The Benefits of the Incarnation of the Word: John 1:15–18 -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 161:642 (Apr 2004)
Article: The Benefits of the Incarnation of the Word: John 1:15–18
Author: David J. MacLeod

The Benefits of the
Incarnation of the Word:
John 1:15–18a

David J. MacLeod

David J. MacLeod is Chairman of the Division of Biblical Studies, Emmaus Bible College, Dubuque, Iowa, and Associate Editor of The Emmaus Journal.

On October 17, 1944, Thomas Torrance, who later became professor of theology at Edinburgh University, was a stretcher-bearer following the British troops in a night attack on the small town of San Martino, Italy. At daylight he came across a young soldier, Private Philips, only twenty years old, lying mortally wounded on the ground, who clearly had not long to live. As Torrance knelt down and bent over him, the young soldier said, “Padre, is God really like Jesus?” Torrance writes, “I assured him that he was—the only God that there is, the God who had come to us in Jesus, shown his face to us, and poured out his love to us as our Saviour. As I prayed and commended him to the Lord Jesus, he passed away.”1

Torrance never forgot that event. He wrote, “The incident left an indelible impression on me.. .. I kept wondering afterwards what modern theology and the Churches had done to drive some kind of wedge between God and Jesus. There is no hidden God. .. no God behind the back of the Lord Jesus, but only the one Lord God who became incarnate in him.”2

Andrew Purves wrote, “If Jesus is not God in the flesh, the effect is to shut God out of the world, making God mute, hidden, and inoperative with regard to our sin.”3 The apostle John affirmed,

however, that God is not mute, hidden, or inoperative. In John 1:14, the “central passage” on the doctrine of the Incarnation, he boldly set forth the truth that God has indeed assumed human flesh.4 And this doctrine, wrote Torrance, is “the most fundamental truth which we have to learn in the Christian Church, or rather relearn since we have suppressed it.. .. The Incarnation was the coming of God to save us in the heart of our fallen and depraved humanity.”5

Having affirmed the fact of the Incarnation, John then set forth the confirmation and benefits of the Incarnation. The lesson of John 1:15–18 is this: Because the eternal Logos has assumed human nature He can meet all the needs of H...

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