Our redemption began with the Incarnation - the story of an infinite God who became a man and lived among us in a broken world full of decay. Then it was the Atonement – the story of an infinite God who wrote a personal check that paid our huge debt, and sacrificed himself for our sins...
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Atonement: An infinite God, who came to take our place. And Moses said to Aaron, go into the altar, and offer your sin offering, and your burnt offering, and make an atonement for yourself, and for the people: and offer the offering of the people, and make an atonement for them; as the...
Incarnation: God being made man and walking in our brokenness with us. The word incarnation doesn’t actually appear in the Bible. It comes from the Latin ‘in and Caro’ (flesh), meaning clothed in flesh, or the act of assuming flesh. However, the Incarnation is without...
Our redemption began with the Incarnation - the story of an infinite God who became a man and lived among us in a broken world full of decay.
Then it was the Atonement – the story of an infinite God who wrote a personal check that paid our huge debt, and sacrificed himself for our sins. Jesus’ death then became the most meaningful murder in all of human history.
If you entered into relationship with Jesus in incarnation, connected with his death in faith to live Jesus, then where is your victory without the risen king?
This is the Resurrection.
Everything about Jesus is unique: The prophecies of his coming, his birth, his incarnation, atonement, teachings, miracles, and his death and resurrection. It is especially his resurrection that gave us the full validity of Jesus. He did not stay in the grave, but he rose from the dead just as he said he would.
Some skeptics and unbelievers say that to believe in a risen Christ is nothing more than a blind leap of faith with little or no basis in truth.
But we have the answer from Paul in no uncertain terms: “…if Christ has not been raised then we, out of all people, are to be “pitied,” for our hope in Christ fails to extend beyond this present life.” (1 Corinthians 15:19)
He continues: “But since Christ has been raised, we are those who can look death in the face knowing that it has no final victory, no lasting sting.” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)
Without the resurrection of Jesus, we have no hope of a future. But because Christ is risen, we, as those who are in Christ, have every assurance that our labor in sharing this gospel of the risen Christ to a broken generation is not pointless or without purpose, but will matter for all eternity. Therefore, we must not forget that the resurrection of Christ changes everything. Without it, we have no gospel, no salvation and certainly no saving message.
Jesus’ Resurrection sets Christianity apart by breaking the power of death and sin with a final confirmation to live free and believe big!
For 40 days after his death and resurrection, Jesus appeared many times to his disciples and followers. On one occasion, he gathered his remaining eleven disciples on a mountain in Galilee and gave them his great commission.
He said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always" (Matthew 28:19-20)
Later, he asked his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they were filled with the Holy Spirit and then to take his message to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the world (Acts 1:4,5,8).
The ascension of Jesus was the final act in the journey of our redemption. His mission was completed and he was exalted to his former glory.
But Jesus still sees us, stays with us, has a personal relationship with us, and still lives amongst us through the Spirit.
If Jesus’ Incarnation was the most humbling event, and his Atonement was the most meaningful murder in the whole of human history, indeed his Resurrection was the most revolutionary event in the whole of human history.
Atonement: An infinite God, who came to take our place.
And Moses said to Aaron, go into the altar, and offer your sin offering, and your burnt offering, and make an atonement for yourself, and for the people: and offer the offering of the people, and make an atonement for them; as the LORD commanded. (Leviticus 9:7)
Jesus demonstrated his love for us by taking on the form of man through incarnation; to be broken with us in order to establish a relationship with us and bring us redemption. He delivers us from our ruin.
Jesus knew the Mosaic law very well and he knew the law was insufficient to wash our sins away. The Mosaic Law was designed so the high priest could approach God to make amends for the sins of the people.
One key aspect of the Mosaic law was that the high priest had to first make atonement for himself before making it for the people. This was an acknowledgment of his personal imperfection. Indeed, the whole process was imperfect and only served as a pointer to the reason why God deemed the Mosaic order as insufficient to save us from our depravity.
But this is not the case with Jesus.
“For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” (Hebrews 9:24)
Jesus was sinless. He did not have to atone for his sin first, which means that instead of the blood of animals being used by the priest for atonement for themselves and the people, his sinless blood was shed that truly washes our sins away.
So, what is the atonement, and why does it matter?
Atonement is from the Hebrew word ‘kippur’ and it means to cover over, expiate or make payment – particularly for a wrongdoing. Atonement is God’s provision for a sinful, broken generation of depraved people to be redeemed. Atonement means we are justified and made fit to have relationship with God.
Atonement becomes necessary because of the fall of man. When man sinned, he became guilt-laden and estranged from God. We are on a downward spiral of death and destruction without God.
Here’s the dilemma:
On one hand, God’s holiness and justice demanded that man be punished for his sins. This means that we should share a similar fate in hell with Satan and his demons who also sinned against God. The wages of sin is death – death of the sinner! The problem of sin with it’s consequences, is so great that human imagination cannot fathom an appropriate solution for it. It is only in God’s way and on his own terms that man’s sin can be cleansed.
But on the other hand…God’s attributes of mercy, kindness, and grace desired to pardon man—to forgive our sins and restore us to favor and relationship with him.
God found a solution to this dilemma by making a provision for atonement. Under God’s law, there must be transfer of the sinner’s guilt upon an acceptable substitute who can bear the lawful punishment, so that God can express his kindness and grace to sinful men without any hindrance.
This ultimate atonement was accomplished by Jesus, the true and perfect High Priest. He was sinless. The true unblemished sacrifice that completely removes our sin.
What does this mean?
Jesus’ death on the cross means that when you turn from self, repent from your sin, and put your faith in Jesus, your sins will be vanquished. Not just forgiven—taken away! No matter how terrible your sins are, no other sacrifice is necessary for your cleansing and reconciliation with God. Being reconciled with God, you become a child of God, and have access to the unsearchable riches of Christ in this world and beyond.
That’s why the atonement matters.
Incarnation: God being made man and walking in our brokenness with us.
The word incarnation doesn’t actually appear in the Bible. It comes from the Latin ‘in and Caro’ (flesh), meaning clothed in flesh, or the act of assuming flesh. However, the Incarnation is without parallel one of the greatest events to occur in the history of man: the Son of God assuming a human body.
The Bible teaches the deity of Christ by presenting us with the fulfillment of events and prophecies in the Old Testament, like the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 about the Virgin Mary and her child. "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
This prophesy in Isaiah was fulfilled in the New Testament when Jesus was born from Matthew 1:22-23: Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel," which translated means, "God with us."
When we say that Jesus Christ is God “Incarnate,” we mean that Jesus was conceived in the womb and was born (Luke 2:7), he experienced normal aging (Luke 2:40), he had natural physical needs (John 19:28) and human emotions (Matthew 26:38). Jesus was human in every way except for sin; he lived a completely sinless life (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus reveals to man what we are and what we may become in him.
When Christ took on the form of a human, his nature did not change, but his position did in that he humbled himself by laying aside his glory and privileges (Philippians 2:6–8). Jesus can never stop being God (Hebrews 13:8). And even though he became human, he is also infinite (Revelation 1:8) as God is. If Jesus stopped being fully God for even a split second, all life would be in chaos (Acts 17:28).
This is the mystery of God. That he would love us this much and to prove it he became like us to walk in our brokenness.
Jesus did this so we would see him, know him, and understand that he wants to have relationship with us.
The Incarnation matters because we matter to God.
Now it’s time for us to live like Jesus matters.