By JACOB M. VAN ZYL on December 12, 2020.
First of three parts
Jacob M. Van Zyl
The incarnation of Christ is intriguing due to its mystery. It has been celebrated annually for 20 centuries, but we are still in wondering awe when we think of almighty God appearing on Earth as a helpless baby.
There is a vast difference between the Hindu notion of reincarnation and Christ’s incarnation. Hinduism claims that after death, humans reappear in a better or worse form, depending on what they achieved in their former life.
Hinduism believes that God (Brahman) manifested himself in Brahma (Creator), Shiva (Preserver) and Vishnu (Destroyer). The latter two have had several “avatars” (appearances) as humans or as animals.
Christ’s incarnation happened only once, and it was God the Son who came in human form to humanity and paid for their sins by giving his life.
Christ remained what he was (divine) when he became what he was not before (human). The interaction between his divine and human natures has baffled the minds of theologians and other believers up to this day.
Christ said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). As Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God is eternal. It was his human nature that was conceived in Mary.
His human nature was forsaken on the cross. The unity of the Trinity, the oneness of Father and Son, was not broken (John 10:30). His human nature died on the cross. His divine nature cannot die.
As a human, he experienced exhaustion, hunger, thirst, fear, sorrow, sleepiness and poverty. Paul says that though he was equal to God (in his divine nature), he emptied himself and took on the form of a slave, dying on a Roman cross (in his human nature). Therefore, his Father gave him a name that is above all other names. All who ever lived will kneel before him as Lord (Phil. 2:5-11).
As human being, Christ did not know when his second coming would occur (Mark 13:32). As part of the Trinity, he is omniscient.
We should not separate the divine and human natures of Christ, but we can discern between them as Christ did. He called himself both the Son of Man and the Son of God (John 3:15-16).
Although Christ’s divinity was hidden behind his humanness, his divine nature did shine through in his miracles. Demons fled from him in fear, acknowledging him as the Son of God.
He willingly subjected himself to his enemies so that he could become the atoning sacrifice. He emphasized that it was given to them from above (John 19:11). He could have asked his Father for 12 legions of angels to rescue him (Matt. 26:53). As the Good Shepherd, he laid down his human life for his sheep willingly (John 10:18).
Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.