For the next little while, we’ll be looking at the Apostles’ Creed. You can find it below. And, if you’d not, I’d encourage you to memorize it. It’s a great thing for all of us to have committed to memory:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
Today we are looking at the passage of the Creed that states that Jesus was “conceived by the Holy Spirit; born of the Virgin Mary.” This is a statement of faith that we hold to and that we go back to many times, especially during the Christmas season. It’s something very important to our faith, something we don’t fully understand, and is an article that we hold to as central to our faith.
Today we’ll talk about why this is important.
This doctrine of our faith affirms the divinity of Jesus (He is fully God) and the humanity of Jesus (he is fully human). This is the truth that is called “The Incarnation.”
The early Church Father St. Athanasius enunciates it in his famous phrase: “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” This is known in the Church as the doctrine of divinization: that the Incarnation affects not just a restoration of our relationship with God but that because God took on our humanity, it has been raised to a greater dignity than before. The fact of the Incarnation now lifts our human nature to greater heights than it ever hoped for. As St. Paul says, “You received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’” (Rom 8:15).
We need the humanity of Jesus to atone for the sins of the world. As John the Baptist said, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29).” He was at the same time human and sinless, thus able to be that perfect lamb of God. We need His Divinity and humanity to perfectly forgive our sin.
And this is only possible through the Virgin Birth. This beautiful mystery shows the lengths that God goes to to redeem us from our sin. This beautiful mystery is at the foundation of who we believe about Jesus, our salvation, and God’s grace.
Fully God and fully human. That is who Jesus is.
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