5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’ ”
There is a tendency among human beings to either deny there is a soul, or to deny the body matters and the spirit is all. But the Scripture will have none of that.
The importance of the human being is seen when consider the most spiritual topics, God. While God does not have a body like a man; the Son of God became incarnate as a man (while in manner being degraded in any manner as God). The Incarnation is a mystery beyond all mysteries. But is also the basis of how we must understand all other things:
The incarnation of God, therefore, is the supreme mystery at the center of our Christian confession, and no less at the center of all reality. Consequently, all conceptions of reality that fail to see and savor that all things hold together in Christ, and that he is preeminent in all things, can never be anything but abstract conceptions of virtual realities—that is, invariably hollow and ultimately vacuous concepts pulled away from reality.
John C. Clark and Marcus Peter Johnson, The Incarnation of God: The Mystery of the Gospel as the Foundation of Evangelical Theology (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015), 12.
There are many things which could be said of the Incarnation, but one thing which must be understood is the profound importance of the human body. To battle on our behalf, it was first necessary for the Son of God to have the body of a human being, and that the human body was the location of that conflict. Consider this verse:
14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, [he shares our nature]
that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, [he destroys death from the position of a human body]
Hebrews 2:14. Think of how the Scripture speaks of our Savior. His announcement into this world is an announcement of being born a human being:
30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Luke 1:30–33. Jesus is born. He is wrapped in cloth. He is laid in a manager – and at the end of his life he will again be wrapped in cloth and this time laid in a tomb.
The crucifixion is the killing of his body. And the resurrection is the resurrection of his body. And he is Ascended, reigning forever in a body.
The proof of the Resurrection is that his body is no longer in the tomb:
5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”
Matthew 28:5–7. When he proves to the Disciples he has risen, it is the proof of his body:
24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20:24–29. That body is the residence of all our blessing:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
Ephesians 1:3. Indeed our salvation is bound upon with the identification of our body with his:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrectionlike his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:1–11. Our life is a participation in the life of Christ, in his death, in his burial, in his resurrection.
The presentation of our bodies in a living sacrifice is premised upon this union with Christ. We can offer no sacrifice apart from him:
24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Hebrews 9:24–28. The sacrifice of his body is the only sacrifice for sin; a sacrifice never to be repeated. It is a sacrifice rendered “once.”
We can only understand the sacrifice of our body in light of the sacrifice of his body and our union to that sacrifice.
Indeed, it is in our union to Christ, a union which is not merely some intellectual proposition, but a sort of union which involves the body of our Ascended Incarnate Lord and our body is the premise of our sacrifice:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14:6 We cannot offer something to the Father but in the life of the Son. We know the Father in knowing the Son. “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” John 14:9. Now these are deep waters in which it is very easy to get lost and drown. For our purposes we need merely assert that our approach to God is only in Jesus Christ, not around him.
Jesus has made a way for his by taking our nature, by being found in a body which was offered as a sacrifice – and which was received for the forgiveness of sin. We participate in that life, that sacrifice, that resurrection. To participate in that life entails a life our body.
What you must understand, the human body is the battlefield upon which God defeated his enemies. We participate in that victory in the identification of our life in this body with the life of the Incarnate Son of God. This identification is so great, that the Church, the sum of the redeemed are referred as the Body of Christ.
The logic of Paul’s argument of how we are to live—and that manner of life is the nature of the “living sacrifice” commanded—is wholly premised upon our identification in the body of Christ.
The Incarnation makes the life of the Church possible and is the basis for that life.
Seeing more clearly how the life of our body is joined up with the life of Jesus will be the next point.