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The Incarnation of the Son of God

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The incarnation of the Son is the great and final revelation of the Father.

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Introduction

I used to work at a Christian camp, and while I worked there, one of my jobs was to help in the kitchen. One of the meals that we would eat regularly at camp was chilli con carne. In fact I ate it so often during my time there that I currently I would be happy never to see the dish again. Why do I begin a Christmas sermon talking about chilli con carne you may ask? The first words of our passage read “The Word became flesh,” Chilli con carne literally means chilli with flesh. When we speak of the incarnation we are talking about the eternal Son of God taking on flesh. The Incarnation of the Son of God. Turn with me in your Bibles to , and we will read from verse 1.

1 aIn the beginning was bthe Word, and cthe Word was with God, and dthe Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 eAll things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 fIn him was life,1 and gthe life was the light of men. 5 hThe light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

6 There was a man isent from God, whose name was jJohn. 7He came as a kwitness, to bear witness about the light, lthat all might believe through him. 8 mHe was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

9 nThe true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet othe world did not know him. 11 He came to phis own,2 and qhis own people3 rdid not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, swho believed in his name, the gave the right uto become vchildren of God, 13 who wwere born, xnot of blood ynor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And zthe Word abecame flesh and bdwelt among us, cand we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son4 from the Father, full of dgrace and etruth. 15 (fJohn bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, g‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) 16 For from hhis fullness we have all received, igrace upon grace.5 17 For jthe law was given through Moses; kgrace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 lNo one has ever seen God; mthe only God,6 who is at the Father’s side,7 nhe has made him known.

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
Let us pray, and ask God’s guidance for our study this morning.
Pray
O God we thank you that we can come once again to worship you in the community of the redeemed. Your praises we sing. We give you honour for the incarnation that was purposed in the covenant of redemption, authored before the creation of time. Lord Jesus we give you glory that while you are God of God, light of light, true God of true God you humbled yourself and became flesh and dwelt among us. Give us eyes to see this wonderful truth, and ears to hear your word. These things I pray through the one mediator, the God-Man, Amen.
The Incarnate Son is the great and final revelation of the Father.
Hebrews 1:1-2

The Son of God dwelt among his creatures. (v14a)

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,”
May we never grow tired of reading those words, it would be a tragedy to lose them to familiarity. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
Why did the Word take on flesh? What was his mission while he dwelt among those he created? Why did the Son have to become a human? These questions have been asked from the dawn of Christianity, in fact a man by the name of Anselm of Canterbury asked that question famously in his book ‘Cur Deus Homo,” lit. Why God Man? Why did God become man?
The Son of God became man in order to accomplish several crucial tasks.
1. The Son became man so that he might be an example to his followers.
2. The Son became man so that he might be able to sympathize with us in our weakness.
These are two glorious truths for which we ought to rejoice and sing his praises, but the next two are greater still.
3. The Son became man in order to live as our representative. The Word was clothed with flesh, he was made like us in every respect
4. The Son became man in order to die as our substitute.
 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
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Your Bible may have a note on the word ‘dwelt’ in verse fourteen. The word could be more literally translated, “The Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us,” or even more literally, “The word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” Just as the opening line of John’s Gospel takes the reader back to and the creation of the world, John’s language here transports the reader back to the book of Exodus, and to the tabernacle that was the place of worship for the people of God. This is the first of many references this passage contains to the book of Exodus.
3.

The Son of God displayed his glory. (v14b)

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.The Son of God displayed his glory. (v14b)
Even as Jesus Christ dwelt on earth as one who was humiliated, his life was accompanied by moments of glory. Do you think of the life of Christ as glorious? Maybe you think of the pre-incarnate glorious son, or the resurrection and ascension, or maybe the day when the Son will one day reign over all the earth in glory.
At his birth, though he was laid in a lowly manger the angels sang his praises, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” ()
His glory was seen through the gifts brought by the Magi: gold, frankincense, and myrrh, gifts fit for king.
John the Baptist recognized that it was humiliating for the Messiah to be baptized, but after Jesus’ baptism his glory was revealed through his Father’s words from heaven, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.” and the Spirit descending like a dove.
Spread throughout the Gospels we get a glimpse at the glory that John saw firsthand. At the moment of complete physical exhaustion, as Jesus slept through a storm his disciples woke him in a panic and the Lord said, “Peace! Be still.” and the wind and waves obeyed their creator. ()
On the Mount of Transfiguration, that glorious and unique event when Peter, James, and John traveled with Jesus onto the mountaintop where they beheld his glory, in fact it is hard to read either John’s prologue or the opening verses in his first epistle without thinking that the Transfiguration was the event that John had in mind as he wrote. We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon...” Remember that this event occurs at a great turning point in the gospel of Matthew, that before Jesus is transfigured he announces that he must go to Jerusalem to die. (Matthew 17:1-8)
Finally, at the lowest moment of his humiliation, when he had breathed his last upon the cross Christ received the burial of a wealthy man, the burial of a king.

The Son of God was declared by John the Baptist (v15)

At first glance, it appears as though this verse is out of place, as verse fourteen flows nicely through to verse sixteen. But imagine for a second that John is a lawyer in a court of law and after presenting the case that the eternal Son of God became flesh he calls another witness to the stand as if saying, “Don’t just take my word for it, John his earthly cousin, the one who was to pave the way for the Messiah he also testified about him.”
The phrase used by John is one that is not unique to the Baptizer, but we see the same truth conveyed later in the Apostle’s gospel and elsewhere in the scriptures.
“He who comes after me ranks before me...”
The Gospel of Luke gives a wonderful account of this verse in reality. says this:
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
We see in this verse also an incredible testimony to the sanctity and value of the unborn life. This past week I had the privilege of speaking with Dr. Murray Harris about a bit of a difficult interpretive question in this passage and as an aside he mentioned that as Christians who believe that life begins at conception, we ought not to place the incarnation at Bethlehem, rather it occurred nine months previously.
John was the older relative of the Lord Jesus, so in that sense he was before Christ, but there is yet a more significant meaning. John was the one who was to go before Christ in ministry, he was the one who was to prepare a path before him. Mark’s Gospel opens in this way, :
We see in this verse also an incredible testimony to the sanctity and value of the unborn life. This past week I had the privilege of speaking with Dr. Murray Harris about a bit of a difficult interpretive question in this passage and as an aside he mentioned that as Christians who believe that life begins at conception, we ought not to place the incarnation at Bethlehem, rather it occurred nine months previously.
John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus Christ was before John in rank, that is why John says in “I must decrease but he must increase,” and Jesus Christ existed before John did, indeed Jesus was John’s creator. The Son did not merely exist before the creation of the World waiting for the moment of his incarnation, but as true God he was the creator of all things, including his cousin who went before him. I mentioned earlier that John’s words are found in other places of Scripture that testify to Biblical characters who lived before the Son came to dwell on earth, and yet they say that he was before they were.
In , in the midst of a discussion with the Pharisees, Jesus said that “before Abraham was, I am.” And the same truth is attested to by David in the 110 Psalm where he prophecies of one of his offspring who is also his Lord, “Yahweh says to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”
The Son of God was declared by John the baptist.

The Son of God delivered grace to his people (v14b, 16-17)

,  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
We have seen already several ways that John references the Old Testament in his Prologue, specifically the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. The last part of verse fourteen mentions that Jesus came full of grace and truth. This is yet another, albeit more veiled reference to the same book to which we have turned: Exodus. In , while Moses is on the mountain alone with God, the Lord passes before him and declares
“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”
This is the Old Testament version of what John writes in his prologue. Steadfast love and faithfulness, grace and truth. Steadfast love is the way in which God’s covenant love for his people is represented, the New Testament writers call this grace. Second, the faithfulness of God can be described as God’s truthfulness.
Recognize the pattern of John in these verses. Once a tabernacle was given where God would dwell amongst his people, but now the Word has come in the flesh and he has tabernacled among us. There in the Tabernacle and the tent of meeting the glory of God was seen, but now the Word has displayed glory. God was gracious and faithful in the Old Testament, but now the word has come full of grace and truth.
This brings us to an interesting point in our sermon. What is grace? How are we to understand grace? I once heard a Christian leader remark that he heard an author speak about a book on grace and he talked for fifteen minutes without mentioning the person of Christ. I believe this passage gives us great clarity regarding the nature of grace.
Grace can be understood as the undeserved favour of God, and while there is a sense that as sinners every good thing that comes from God is an act of grace that is not what is in mind here. John writes that “from his fullness we all have received, grace upon grace” Jesus is the source of the grace given to the Christian. It is Christ that the sinner receives, it is in him that he possesses all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places.
Grace is not some thing we get, we are not infused with grace, rather we receive Christ and from his fulness grace.
Next the extent of this grace is explained. This is not just a meagre amount of grace, our Lord is no miser when it comes to grace, but rather, as William Hendriksen says he has given us an ‘infinite abundance of grace,’ grace upon grace. Later, Hendriksen provides a word-picture to help understand this concept, this “grace upon grace, like the waves that follow one another upon the seashore, one taking the place of another constantly.”
grace upon grace, like the waves that follow one another upon the seashore, one taking the place of another constantly. The
This is grace that cannot be experienced through the law of Moses, for although Moses knew the steadfast love and faithfulness of God, the law pointed forward to fulfillment, which was found in Jesus Christ.
Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to John (Vol. 1, p. 91). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

The Son of God disclosed the Father (v18)

The Son of God disclosed the Father (v18)

The Father revealed himself to Moses at the burning bush, and then again later when he hid Moses in the cleft of the rock and allowed him to see his back. The Tabernacle also revealed the holiness of God, the penalty for sin, and it was the place where God dwelt among his people.

Conclusion

Do you know the glory of Christ? Have you received his grace? Just as John writes that no one has ever seen the Father except for the Son, he writes later in his Gospel that “No one may come to the Father except through the Son.” This is the good news of the incarnation, that the eternal Son of God took on human flesh in order that he might live a perfect life in the place of sinners who have broken God’s law. And after living a life of perfect obedience the God-Man bore the sins of sinners upon the cross at Calvary, and the God-Man did not stay dead but he rose in glorious triumph over death and sin and satan. Have you received the fullness of Christ? Have you received his grace? If you have not I implore you on behalf of God, repent and believe this good news.
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