Creation, creator, Hebrews 2:10-15, Henry Wilkinson Williams, incarnation, Isaiah 40:18-26, John 1:14, John 3:16, Philippians 2:5-11, Romans 8:20, Romasn 8:3-4, Sin, Union with Christ, Westminster Shorter Catechism
An infinite chasm of sin and nature stands between the Creator and his creatures:
I am God, and there is none like me
Isaiah 46:9. As the Creator, God cannot rightly be compared to his creation:
18 To whom then will you liken God,
or what likeness compare with him?
19 An idol! A craftsman casts it,
and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and casts for it silver chains.
20 He who is too impoverished for an offering
chooses wood that will not rot;
he seeks out a skillful craftsman
to set up an idol that will not move.
21 Do you not know? Do you not hear?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
23 who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.
24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows on them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
25 To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name,
by the greatness of his might,
and because he is strong in power
not one is missing.
Isaiah 40:18–26 (ESV). The distance is made greater, not merely by division of Creator and creation – but also by the division of rebellion and sin (Genesis 3:24). As the result of sin, the entire creation has been “subjected to futility” (Romans 8:20).
To effect reconciliation with him, God condescended to come to us, in the Incarnation. The work of reconciliation has its ground in God himself. As all decrees of God, God does not look beyond himself, but rather his decrees express “his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass” (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. 7).
As to us, the sending of demonstrates the love of God:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16. The wonder and majesty of the eternal Son coming to us is a constant theme of the New Covenant expression and explication:
10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,
“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”
13 And again,
“I will put my trust in him.”
“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”
14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
Hebrews 2:10–15 (ESV).
3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Romans 8:3–4 (ESV).
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:5–11 (ESV)
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 1:14 (ESV).
The Incarnation becomes a ground of the believer being in union with Christ – and thus becoming reconciled to God. The chasm between God and man was bridged by God in the space of Jesus. The union with Christ takes place upon various grounds. As noted by Henry Wilkinson Williams in Union With Christ (1857), one aspect of the union between the redeemed and Christ lies in the sympathy Christ holds for us in our physical weakness and distress:
The relation between the Saviour and our race is, therefore, most intimate and endearing. Jesus, the Incarnate Son, is our Brother. His heart, while He was here upon earth, beat with the sympathies of humanity. He felt as we feel, excepting only that His spirit was free from the least stain of moral defilement.
This is major strain of Hebrews, we have a high priest who is able “to sympathize with our weakness”:
Here, then, we behold the first great fact which the mediatorial scheme presents to us. The Son of God assumed our nature, so as to become a sharer of our weakness, our sorrows, and our temptations. And in this we perceive, in part,—though only in part,—the ground of our union with Him. He has stooped to become one with us. It was an essential feature of the economy of redemption, that the great Restorer, the second federal Head of humanity, “the last Adam,” should appear among us, not in a state of dazzling glory, but in one of lowliness and suffering, distinguished from that of mankind at large only by His perfect freedom from sin. “God” sent “His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.” (Rom. viii. 3.) A bond of union was thus formed between Him and the race that He came to save; and the first great step was taken in that scheme of human recovery which was to bring His believing people into the most intimate fellowship with Himself.
Williams’ caution that such sympathy is only a part of union must be duly noted. The union with Christ does not consist in a bare sympathy, an emotion and thought. If so, we could easily reduce union to the level of a tender hearted reader who looks upon an article and photographs of distressed persons in a foreign land, feels some brief sorrow and perhaps guilt, sends some money and then turns to another topic.
Yet, we must not abstract the believers’ union with Christ from the love and sympathy which gave rise to the Incarnation (John 3:16), nor the love expressed and encouraged in Christ’s incarnation.