Often major ideas in a sermon have a way of crystallizing after I’ve preached it. That was the case for this one. (Listen here.) It occurred to me how the incarnation answers our need for transcendence and imminence. We are made to appreciate greatness and glory (That’s transcendence). Paul Tripp says we are made to be dazzled. We need our lives to be wrapped up in something bigger than ourselves. But we also need closeness, intimacy—imminence. We aren’t satisfied with the mere idea of love in the abstract. We want a particular person to love and to be loved by. That’s where the incarnation is so powerful. “God became flesh and dwelt among us.” In other words, we see transcendence up close and personal. The incarnation helps us see how God is both big and close. And we need both to make it through our lives.
Here’s a quote from one of my favorite theologians that has shaped my thinking on the incarnation.
“It is…John in his prolog who [explains the connection between Revelation and the Incarnation]. Not only was the Logos [=the Word] in the beginning with God and himself God, and not only were all things made by Him; but from the moment of creation, this Logos also communicated his life and light to creatures—For in Him was life, and the Life was the light of all people. Even after the fall, this revelation did not stop. On the contrary, the light of the Logos shone in the darkness and enlightened everyone coming into the world. He revealed Himself particularly in Israel, which he had chosen for his own inheritance and led and blessed as Angel of the covenant. He came continually to his own in theophany, prophecy, and miracle. In that manner the Son prepared the whole world, including Jews as well as Gentiles, for His coming in the flesh. The world and humanity, land and people, cradle and stable, Bethlehem and Nazareth, parents and relatives, nature and environment, society and civilization—these are all components in the fullness of time in which God sent His son into the flesh…For if God was able to reveal himself in the way Scripture testifies with respect both to the Gentile world and to Israel, then the possibility of the incarnation is inherently included in that revelation; and if the incarnation were not possible, then neither could the revelation be maintained. Revelation, after all, is based on the same idea as the incarnation: on the communicability of God, both in His being to the Son (generation) and outside His being to creatures (creation).” Hermam Bavinck Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 3