For Us and For Our Salvation – the meaning of the Incarnation

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For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven;
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.

From the Nicene Creed, Council of Constantinople 381CE

The very first chapter of the New Testament (Matthew 1) begins with the genealogy of Jesus Christ that highlights his human lineage back to King David. Four times in this one chapter alone, he refers to Jesus as the Messiah – the powerfully anointed Ruler that God had promised who would bring peace and justice to mankind.

The few lines from the Nicene Creed is a concise summary of the whole reason for the birth of Jesus Christ – “for our salvation”. We cannot overemphasise the importance of Jesus full humanity when it comes to our need for a Saviour. This is the most singularly stunning event in all of human history, and yet at the same time it was in so many ways the most humble of settings and occasions. A total paradox of this very humble setting (the stable, manger, poor parents etc) containing God incarnate into human flesh.

In this we see something of absolutely vital importance: the full humanity of Christ. That he didn’t just suddenly “appear” as a man. He didn’t materialise as God sort of pretending to be human. This was the real deal. Nowhere do we see the humanity of Jesus more clearly displayed than here in Bethlehem, as a tiny, helpless baby lying in an animals food trough.