Day 8. God became man

[above: Christ the Saviour (Pantokrator), a 6th-century encaustic icon from Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai. Wikimedia]

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, NRSV)

The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became Man. Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this.

—C. S. Lewis, Miracles

The discovery of the Incarnation was transformative for Lewis. His initial conversion “was only to theism, pure and simple. Not Christianity. I knew nothing of the Incarnation,” he wrote. “The god to whom I surrendered was not human. My training was like that of the Jews.”

Thus Lewis’s first step was to “give in” to the moral lawgiver of the Old Testament. However it quickly became apparent to him that to adequately appease this lawgiver who is absolute goodness is an impossible task. For as a sinful, finite being, Lewis realized that he was incapable of consistently doing what was right. His failure to keep the law left him with a deep sense of hopelessness. And as Lewis wrote to Sister Penelope, “This Lawgiver imparts despair rather than comfort (unless you add the Christian doctrine of the Atonement).” 

But fortunately over time, Lewis came to realize that “Christianity tells us how God is the power behind the Moral Law and yet also a Person who forgives.” The key here is understanding that God, the lawgiver, provides the necessary forgiveness to cover our failures. 

And this is why we celebrate Advent. For, as Lewis explains, it is through Christ that “the demands of this law have been met on our behalf . . . [when] God Himself becomes a man to save man from God’s disapproval.” In other words, as the creeds explain, our very hopelessness is overcome by the Incarnation and atoning work of Christ who “for our salvation . . . came down from heaven . . . and was made man.” To quote Lewis once again, our God “goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him.” 

God who became man. Truly the Grand Miracle.

PRAYER: Lord, may we see with open eyes, understanding minds, and enthralled hearts the true majesty of the Grand Miracle of your Incarnation. Come and transform us. Amen.

By Max McLean

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #133+ in 2019]

Max McLean is founder and artistic director of Fellowship for Performing Arts, a New York–based theater company creating theater from a Christian worldview to engage a diverse audience and whose productions include portrayals of Lewis’s work onstage. He is also the voice of the NIV and KJV on Bible Gateway and the YouVersion Bible app.
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