There is one true and living God, Creator and Lord of heaven and earth, almighty, eternal, immense, incomprehensible, infinite in intelligence, in will and in all perfection, who, as being one, sole, absolutely simple and immutable spiritual substance, is to be declared as really and essentially distinct from the world, of supreme beatitude in and from Himself, and ineffably exalted above all things beside Himself which exist or are conceivable (1).How could we ever comprehend such a Deity? Well, ultimately, we could never completely comprehend God, for how could mere human beings possibly comprehend the Supreme Being? It is much easier for us to understand our fellow human beings, since they are more like us, "on our level", so to speak.
Some people have tried to understand God by "humanizing" Him. We often hear anthropomorphic talk of God's "hands", "eyes", "feet", etc., and see pictures portraying God as a bearded old man with a crown sitting on a throne in the clouds. These are all human attempts to understand God by making Him more "like us".
Interestingly enough, when God decided to present to us the ultimate revelation of Himself, He did the same exact thing: He "humanized" Himself! He became human; assumed a human nature, a human body which could be seen and touched (I John 1:1-3). In His infinite Wisdom, God decided that the best way we could understand Him was if He came among us as a human being.
The Incarnation reveals many things about God, but this article will focus on three in particular.
God is "Approachable".
Before the coming of Christ, some people thought God was an angry, cruel Deity, fearful to approach. Some people still believe that even today. Yet God is really Love; a kind, compassionate Father who wants us to approach Him with loving devotion.
So what did God do? He came to earth as a baby. A helpless little infant. Who could possibly be afraid of a baby? They are perhaps the most approachable (not to mention cutest!) of all human beings. It is as though God was saying to us, "Now do you trust Me? Now that I have made Myself so small and vunerable? Now that I have quite literally placed Myself in your hands?"
So the Incarnation is a striking revelation of God's approachableness and astounding humility.
God Likes Humanity
It also reveals that God enjoys being around people. Some of the great prophets of the were ascetics and recluses, living in the desert like Saint John the Baptizer, and not mingling with the people. That was fine for them, but notice that Jesus was not like that. He spent some time in the desert (Mk 1:12-13), and would try to find time for private prayer, but for the most part He was among the people, healing and teaching them.
He even went to parties at the houses of sinners and associated with the outcasts of society, despite the raised eyebrows of the religious leaders of His day (Mt 9:10-15). The Gospels give us the definite impression that Jesus loved people; to be around them, to help and heal them, to get involved in their lives.
This is what God is like. God wants to be with us, to get involved in our lives, to be our Friend: "I have called you friends", He told His disciples (John 15:15). Christ is the Eternal Wisdom of God, the One who said in Proverbs "My delight was with the children of men" (8:31).
Acquainted with human suffering.
Finally, the Incarnation shows that God is not distant from or unconcerned with our suffering, for He became fully human, even to the point of sharing our pain. If anyone could have avoided all sorrow, it would have been Jesus; for as God He could certainly have made His Sacred Humanity immune to pain. Yet He did not do that; Christ our God chose to endure great suffering, becoming "a man of sorrows and acquainted with infirmity" (Isaiah 53:3).
When the atheist asks "Where is God when the innocent suffer?", the Christian can respond "On the Cross". Jesus Christ was completely innocent of all the charges His enemies brought against Him, but He was killed anyway. He is thus numbered among the suffering innocents of the world!
Wherever people suffer, Christ is present, "crucified" in their midst (so to speak), calling us to alleviate their suffering - and His own in the process: "As long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40).
God assumed a human body, and He allowed that Sacred Flesh to be scarred, bruised, torn, flogged, and pierced by thorns, nails and a spear. But the most interesting thing is that, after the Resurrection, His glorified Body still bore the scars of those torments! His disciples even recognized Him by the scars in His hands, feet and side (Luke 24:40; John 20:27).
Think about it; the human nature which God assumed into Himself is wounded human nature! He has taken it into the Godhead permanently; Jesus will neither discard His humanity nor heal over the wounds of His torture and death. Scripture says that when He comes again we shall look upon the One whom we have pierced (Zechariah 12:10); for He will still bear the scars of our Redemption!
So the Incarnation teaches us some awesome truths about our Creator, which we could never have known otherwise. God is approachable, loves to get involved in our lives, and is not entirely immune to suffering for God takes on human nature, and so experiences firsthand our pain.
(Related Article: Is the Incarnation a Pagan Concept?)
1. Vatican I, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, (24 April 1870), Session III, chapter 1.
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