catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 1, Num 8 :: 2002.12.20 — 2003.01.02


Incarnation and the image of God

Part 4 of 4

What Child is This?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God?children born not of natural descent, not of human decision or a husband?s will, but born of God (John 1: 1-2, 10-13).

Not only does Christmas signal the birth of God, but the rebirth of mankind as well. The long line of sin, started with Adam, is broken by the birth of Christ. Because of the incarnation, women and men are made all over again, re-created, re-born in the image of God.

The prophecy of Hosea has a new ring to it now that Christ has come to make us sons of God: “In the place where it was said to them, ?You are not my people,? they will be called ?sons of the living God?”(Hosea 1:10). Using this Old Testament verse to make a New Testament point, Paul states in Romans, “?you received the spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ?Abba, Father.? The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God?s children.”(Romans 8:15) The incarnation makes us all children again with a new lineage that changes the way we look. No longer born in our own image, we are now re-made to look more like our Father.

Despite our unfaithfulness, which Hosea knew firsthand, God has remained faithful, turning an adulterous wife into a precious bride, spotless before His judging eyes. Even though man took the fruit that God told him not to eat, God did not make him pay the penalty. Instead, God the Father now offers him the firstfruits of Christ?s resurrection to be eaten and enjoyed. No greater inheritance has ever been given to a firstborn son.

We are new creatures, “being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18). With the help of the Spirit, which is Christ?s gift to the Church, we are able to live in His likeness rather than in slavery to our own sinful nature.


Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:5-10)


Thanks to the incarnation, which was the first of many re-births for humankind, people who receive God?s gifts are made new in the image of their Creator.

It?s true what some say, then, about Christmas: it?s not about giving, but receiving. Indeed, the Incarnation is not just a complex problem reserved for theologians, philosophers and iconographers. It is a gift to be received. The image of God that was spoiled in the Garden of Eden is now made right again. Man?s family tree of sinners is now a tree of life into which we are grafted as adopted children of a gracious Father.



Belting, Hans. Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art. Trans. Edmund Jephcott. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1990.

Athanasius. St. Athanasius on the Incarnation: The Treatise De Incarnatione Verbi Dei. Trans. A Religious of C.S.M.V. A.R. Mowbray and Co. Limited, London, 1953.

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