Why did God become a man in Jesus Christ?
This post is a chapter from Dr. Timothy Tennent’s book, 30 Questions: A Short Catechism on the Christian Faith available for purchase from our store. This resource makes for a great teaching tool in local churches, especially for catechesis purposes. We’re featuring a chapter each week in hopes of encouraging you to pick up the book and share it with others as well.
Although the Triune God is from all eternity, the Scriptures teach that at a certain point in time the second person of the Trinity became a man known as Jesus Christ, or Jesus the Messiah. This is known as the incarnation, which simply means “in the flesh.” We have already noted how the entire human race fell into sin because of Adam’s disobedience. We have also pointed out how the priests, temple, and sacrificial system were not able to fully solve the problem of sin. The principal reason for this is that the entire human race is made up of sinners and there is no one in the human race without sin. As Augustine said, “We are sinners by birth and by choice.”
How can the human race be rescued out of rebellion and avoid inevitable condemnation when everyone, without exception, is bound under sin? The only way is to bring another Adam into the world; someone who, like that first Adam, was without sin and who could once again have the choice to obey or disobey, but this time get it right. In other words, there had to be a way to go back and rewrite that first chapter of the human story recorded in Genesis chapter three on the Fall of Man.
But how is that possible? God knows that the whole human race is ineligible, so it couldn’t be an inside job. God devised a plan from the “outside” which involved the radical idea of God himself entering into human history. But even this was not without problems. He had to find a way to enter the human race in an abnormal way that would not pass on the sin nature, and yet would still be fully human. So Christ was born of a virgin into the human race as a second Adam.
Unless God himself entered into human history, there was no way we could escape the entangling web of sin and the resulting condemnation which comes through that sin. The incarnation is, therefore, the greatest testimony to God’s desire to redeem the world and to make good on his promise to Abraham to bless all the nations of the world through his offspring.
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