Since today is officially the start of the “holiday season” (I know … “Christmas” is the religiostically correct term, but I’m still digesting Thanksgiving), and since Advent does begin this Sunday (for those who celebrate it, which I haven’t since growing up Catholic, but plan to again this year after a 22-year hiatus), I thought I’d share a little about the Incarnation during halftime of the game (Arizona vs. Oregon … Boise State – Nevada to follow). Whew, is that the longest introductory sentence ever to a blog?

Actually, it’s not the first Incarnation I’m thinking about, but the second.

When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked with them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs. (Mark 16:19-20, NLT)

This is the transition from what we sometimes call Jesus’ earthly ministry to his new ministry in heaven through the work of his new body, the body of Christ, the church.

This is referred to as “the ascension,” but I’m going to call it “the Second Incarnation.” In the First Incarnation, Jesus took on a human body. He became one of us. In the Second Incarnation, he lives as the body of Christ, his church. Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you” (John 20:21). That’s the Second Incarnation. (I was tentative about calling this Jesus’ “Re-Incarnation” but I couldn’t resist the idea. Don’t worry–I’m not suggesting Jesus’ soul literally transmigrated to another being’s body at his death.) Jesus has promised that he will never leave or forsake us, so now he does his work in and through us. As we go everywhere with his message, he goes with us and works in and through us.

Do you know what this means? (No, it doesn’t maen I’ve converted to Hinduism.) It means I do not do “my” work. He does his work through me. Jesus is not far away, managing our efforts like a play director or, worse, a puppeteer. He lives in me and through his church. While he is physically seated at the Father’s right hand, he is also with us through his Holy Spirit and is present with us whenever we meet together. What incredible power we have because of that!

Yes, Jesus came as Immanuel–God with us–in what we call the Incarnation. But when he ascended physically, he did not leave us or forsake us. He never will. Christ still lives in his new body–the body of Christ. So Merry Christmas! God is with us.

What do you think about this?

How do you see Jesus operating in the Second Incarnation?

How is he Immanuel today in his church, the body of Christ?

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Michael Mack has been involved in small group ministry as a pastor, writer, trainer, and speaker for more than 25 years. He founded in 1995 and started Small Group Leadership in 2012. He became the 12th editor of Christian Standard magazine in 2017 and continues to speak in churches about small groups, discipleship, and leadership. He lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (just outside Louisville), with his wife Heidi. They have four young adult children. Michael enjoys mountain and road biking with a group of friends. See the "About Michael Mack" page under About Us for more about him.

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  1. Alan

    November 29, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Great stuff, Michael?

    I see the Second Incarnation at it's best when the church is relevant in style and in service to the community. The First Incarnation is proof that cultural relevance is not an option.


  2. Michael C. Mack

    November 29, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Thanks, Alan. Great point. Hadn't thought about that angle on the 1st Incarnation, but that's good.


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