Monday, December 21, 2009

The Word Made Flesh

The Word became flesh and dwelled among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

During World War I, Lawrence of Arabia influenced the tribes of Arabia to cast their lot with the Allies. These rough tribesmen said to him: "If you would lead us, you must eat the same food that we eat, find shelter in the same tents in which we dwell, accept the same risks that we accept, meet the same difficulties that we meet, live the same life we live, and live it better than we do."

Jesus did that! "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." No, Jesus didn't get His start in Bethlehem, but Bethlehem became His beachhead, His entry point into human time and human history. And talk about incongruence. The infinite Word became finite flesh. God became man. In Philippians 2, the Apostle Paul uses the term kenosis to describe what Jesus did in becoming flesh. He "emptied" Himself. He humbled Himself. He never ceased to be God, but He subjected His God-ness to the limitations of human flesh.

In the flesh, this Word who could be everywhere all the time could only be in one place at any time.

In the flesh, this Word who had never been tempted would have to wrestle with temptation and even sweat drops of blood to stave it off.

In the flesh, this Word who never slumbers or sleeps would have to get His rest.

In the flesh, this Word who had never known pain could stub His toe in the night or hit his thumb with a hammer.

In the flesh, this Word who only knew sin from a distance could and would bear our sin in His body on the cross. In the flesh, this Word who is eternal could even die … which He did for you and me.

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." No rags to riches for Christ. How about riches to rags?

"The Word became flesh”divinity and humanity linked together, growing together in intimate connection, otherwise, as Calvin put it, “the nearness would not have been near enough.” “The Word became flesh.”

He came down. He came all the way down. He didn’t beam down and enter the world as a man. Though Mary was a virgin when the Holy Spirit overshadowed her and she conceived this child, Jesus was birthed out of a uterus, through a birth canal, and into the world just like we were. He didn’t make reservations at the Waldorf either; He came without reservations, found no vacancies in any motel, and ended up in a dingy, dung-filled stable in Bethlehem. In Voices of the Faithful (Book 1), a missionary writes about a language blooper she made as she was trying to explain the birth of Jesus to her Chinese guest. She tried to say that the newborn Jesus was placed in a feeding trough. But instead of saying the Chinese word for “manger,” she accidentally used the word for “toilet.” The just-born Jesus was placed in a toilet. Maybe she wasn’t as far off as she first thought. When Jesus left the glories of heaven to come down to earth, He didn’t come part way down; He came all the way down. “The Word became flesh”—and in the most humble circumstances of that day.

I have heard of the incarnation of Jesus since my childhood. I have studied it in the Scripture and in theological books. I have preached it for almost 30 years. Yet you know what? I am still utterly amazed by it all.

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