Wednesdays with Watson is a weekly reading taken from my favorite Puritan writer, Thomas Watson. This week’s selection is taken from A Body of Divinity.
Why was Jesus Christ made flesh?
(1) The causa prima, and impulsive cause, was free grace. It was love in God the Father to send Christ, and love in Christ that he came to be incarnate. Love was the intrinsic motive. Christ is God-man, because he is a lover of man. Christ came out of pity and indulgence to us: non merita rostra, sed misera nostra. Augustine. ‘Not our deserts, but our misery’ made Christ take flesh. Christ’s taking flesh was a plot of free grace, and a design of love. God himself, though Almighty, was overcome with Christ incarnate is nothing but love covered with flesh. As Christ’s assuming our human nature was a master-piece of wisdom so it was a monument of free grace.
(2) Christ took our flesh upon him, that he might take our sins upon him. He was, says Luther, maximus peccator, the greatest sinner, having the weight of the sins of the whole world lying upon him. He took our flesh that he might take our sins, and so appease God’s wrath.
(3) Christ took our flesh that he might make the human nature appear lovely to God, and the divine nature appear lovely to man.
(i) That he might make the human nature lovely to God. Upon our fall from God, our nature became odious to him; no vermin is so odious to us as the human nature was to God. When once our virgin nature was become sinful, it was like flesh imposthumated, or running into
sores, loathsome to behold. It was so odious to God that he could not endure to look upon us. Christ taking our flesh, makes this human nature appear lovely to God. As when the sun shines on the glass it casts a bright luster, so Christ being clad with our flesh makes the human nature shine, and appear amiable in God’s eyes.
(ii) As Christ being clothed with our flesh makes the human nature appear lovely to God, so he makes the divine nature appear lovely to man. The pure Godhead is terrible to behold, we could not see it and live; but Christ clothing himself with our flesh, makes the divine nature more amiable and delightful to us. We need not be afraid to look upon God through Christ’s human nature. It was a custom of old among shepherds to clothe themselves with sheepskins, to be more pleasing to the sheep; so Christ clothed himself with our flesh, that the divine nature may be more pleasing to us. The human nature is a glass, through which we may see the love and wisdom and glory of God clearly represented to us. Through the lantern of Christ’s humanity we may behold the light of the Deity. Christ being incarnate makes the sight of the Deity not formidable, but delightful to us.
(4) Jesus Christ united himself to man, ‘that man might be drawn nearer to God.’ God before was an enemy to us by reason of sin; but Christ having taken our flesh, mediates for us, and brings us into favour with God. As when a king is angry with a subject, the king’s son marries his daughter and so mediates for the subject, and brings him into favour with the king again; so when God the Father was angry with us, Christ married himself to our nature, and now mediates for us with his Father, and brings us to be friends again, and God looks upon us with a favourable aspect. As Joab pleaded for Absalom, and brought him to King David, and David kissed him; so Jesus Christ ingratiates us into the love and favour of God. Therefore he may well be called a peacemaker, having taken our flesh upon him, and so made peace between us and his Father.
[To be continued…]