A Sincere Inquiry
It is not a sin to question how God could take on human flesh. Though we live in a day when we can produce high-resolution color images of unborn children, we still marvel at the birth process. Is it any wonder we would be overwhelmed by curiosity at the thought of our Creator in infant form?
If the incarnation sometimes baffles you, please realize you aren’t the first to stumble over Jesus’ lineage. In His hometown of Nazareth, those who knew His family were amazed at His wisdom and miraculous powers. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” they asked. “Isn’t his mother’s name Mary and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” (Matthew 13:55-56)
The critics in Nazareth unwittingly gave us a profound inquiry: “Where then did this man get all these things?” In actuality, He didn’t “get” them at all. Jesus was, in His very person, Wisdom and Power.
On a practical level, it is only natural to wonder how the Creator of the universe could fit into such a small package. In 2013 the nuclear powered USS Enterprise (CVN 65) aircraft carrier was retired from service. The power plant onboard the Enterprise fueled one of the most sophisticated ships of its day for fifty years. But as amazing as this seems, a nuclear power plant that propels one aircraft carrier can hardly be compared to the unlimited resources tucked in a tiny baby in Bethlehem, who happened to be God in the flesh. All things considered, it is hard to imagine the birth of Jesus occurred so seamlessly, without so much as a high voltage hum in the manger.
When God was on earth, who was minding heaven? Surely God was there, directly the affairs of man. He sent His angel to Joseph to direct his escape into Egypt with Mary and Jesus, and again to tell him it was safe to return. At last, God warned Joseph of a new threat in a dream, which led to the family’s relocation to Nazareth.
There is no question the scriptures record God acting apart from Jesus, even as He was incarnate as Jesus. By “apart from” I am not suggesting God was uninvolved in His Son’s life, or that Jesus was less God because God was not completely confined to human flesh. But the “how” of it all is a challenge. How can any member of the Godhead be in one place, yet everyplace? How can three manage separate tasks while moving as One? I imagine almost all of us have asked these, and a host of other sincere questions, as we attempt to understand the presence of God in His Son. If we never answer them, our faith can still remain unshaken. They are merely an indication of our narrow frame of reference and limited mental capacity.
I am not embarrassed to say I don’t understand the mechanics of the incarnation, however, there is a spirit of inquiry that takes us to a dangerous place. It uses the mystery of the incarnation to discredit God’s story of redemption. Before we continue we need to spend some time understanding how one’s view of “Immanuel” can be a matter of eternal life or death.