CEV John1:1 In the beginning was the one
who is called the Word.
The Word was with God
and was truly God.
2 From the very beginning
the Word was with God.
3 And with this Word,
God created all things.
Nothing was made
without the Word.
Everything that was created
4 received its life from him,
and his life gave light
ESV Col 1:16 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
The incarnation of God the son; the one whom Mary is told to name Jesus; the one whom we call the Christ, the anointed one; this is not the first time that his world intersects with ours. One songwriter re-framed John 1:1 as, “Before the world was created there was Christ with God.”
Rather, this represents the first time he inhabits a human body. John 1 tells us,
NLT John 1:14a So the Word became human and made his home among us.
Phillips Philippians 2:6-7a For he, who had always been God by nature, did not cling to his prerogatives as God’s equal, but stripped himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born as mortal man. And, having become man, he humbled himself.
But earlier, we have examples which theologians and scholars call Christophanies, where what the writers termed “…an angel of the Lord appeared…” actually represents a visitation of the pre-incarnate Christ. Remember, since these are Old Testament narratives, the writers of those accounts had no context in which to frame what they were seeing in those terms. In a world where surrounding nations had many gods, our Trinitarian concept of the Godhead would have been confusing or even counter-productive to the idea that God is one. (However, it should be noted that they had an understanding of the Spirit, but not the same as a New Testament believer would frame it.)
If you look the word up on Wikipedia you will read this:
A Christophany is an appearance or non-physical manifestation of Christ.
So far so good, but then it emphasizes post-ascension appearances, such as happened to the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus.
3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’
5 ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked.
‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. 6 ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’
But others would point you closer to what GodQuestions.org has to say. Here is the final paragraph of their answer:
Some Bible commentators believe that whenever someone received a visit from “the angel of the Lord,” this was in fact the pre-incarnate Christ. These appearances can be seen in Genesis 16:7-14; Genesis 22:11-18; Judges 5:23; 2 Kings 19:35; and other passages. Other commentators believe these were in fact angelophanies, or appearances of angels. While there are no indisputable Christophanies in the Old Testament, every theophany wherein God takes on human form foreshadows the incarnation, where God took the form of a man to live among us as Emmanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).
Having shown that, this is the part of their article which precedes it:
A theophany is a manifestation of God in the Bible that is tangible to the human senses. In its most restrictive sense, it is a visible appearance of God in the Old Testament period, often, but not always, in human form. Some of the theophanies are found in these passages:
1. Genesis 12:7-9 – The Lord appeared to Abraham on his arrival in the land God had promised to him and his descendants.
2. Genesis 18:1-33 – One day, Abraham had some visitors: two angels and God Himself. He invited them to come to his home, and he and Sarah entertained them. Many commentators believe this could also be a Christophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ.
3. Genesis 32:22-30 – Jacob wrestled with what appeared to be a man, but was actually God (vv. 28-30). This may also have been a Christophany.
4. Exodus 3:2 – 4:17 – God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush, telling him exactly what He wanted him to do.
5. Exodus 24:9-11 – God appeared to Moses with Aaron and his sons and the seventy elders.
6. Deuteronomy 31:14-15 – God appeared to Moses and Joshua in the transfer of leadership to Joshua.
7. Job 38–42 – God answered Job out of the tempest and spoke at great length in answer to Job’s questions.
Frequently, the term “glory of the Lord” reflects a theophany, as in Exodus 24:16-18; the “pillar of cloud” has a similar function in Exodus 33:9. A frequent introduction for theophanies may be seen in the words “the Lord came down,” as in Genesis 11:5; Exodus 34:5; Numbers 11:25; and 12:5.
In a much longer article at Icthys.com the writer offers an even earlier visitation of Jesus to earth:
In my view (and not only in my view) it was our indeed Lord Jesus Christ who appeared to Adam and Eve in the garden (in Christophany, see the previous link), for He has always been the Father’s representative on earth, appearing for Him and as Him.
This is a long and complex topic, but one it may be helpful to be aware of. In general, if we refer to the verse in Colossians at the top of this article, we see that Paul holds a view of Jesus as creator (or if you wish, co-creator) of the world “by whom all things hold together.”
In the incarnation; the Christmas narrative; we see Jesus entering our world in flesh. Did the baby in the manger have full knowledge of the things which Christ “holds together” today? If not, when did come into the authority and power that could heal the sick, calm the storm and raise the dead?
That’s the subject for great speculation.
Today we’re thankful that God chose this plan, and that through his birth, his death and his resurrection we find salvation.
May you experience the blessing of God on your life this season.
Related: April, 2014 — The Divine One Became Human