The Injustice of the Incarnation

Life isn’t fair. This is, without a doubt, one of the key lessons in life. Life is really quite full of injustice.

This is true in trivial things, when the last piece of pizza always seems to be snatched up by someone else. But it’s also true in matters of great consequence. There are wicked people who seem to go through life unharmed by their wickedness. And there are people, people you know, who seem to endure a bad turn of health, then a financial reversal, then a family tragedy, all despite their goodness and even godliness.

Now, in a biblical sense, this unfairness isn’t ultimately unfair. The biblical reality is that we deserve to live in a broken world, and this for two reasons. The first is that, when Adam fell, he represented the entire human race. Indeed, as the head of all creation, he brought the curse from sin not only on himself, not only on all humanity, but on all creation itself. As the children of Adam, this curse belongs to us.

Second, we not only inherit Adam’s guilt, but surely we have each piled up guilt of our own. We are sinners, all of us. And so what we truly deserve is eternal condemnation. Anything less than that, including the hardships of this life, is actually merciful.

But Jesus Christ, in his Incarnation, subjected himself to all of the brokenness of this fallen world. And it is for Jesus, and for him alone, that all of this unfairness is truly unfair.

Indeed, Jesus’s earthly experience was doubly unfair. First, in the same million ways that we see in our own lives, Jesus endured the curse. People wronged him. The created world, with its thorns and thistles, resisted his work.

This we share with Jesus. But every moment of his earthy existence, he endured another (infinite) wrong): he was being denied the worship and adoration that he deserves. The Christmas carol urges: “Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see; Hail, Incarnate Deity!”

But that veil of flesh was such that almost no one did see. His own family doubted him. God the Son, the Second Person of the Eternal Trinity, was disguised, as it were. The glory of his divine nature was muted for this season.

And so the worship that had been his for all ages was muted as well. Jesus was truly being robbed of the honor that was due him. Every day of Jesus’s earthly life was unfair.

There is encouragement to be found here, and rightly so. Jesus endured through a broken world, and so we should follow in his steps. But this cannot be all that we say here, for Jesus is not only the example of faith, but the object of faith.

This Christmas season, we not only rejoice that Jesus came to earth and suffered like we suffer. We rejoice that he came and suffered on the Cross so that we can be delivered from our suffering. He endured injustice, being condemned by the Father for sin he never committed, so that we, who are sinners, might be shown eternal mercy. Blessed be our Lord Jesus Christ!