Among Us - God in the Flesh
Advent as if a cheer
Once finished, ask the question, “What’s that spell?” Then ask, “What’s that mean?”
Odds are there will be a humorous silence. Say: “Advent comes from the Latin word adventus and means arrival or appearance.
During these next four weeks of Advent, we are going to be celebrating and anticipating the arrival or appearance of God in the flesh! And it is such a big deal that we spend weeks focusing upon it”
Today we are going to look at the mind-bending concept that Jesus was fully human and fully divine. Explaining that concept is incredibly hard. It wasn’t like part of God entered creation and turned a person into a superhero, and it wasn’t as though he was just a thought or a projection. He was real flesh and blood. Sometimes it’s okay to let the mystery be a mystery. This season of Advent, we will be looking at the first chapter of John. The Gospel of John in many ways can seem mysterious. But this isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes we forget how wondrous and mysterious Christmas is. This series will give us the opportunity to be surprised by God’s entry into this world.
Today we look at the first five verses of John 1.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
The author is making a profound assertion at the very start of his Gospel: that since the very beginning of time, and even before time, there was an entity in existence known as the Word, and this entity not only was with God but was God! Further bolstering the message, John uses language that parallels the story of creation in Genesis 1:1.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John is using language very similar to the genesis account to help readers understand something about Christ.
So, while Matthew starts his Gospel with genealogies tying Christ back to the Davidic kingship, Mark has Jesus bursting onto the scene as a full-grown man focusing on His ministry itself, and Luke informs us of his research methodologies, John begins by informing us that the word was with God from the beginning, And this Word, as we see a few verses later (v. 14), is the only Son of God, Jesus.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
For those who sit on the fence when it comes to the divinity of Jesus, it is important to understand the case John is making here. There is no beating around the bush or trying to explain the meaning away. It is so clear that those who do not believe in the divinity of Jesus have to twist this verse to support their point of view (such as the New World Translation used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses). The point here isn’t to attack other faiths, but it’s worth pointing out the plain meaning of the text. John begins his Gospel by presenting us with such a strong assertion that we are forced to make a choice: Do we believe that the Word that became flesh was God or not?
This is a question that is worth wrestling with as we prepare for the holiday season. In just four short weeks, the main event will be upon us. Most, if not all, of us are probably already beginning to decorate and make plans to see shows, visit family, go shopping, and schedule holiday dinners. What is it all for? Is it a cultural tradition we have bought into, or is there something deeper, beneath the glitz and glam: the God who entered our world and took on flesh for the sake of our salvation? That is the choice that John presents us, and it’s why those five verses are still so relevant. As the great Christmas carol declares, “Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning; Jesus to thee be all glory giv’n; Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing. O come, let us adore him” (John Francis Wade, trans. Frederick Oakelely, “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” https://hymnary.org/text/o_come_all_ye_faithful_joyful_and_triump).