The Incarnation Of Jesus
By Paul Ferguson
In order to Make the redemption of mankind possible, this glorious manifestation which Isaiah saw “high and lifted up” finally arose from His throne, came down to earth, was made flesh and dwelt among us. Glory of glories, wonder of wonders, mystery of mysteries! When He came to reveal Himself, He came not with great pomp and array; but He came as a tiny babe to a stable in Bethlehem.
The idea of God “coming down” to earth reminds us of certain Old Testament verses:
“For behold the Lord cometh forth out of His place and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth.” Micah 1:3
“And the Lord came down to see the city” Gen. 11:5
“And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle” Num. 12:5
But the Bible, in other places, clearly teaches us that God is omnipresent, i.e. everywhere at once. Notice these verses:
“Do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord?” Jer. 23:23
“The heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee.” I Kings 8:27
“the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” Ephesians 1:23
He is everywhere at once; yet Isaiah sees Him as only large enough to fill a throne (?). He is omnipresent; yet He comes down to earth. How can He be said to go where He already is?
Liberals explain this apparent contradiction by saying that at first the Hebrews believed in a finite (limited) tribal deity and later on developed the idea of an omnipresent God. But I believe the true explanation:
When I say I see a part of the ocean, it is perfectly correct for me to say, “I saw the ocean.” Thus when anyone sees a part of God, it is permissible for him to say that he saw God. Thus when saints saw the visible manifestation of God coming down to earth; and they said, “God came down.” they did not mean that all of God came down. Just as, when the lighthouse keeper looks out on a stormy night and says, “The ocean is troubled”; he doesn’t mean the whole ocean. So these saints were not referring to all of God coming down.
The visible portion of His substance was not omnipresent. From this image or visible “part” of Himself, God, so to speak, did business. Before His throne in heaven people presented themselves (Job 1:6) He summoned and sent people from this place (I Kings 22:19-22): He judged from here (Ps. 9:4); in fact, all of God’s dealings with the heavenly hosts took place from this geographical location.
Clearly this was God’s headquarters from which he manifested Himself to the heavenly hosts. It is from here that He will finally judge the quick and the dead (Rev. 20:11, Rom. 14:10).
But this illustrious throne from which the Lord of glory showed Himself to the hosts of heaven, and on which we shall behold Him throughout eternity, was empty at one particular time in history. Praise be to God! “He who sat upon the throne:
“Being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” Phil. 2:6, 7 (See note on this verse at end of chapter.)
“Though He was rich, yet far your sakes He became poor.” II Co r. 8:9
“For verily, He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Heb. 2:9-16
“God was manifested in the flesh.” I Tim. 3:16
“The Word was God the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” St. John 1:1, 14
For thirty-three years the God of the universe made His headquarters right down here on earth. Not as a glorious personage, but as the “Son of man”.
Let us review for a moment the Biblical evidence for all this:
Jesus is the Image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15, Heb. 1:3, II Cor. 4:4)
When Phillip said, “show us the Father,” Jesus plainly said, “Have I been so long time with you and yet thou hast not known me, Phillip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father�� St. John 14:9-11
If the Father could have been seen other than “in the face of Jesus Christ”, there would have certainly been some mention of it here.
He whom Isaiah saw “high and lifted up” was Christ.
“Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said, again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I shuuld heal them. These things Esaias said when he saw His (Christ’s) glory, and spake of Him.” St. John 1 2: 3 9 – 41
This is a direct quotation from Isaiah 6:10. The wording is slightly different from this passage in our Bibles because John was not quoting from the Hebrew text but from a Greek translation of the Old Testament.
Notice that the Bible clearly states that these words were spoken when Isaiah saw Christ. Since the first few verses in chapter six describe him as seeing God, we naturally conclude Jehovah and Christ are the same.
There is no room to doubt that Isaiah saw only ONE person on that throne since he speaks of only one person “whose train filled the temple” leaving no room for anyone else. There is no record of anyone ever seeing more than one person at a time who was God. (See objections VII, VIII, IX, and XXIII). All the saints who claimed to see God, saw only one person.
Christ left heaven and came down to earth (St. John 3:13, 6:62 )
“He came down from heaven” St. John 3:13
“What and if ye shall see the son of man ascend up where He was before?” St. John 6:62
Thus the evidence is overwhelming that the same image seen by O. T. saints and Christ are one and the same. But there is something quite different from all the others. In the following chapter we shall develop the idea of humanity co-mingling with divinity in the “lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.
Note on Phil. 2:6, 7: Careful study of how the original Greek words were understood by people at this time, in papers not available to the King James translators, make a more understandable translation of this verse possible.
This verse may be translated: “Although He was the outward (visible) expression of what God is inwardly (invisible) (morph-a), He did not consider being the same as God (equal-isos) a prize or honor to be retained (arpogmos) (my own translation). For further reference on these words see A. T. Robertson’s Word Studies; Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary of the New Testament; K. S. Wuest, Practical Use of the Greek New Testament (pp. 84-88); and Ardnt and Gengrich’s Lexicon.
This article “The Incarnation of Jesus Christ” by Paul Ferguson is excerpted from his book God in Christ Jesus, 1981.