Why did God become human?

Why did God become human? 

Simple answer:  To destroy death.

 God is eternal – without beginning or end – and thus doesn’t die.  (Despite the claims that God is dead!)  He can avoid death – doesn’t really have to deal with it or wrestle with it.  He can if He chooses totally ignore it as it has nothing to do with His existence.

But His human creations are mortal and subject to death.  God feels the sting of death through the Humans He loves.

Humans are not eternal beings – we have a beginning and so cannot be eternal.  God can’t bestow eternity on beings that have a beginning and of which it must be said there was a time when humans did not exist.    

God can however bestow immortality upon His creatures.  He can overcome the limitations of death.

He could prohibit death, but humans chose death, and God doesn’t prohibit free choice or its consequences.  The God who is love does however save His creatures from sin and death and thus from human consequences.

Christmas:  the incarnation of the Word of God.  The Word become flesh is Jesus Christ, the God incarnate.   Humanity is thus lifted up by God to divinity through the union of God with humanity in Jesus Christ.

God becomes human in order to die so that He cdan destroy death and enable humans to become divine and live in life everlasting.  Only by becoming mortal can God defeat death – not prohibit it, or simply avoid it or banish it – but actually take it on and trample it down and triumph over it.

The incarnation and the death of Christ are thus necessary for the resurrection and defeat of the final enemy: death.  

God actually defeats death in the resurrection of His Son.  God destroys the power of death and frees all humanity for all eternity from the death grip of sin.

The Incarnation – God takes on not only human flesh to save it, but also takes on death to destroy it.  For in the eternal kingdom of Heaven death is destroyed not simply defeated (Revelation 20:14, 21:4).

Hebrews 2:14-15 –   Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.

Hebrews 2:9-10 –   But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.  For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering.

2 Timothy 1:10 –    and now has manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Philippians 2:5-8 –     Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross

Romans 6:9-10 –    For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.  The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.

1 Corinthians 15:20-26 –    But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.  Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

1 Corinthians 15:54-57 –    When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Revelation 20:14-21:4   –   Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. … Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband;  and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”

9 thoughts on “Why did God become human?

  1. Fr. Ted:

    I think this movement of God becoming incarnate to defeat death is well illustrated when we look at the nativity icon and the resurrection icon of the mhyrr-bearing women side by side, http://bit.ly/ik7wgr; the manger and casket, the swaddling and burial cloths, the cave.

    It seems that death is a consequence of being created rather than a punishment imposed by God upon humanity. As creatures, human beings have a beginning and an end. This, as you describe, is overcome only when we are united with the One who is eternal.

    Thank you for this post. May our Lord’s nativity be made manifest in and through you.

    Peace,
    Mike+

  2. James

    Father bless,

    Hello Fr. Ted! I was linked to this blog by one of your inquirers (Bill); he and I have been discussing this exact topic.

    As Mike said above, does this post imply that death was a natural consequence of our creation, but held at bay by our unity to God before the fall? I think I recall St. Athanasius saying something like that. Was that a broad teaching among the fathers, or was it generally viewed that human death was “authored” only after the fall?

    Anyhow – I also wanted to thank you for this and for your pastoral ministry in general. I live far away (Seattle; Fr. John Pierce is my priest), but thanks to the internet I’ve been able to see the blessing that you’ve been to my friend.

    In the love of Christ,
    James

    1. Fr. Ted

      I don’t know that the idea of death being natural was broadly accepted among the Fathers, but according to Elizabeth Theokritoff in her book LIVING IN GOD’S CFEATION:

      “From the silence on the subject from Fathers such as Irenaeus, we might guess that they see death in the non-human creation as ‘natural’- at least in the sense that it existed from the beginning of time. … The original mortality of animals would be an obvious conclusion to draw from the Fathers’ consensus that eve Adam was not immortal by nature: he was created for immortality, which is a different matter. Adam, as a creature of earth, would have returned to earth according to his own nature; he was offered the chance of a different destinythrough keeping God’s commandment. So it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the animals who had not been given that option were mortal. A few writers, Gregory of Nyssa notable among them, are quite explicit that death did already exist among animals: what happened at man’s fall was that he lapsed into an animal state. On this view, the moment of the fall … would have made little immediate difference to the condition of earth’s other inhabitants.”

      She mentions Chrysostom, Nyssa and Ephrem the Syrian as believing animals were mortal by nature and thus mortality was natural to all creatures except humans. At the fall, humans become like all creatures in dying.

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