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Sermons

The Incarnation

Author: Josué Mora Peña

The word "incarnation" (latin incarnare) means to clothe with flesh, to embodied in human form, personified, to become flesh. Juan 1:14 says, "And the Word (Christ) was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."

Let us have a little trivia: When it comes to Christmas, there’s nothing in the Bible that indicates that Jesus was born on December 25, according to the custom in the United States. This date first appeared in the fourth century AD., in the West. The fact that shepherds lodged with their flocks in open field from spring to fall, and not in the winter, hints that Jesus may have not been born in mid-winter. It appears that the ancient Rome practiced a pagan festival beginning on December 17, called, "Saturnalia." It was an unrestrained and often licentious celebration, an orgy. The belief is that the Christian leaders wanted to have also a motive to celebrate "something" in order to avoid the new Christians to participate of the pagan Roman feast. So, they decided that Jesus’ birthday would be a good reason to celebrate during those days.

The Bible does not say that the Magi were kings nor that they were three. They were astronomers, star gazers. When they saw the star, they knew that the King of the Jews had been born. They knew the Scriptures (Old Testament). They knew about the Book of Micah chapter 5, verse 2 that says, "But thou, Bethlehem Ehpratha, (fruitful) though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." Once they knew the "special" star had appeared, they prepared themselves to go find the new-born King of the Jews. They traveled approximately 1,000 miles. They had servants, cooks, people who took care of setting up the tents where they slept.

It is believed that they were from Babylon. Others say they were from India or South Arabia. When we consider that Daniel was taken captive to Babylonia about 500 years before, and that he must have been a great influence among the wise men of that country (read Daniel chapter 2), it is more logical to assume that they were from Babylon. The Magi did not follow a star from their country to Bethlehem, but from Jerusalem to the city of David [Bethlehem]. (Read Matthew 2.1-10). Finally, the Magi did not find a "babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger" like the shepherds did (Luke 2.12). They found a 1 to-2-year-old child in a house. Matthew 2.11 says, "And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother..." Matthew 2.16 says, "Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, accordingly to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men."

The Gospel of Luke is the only one who relates with all details the birth of Jesus (2.1-7). Cesar Augustus, the greatest Roman Emperor (according to many), reigned from 31 BC to AD 14. He established the Pax Romana (The Roman Peace). Augustus, which means "exalted" issue a decree that it was time to take a census for military purposes and for taxation. The Jews, however, were exempt from Roman military service. God used a pagan emperor to fulfill the prophecy of Micah.

Joseph and Mary were from Bethlehem. They were pledged to be married. During that time, Mary conceived of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, being a just man, wanted to leave her, but the angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him to receive her as her wife. He did. They made the approximately 100-mile the trip from Nazareth of Galilee to their home town, Bethlehem of Judea. When they arrived there, Mary was ready to have the Baby but, as we all know, there was no room in the inn. There were no Motel 6, Ramada Inn, let along Holyday Inns. So, the Baby Jesus was born in the stable and placed in a manger

"God became flesh and dwelt among us." The Incarnation (not re-incarnation, which is the law of Karma, among Buddhism and Hinduism), is one of the most beautiful doctrines of the Bible. The word hypostasis is the union of the Word [Christ] with the human nature, as found in Colossians 2.9 and 10, "For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power." Plotinus, a Greek philosopher, who was born in Egypt (A.D. 205-270), was the first one to teach in Rome a philosophy in which he mixed the ancient doctrines and Christianity, some kind of syncretism. And so, as it is impossible to have light and darkness at the same time, and mix the water with oil, in the same way, humanly speaking, it would have been impossible to mix the divine with the human. But, God, who is all powerful, was able to do it, and that’s why God became flesh and lived among us, in the person of Jesus Christ, who is God Himself. He was born of the Virgin Mary, sinless, perfect, precious. Isaiah pictures Him as " ... Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (9.6b)

Two things happened when the Incarnation took place: 1. Jesus left much of His glory in heaven. In the intercessory prayer of John 17.5, Jesus prayed, "And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." (emphasis mine). Glory means, honor, splendor, praise, beauty, among many more things. We speak of heaven as being in glory. And in the Incarnation, God became Man, and dwelt among us. Not only Jesus left much of His glory in heaven but, 2. He emptied himself in heaven to become one of us. Listen to the words in Philippians 2.7-8, "But he made himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

Yes, my friends, the Jesus we sing to and adore and worship is God Himself. He is the God-Man, our Lord, our Savior, our Sanctifier, our only hope here and for all eternity. May God bless you and yours.

josue.mora@iglesiabautista.org

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Quotes

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

John 8:32
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