Reflections on the Incarnation

I admit I am a bit of a Peter Leithart groupie, and even more so after reading his article on the Incarnation. I’m not quite sure that I agree with his very negative presentation of the flesh at the beginning of the article. Flesh is, after all, a good thing that God created, a gift He gave to us, that is now fallen and tainted with evil. But Leithart is a fine theologian and an elegant writer, and he is correct that Scripture largely speaks of flesh as weak, defiled, and subject to death.

This paragraph is my favorite:

“The incarnation is not an act of mere sympathy. The Word becomes flesh to transform it from within, to transfigure flesh through the cross and resurrection. In death, the Word is sown in weakness, perishability, mortality, shame, but in his death to flesh God begins to work reconciliation. He is raised with power, with immortality and imperishability, with eternal glory undiminished and undiminishable, no longer flesh but wholly infused with the Spirit.”

Eastern Orthodox Christians tend to look at Protestants quizzically when we highlight the cross as the means of our salvation. They don’t deny the importance of the cross, but they remind us that God did not begin working out His plan of salvation at Jesus’ death. God began when Jesus, the eternal Son of God, stooped to become the finite Son of Man, to take on our feebleness, our limitations, and our mortality.

Christ pursued us, going after us when we were too blind and apathetic to pursue Him. He joined Himself to us, fusing His divine nature with our human nature in an inseparable bond. He identified with us, coming “to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to You, the God and Father of all,” as the liturgy puts it. He shares in our death so that we might share in His life. He takes on our human nature so that we can take on His divine nature–another theological point that the Eastern Orthodox emphasize, despite the Protestants who gasp at this heretical-sounding notion. We become the full image bearers that Jesus intended us to be, and we participate in the glorious fellowship of the Trinity as His honored guests.

So come, let us marvel at this mystery of the Incarnation. Come, let us adore Him.

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