Tuesday, December 7, 2021

"The Incarnation on Display" - Henry Knapp

I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy back in the 1970s as a young teenager. If you have read the books, you know that they are justly famous for the breadth and scope of the imaginary world Tolkien created. Trolls, orcs, goblins, wizards, and, of course, hobbits. The books are long and involved, so if you keep with it, you really get to know the main characters—Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee. Not only would I be reading of their exploits, I also was picturing them, imagining exactly what the world looked like, the monsters and the heroes.

For decades, I had a vision of what hobbits looked like, what the mythical landscape was like, how wizards appeared. In my mind, I had envisioned exactly what everything looked like. And then I saw the movies. Within minutes, I had forgotten the images I had created in my mind, and suddenly saw things as the movie director wanted me to. Hobbits were no longer as I envisioned them, but as I saw them portrayed on screen. And, once I saw the visual picture, I couldn’t even remember how I had originally imagined things to be.

This Advent season, we are looking at different ways to understand the incarnation—the biblical description of how God took on humanity. In the incarnation, the Son of God somehow became a man; the infinite, all-powerful, sovereign of the universe, is a tiny, weak, needy baby. The very idea should amaze and astound us. But sometimes, it’s hard to picture exactly what the incarnation means.

And so, it is a blessing that God grants us so much material in the Gospels to “see” Jesus as fully God and fully human. Since Jesus is fully human, just like us but without sin, we should see Jesus doing human-like things. Since Jesus is fully God, identical with the Father, we should see Him doing God-like things. For His humanity, we are told of Jesus’ birth, being asleep on the boat, walking long distances, and, of course, dying on the cross. For His divinity, we see Jesus walking on the water, commanding evil spirits, changing water to wine, raising the dead.

There are, however, some events in Jesus’ life which show both His divinity and His humanity. While asking the Samaritan woman for a drink, a very human need, Jesus clearly displays supernatural knowledge of her life (John 4). As a growing young boy, Jesus amazed the Temple leaders with His understanding (Luke 2).

This week we will work our way through just such a passage: the calling of the first disciples (Luke 5). We’ll see His humanity. We’ll see His divinity. When Jesus enters our lives, He comes, not just as a man, not just as our God, but as the Incarnate One, the God-man. This is Who we worship, this is Who we follow.

In preparation for worship this Sunday, read Luke 5:1-11.

1. What characteristics of being human are evident in Jesus’ actions in these verses? What does He do that shows Himself to be a human being?

2. What characteristics of being divine are evident in Jesus’ actions in these verses? What does He do that shows Himself to be God?

3. What is Simon (Peter) doing while washing his nets? What is he hearing?

4. Why does Simon let down the nets? What motivates him to do this?

5. After the catch of fish, how do you know Simon’s attitude toward Jesus changes?

6. How do you explain Simon’s response to Jesus in verse 8? Why does he want Jesus to “depart?”

7. What all is implied in Jesus’ words to Simon, both parts?