Lessons from the Incarnation

by | Dec 15, 2021

The older I get, the more I like Christmas. It means more to me than it used to. This is the time of year when I turn on Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God and am regularly moved to tears at the thought of God becoming man for us. When we celebrate the Incarnation, we celebrate the coming of our savior. There has been none like Jesus before or since—the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Scripture holds Jesus out to us as our savior, but also our example. He represents the highest hopes for humanity’s goodness. While making Jesus a mere moral example is an insult to his divine mission to be our substitute in his suffering and passive obedience, removing or de-emphasizing his moral example ignores his life of perfect righteousness in his active obedience. Scripture often holds Christ up to us and tells us to be like him (e.g., 1 Peter 2:21). In that spirit, here are three lessons from the Incarnation for our time:

 

1. Be Humble

Humility may be the most striking aspect of the incarnate Christ’s character. The One through whom all things were made was born into a working class family in occupied Palestine (John 1:3). He had no beauty or majesty that we should look at him (Isaiah 53:2). He had no place to lay his head (Matthew 8:20). He commanded legions of angels yet held them back for the sake of his mission (Matthew 26:53).

This humility seems to be what Paul has in mind as he instructs Christians to have Christ as their example (Philippians 2). We are to consider others more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). The logic goes that if our savior was willing to undergo the humiliation of servanthood and death for us, our gratitude to him should compel a similar spirit toward others.

Disharmony is the air we breathe. The world delights in disunity—dividing into camps from which to shout at the opposition. Diversity in our churches and communities provides plenty of opportunity for disharmony and discontentment. But when Christians are faithful to model the humility of our savior, we stand out from the crooked and depraved world around us (Philippians 2:15).

 

2. Be Hopeful

Reflecting on the Incarnation, St. Athanasius wrote in the fourth century, “[T]he renewal of creation has been wrought by the Self-same Word Who made it in the beginning.” (1) The pace of redemption may discourage us. There is trouble all around. Jesus told us that we will have trouble in this life, but what was his next sentence? “Take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

We may be tempted toward discouragement at the state of the world around us. But our Lord is making all things new (Revelation 21:5). How sure is that redemption? It is backed by the same power that spoke the world into being. As those who have received the Spirit as a deposit of our inheritance before we take full possession of it, we have a duty to our Lord to be hopeful that He will answer every promise (Ephesians 1:13–14).

 

3. Be Prayerful

There has never been a more powerful human than King Jesus. He spoke storms into stillness (Matthew 8:27), disease into health (Mark 5:34), and death into life (John 11:43). One might expect such a man to swagger in his own strength. But not Jesus. He regularly retreated for private prayer and communion with the Father (Luke 6:12).

If Jesus needed prayer, we need it more. When confronted with ongoing injustice, racial tragedies, contentious court cases, or divisions in our families and churches, we must take these burdens to the Father. As the hymn says, “Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”

There are an infinite number of ways we should aspire to be like Jesus. These are a few ways in which the perfect man stands in such contrast to our broken world. As we march toward Zion, let us look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Our savior has much to teach us as we gaze upon him, incarnate for us and for our salvation.

 


  1. Athanasius of Alexandria On the Incarnation of the Word of God, trans. T. Herbert Bindley, 2nd ed. rev. (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1903), 13.
  2. For more information about the Incarnation, here’s an episode we did with Dr. Fred Sanders.


Prayer Requests:

  1. Praise God for providing a way back to him in Jesus.
  2. Pray for God to work Christlike qualities in you.
  3. Pray for the Lord’s return to bring about the justice he has promised.

 

Recent POdcasts

Biblical Theology: Exodus

Biblical Theology: Exodus

We continue our Bible study series by looking at the book of Exodus. There are many ethnic issues in this book, from the oppression of the Israelites by the Egyptians, to the covenant faithfulness of Zipporah. This was a fascinating discussion and we hope you are...

read more
Biblical Theology: Genesis

Biblical Theology: Genesis

We are kicking off our Bible Study or Biblical Theology series with the book of Genesis. Adrianna Anderson brings her expertise as a Bible scholar to help us look at Scripture to see God's plan for diversity and ethnic harmony. There is so much in Scripture on this...

read more

Upcoming Events

Isaac-Adams-United-We-Pray-speaking-at-an-event

Click Here to View Now

Recent Articles

Presidents’ Day and Godly Authority

Presidents’ Day and Godly Authority

On Monday, our nation observed Presidents’ Day. This holiday gives us an opportunity to honor the role and office of President in our country. It also serves as an opportunity to reflect how we as Christians can pray for those who represent us as citizen servants in...

read more
Anthropology and Antisemitism

Anthropology and Antisemitism

Antisemitism is back in the news. Multiple presidents of prominent universities were recently summoned to Congress to testify about a rise in antisemitic incidents on their campuses. Their refusal to answer questions about whether antisemitism violates school policies...

read more
Dear White Woman

Dear White Woman

I don’t run at night or before the sun comes up. I wonder if you don’t either. While my husband can strap on a headlamp and reflectors and hit the neighborhood running, I have to be more cautious—even in the suburbs. Common sense tells women that running in the dark...

read more

We’d love to hear what you think about this article. Submit your feedback by clicking here to contact us.

Author

  • Austin Suter

    Austin is the executive director and editor for U?WP. He is a husband, father and seminary student at RTS Charlotte. Austin is a member at Iron City Church in Birmingham, AL. @amsuter

Related Articles

Dear White Woman

Dear White Woman

Courtney Reissig shares her experience of choosing to run at specific times of day in order to stay safe. She reflects on her own privilege and how she might leverage that in service of her minority brothers and sisters.

read more

Stay Connected