It’s a joy to reserve this part of the year to remember and celebrate the birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. This, of course, is what Christmas is about in the truest sense. Amid all the tinsel, the gingerbread cookies, and the trees and stockings and gift shopping, true Christians pause to reorient our thoughts and our affections to what Christmas is really about: the incarnation of the Son of God.
And that kind of theological shorthand has become so familiar to us that we cease to be amazed at the truth we speak of when we speak of the incarnation. “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 came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.”
God. Becoming man. The infinite, eternal, self-existent, self-sufficient, almighty God, without shedding His divine nature, taking upon Himself—in addition to His divine nature—a human nature—truly becoming one of us. In the incarnation of the Son of God, it can properly be said that the immutable, unchangeable God became what He wasn’t, while never ceasing to be what He was.
The incomprehensibility of that thought alone is sufficient to bow our hearts and intellects before divine wisdom in worship. This kind of mind-bending wisdom is so lofty—so far beyond our natural understanding—that we wouldn’t believe it if Scripture didn’t teach it so plainly. We already referenced John 1: The Word was God, and the Word became flesh. We also see it in Philippians 2:6–7, where Paul tells us that while Christ was existing in His very nature as God nevertheless assumed to Himself the very nature of a servant, and was born as a man.
You see, the Lord Jesus Christ did not come into being at the incarnation; He existed for all eternity as God Himself—the Second Person of the Holy Trinity—God the Son. And so as God, He fully possesses all the attributes of God: infinity, eternality, omniscience, immutability; everything that properly belongs to the nature of God the Father belongs to the nature of God the Son, for they share the very same nature, the same essence, the same being. And yet, God the Son became man! Again, becoming what He wasn’t while never ceasing to be what He was.
The Irish Reformer, James Ussher, said of the incarnation that it is “the highest pitch of God’s wisdom, goodness, power, and glory.” Pastor and author, Mark Jones, said, “The incarnation is God’s greatest wonder, one that no creature could ever have imagined. God himself could not perform a more difficult and glorious work. It has justly been called the miracle of all miracles” (Knowing Christ, 25).
If we’re honest, and if we can slow our minds down and turn our thinking from the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season to truth, we’re forced to admit that there is a peculiar glory of this greatest of God’s miracles—that, among all the amazing works that Almighty God has accomplished in this world, the incarnation has a special luster of magnificence. And I think the reason for that peculiar glory is that the incarnation takes two things of an infinite difference and distance, and puts them side by side. The incarnation takes the infinite God, and the finite man, and unites them together in One magnificent Person. And it’s the juxtaposition of the majesty of God with the humility of man that renders the glory of the Lord Jesus—the glory of the incarnation—more especially brilliant than all other of God’s glorious works.
Jonathan Edwards once preached a sermon on Christ as the Lion and the Lamb from Revelation 5, entitled “The Admirable Conjunction of Diverse Excellencies in Christ Jesus,” a title packed with significance. It is to say that in Christ, there is a joining together of attributes and qualities that are significantly different from one another, and this conjunction of diverse excellencies, Edwards said, is admirable. By its very nature, it evokes admiration. Praise. Wonder. Delight. Amazement. Worship. We struggle even to put it into words, but the conjunction of diverse excellencies in Christ is glorious. And there is no greater display of that glory than in the incarnation, because it is only by the incarnation that such a conjunction is even made possible.
And so I want to briefly reflect on this admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies in Christ, to set these contrasting glories side by side. My hope is that as you meditate on these diverse excellencies, they will stir you to consider Christ in this Christmas season, in all His admirable glory as the God-man, the Word made flesh.