Theological Highlight: The Incarnation

It’s often said that Christmas is a “magical” time for children. But a more accurate description should be that Christmas is a “miraculous” time as we ponder the miracle of the incarnation. So as we think and plan toward how we will teach about and celebrate Christmas with the children in our church and home, let us consider the importance of the doctrine of the incarnation. Consider these words from Jared Wilson from his article “The Christmas Miracle of the Incarnation of the Omnipresent Word.”

Every year at this time as we celebrate the birth of baby Jesus to the virgin Mary, I don’t suppose it occurs to too many merrymakers that what they’re really celebrating is the Incarnation. All of the other miracles are in service of that central miracle: God became man. And in becoming, through Spiritual conception, the man Jesus of Nazareth, the Word of God did not cease to be God. Baby Jesus, from the moment of conception to the straw habitation of the manger, was fully God and fully man. That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

When we put our minds long to the idea of Jesus being one hundred percent God and simultaneously one hundred percent man, they naturally feel overwhelmed. The orthodox doctrine of the Incarnation is compelling, beautiful, biblically sensible, and salvifically necessary, but it is nevertheless utterly inscrutable. And that’s okay. In the end, the Incarnation is not for analysis but for worship.

As Jared Wilson states, the doctrine of the incarnation is “… utterly inscrutable”—beyond full comprehension for adults and children alike. However, we can and must present children with these clear succinct truths:

  • Jesus was fully God.
  • Jesus became fully man.
  • Jesus is both fully God and fully man, forever.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

(John 1:1, 14 ESV)

Example of comments and questions to help younger elementary aged children to understand the above verses:

  • Do you know what a nickname is? Sometimes people, especially our parents and friends, might call us by a different name like “squirt,” “honey,” “dear,” etc. ”The Word” is another name for Jesus. Even as a tiny baby, Jesus was God. All the words that are true of God are true of Jesus, too.
  •  Discuss the characteristics of babies: they have soft skin, no teeth, sleep a lot, do not walk or talk, etc. Jesus had those same characteristics as a baby because He was born as a real human person like us.
  • God sent baby Jesus to His people to do the biggest job of all—to save sinful people. It doesn’t seem like a tiny baby could do such a big job. But the Bible tells us that Jesus is really God. Is any job too hard for God? No! So, is any job too hard for Jesus? No!
  • When you think about Jesus being a tiny baby in a manger, is it easy or hard for you to believe that Jesus is fully God? What makes it hard for people to believe that He is God? What kinds of things show what God is like? What kinds of things show what babies are like? But what does the Bible say? (Recall John 1:1 and 1). The Bible, God’s true Word, says that Jesus is God. Pray that God would help you to trust that what His Word says is true—that Jesus is God.
  •  Since Jesus is God, how should you act toward Jesus? What did Simeon do? What did the shepherds do? What did the wise men do? What do you do? Spend some time together thinking

about ways you can love, trust, and praise Jesus.

(Adapted from Jesus, What a Savior: A Study for Children on Redemption.

Written by Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson is a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher and author. She has taught Sunday School for over 20 years and writes God-centered curriculum for Children Desiring God.

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