By Dr. Douglas Groothuis
2. The Word Became Flesh (John 1:1-18)
Holy Scripture teaches us that the Word became one of us, a human being who ate, got tired, and thirsty (John 1:1-5, 14). This is what the Incarnation means. Listen to the Apostle Paul:
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
This flaming truth is at the center of Christian conviction. Christians should believe it, but many have not considered how a finite man could be eternal God. Yes, we know that Jesus, a man, claimed deity. When Jesus once declared that an invalid’s sins were forgiven and then healed him to demonstrate divine authority. Those around him rightly were startled since they knew that only God can forgive sins (Mark 2:1-11). By his words and actions, Jesus claimed to be God. But we should consider the logic of the Incarnation, since some take this idea to be a logical contradiction. I once talked with a man who held just this view and, thus, rejected Christianity. Let's think this through a bit.
I once heard a preacher say, “Jesus was one-hundred percent God and one-hundred percent human. Don’t try to understand it, just believe it.” This is not helpful. While some Christians are content to call the Incarnation a mystery of paradox, we need to dig deeper. God calls us to have a reason for our faith (1 Peter 3:15), and what is more important than explaining the Incarnation of our Lord?
The best way to approach this doctrine is to say that Jesus was truly human and truly divine. He was not only human and only divine: that would be a contradiction. However, this is not a contradiction, since Jesus had two natures: divine and human. These do not conflict. We have both a body and a mind that make up who we are. They interact and are different things. My mind thinks; my body runs. My weight can be measured, but not my thoughts. One can be a citizen of two countries (dual citizenship). Moreover, it was fitting for The Word to take on a human nature, since humans are made in the divine image (Genesis 1:26).
As a philosopher, I have much more to say! But I hope you are comforted and challenged to know that you do not have to surrender your mind to believe in the singular event of Christmas: the Incarnation.