On Tuesday the 19th of December 2023, the St George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral Bible Studies Group were blessed to have an enriching talk presented by Father Dr John El-Karaan on “Why God became Man.”
He spoke about how the Icon of the Nativity represents the knowledge of the truth of God. Christ was wrapped in a manger in a dark cave/tomb that represents where He was born and where He would later resurrect becoming the light of the world.
Christ became man to redeem us from sin and be the Saviour to all of humanity through His death and resurrection. Therefore, man cannot serve man, but man can only serve God – “He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:15-16).
We learnt that the Virgin Mary is like us humans and that if she can give birth to Christ, we symbolically can also give birth to Christ and have Christ be born through us, but only if we believe and have faith in this light and resurrection. In other words, just as Christ was born to die and become resurrected, we as humans are also born to be reborn in Christ – born to die but to die with Him. That is to say, the spiritual life calls us to crucify the flesh and our earthly desires so that we may attain the gift of God’s grace to be resurrected with Christ in our hearts in a heavenly state.
Christ became man in order to destroy the works of the Devil, therefore we should not fall into doubt and despair (as depicted by Joseph in the Icon) but have hope, and although we have not seen God, we can believe in this light so the light of Christ can dwell within us and keep us from walking astray.
Father John El-Karaan further explained that Christ’s incarnation was a way of God revealing Himself to us. This can be seen through His Transfiguration conveying that Christ is both fully human and divine in nature, without sin. Not only is He human in physical ‘flesh’ and ‘blood’ but also total human in qualities and persona while still having a connection with His Heavenly Father as God. He has our human qualities so we can relate to Him. Hence, He was made in the likeness of men and became man so man can become like Him and be ‘transfigured’ just as He was. Christ wanted us to love and pray to Him, form a connection, and develop a relationship with Him so we can be united in Him to achieve eternal blessedness – “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Therefore, this incarnation unites Earth to Heaven. It shows us what we are (humans on Earth) and what we may become (God-like) through grace. We are mortal on Earth but immortal in Heaven – born to die on Earth but be reborn in Christ in Heaven.
Thank you, Father El-Karaan, for enlightening us on the importance of the Incarnation of Christ and how it can be a source of hope in our lives. Without God the Word becoming man in flesh and blood, the world would not have a Saviour. It also serves as a way of how one should live their life – walking with Christ in love and faith, giving praise and striving to be perfect like Him in order for His light to abide within us always so we could not be tempted and fall into sin.