The necessity of the incarnation

27 05 2010

“His part it was, and His alone, both to bring again the corruptible to incorruption and to maintain for the Father His consistency of character with all. For He alone, being Word of the Father and above all, was in consequence both able to recreate all, and worthy to suffer on behalf of all and to be an ambassador for all with the Father.”  Athanasius.  Revising doctrine this morning and enjoyed scanning some Athanasius quotes – only Jesus could redeem people from death and sin and he could only do it through his incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension.  By this he achieves our recreation and sets us free from our pitiful attempts to make ourselves right before God.  Trusting him brings assurance, peace and joy!

“All this He saw and, pitying our race, moved with compassion for our limitation, unable to endure that death should have the mastery, rather than that His creatures should perish and the work of His Father for us men come to nought, He took to Himself a body, a human body even as our own.”  I really like Athanasius’ description of Jesus’ character here.  It brings to mind God’s revelation of himself to Moses – “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”

And how does he achieve this forgiveness without doing violence to the justice of God’s character?  “For this reason, therefore, He assumed a body capable of death, in order that it, through belonging to the Word Who is above all, might become in dying a sufficient exchange for all, and, itself remaining incorruptible through His indwelling, might thereafter put an end to corruption for all others as well, by the grace of the resurrection.”  Amen.

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