Why did God become man?
There are four major reasons why God decided to break into our world through Jesus.
Edmund: A father told me a story of watching his young daughter drawing with crayons with intense concentration. He asked her “Honey, what are you drawing?” And she said, “God!” The father said, “Oh dear, no one knows what God looks like.” And she looked up and said, “They will in a minute!”
Emily: Kids are the best… But wouldn’t it be great to know what God looks like?
Edmund: That’s what I love about God! See, God actually does show us what he looks like through his son Jesus Christ.
Emily: So the biggest issue many people struggle with about Jesus is whether or not he’s just a man or he actually is God. Some people think maybe he was just an inspiring teacher, like any other religious or political leader from the past.
Edmund: Well, let’s look at Jesus. No other historical figure has had the impact on our world and culture as Jesus. Art, literature, music, philosophy, our legal system, they’ve all been shaped by the historical reality of Jesus. Every time you write the date, the year he was born splits time. The bible remains one of the most published books ever. And the influence of Jesus on the world is astounding. This poor jewish preacher lived before radio, tv, and the internet, before any form of mass communication. And despite that, his influence in the world is undeniable.
Emily: Okay, yeah, Jesus had a huge impact on the world. But who is he, really?
Edmund: Jesus stands at the center of history and two thousand years later the world is still intrigued by him. What have you heard people say about who Jesus is? A good guy? A prophet? A teacher? God? Regardless of what other people say about Jesus, let’s go right to the source. What did Jesus say about himself? Jesus tells us “I am the Savior”. He says, I am your Savior. From the very beginning God planned to save us by reconciling us to him through his son Jesus. And the Catechism of the Catholic Church gives us four very clear reasons for the incarnation.
Emily: Incarnation, what’s that?
Edmund: Incarnation refers to God becoming flesh, or becoming one of us, in Jesus Christ. He was born of the virgin Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit. But Jesus is true God AND true man. The Catechism in paragraph 464 says:
The unique and altogether singular event of the Incarnation of the Son of God does not mean that Jesus Christ is part God and part man, nor does it imply that he is the result of a confused mixture of the divine and the human. He became truly man while remaining truly God. Jesus Christ is true God and true man.
Emily: So why did God become man?
Edmund: Jesus shows us what it looks like for a person to live in perfect relationship with God. And not just any relationship, but an intimate relationship of a Father and a Son. This is a model of holiness, and God became man to be our model of holiness. (#1)
God also became man to reconcile us to the Father. (#2) No human person could perfectly live out the commandments and reconcile us to God after the fall of original sin. Jesus was able to offer his life as a sacrifice for us to reconcile us to the Father and defeat sin and death.
Emily: For God himself to come and die for our mistakes is pretty intense.
Edmund: Well that brings us to the third reason for the incarnation, or God becoming man. God became man to show us the Father’s love. (#3) Jesus shows us how fully and unconditionally the Father loves us. Jesus was a true model of love and mercy and truth and goodness. We are able to see Jesus’ example of what that looks like in a real human person.
And the fourth reason God became man was so that we could partake in the divine nature of God. (#4)
Emily: Okay what does that even mean?
Edmund: Remember how before original sin Adam and Eve enjoyed a special relationship with God? They were in perfect union with him, but they sinned and chose to be cut off from him. Jesus offers us a way for us to be reconciled with the Father, and that also means that we can begin to experience that union with God here on earth. We’re destined to experience it fully in heaven. So through Jesus’ sacrifice, through the sacraments of the Church and the grace that flows from them, we are able to experience God’s divine life in us.
Emily: Jesus really accomplished a lot in his time on earth. And he only had three years of public ministry.
Edmund: If we really study the gospels and the person of Jesus Christ, we see that he was unlike any other man who ever lived. He taught with a different authority because he was God himself. He was good; he was really good. The type of person that attracted people from all sorts of backgrounds and lifestyles. Everyone wanted to be around him. He spoke of sin, but he also spoke of love and mercy in a way that was unheard of. And he spoke of God in a familiar way that also seems impossible. He did all of this and also claimed to be God, which is a crazy thing to proclaim yourself as. But he was so good, and lived such a pure life that the witness of his life is hard to brush aside.
Emily: He led such a remarkable life that he died on a cross for his teachings.
Edmund: Yes, Jesus never wavered in his obedience to the Father. Jesus suffered and died for us, laying down his life for you and me and everyone so we could be reconciled to the Father. Through Jesus we can become adopted sons and daughters of God. Jesus rose from the dead as a foreshadowing of God’s promise to raise us up on the last day.
Emily: So all of this happened hundreds, thousands of years ago. Even if I believe that Jesus is God, and he’s the Son of God, and the Lord, what difference does that make for me today? Edmund: Jesus fulfills God’s plan of loving goodness for us. The Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit and gave us the Church and the sacraments so we can enter into this relationship with God. We are called to believe and trust in Jesus, the living God. Through Jesus we’re able to see the unseeable, God himself! And we’are called to have a personal relationship with Jesus, and to grow in our friendship with him, because he teaches us about the Father and how to live in relationship with him. Jesus Christ is unlike any other man that ever lived, and because he is true God and true man, he can help us have a life unlike any other we could possibly live.
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