May 26, 2017

Grappling With the Mystery of the Incarnation

Joel Arnold

It’s hard to think of many topics more abstract than mystery. God is one in essence, yet also exists in three persons in a way that transcends human comprehension… This is not the stuff of mommy-blogs and water-cooler discussions.

But mystery came into the human world in an overwhelming way that has practical impact on every part of life. In fact, it couldn’t have become any more tangible, because mystery was incarnated—physically embodied in a human being.

I’m talking, of course, about Jesus Christ. We’re accustomed to defending that Jesus Christ wasn’t just mostly God or a kind of sub-God with “nearly God status”, but fully God in every sense that God is God.

What we’re less accustomed to defending is that Jesus is fully man. He didn’t just look very human-like or take on a human body. He was fully human in every sense that you are—body, soul, and spirit. In fact, your salvation rests on that belief (1 John 4:2-3).

Of course, these two realities lead to some remarkable juxtapositions in Scripture. What did Isaiah think as he wrote that “the Everlasting Father” would be born (Isa. 9:6 with 1 Pet. 1:10-11)? Or how could Micah comprehend that the One “whose goings forth have been from of old” would hail from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)?

Jesus was fully God

Jesus was fully man

Knew everything (Mark 2:8; John 1:48)

Limited in knowledge (Matt. 24:36; Heb. 5:8)

Was everywhere (Matt. 8:8-13; 18:20)

Limited in space (John 11:15-17)

All-powerful (Matt. 8:26-27)

Limited in power (John 4:6; Luke 23:26)

Existed eternally (John 8:58; 17:5, 24)

Was born (Matt. 1:18)

Or consider this shocking image. Jesus is tired from a long day of ministry. In sheer exhaustion He lays his head on a “little pillow” and takes a nap (Mark 4:35-41). He sleeps so deeply that even a roaring, howling storm doesn’t wake Him. And then moments later He calmly tells the wind and waves to “hush.” Knowing His power and authority, they meekly obey. But how do you harmonize the man sleeping on the pillow with the voice controlling the world? “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

Or think of Hebrews 2. After some of the strongest statements of Jesus’ full divinity (Heb. 1:2-13), we’re told that it was necessary for Him “to be made like unto His brethren” so that He could be a “merciful and faithful high priest… to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (2:17).

That simply means that whatever your struggles are, Jesus understands. He knows what it is to be tired. He experienced the struggles and weaknesses of human life on a fallen planet. He even experienced temptation deeper and more strenuous than you’ve ever known (2:18) and the despair of separation from God because of your sin (2:14).

I have no idea what you’re facing today. But Jesus does. I’ve probably never experienced what you’re dealing with. But Jesus has. I could never show genuine empathy appropriate to your struggles or situation. But Jesus will. Carry your struggles failures and fears to your high priest—fully God and fully man in one perfect person.

“We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15-16).


Joel Arnold is an appointee with Gospel Fellowship Association Missions. He is raising funds for future ministry in the Philippines.


Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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