Incarnation. God incarnate, God made man, God becoming a man. Do you ever think about that, I mean really think about it? God the creator of the universe became a man and lived among us.
In the religious South, so many of us have heard that so many times that it just kind of washes over us, but let that sink in. God became a man and lived among us. That is what Christmas is -- a celebration of God living as a man, as a full man.
As Christians, we believe that Jesus was fully man, and fully God. How that is worked out was debated by the church for centuries and certainly won't be fully explained in a 500-word column.
But if the accounts in the Bible are true (and I, of course, believe they are), then the events of Jesus Christ are the most magnificent and significant in all of human history.
Jesus came as response to the sinfulness of man. God in Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) had created the universe perfect and without error, and God created Adam, the man, and Eve, the woman, to rule over all creation.
But tragedy struck. The man sinned and the perfect harmony and rhythm that God had set in place was knocked out of order with the disobedience of man. Death, illness, natural disaster, abandonment, and heartache are all the result of this sin world that we live in, a sin world given the curse of death by a just God.
Eventually though, there seemed to be a glimmer of hope when God blessed a man, Abraham. He told him that he would be the father of a great nation through which the whole world would be blessed. God made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants that, as they were obedient to God's law, they would receive blessing from Him.
But the people were not obedient. Even though God showed them great favor, they continued to fall into great sin and the hopelessness of the sin world continued -- until God in His great mercy, in perhaps the most unexpected event of history, came to earth as a man.
God the Son, or Jesus, was the obedient follower of God the Father that Abraham and his descendants could never be. He never sinned, and yet, instead of being rewarded for his obedience, He was punished. Jesus was punished on behalf of sinful men and women because the punishment that we deserve was applied to Him, in order that the reward that He deserved might be applied to us.
This is what the reformer Martin Luther called "The Great Exchange," and what an exchange it is.
So this week, take a few moments to reflect on the incarnation, that God became a man to save you; and that in Jesus, despite the sin world that we live in, know that you might find the forgiveness of sins and life in His wonderful name.
Jason Dees is senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Covington. He can be reached at 770-786-9031 or www.firstbaptistcovington.com or www.facebook.com/jasondees.