It’s ironic how little you hear the word incarnate during the Christmas season. After all, it is the heart and soul of the Christmas season.
By way of a brief introduction, incarnate is defined as “invested with bodily and especially human nature and form; made manifest or comprehensible: embodied.”
The history of the English word is traced as coming from the Middle English incarnat, from Late Latin incarnatus, past participle of incarnare to incarnate, from Latin in – + carn-, caro flesh. First known use is in the 14th century.
John’s opening chapter explains what happened. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”- John 1:1, 14.
So there you have it. “The Word was God . . . And the Word became flesh.” God became incarnate.
In a letter to a Mrs. Frank L. Jones, dated February 23, 1947, C. S. Lewis discusses five theological points pertaining to Christ’s humanity and divinity. Under the third point he writes,
“God cd., had He pleased, have been incarnate in a man of iron nerves, the Stoic sort who lets no sigh escape him. Of His great humility He chose to be incarnate in a man of delicate sensibilities who wept at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane. Otherwise we should have missed the great lesson that it is by his will alone that a man is good or bad, and that feelings are not, in themselves, of any importance. We should also have missed the all important help of knowing that He has faced all that the weakest of us face, has shared not only the strength of our nature but every weakness of it except sin. If He had been incarnate in a man of immense natural courage, that wd. have been for many of us almost the same as His not being incarnate at all.”1
So there you have it. God became incarnate. Fully and completely incarnate.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16.
- Walter Hooper, ed., The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis: Books, Broadcasts, and the War 1931-1949, Vol. II (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2004), 764-765. Italics in original.