuses. Good word Ray.

  2. Sarah@EmergingMummyDecember 4, 2011 at 11:29 PM

    This was for me, this week, Ray. Truly. Thank you.