I don’t know if you have realized this or not, but it is Christmas time. The stores have stocked up with all their Christmas decor. Everyone is blasting Christmas music wherever the go. Starbucks even has the red cups out. It must be Christmas! However it is so easy to miss the miracle of what we are celebrating, the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle John doesn’t neglect this amazing miracle as he writes in the beginning of his Gospel about the Word becoming flesh from John 1:1-14
Through out Christendom most people have been taught quickly that Jesus is the Word. In fact most people in their minds just take out John’s “Word” and simply replace it with “Jesus”. Because we all know that is what John means…
But surely John is using the metaphor for a reason. Surely it must have some sort of theological significance. The Gospel writers never seem to do half hazardly. Everything is done with precise detail and intentionality.
In fact, if one puts themselves in the place of a brand new reader to the book of John, with no presuppositions or preconceptions, John is almost building up tension and anticipation. Whoever this “Word” is, he is someone special. Immediately, John connects this “Word” to the creator God himself. Early Jewish readers would have picked up on the allusion to Genesis 1:1. Instead of in the beginning God, John replaces “God” with “the Word”. Wow! Even from the beginning of this letter, John is highlighting the divinity of this “Word”. Whoever this “Word” is, he is not an ordinary person. John intentionally places “the word” in this most precious position highlighting that this person is creator God.
Early readers, would surely know that there was a well known prophet named John the Baptist. He had grown in popularity as he baptized people and begin to preach repentance to the people. This man looked and sounded like the kind of prophets the people used to have, guys like Isaiah and Jeremiah. He sounds a lot like them.
You see, the people had not heard anything from God for the past 400 years. God had a habit of raising up human individuals to be his mouth piece. These men, called prophets, would in essence proclaim the word of God. With the arrival of John the Baptist on the scene, I’m sure the rumblings of the people of Abraham begin to stir.
Could it be? Has God finally broken his silence? Is John the Baptist the Messiah we have waited so long for? Has the Word of God finally come?
The writer, John the apostle, (apparently John was a very popular name back then, much like today) makes it absolutely clear that John the Baptist is not the Word, he is simply a witness about this Word, this light that is to come. John the Baptist himself was not this light, he was simply a witness to the light. He was preparing the way for the arrival of this special Word, this light that is the hope of men.
Beware, John is getting ready to give us a spoiler of the story in the next few verses. This Word, the creator God, is going to come into the world, but the world is not going to recognize him. Even God’s own people, who should be able to recognize his Word better than anyone else, is going to reject him. However, there will be those who believe, and these people are going to become the children of God. This people, who become the children of God, are not born from the flesh or even the will of man, but they will be born of God. John will continue this idea later on in John 3 when a guy named Nicodemus gets confused of the idea of being “born again”.
John continues. This Word, this Godly essence and being, is going to become flesh and dwell among us. Take a moment and grasp the reality of this truth. God himself, is coming to the earth. God himself is going to put on flesh. God is going to become skin and bones. God is going to be born of a woman. God is going to come out crying like a baby. God himself is going to fall down and skin his knee. God himself is going go through the awkward stage of puberty. God himself is going to be teased as his words squeak as his voice changes. God himself is going to be mocked, teased, abused, rejected, and crucified. God himself is going to die.
The Word became flesh.
God became like us. He became our brother. He became one of us.
John also makes a point to mention that God is going to dwell with us. Now God has dwelt with his people before. In fact, John’s language here brings us back to the idea of the tabernacle. When the nation of Israel came out of Egypt, God instructed them to build a tent, a tabernacle, in which he would dwell. He gave them specific instructions on how to build his dwelling place on this earth. Within the tabernacle God dwelt with his people.
This Word, John mentions is going to dwell on this earth. The creator God is going to step in to his creation. Imagine a painter who literally enters into the world of his painting or an author who literally comes into the world of his novel, so God himself literally enters into this world. However God is not going to reside in an ark, a tent, or a temple. God puts on flesh. Skin and bone.
At this Christmas season, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Word who became flesh. We have cheesy christmas productions at our churches. We force our children to dress up like shepherds and animals. And if your a really cool church you put on amazing productions with real life livestock. We have special services and sing the good ol Christmas carols. We drink our hot cocoa and peppermint lattes and argue with our neighbors how important it is to keep “Christ in Christmas”, all the while we forget to be awed by the miracle that is the incarnation. God became a man. The all powerful creator of the universe humbled himself and became a baby. A baby who came to die for the sins of the world. May our holiday and Christmas activity never cease to dull our awareness to this most incredible miracle. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.