The Word Became Flesh: A Christmas Miracle
December 23, 2011 1 Comment
Christmas time is here! Kids are foaming at the mouth waiting to open presents, college students are back home with their families, adults are running around making last-minute preparations, and soon Santa Claus will be coming to town.
In the coming days, the story of Jesus’ birth will be read around dinner tables, in churches, and by Linus in the Charlie Brown Christmas special. The most common account is found in the second chapter of Luke’s Gospel. Probably my favorite version of the Christmas story is found in John 1:1-18 (emphasis added):
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 any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
This may not sound like a Christmas Story, I mean, where’s the baby, angels, and wise men? Despite missing the typical Christmas elements, this prologue to the rest of John’s Gospel points out that Jesus has been in existence since the beginning of time: He was present at creation (v. 1-3), He was foretold by the Law given to Moses (v. 17), came to Earth as baby, fully God and fully man, in Bethlehem (v. 14), and is now is in heaven with God the Father (v. 18). In other words, Jesus is the pinnacle and culmination of salvation history!
Not only does this passage highlight the eternal nature of Jesus, it outlines the reason that the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The Messiah that had been foretold as early as Genesis 3:15 had finally arrived without pomp and circumstances, but in the humble setting of the manger surrounded by animals. There was no loud parade or baby shower to celebrate the King of King and Lord of Lords, just the sounds (and smells) of livestock. In fact, a few days after He was born, He was already on the run from those who wanted to end His life. Though He would be rejected by many of the very people He created in the beginning and those later called out as His chosen people (the Jewish nation), He persevered so that those that “did receive Him, who believed in His name” would be given the “right to become children of God.” He came to bring eternal life as a light in the darkness of sinful humanity.
As you celebrate Christmas this weekend, remember that the baby in the manger is the eternal Word in human form: a baby that would grow in “wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52), live a life free of sin (but not free of temptation), take our sins upon Him on the cross, and rise again three days later to conquer sin and death. Those that do receive Him through repentance, submission, and faith are given eternal life, a new purpose, and are made co-heirs with Christ. All of this made possible not by anything that we can do, but only through the will of God (v. 13).
This is the miracle of Christmas; this is the Gospel!
Learn It. Love It. Live It.
[image credit: MTSOfan on Flickr]