God With Us—The Hypostatic Union
Joseph faced a dilemma. He loved Mary, but had discovered his fiancé was expecting a baby that was not his child. While deciding how to pragmatically handle the situation, an angel of the Lord appeared to him.
God gave Joseph divine revelation to cope with the shocking dilemma
The angel proclaimed:
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel.”
The name Immanuel means “God with us” and not only revealed how Joseph should respond to an unanticipated development, but also provides all seekers with the key to understanding the unique essence of Jesus.
Mary’s Child was not merely mortal
In his announcement to Joseph, the angel stressed the fact that Mary’s child would not be a mere mortal baby, but a Child that possessed both human and divine attributes— God Incarnate!
Although impossible to grasp with the limited faculties of our finite minds, Jesus had to possess a complete divine nature as well as a flawless human nature. How this is possible is one of the greatest mysteries known to man.
The theological term “hypostatic union” describes the paradox. “Hypostatic” derives from the Greek word ὑπόστασις (hupostasis) conveying the idea of actual substance or essence. In this case, the essence involves the perfect union of two distinct natures—one human, one divine—in a single person
Jesus’ humanity did not diminish His deity; and, His deity in no way invalidated His humanity. The hypostatic union is a staggering concept; however, the late John Walvoord explains,
“This union should not be defined as deity possessing humanity as this would deny true humanity its rightful place. It is not, on the other hand, humanity merely indwelt by deity. In His unique personality He possessed two natures, one eternal and divine, the other human and generated in time.” (1)
Allowing the divine nature to function within the confines of finite humanity did not require relinquishing a single divine attribute. What it did require was giving up the independent exercise of those divine attributes. Jesus Himself articulated this unique dynamic saying,
“I can of Myself do nothing. . . I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” (Jn. 5:30).
Even though all divine attributes were available to Him throughout the course of His earthly ministry, Jesus lived in complete surrender never using them unless expressly directed by the Father—a mind-blowing reality!
His willingness to endure the birthing process under the most adverse circumstances in humble surroundings of the obscure environs of Bethlehem—the exact place Micah predicted Messiah would be born—profoundly demonstrated His willingness to submit to the limitations and frailty of human experience (Mic. 5:2).
The One wrapped in swaddling cloths was none other than God Incarnate
The babe in the manger is the proper focus as we prepare our hearts and minds this Christmas season. But, always remember that the One wrapped in swaddling cloths was none other than God Incarnate—Immanuel!
What an awesome privilege it is to be alive at this point in history looking back on God’s promised set time that made redemption available to the whole world (Gal. 4:4).
As Christians in the Western world, we not only have the freedom to publically declare our faith, Jesus—Immanuel, the God-Man—gave us the mandate to share the Good News (Acts 1:8).
The Christmas season is the perfect time to demonstrate bold faith! Be a vibrant testimony of the wonderful truth encapsulated in the angel’s message to Joseph. Don’t let the day pass without telling someone!
1) John F. Walvoord, “The Person and Work of Christ—Part III: The Incarnation of the Son of God,” John F. Walvoord website.
1) Stone Manger at Tekoa, Judea-Samaria. (Image used for illustrative purposes) (Photo credit: With special thanks, by Todd Bolen/BiblePlaces.com/Author’s collection/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
2) Immanuel. (Image used for illustrative purposes) (Photo credit: Pixabay/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
3) Christmas Sheep. (Image used for illustrative purposes) (Photo credit: Pixabay/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
Copyright © 2016 Charles E. McCracken, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author via Contact Form under ABOUT. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.