Part 3 – John 1:14 – Jesus is amongst us
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.’
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.’
How can John possibly talk in one and the same breath about flesh and glory in relation to God the Word? Answer – because of the Incarnation – as we call it. My dictionary says incarnation is: the assuming of a human body by the Son of God; the presence of God on earth in the person of Jesus.
Can you imagine yourself taking on the form of an ant and going to live in a vast woodland anthill? That is something like an equivalent of what Jesus did in leaving heaven and coming to live on this earth of ours; not in a big palace or grand house either, with all the nice luxuries that the fortunate folk of the world have these days, but to a working man’s small house in an occupied country long before all the things that we think make life comfortable existed.
In our excitement over the great sacrifice Jesus made for us on the Cross and the way in which his Resurrection makes us sure that all he said and did was true we may forget the importance of the Incarnation that made those things possible. John did not forget the importance of this; indeed he emphasizes it much more than any of the other three Gospel writers as we shall see as we work through what he wrote.
John starts with ‘the Word was God’. He has now said ‘the Word became flesh’. What a wonderful contrast that is.
This is, in many ways, a rather awkward passage. It is often, and rightly, read in church at Christmastime – but it doesn’t quite fit! In many churches the children do a Christmas pageant. Two senior ones are Joseph and Mary with a doll as Jesus. Three older ones are the three wise men, suitably dressed in turbans and robes. Several are shepherds with walking sticks as shepherds crooks. The youngest and smallest children are sheep in woolly clothes. There may even be a donkey somewhere. All very nice and picturesque but where is the scene for the ‘WORD was with God’? Missing. It doesn’t fit.
Yet it is the most important passage in any Gospel on the subject of the Incarnation. God became man.
That is so important. Behind all the fuss and glitz of Christmas: big meals, parties, family get-togethers, presents, commercialization and so on we must never forget the real thing. Many must think – if God has come down to earth we cannot be such a bad lot after all. Wrong! This Gospel is full of judgment and the need to follow Jesus.
One writer lets his imagination fly to get an image of what Jesus did. He points out that almost all the Western films in which someone rescues a town from the bad guys have the good guy, the hero, riding in from outside the town. He is greeted with ‘who are you stranger?’ So it is with our Saviour Jesus. He rides in to our rescue from outside the town, outside the human world. He is the good guy. He is the hero. We must love, honour and worship him. Particularly at Christmas.