Among the miraculous works of God, none are so remarkable as the eternal Son of God taking upon himself a human nature and entering the human family through the womb of a virgin. We refer to this miracle as the incarnation. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” John the Apostle tells us (John 1:14). Without sacrificing or in any way diminishing his eternal divine nature, the Son of God “took upon himself the form of a servant,” that is, the human nature (Philippians 2:6-8). Though “very God of very God” the eternal Son, in his incarnation, acted in dependence upon the Father thus leaving an example for his people. The incarnation is thus an act of addition, not subtraction. That is, even in taking upon himself a human nature, the Son remains “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:15-16).
Luke records the announcement of this mystery of mysteries to a young virgin named Mary. The announcement was made by the Angel Gabriel and it was no doubt a shocking and troubling moment for Mary. She lived in a culture in which sexual intimacy outside of marriage was looked upon, appropriately, as a sin. To make matters more complicated, Mary was betrothed to be married. Her pregnancy would not only scandalize her family and ruin her reputation, it would be a source of great shame for Joseph, her betrothed. And yet, we are given a glimpse into the godly character of Mary when she not only submits to the news given to her but embraces the circumstances with the disposition of a humble servant of God. In this way we can say that Mary was the first Christian. That is, she submitted to the will of God and believed in Jesus. She accepted the news with strong and simple faith: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (vs. 38).
As his name declares, Jesus was born for the salvation his people. Men and women, beginning with Adam and Eve, who had longed for the Messiah’s appearing and believed the promises of God would be saved by this One to be born to the virgin Mary. Likewise, men and women in every nation and generation after Jesus’ birth would be saved as they looked to him in faith (John 3:16). The incarnation was God’s mighty response to humanity’s sin and its deadly consequences. Theologian Stephen Wellum writes:
“As the Son incarnate, our Lord Jesus Christ in his life, death, and resurrection, reverses the work of the first Adam and forges ahead as the last Adam, our great trailblazer and champion (Heb. 2:10). As a result of the incarnation, God the Son becomes perfectly qualified to meet our every need, especially our need for the forgiveness of sin (Heb. 2:5–18; 7:22–28; 9:15–10:18).”