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Chapter 21: God’s Redemptive Work: Covenant and Incarnation

Appendix 1: How the Incarnation reveals the personal life of God

In the New Testament, God makes known and shares his own inner communion. Christians know the distinct divine persons.

The wisdom of God has been with him from the beginning of creation; she plays on the surface of the earth where she finds delight in the sons of men (see Prv 8.31). This wisdom is or includes God’s Spirit (see Wis 1.4–7; 7.7, 22; 9.17). The Spirit, the creative power of God, which renews the face of the earth (see Ps 104.30), makes divine wisdom able to penetrate and pervade all things, to transform them gently and inwardly. Wisdom “renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets” (Wis 7.27). The love of God becomes his gift of his own wisdom and Spirit, which establish communion between God and his people.

This communion becomes manifest in Jesus. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3.16). Not because human hearts were ready: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Rom 5.8). “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 Jn 4.9).

Jesus is not only a work of God’s love, an expression communicated out of love. The very love of God comes to us in Jesus, our Lord (see Rom 8.39). The Word of God, his eternal wisdom in person, comes “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1.14). Jesus and his Father are one (see Jn 10.30). With his Father’s love, Jesus, “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (Jn 13.1).

The Father’s love of the Son is total: “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand” (Jn 3.35). The love of Jesus for his followers is the same: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (Jn 15.9). Jesus wishes his love to be communicated perfectly: “Abide in my love” (Jn 15.9). About to die, Jesus prays to the Father and expresses the meaning of what he is doing for those who will believe in him: “I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (Jn 17.26).

The revelation of God’s love is a total personal communication. Jesus gives nothing other; he gives himself filled with grace and truth so that of his fullness we may all receive (see Jn 1.16). Coming down from heaven, filled with divine life, Jesus gives himself as living bread, gives his flesh as food to be eaten, and thus communicates the Father’s life, which also is his own, to all who partake of him (see Jn 6.33, 48–58).

The Incarnation of the Word is due to the power of the Holy Spirit (see Mt 1.18; Lk 1.35). Jesus is endowed with the Spirit and has power to baptize with the Spirit (see Mk 1.7–10; Jn 1.32–33). Jesus “utters the words of God, for it is not by measure that he gives the Spirit” (Jn 3.34). He announces that the Father gives the Spirit freely, for the asking: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Lk 11.13).

From within Jesus flows the Spirit, as living water (see Jn 4.10; 7.37–39). The Spirit is the Spirit of truth, of divine faithfulness; he will come to stay (see Jn 14.17). Jesus and the Father send the Spirit (see Jn 15.26). By his power, sins are forgiven (see Jn 20.22–23). When Jesus has been glorified, the promised Spirit comes and the new family of God is formed (see Acts 2). The love of God is sealed by his personal gift of himself, for the Spirit fills Christians and dwells in them permanently as in his own home (see Rom 8.9; 1 Cor 3.16; 6.19; 2 Tm 1.14).