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“The Mystery of the Incarnation”
Luke 1:34-35


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Third Sunday in Advent—December 14, 2008

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

“He came down from heaven and was made man.”  Those words from the Apostles’ Creed are so familiar to us, we may not realize how awesome they truly are.  We worship a God who became man, a divine being who became a human being.  As the Gospel of St. John says, “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, and we beheld his glory.”  This is one of the deepest mysteries of our faith, “The Mystery of the Incarnation.”

The word “incarnation” comes from the Latin meaning “to become flesh.”

It was necessary for the Messiah to be true God so that he would be the perfect sacrifice for the sins of humankind.  As St. Peter says, “You were redeemed . . . with the precious blood of Christ, a Lamb without blemish or defect.”  Nothing less than a perfect sacrifice would be good enough to take away our sins.  With his perfect sacrifice, the Lamb of God takes way the sins of the world; on his account, your sins are all forgiven.

It was necessary for the Messiah to be true man in order to carry out this divine plan of salvation.  It necessary of the Messiah to be true man in order to live out a perfect life here on earth, in our place, as St. Paul says in Romans, “Through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.”  It was necessary for the Messiah to be true man in order to die a sacrificial death on the cross, as our substitute, as St. Paul says in Colossians, “He has reconciled you by dying in his human body,” and as St. Peter says, “Surely he bore our sins in his body on the cross.”

The Messiah is the Son of God and Son of Man.  The divine Son of God so that he would be a perfect substitute and worthy sacrifice; the human Son of Man so that he could actually live and die in our place.

The Old Testament Scriptures plainly prophesy the mystery of the incarnation, they plainly prophesy that the Messiah will be God in human flesh.  Isaiah writes, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: Behold, the Virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”  “Immanuel” means “God-with-us.”  So, Isaiah prophesies that the Messiah will be a human, miraculously conceived and born of a Virgin; and that the Messiah will also be divine, “God-with-us.” 

Micah prophesies that, according to his humanity, the Messiah will be born in the little town of Bethlehem: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel.”  But, according to his divinity, he will be the eternal God: “Whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Jeremiah prophesies that, according to his humanity, the Messiah will be a descendant of David: “In those days and at that time I will make a righteous branch sprout from David’s line.”  But, according to his divinity, “This is the name by which he will be called: The-Lord-Our-Righteousness.”

Isaiah prophesies that, according to his humanity, the Messiah will be born as a child: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.”  But, according to his divinity, “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

These Old Testament prophecies of the incarnation came to fulfillment in the angel Gabriel’s announcement to the Virgin Mary: “You will be with child and give birth to a Son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.”  As St. Paul says in Galatians, “When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman.”

We see the mystery of the incarnation in Mary’s question to Gabriel and the angel’s reply: “’How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’  The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’”

“Beautiful Savior . . . Son of God, and Son of Man.”  As St. Paul says in Colossians, “In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”  And in 1st Timothy, “Beyond all question the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body.”

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

“The Mystery of the Incarnation”

Amen.

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