This year, fitting with a series called Profiles in Courage, I chose Athanasius for his courageous stance on defending the orthodox view of the divine/human nature of Jesus Christ. Below is my sermon and a document with quotes from his work “On the Incarnation.” Reading this ancient author has produces a few responses in me, one is under “Reactions” below.
The second reason for the Incarnation according to Athanasius is found in this quote:
Once the mind of human beings descended to perceptible things, the Word himself submitted to appear through a body, so that as a human he might bring humans to himself and return their sense perception to himself, and then, by their seeing him as a human being, he might persuade them through the works he effected that he is not a man only but God and the Word and Wisdom of the true God. (On the Incarnation # 16)
My reaction: Jesus entered the material world. All of humanity turned from the knowledge of God to the enjoyment and even worship of material things. So Jesus was born in this material world to gain out attention. Once we noticed his works, we could listen to his words and be restored to the knowledge of God.
John’s gospel called the Miracles of Jesus Signs – they did not exist as an end in themselves. He did not turn water into wine just for the wedding. He did not feed the 5,000 just because they were hungry. These miracles were signs. Once they had their fill of wine and bread, would they turn to consider who it was that was among them?