Tuesday, January 10, 2012

John 1:14

Merry Christmas! I know we’ve just passed the season, but today we are going to enjoy the celebration 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. (John 1:14)

This verse in John’s gospel very basically tells the Christmas story: God became a man and dwelled among us! So often our focus is on the death and resurrection of Christ, because that is WHY He came here - to save us from our sins by dying in our place on the cross. And even though Christmas is ALL about His birth as a flesh and blood baby, how often do we truly marvel at the Incarnation, God becoming a man?

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.  (Isaiah 7:14)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) [Can you read that without singing it?  Neither can I!]

What difference does it make whether or not we believe that Jesus was both the Son of God and God the Son? Isn’t it enough to believe He lived and died in our place? Why do Christians make such a big deal out of this doctrine?

To deny God came in the flesh is an insult and minimizes the sacrificial work Jesus did on our behalf. It’s not just that He allowed Himself to suffer a tortuous death on the cross (although that alone is amazing - would you do that for ANYONE???), but He also, as God the Son, left His home in Heaven, He left His rightful place sharing the throne with the Father, and He willingly limited Himself by becoming a flesh and blood man, so that He might identify with us and rightfully justify us by living a sinless life. Wrap your brains around that!

Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, exhorts us to have the same attitude as Christ:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)

It’s critical in our understanding of Who Jesus is, that we acknowledge that He is both deity and Man. His DNA is fully God on his Father’s side, and fully man on his mother’s. To deny either is an affront to God and the work He did on our behalf: the sacrifice of God becoming man that we might know Him, and the just, required payment for our sins as the only sinless Man.

The Apostle John testified that he had SEEN Jesus’ glory. He personally witnessed it! And I love that he describes Jesus as “full of grace and truth.” Jon Courson points out that people don’t generally demonstrate both qualities together. Those who are very truthful and tell it like it is are usually harsh and hard to be around. They can be extremely judgmental. On the other hand, those who are full of grace seldom are fully forthright and truthful - they will overlook, rather than affirm weaknesses. Jesus was able to be fully truthful while somehow extending grace to the most sinful (think of his encounter with the woman caught in adultery or the Samaritan woman at the well). Don’t you love Him for that?? May we demonstrate those qualities to those around us!

LORD Jesus, how we thank you that you came to Earth as a man and lived among us that you might be our High Priest who “is able to empathize with our weaknesses . . who has been tempted in every way, just as we are,” yet without sinning! (Hebrews 4:15) We are in awe that you left your throne to take on the body of a vulnerable baby, to be completely submitted to the will of the Father, that we might be saved!

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