Can you believe it? Christmas less than five weeks away! And me without a breath of Christmas spirit. Maybe writing will help. So . . . here starts an occasional “Advent” blog.
The best-told Christmas narrative is Luke’s. But, actually the story starts with John’s “non-Christmas” gospel prologue. No angels or shepherds or inns or mangers. Not “folksy” or warm and wonderful. Mysterious. Mind-stretching. He begins with . . .
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 1:1,2).
“In the beginning”. Directly connected to Genesis 1:1–“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. This One, whom John calls “ . . . the Word”, was there. And he “was God”. God. Yet separate from God.
“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). “The Word” spoke. And all things came into being.
That decidedly contradicts the most prominent “scientific” view–“the universe as we know it started with a small singularity, then inflated over the next 13.8 billion years to the cosmos that we know today”. (These sites discuss that theory further–but have nothing to do with Christmas!)
And Christmas is what I’m writing about, though it doesn’t sound like it until John 1:14a . . .
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”. That’s John’s Christmas narrative. Four words. “The Word became flesh . . . “The Word”, who was God (therefore, spirit–John 4:24), came to be a flesh-and-blood human.
“The Second Person in God, God the Son, became human Himself: was born into the world as an actual man—a real man of a particular height, with hair of a particular color, speaking a particular language, weighing so many stone. The Eternal Being, who knows everything, and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby and before that a fetus inside a Woman’s body . . . He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity . . . down to the very roots and seabed of the Nature he had created . . . But he goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined [believing] world with Him” (C.S. Lewis, The Joyful Christian, p. 51,52).
He came In order to be seen and known . . .
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).
John and others saw “glory”—the outshining of God the Father’s being. “ . . . full of grace (God’s unmerited love) and truth (God’s covenant-keeping, faithful reliability)”. In “the Word”, they saw God who loves the unlovable. They saw God who can be trusted.
“The Word became flesh” in order to shine light in the darkness . . .
In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:4,5).
“ . . . darkness”. The realm of death and evil. Death claims us all. And evil is rampant, it’s commonplace. But, thirty years later, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
He came also to make us to be what we can’t make of ourselves . . .
“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:10-13).
The world “the Word” created didn’t know him, didn’t want him. But some welcomed him. Believed in him. To those (to us) “the Word” gave the right to become God’s children. Children not naturally born. “ . . . born of God.” By the Spirit. From above (John 3:3,5). From where the Word was in the beginning. He came to make us like himself.
“flesh . . . “ John could have said “became man”. But, instead “flesh”. Sarx. Implying weakness. Vulnerability. Perishableness. What we are to make us like he was before.
“God . . . entered the world as a baby . . . His face is prunish and red. His cry, though strong and healthy, is still the helpless and piercing cry of a baby . . . Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of [the manger’s] sheep manure and sweat. Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager in the presence of a carpenter . . . This baby had overlooked the universe” (Max Lucado, When God Came Near).
It’s his birth we celebrate. May we do it with awe.