Day Eleven: Incarnation

Giovanni Bellini, Madonna and Child - 1480-1490 , Oil on panel, 83 x 66 cm
Accademia Carrara, Bergamo

God became a man.  He took on flesh and blood.  And when he did he also took on mortality.  Flesh and blood eventually dies.  Part of the deal of being human is being mortal.  And God was willing to accept that.


He was willing to accept it in order to show that his creation is good; that mankind is not so corrupted and evil that it is beyond redemption.  By becoming man God confirmed the worth of his creatures.  In the beginning God affirmed his creation and mankind by declaring, “It is good!”  But then mankind sinned and the relationship was broken.  By coming and taking human flesh God shows that his creation is still good.


God was willing to take on flesh and bone to identify with his creatures and develop a deep bond with them.  He now knows what it is like to be human, to be limited, to live in fear of death.  He understands what its like to be a human because he lived as one. He experienced all the pain, temptation, confusion, and anguish that life on earth brings.  And because he has gone through all those things, we can approach him with confidence.  He knows what I’m going through.


God was willing to take on mortality and face death because in doing so he broke the reign of death.  It’s like throwing a rock into the innards of finely tuned machinery.  The rock get’s stuck and breaks the teeth on the gears so that the machine won’t run any longer. The scriptures tell us that when the immortal—who should not experience death—was subjected to death on the cross, the power of death was broken.  We no longer need to fear it because it no longer can hold us.  We will all experience death, but because of Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection, our death will only be the doorway to eternal life.


“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
—1 Corinthians 15:54b-55


What is this jewel that is so precious?  I can see it has been quarried not my men, but by God.
It is you, dear Jesus. You have been dug from the rocks of heaven itself to be offered to me as a gift beyond price.
You shine in the darkness.  Every colour of the rainbow can be seen within you.  The whole earth is bathed in your light.
Infant Jesus, by being born as man you have taken upon yourself the pain of death.  But such a jewel can never be destroyed.

You are immortal.  And by defying your own death, you shall deliver me from death.


—Adam of St. Victor,

a canon who lived in twelfth century Paris *