God knew the limitation of mankind, you see; and though the grace of being made in His Image was sufficient to give them knowledge of the Word and through Him of the Father, as a safeguard against their neglect of this grace, He provided the works of creation also as a means by which the Maker might be known.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
To be incarnate means to be “in the flesh.” When we speak of the Incarnation, we are talking about God in the flesh. The whole of our Old Testament is anticipating a Christ, a chosen one, a messiah who will set things right. The trouble is that the Christ had to be both man and God. The Christ had to be man because sin is man’s problem, but He had to be God because only God could remedy the curse of sin. The Christ had to be man because man’s death, not God’s, had to be defeated, but He had to be God because only God is sovereign over death. The Christ had to be made, completely, out of the stuff of man, and He had to remain, without exception, the fullness of God.
In our New Testament we have four witnesses that recount the story of the long anticipated Christ. They are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They each tell us, in their own way, with their own vocabularies, and their own stories the same thing, that Jesus is the Christ. The eternal Word entered creation in the dust of earth.
The Christ of Creation is not only God with us, but God of us. A flesh-bearer submitted to death. A skin-wearer rose from the dead. A blood-bleeder covered our sin. A saliva-spitter gave us new eyes to actually see God. The Christ of Creation was, at one point, Christ in Creation, and this, whether we realize it or not, means the world to us. The bodies we wear are corruptible. One day, sooner than any of us care to think, these bodies will be dead, recycled back into the ground, and returned to dust. Not so long after that, though, we will be raised to life in new, incorruptible bodies. We will be more truly ourselves than ever before. The Incarnation reminds us, if Jesus rose, so will we.
Part 4: Concursus
So Heaven meets Earth like a sloppy wet kiss.
(John Mark McMillan, from How He Loves)
Like a tide it comes in,
wave after wave of foliage and fruit,
the nurtured and the wild,
out of the light to this shore.
In its extravagance we shape
the strenuous outline of enough.
(Wendell Berry, from The Country of Marriage)
Wendell Berry’s poem, “The Arrival,” is part of a big metaphor that covers an entire collection of his poems. He says that a farmer’s care over his land is the picture that all of humanity should strive to copy with creation. He believes that our relationship with the land will tell us much about our relationship with God. In other words, how we treat the gift says something about how we value and honor the giver. In this poem, something is arriving. Whether it is a new crop of black eyed peas or Christ’s second coming is left to your imagination. Either way, it is both beautiful and it is enough.
Concursus is an idea more than it is a word. It’s harder to translate ideas than it is to translate words. Concursus, though, captures the idea of a wedding between time and eternity. It is not only where God breaks into the created world, but where God dresses Creation as His bride. Concursus is the essence of the scene in Revelation 21:1-4.
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 place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Jesus spent his life in ministry proclaiming the Kingdom of God. He said it is here. He said it is coming. And we are left to live in the tension of this already/not yet kingdom. It is here because the gospel is advancing and because death has been defeated. It is coming because, though death has been defeated, it has not been eradicated. God’s kingdom will irrupt, totally, into this world. Concursus assures us that, on that day, creation will never again, for all of eternity, be plagued by death.