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Why Advent I: Why the God-Man?

Why did God become a man? In Hebrews 2:14-17, the author of the book gives us three reasons, or really one three-fold reason why God became man in the person of Jesus Christ. In short: 1) we can and will die, because of sin. 2) Because of death, we live as slaves cowering in craven fear. 3) Our sin needs to be propitiated by flesh and blood, but no sinner can do that.

Our humanity makes us liable to death. Flesh and blood can die. Sin makes death inevitable, by putting us under the power of the death-lord, Satan, who was a murderer from the beginning. All flesh will die. This inevitability is terrifying, and we live in fear and slavery. Since sin leads to death, this means that only if our sin is atoned for can the death-lord be destroyed, and his power broken. But as sinners, we cannot pay the blood-price for ourselves. The payment for sin is pure life-blood, but all we have is corrupted death-blood. Dead people need someone who has life to give it to them, but all sons of Adam are already under the power of death.

What we need is a free flesh-and-blood man, untainted by sin, not under the power of death, and thus unafraid to die, who by that death can pay the debt for sin with his own pure blood. The problem is that there is no such man. There is God, however. God is free. God is not corrupted by sin or under the power of death. If God were to shed His blood, then the debt that keeps us under the power of the death-lord could be paid, the death-lord could be destroyed, our slavery could be ended, we could be delivered from a life of fear, and our sins could be washed away by the ministry of a merciful and faithful high priest!

But there is a problem here, too: God has no blood! God is a Spirit, and does not have flesh and bones. His life is not in His blood, like our, His life is in Himself. And so this is the problem: man can die, but he cannot pay the penalty. God can pay the penalty, but He cannot die. We need God to become man.

And thanks be to God, this is exactly what Hebrews teaches us about the incarnation: the miracle of Christmas, the glorious truth of Advent, is that in Jesus Christ, God became man. God took on flesh, so that He could in Himself embody the sacrifice that would atone for the sins of the world. This is why God became man: to deliver His children from sin, from fear, and from death.

Because God did become man in the person of Jesus Christ, man can be saved. Ultimately, this salvation will be revealed on the last day at the judgment seat of Christ, where we are shown to be justified, and welcomed into the fellowship of God in the new heavens and new earth. But even now, there are two major benefits of Christ’s incarnation that we experience right away: deliverance from fear, and freedom from slavery.

In particular, the incarnation means freedom from any fear that relates to flesh and blood. Celebrating Advent means forsaking all fear of cancer, fear of disease, or fear of injury. These things still happen, but the coming of Jesus in the flesh means that you are no longer under the power of the devil, and the devil no longer has the power of death. Even though you die, you will live. So don’t be afraid, because your flesh and blood belong to Jesus!

The second thing that Jesus’ incarnation means for us is that we need to live as free men and women, and not as slaves. Under Satan, we were enslaved to our lusts and desires, captives to disobedience. But now that Christ has come in the flesh, we are free from having to obey our sinful desires and the plans of the evil one. Sin shall not be your master, for Christ has set you free.

So why the God-man? Jesus Christ became a man so that He could deliver His children from sin, from fear, and from death. O, tidings of comfort and joy!

Posted on Wednesday, December 04, 2013 by CJ Bowen