(Friends: beginning today, Scripture references will continue to be in quotes, but the specific verse reference will be found at the end of each paragraph, as opposed to our previous practice of listing it after the verse itself. I think that this will improve the flow of the sentences, and hopefully enable easier reading. Thanks, Glen).
"The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth... That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us" (John 1:14; I John 1:1-2).
In both his gospel and first epistle, the Apostle John emphasizes from the outset the centrality of the incarnation concerning God's purposes in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our salvation could not have been accomplished by merely a verbal word uttered from Heaven, even as declared by God Himself. The living Word had to be born upon the earth, and live a lifetime that ultimately resulted in the death that comes to all of this present world's citizens. Complete identification, excepting sin, was required of the Lord Jesus, and He perfectly fulfilled His redemptive role. "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Galatians 4:4-5).
The latter point leads to further consideration. "Excepting sin." The Lord Jesus never sinned in thought, attitude, word, or deed. He was "without sin." He was, however, "made to be sin for us". This seems to indicate that on the cross of Calvary, our Savior became the very essence of the wickedness that constitutes the character of this present domain. "The whole world lieth in wickedness." The Lord Jesus became what He was not so that the Father could pour out His wrath not only upon our Sinbearer, but upon sin itself (Hebrews 4:15; II Corinthians 5:21; I John 5:19).
Scripture never explains the process by which such a reconstitution of being could have happened. It is enough to simply know that it happened, and to bow our hearts and heads upon the consideration of "how deep were the waters crossed 'ere He found His sheep that was lost." Our Lord fulfilled an identification with us more complete than even the practice of sin would have involved. Indeed, it is one thing to sin. It is another "to be sin," especially when the nature of Christ's being was perfect spiritual and moral righteousness. The Lord Jesus "loved righteousness and hated iniquity" with that infinite love and hatred known only by God. What horror, therefore, took place in His holy being when the mystery of "made to be sin" enshrouded His heart and soul? (Hebrews 1:9; "How deep" reference from the hymn, "The Ninety and Nine").
My heart is stirred by the contemplation of such love. But not enough. Nor will it ever be. The waters of of our Lord's sorrow and pain were far deeper than we will ever know. We can all simply be sure that we are that one sheep whose redemption from sin led our Shepherd "to be sin." Let us make it personal. "For me He did this, for me. And forevermore I will be 'the righteousness of God in Him' because the Lord Jesus became that which every fiber of His holy Being revolted against" (II Corinthians 5:21). Yes, "how deep were the waters crossed..."
"Christ hath suffered for us."
(I Peter 4:1)