THE WORD BECAME FLESH
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
There was a little boy who wanted a bicycle, so he asks his mom, to which she replies that maybe if he prays, God might provide him a bike. So, he decides to write a prayer letter …”Dear God, if you give me a bike I promise I will stop sinning for a whole year…” Excited, he races down to the mailbox to post his letter, but on his way, notices a picture of Jesus on the cross in the hallway; suddenly feels guilty because he knows that it’s impossible for him not to sin for that long. A bit discouraged he heads back upstairs. He sits down and pens another letter to Jesus…”Dear Lord, if you give me a bike, I promise I won’t sin for a whole month…” He walks back down to the mailbox but immediately leaving the house he sees the lawn ornament of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in the nativity scene and feels guilty again. So, he picks Mary and Joseph up and takes them into his room. He stuffs the statues deep inside his toy box and begins drafting another letter. “Dear Jesus, if you ever want to see your family again… give me a red mountain bike.”
In a way, we can all relate to this child who suddenly realized the weight of the guilt of his sin. Luckily for us, we don’t have to resort to kidnapping to get God’s attention. In fact, the whole Christmas story is all about how God himself came after us even when we refuse to pay him any attention. He did this through his Word. For since the dawn of creation, God not only created everything by his word, he also revealed himself to humanity through his word. Then because of disobedience to his word, sin entered the world and effectively destroyed our relationship with God. Yet, for many generations, God began rebuilding his relationship with his people through his word. Finally, God gave his word in the form of a great promise to his people—to bring them back to him again—so that we may put our faith and hope in him again.
From this, we can see just how precious God’s word is. It’s the most significant evidence of God’s continuous involvement in creation. Not once has he ever abandoned his people. We can have full assurance in the word of God, because we know that God is faithful, God is trustworthy, and he always tells the truth. God’s word is the evidence of His personal presence in the lives of his people. As long as his people hold on to his word, they can be assured that he’s always with them. More importantly, we can also be secure in God’s word because we know that he absolutely loves us. So, we can say that the Christmas story is all about God’s faithfulness, how he fulfilled his word, and displayed his love for the whole world.
The apostle John summarizes it like this, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” When we consider what John’s says here, there are some questions we need to think about: For example: Who is John talking about? What exactly does this mean? How can we understand what the author is trying to teach us when he personifies the word of God? What does it mean to “see his glory?” How did it come to be that God began speaking through his Son? Lastly, what do his words, “full of grace and truth,” teach us about the meaning and purpose of Christmas?
So, let’s re-read verse 14 together and consider the Christmas story through this verse. John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
FIRST, we see this curious statement that John makes, “The Word became flesh.” How do we begin to make sense of this? When we look at verses 1 and 2 of this chapter, we get some insight into who John is talking about. They read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” John here is explaining that God’s Word is very much alive. His Word has existed from eternity, and in fact the Word is very much equal to God in every way.
Where else do we see the Word working in the Bible? We see it right from the beginning, in the first chapter of Genesis. The Word of God right in the middle of all the chaos, creating and shaping the world. Out of nothing, he created this whole universe. So, we see that the Word is not something abstract, an idea or force somewhere out there, the Word is a person. In fact, he is God himself. And this same God is the one who came down from heaven and put on flesh. He left heaven and all the glory of heaven to come down to us in the form of a baby, Jesus— The Son of God. Here’s how the apostle Paul describes the Son of God in Colossians 1:15-20, “1The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
Almighty God stepped down from his throne, leaving behind the wonderful fellowship he had with his father, as well as all the comfort, the joy and glory in heaven, the power, and the prestige. He was unbound, unrestricted by anything, unconfined by time. He layed aside the constant worship and service of his angels and attendants in His Holy Palace. He willingly did it, so that he can become a mere weakling human mortal. It’s like if a human being decides to become an insect in order to mingle with insects. Who would ever want to do such a thing? Our God did. He did because he loved us so much that he wanted to be reconciled once more to us after having been separated from us since our fall in the garden of Eden. So, God left everything in heaven and took on the form of a helpless human child, born to a poor family inside a dirty manger/barn for many reasons: But one good reason was so that there wouldn’t be anyone who won’t be able to approach him. This is what the Christmas story is about. God almighty, fulfilling his great promise, taking the first step necessary to reconcile us with himself when we ourselves couldn’t— although we were the ones who broke that relationship in the first place. And God continues to reach out to those who are lost. (Heb. 1:1-2)
Jesus is God’s final word to all mankind. He is all that God wants to communicate. Through Jesus, God calls us all to repent and to turn to him. His life shines bright as an example for us to follow. Once we can understand the significance of God, fulfilling his word, and putting on human flesh for our sake, we can then begin to sense the gravity of what the word of God says.
Let’s read v. 14 again, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The SECOND thing that John tells us about Christ— the Word of God— is that he “made his dwelling among us”. When we see the mighty creator God coming to dwell/to stay with and to live a day-to-day life with his people, what do you think is on his heart? Why couldn’t God have just made a glorious appearance for a day, as a full-grown adult and then return to heaven? Why enter the world as a baby? Jesus had to be taught basic things like walking and talking, reading and writing as a boy growing up. He was taught by his father the meaning of adulthood, how to live before God, how to set the moral example for others and how to work hard at everything— and all this as he was growing up among his people. (Phil. 2:5-8)
Jesus experienced everything most men would experience. He’d experience many joyous moments in his life. He knew what it’s like to love and feel loved by family and by friends, even by strangers. He also knew pain and sorrow. Like many people, Jesus experienced the pain and the sorrow and hardship of losing loved ones. He knew what it was like to hope, and how it felt to be disappointed. Jesus very personally experienced the pain of betrayal many times in his life, even at the hands of one of his close friends. And as difficult as it may be living in this world, Jesus willingly chose to go through it all for our sake. And all this shows us God’s deep, compassionate, shepherd heart for fallen mankind like us. He lived our lives! So, God knows better than anyone exactly what you are going through. He is able to relate. Together with people, God experienced joy and fun just as we do. God also cries and sorrows with us, when we are hurting inside. God knew the hardships and temptations of the day-to-day very well. And he struggled very much to overcome sin as well. Yet, not once did he ever yield to its temptation.
And so, Jesus became the perfect example for us to follow in life. Jesus opened his life for everybody to come and be with him, and to learn from him. He taught people to live for God as he himself lived it out. Even more, he taught about the eternal hope of the kingdom of God. In Jesus, our dignity as human beings was restored! In Christ, we no longer live to struggle and survive for the next day; rather, we now live a new life in worship to God. We are now blessed as our purpose in life now is to live for the glory of God, rather than to eat from day to day. So why did God come and dwell among us, in such a way? Scripture explains it this way in 2 Cor. 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” This is the Christmas message then— the message we need to hold to in our hearts— that God willingly became poor, so that we might, through him, become rich. And he did this by offering the best gift anybody can ever offer— the life of his One and Only Son.
Let’s look once again at John 1:14 again, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” We now see here how John testifies about Christ, the incarnate God. He talks about seeing Christ’s glory! When we think about the word glory, what might we imagine? We imagine things that are loud, spectacular, grand and awesome. We imagine big shiny things that draw crowds. The dictionary defines glory as: magnificence or great in beauty. something that is beautiful or distinctive; a special cause for pride, respect, or delight; splendor and bliss. So, when we think about God’s glory, we usually imagine Christ riding on the clouds of heaven with legions of his angel armies following close behind him, approaching with a thunderous, ground-quaking sound and loud trumpets blowing. While that is something we will one day most certainly see, it isn’t what John was talking about here. What did John actually see when he wrote, “we have seen his glory?”
Well, you must remember that John was one of Jesus’ closest disciples. He was one of the few who accepted Jesus’ invitation to spend his life learning from him. For years, John spent personal, quality time with Jesus day in and day out. Everywhere he went, John followed. He witnessed the type of life Jesus led. He saw Jesus taking care of people all day long. He saw Jesus almost always tired and exhausted from the work he was doing. He saw Jesus hassled by the religious authorities, yet he loved them also and never once retaliated against them. During his time spent with Jesus, John also practiced imitating Jesus ministry and life of serving and preaching the good news of the kingdom of God. John saw Jesus’ desire to bring people back to God. In Jesus, he saw a close friend, and at the same time someone he can call “Lord” and “Master.” John saw Jesus’ humble nature and his willingness to sacrifice himself. When John looked at Jesus, he saw God. He realized God’s compassionate, humble, patient, loving, and merciful character. He saw a God who deeply desired to be reconciled rather than destroy us for the sin we had committed against him. Jesus glory therefore, is his sacrificial nature, that he would give of himself to us and for us, so that we may be restored; so that we may not perish but have life. Who can see the glory of God? Only those whose hearts are opened and ready to receive the Christ; only those who are humble. The Bible teaches that only those whose hearts desire washing and purification by Jesus can witness the full glory of God (Mt. 5:8).
In addition to the disciples, there were others in the Bible who witnessed the glory of God. Like the shepherds on the night he was born; or the Magi from the East. The gospel of Luke tells us of Simeon in the temple, who was looking forward to the Lord’s salvation. There was the prophetess Anna who spent all her life at the temple waiting for God to fulfill his promise, and when the baby Jesus was presented at the temple she saw God’s glory in this little child. All of them responded in the same way— offering God worship and sacrifice offerings of love and devotion and of service to the one whose glory was so evident. We have a small ministry which isn’t very impressive. But the glory of Jesus is evident in the lives of all those whom God called to his Son to serve him. We are honored that in this small and unimpressive ministry, the Lord’s glory for us is to live simple lives honoring his purpose and bringing the gospel to all people.
John says something else about the real meaning of Christmas. He says, Jesus came “full of grace and truth”. Let’s read the key verse once more, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)” The Son of God came down to us. Full of heaven’s grace, to reveal the father. John previously testified about this very grace saying, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (v.4-5) And again he says, “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” (v. 9) God did not abandon us in this dark world. He did not allow us to live in the shadow of death any longer. In Jesus, we find salvation; our souls are filled with the light of Christ. Jesus coming to us full of grace, is Jesus coming to us in the love of the Father and full of his forgiveness. The fact is that none of us deserve that forgiveness. This is his glory, which we can only also see if we humble ourselves this Christmas and given thanks for his precious gift of forgiveness.
Think about verse 5 again, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Light has a unique characteristic to it: it reveals things that are in the dark. God’s grace for all mankind beckons us/calls us to live by this light—God’s truth. We can no longer live for ourselves, living a self-seeking life. We must live for the glory of God, by walking in love, purity, sacrificially, under the lordship of Jesus Christ—to live by truth. Only when we live this way can we overcome the darkness. Jesus coming to us full of truth, means that Jesus comes to bring us the one truth that is absolute and universal—the truth of his Living and Active word, which when it is working in us, transforms our lives into God’s living testimony of his gospel. This Christmas let’s open our hearts and see the precious Word who became flesh to make his dwelling in our hearts and to let him guide our lives in the way of grace and truth. Let us give him the worship he fully deserves, and let us properly honor him by sacrificing our time, our money, possessions, all that we have to give him the glory he deserves. God bless you. Amen.