All manner of theologians, philosophers, and historians have used more ink and paper than can be weighed to expound upon the incarnation of the Son of God and its implications for humanity. Of those, Johann Gerhard composed, what I believe to be, most remarkable.
“We received more in Christ than we lost in Adam.”
We once possessed perfection. We had God’s definition of good and not good. We lived in relationship with God free of barriers. Of course, that all changed. But the Son of God became incarnate to fix what we broke. He took on flesh in a way we could comprehend and know. So we could, once again live, a barrier-free existence with the creator and sustainer of all things.
Gerhard affirms the purpose for which Christ came: to fulfill the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17); to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). But he teaches us and reminds us that though the Son of God came to restore the righteousness we had lost and reconcile us with God, we received even more than that. More than if we remained perfect. More than had we never fallen.
In Christ, we received a God who is not just with us, but one of us.
By the Son’s incarnation, we received a God who shared in our every need. Food, clothing, shelter, and safety. He learned how to walk and how to work. He smelled. Dirt clung to him. He washed his hands and his body. He both stopped the wind on the Sea of Galilee and broke wind. He defecated. He slept, rested, and sought out solitude. He needed to be in relationship; to love and be loved.
By Christ’s incarnation we also received a God who shared in our joys. He laughed. He conversed. He shared experiences in friendship. He attended weddings and festivals. He feasted and drank in celebration.
Greatest of all, we received a God who shared in our suffering. He felt compassion for the hurting. Sadness in loss. He wept. He felt the sting of rejection and the bite of betrayal. He felt breathless as he slowly suffocated. Dizzy from losing blood from the holes in his hands and feet. Weak from a tortured body, ripped and torn flesh on his back.
The incarnate Christ shared in our suffering in a way more painful than we could fathom. He suffered the greatest injustice as one innocent condemned to die in place of the guilty. He felt the weight of sin and guilt, of the world’s sin and guilt, as he hung on the cross. He experienced the agony of cosmic rejection.
God created humanity in his image and then inhabited that image. Not just for 33 years, but for eternity thereafter. Jesus did not shed his humanity as he ascended into heaven. He kept it. Christ took on the flesh and blood of humanity and then took that flesh and blood to the throne of God. As the lamb who was slaughter to purchase us with his blood, he alone is worthy to sit upon it. There he reigns not only as the image of the invisible God, but as the image-bearer of redeemed and restored humanity, now and forevermore.
That is truly more than what we could have ever received from Adam.