The God, the Man and You!John 1:1-14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. The Word became flesh and dwelt (ejskhnwsen, tabernacled) among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. (John 1:1-2,14)
In many times and in many manners God spoke to our fathers of old by the prophets; but in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world. (Hebrews 1:1-2)
One of the surprises when you read John's Gospel is that there is no Christmas story. No mangers, no shepherds, no angels, no wise men, no heavenly choirs, and no doubting Joseph and his dreams. There is no risky flight to Egypt, no visits by Magi bearing gifts. John leaves all that for Matthew and Luke to tell. And yet I find John’s account of Jesus one of the greatest Christmas messages ever.
John assumes you already know the important details of the birth of Jesus. And if you don't, you can consult Matthew and Luke. John assumes you know what Jesus did and what He said. And if you don't, you can consult Matthew and Luke, or if you're in a hurry and want the Reader Digest version read Mark. But simply knowing what Jesus did and said may not help you know who Jesus really is. That's John's burden. He's less interested in telling you what Jesus did and said than He in describing Jesus identity. John recognized that you could recite all the fact about Jesus and still not understand who Jesus is. That's why John has no birth story, no parables, only seven select miracles and why John has all those "I am" sayings of Jesus. They tell us who Jesus is.
When John put pen to paper, it almost sounds as though he were trying to rewrite the Bible starting with Genesis, which is actually what he was doing. He was rewriting the Torah in terms of Jesus. In fact, John borrowed a couple of images and pressed them into use. From the Jewish rabbis, he borrowed the notion that the Torah was the divine Word. The rabbis said that the Torah was in the beginning with God. John also borrowed from the Greek Gnostics of his day who were saying that the "Logos," or divine spark, was the light and life of all. John bundled these two together - Torah and Logos - and wrapped them up in the flesh and blood humanity of Jesus with this theological powerful statement: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, full of grace and truth, and we have beheld is glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” And with that one little sentence, John removes the arguments of both the Jews and Greeks. The eternal Word, the Torah of the Jews, the Logos of the Greeks, the ordering Power and Principle of the Universe, the Second Person of the Undivided Trinity, however you wish to describe Him, became flesh, a human being born of a human mother, and dwelt among us in the fullness of God's glory. Wow!
Now it's not as though He hadn't been with us before He made His dwelling in our flesh. John is quite clear on that point too. Jesus is the eternal Word who was with God in the beginning, and is Himself God. Through Him all things were made. He’s the light of the world, literally the first Word spoken into the darkness of creation on Day One. In Him is Life with a capital L. All living things find their life in Him (T). He is the Word that called living plants from the ground on Day Three, who put fish in the sea, birds in the air, critters on the ground, who made man from the mud and breathed life into him. There is nothing in all creation that doesn't owe its existence to the (T) Word - not you, not me, not even my dog or your cat. And so there never was a time, when the Word wasn't among us.
The author to the Hebrews says exactly same thing. He begins his book by saying that God spoke His Word to our father of old in many times and in many ways. In other words, the Word through whom all things were made popped up to show Himself at various times and in various ways. The pillar of cloud or fire, the burning bush, the rock in the wilderness, the cloud of glory that filled the tabernacle, to name a few. But now, in these last days, the end times in which we live, God has spoken His last Word, which is also the first Word, through His elect Son, the heir of all things, the Word through whom He created the world.
And so, the Word who has been with the creation since the creation, the Light and Life of all, who appeared in various times and manners, now in these last days has taken up residence in the tent of our humanity to dwell among us as one of us. That's Christmas in a nutshell.
Wrap your mind around that for a moment. The baby lying in the manger, drooling, sucking, soiling his diapers, nursing at his mother's breast, burping, spitting up, doing all that terribly human baby stuff is God. God of God, Light of light, very God of very God, the only-begotten Son of the Father by whom all things were made.
The eternal Word has fingers and toes and a nose and two eyes and hair. Just like you, but without the hindrance of sin, without our inborn blindness to the Light of light, without our deafness to God's Word, without our self-centeredness. He's like us as God intended us to be. He re-creates our humanity in God's image. In Him is life, our life. We are in Him - conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin because in His humanity we have been joined with Him. You see, we're not simply celebrating the birth of Jesus at Christmas, we're celebrating our own re-birth, the re-birth of humanity in Jesus.
Mary could hardly contain these things in her heart. Shepherds were hard pressed to understand it. Theologians have struggled with it, councils have argued over it, churches have fought and divided over it. You yourself may be filled with doubt. How can this be? How can God be man and not cease to be God? How can man be God and not cease to be man? How can the infinite Word become finite flesh? How can the fullness of God dwell the bodily form named Jesus?
John reminds us that we don't have to understand a person in order to relate to him. I don't always understand my wife, and she certainly doesn't always understand me. And she's usually hard-pressed to explain me or make sense out of all the quirks that make up how God wired me. But that lack of comprehension doesn't mean we can't relate to each other as husband and wife. In fact, the mystery is what makes it kind of fun. You never know what to expect.
You don't need to explain how the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, any more than you need to explain how water can be a Baptism of the Holy Spirit or bread can be the Body of Christ or wine His Blood. You need only take the Word at His Word and enjoy the company. The darkness need not understand the light to receive it; it only needs to be darkness. And the darkness can't keep out the light or overcome it. Light always fills the emptiness of the darkness, as it did on Day One.
The dead don't need to understand the life in order to receive it; they need only be dead. Life always fills the emptiness of death. We who sit in the darkness, in the shadow of death, need only trust that the Light that gives light to all people shines on us in the Person named Jesus. Our unbelief doesn't keep Jesus from being our Light and our Life and our Salvation. He is that whether we believe it or not. Just as He is the Word that creates us and holds us together, whether we believe it or not. Our unbelief does get in the way of our enjoying His Light and Life, recognizing it, resting in it. And it certainly makes the ride of death and resurrection a miserable thing while we kick and scream in the back seat.
The Mystery of the universe has shown us His face and told us His Name. The One whom the physicists probe for, and mathematicians calculate, the One whom the mystics seek by the searching, the Secret to the universe, the Light that enlightens all men, the Life that gives life to all - you know who He is. You may not fully understand Him, but you know who He is. He is Jesus - Mary's kid - God's Son in the flesh!
That's why angels sing and shepherds worship and Mary ponders, even though she knows the facts about her Son better than anyone. And there is plenty here to ponder, even for those of us who know the facts. God and man are reconciled, brought together in the eternal Son.
The Word became Flesh. How wonderful it is to be human today! How honored we are, that the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us! His birth and life, His suffering and death, His burial and resurrection, His body and blood. All are yours, for you are His for He did it all to save you. In the name of Jesus, Amen and amen.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. AMEN