What’s so exciting about the Incarnation of Jesus?
It comes across at first as a dry theological topic. It has a Latin-y name with more than two syllables. It sounds kind of vague and abstract and ivory-tower.
In fact, the exciting thing about the Incarnation of Jesus is that it is none of these things.
When we find Jesus in His human body, we find something not vague, but specific. Not abstract, but concrete. Not ivory-tower, but down-in-the-dirt with the least of us.
Jesus has a human body. A specific human body. With specific features. Unfortunately for us, none of the disciples cared to describe Jesus’ appearance in writing for us, which might be because he doesn’t look like anything special. (In fact, in Isaiah 53:2b, Isaiah foretells that there would be nothing about him that would cause us to take a second look.) But he has features: he has a nose of a certain shape, eyes of a specific colour, a mouth that curves upward in just a certain way when He sees His friends. I don’t want to speculate on what He looks like because we simply don’t know…yet. But someday we will.
Jesus has a human body. A concrete human body. It isn’t a ghost’s “body,” somehow looking physical but actually made of energy or something. He has a solid, touchable, human body. Granted, His human body is now transformed, so it has…properties…that our bodies don’t yet have, but it is still a concrete body. It is a concrete body that no doubt tore at the flesh of His virgin mother when she gave birth to Him. It is a concrete body that felt the warmth and wetness of the tears of the woman who came to wash His feet. It is a concrete body that cried tears when He felt–with His real, human, poignant feelings–the grief of His friends over the death of their brother, Lazarus, when He felt His own grief. It is a concrete body that still bears the concrete scars of His crucifixion: holes in His hands (wrists?) and His feet, a gap in His side where the spear pierced His concrete flesh, His forehead torn by the thorns of the crown they gave Him.
Jesus has a human body. A comes-from-the-dirt human body. This isn’t an ivory-tower, academic, castle-in-the-clouds concept. This is a truth that is as real as the ground beneath our feet, the sweat on our skin, the blood pounding in our ears. Jesus is alive in this body right now in the presence of God, in the dimension we call Heaven. Jesus, the Son of God, the Word that was in the beginning, the One in whom all things hold together, has a real human body that we will someday see with our real human eyes. Jesus knows what it means to be hungry, to feel physical pain, to experience temptation, to hug a friend or family member, to touch a person suffering from disease, to craft something with his hands, to mix spit with dirt to create mud. Academics (and I am one of them, most of the time) can make almost anything so difficult to understand that it seems like they’re just making things up as they go along, or so aloof from reality that we can’t ever figure out why certain concepts matter.
But the body of Jesus matters. The body of Jesus is matter.
I get excited about the Incarnation of Jesus because it’s the part of the story where everything changes. God, who crafted human beings out of the primordial stuff, the basics that make up even the dirt that we walk on, that God chose to become one of us. He chose to cast His lot in with us, to take the death that we deserved, and then to pave the way for us to become like Him. Because His real human body is present with God, our real human bodies can be present with God…someday. Because His flesh was transformed, our flesh will be transformed…someday. Because the dirt from which His body was formed, that basic stuff…tissues, cells, DNA, atoms, electrons, the Higgs boson…all of that basic stuff will be transformed…someday.
So, how can I not get excited about the Incarnation of Jesus? Because Jesus is matter, matter matters. Because Jesus has a body, we can trust that our individual bodies, and the whole of the universe, will someday be transformed in a collision between the eternal heaven and the currently-finite universe.
Your mileage may vary, but to me this is Very Good News.
That’s why I get excited about the Incarnation of Jesus.