Jesus is God become human. He is, therefore, the mystery that we gaze into with wonder. But do we? I think too many of us miss both the mystery and the wonder. In what way? Well, we may see incarnation as merely functional. God became human to fix things. We humans have ruined everything and the only way to fix the mess was for God himself to become human and die for us as a human. So the Incarnation is necessary in order to fix things.
Because we see God as human in this functional way we may quickly pass over the incarnation to the main event of the cross. And so we miss the mystery and the wonder. Should we not rather gaze on the mystery of God as human in sheer wonder?
Consider the Father’s Son, who without ceasing to be fully God, has become fully human. The Word who was with God as God became flesh to live his divine life with us as human forevermore. All the fullness of deity dwells bodily in this man Jesus. He is the visible image of the invisible God in human form. All things were created by, through, and for this God-human; and in him all things hold together, so that in everything he might be pre-eminent (Col. 1: 15– 18; 2: 9).
Let us pause and simply stare at him to get just a glimpse of the mystery with wonder?
Paul spoke about “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27) .
The mystery of Christ is now open to us. Nevertheless, we recognise that there are depths to the mystery of Christ that will always be beyond our knowing. T. F Torrance continually reminds us that we can apprehend something of who Jesus is, but we can never comprehend him.
So we must avoid becoming too rational trying to gain mastery over the mystery. Instead, depending fully on the Spirit, we gaze in wonder before the One who is open to us and yet always beyond us. We give less attention to explaining the mysteries of our faith and more to adoring the God of mystery.
Christ himself is the mystery. How can it be that God becomes human? How can it be that God lives and moves and dies as human? How can it be that God remains human so that one of the Triune Communion is actually human forever? We do not try to answer these “how” questions with rational analysis. We rather gaze into the mystery of who he is with awe and wonder.
In the Jesus’ story we see the true God as human in lowliness. In the same Jesus’ story we see the true human who shows what it means to be human.
Jesus is the true God with humans and for humans. He is also the true human with God and for God. He is the true human who lives in trustful obedience towards His Father in the Spirit. And he lives this way in joyful thanksgiving to the Father in the Spirit. So, looking at Jesus, we see what it means to be truly human. He shows us that real human existence means existence in relationship to God.
We may want to define ourselves as humans in all sorts of ways, but with our eyes fixed on Jesus we only define true human life as life towards the Father in the Spirit. With Jesus in view, can we really understand ourselves or explain ourselves in any other way?
Joined to this true human in the Spirit, we live as true humans towards our Father. We do so as Jesus lives his own life towards the Father in and through us by His Spirit. Of course, we continually we fail to live towards the Father like Jesus and yet we have full assurance knowing that Jesus is the true human before the Father on our behalf. All that Jesus is in the presence of the Father we are in union with him by the Spirit. In Jesus, the true human, we are always fully loved and accepted as those who participate in his own life with the Father.
When the time had fully come the Father sent His Son among us as one of us. In this event we see the eternal will and purpose of God become actual among us. Yes, as we fix our eyes on this one man, we know what was the will of God at the beginning of all time, and even before time. We see opened to us the eternal purpose- God with us and we with God in union with the Father’s Son.
But surely we get to know God’s eternal will and purpose by studying bible texts that speak about His eternal decrees. God has decreed certain things before the foundation of the world. We simply look at the texts that speak about these eternal decrees and make logical deductions from them. I used to approach God’s eternal purpose this way. I ended up with a warped view of God. A God who fixes the eternal destiny of individuals before they are even born. A God who has to be difficult to trust. You can never really be sure if He has fixed your own destiny as one of the chosen ones.
Now I see that there is only one revelation of the eternal will and purpose of God. The revelation of God Himself in the man Jesus. So if we try to invent a doctrine of God’s eternal decrees apart from Jesus we will end up with an idol. And not a very attractive one! But with our eyes fixed on Jesus we are drawn into assured fellowship with our Father in the Spirit. We know for sure that Jesus is the Father’s chosen one and in union with him, by the Spirit, we share in His close relation with the Father.