December 28, 2011 2 Comments
Preaching, teaching or writing on the incarnation of Christ usually focuses on the Gospels. There is another verse that I think has so much to teach us about the incarnation and it comes from the Apostle Paul in Colossians. Paul appears to be addressing some false teaching in Colossae about the nature of Christ to which he replies,
“For in Christ, all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,” – Col 2:9
Jesus wasn’t part God, part man. Jesus was fully human and fully divine. That means Jesus had all the qualities of the immortal God wrapped into the body of mortal man. You can list all the attributes of God and assign them to the Jesus. I am sure that is not news to you at is point. Many people have made that point before. What is fascinating about all of this to me is the significance this brings to the actually incarnation/conception event in Mary’s womb in light of Jesus’ qualities as God. The incarnation takes all of the “fullness of God” and puts them into an embryo the size of a pin head in Mary’s womb. Not only do you end up with the smallest baby Jesus that you can imagine, you have 100% vulnerable divinity.
There is a tension that pulls between creator and created and between the all powerful God and the all vulnerable Jesus. Just a few verses before the scripture mentioned above, Paul wrote this about Jesus,
“15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” – Col 1:15-17
What does it say about a God who is willing to go from creator to created? What does it say about a God who is willing to step off the heavenly throne, put his immortality aside, take on flesh and be put in the womb of a woman he created?
As time passes and Jesus grows the vulnerability continues. He is ridiculed in his own hometown, misunderstood, mistreated, and homeless. After still a few more years and that same divine man is being nailed to a cross by men he created and loved. Finally, a body containing all the fullness of God dies and is raised back to life. Jesus, as God, endured all of that.
What does that mean for us? Paul tells us in the very next verse and at least for my tiny brain, the significance of all of this is mind blowing,
“and you have been given fullness in Christ.” – Col 2:10
In the incarnation Jesus empties himself so that we might become full. In the incarnation He steps down from heaven so that we might be raised up to be with him and he takes His place off the heavenly throne so that we too might be seated with him in heavenly realms (Eph 2:6). The incarnation of Jesus Christ is powerful, not just because it was his entrance into the world, but also because of the spiritual realities it opened the door to in the lives of those he came to save.
So here we are and we have been given fullness in Christ. God has placed us in a world that is lost and dead and aimless and empty. Will it be more alive when we depart than when we arrived? Will it be more filled with Christ’s presence due to our presence? Will we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and even suffer for the sake of Christ? Let us live out the incarnation of Christ through the fullness God has placed in each and every one of us so that the world will see God more clearly and that they too may receive fullness in Christ.