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The Word Became Flesh

I had originally planned to wrap up the book of 1 Samuel this morning, but for a variety of reasons, I’ve decided to put that off for today, and instead, I’d like to begin turning our focus towards Christmas. I think Hope and all the kids have done a great job of starting that already as they take us through the progression of advent.

As we enter the season of Christmas, I think it’s important that we remind ourselves of it’s significance. Christmas is not just another holiday. It is foundational to our faith. Without the reality of that first Christmas, we truly would have no reason for hope, joy, or peace! The physical birth of Jesus Christ is central to our understanding of the Gospel. And so this morning, I want to remind us of the significance of Christmas.

Now the passage that I want to look at today isn’t one of your typical Christmas passages. It’s not directly related to the story of Mary & Joseph or the wisemen or the shepherds or even one of the many prophecies in the Old Testament that point us towards the birth of the Messiah. But it is very much related to the birth of Christ.

Each of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John) – all tell the story of Jesus, but they are all very different in how they approach the story of his birth. For example, Matthew tends to focus on Jesus’ father, Joseph, and he spends a great deal of time explaining the visit of the wise men and how King Herod reacted to the birth of this new born king! In contrast to that, Luke focuses more on Mary – and doesn’t even mention the wisemen, but he includes the details of the shepherds who were out in the fields and how the angels announced Jesus’ birth to them. Then, in contrast to both of Luke & Matthew, Mark skips over Jesus’ birth entirely and jumps into the story after Jesus was already an adult.

And that leaves us with the Gospel of John – which presents Jesus’ birth in yet another way. John doesn’t really give us any specific, historic details of Jesus’ birth, but rather, he gives us a brief summary or introduction to who Jesus is and then explains why Jesus was born – rather than giving us all the details of how Jesus was born. It’s a bit more of a big picture view rather than a detailed series of events.

And so that’s what I want to look at this morning. In the weeks ahead, we’ll go through the stories and events of how Jesus came to be born, but I want to start with the more foundational issue and that is “Who exactly is this Jesus who was born some 2000 years ago and what is so significant about his birth?”

The passage I want to look at this morning is the very first verses of the Gospel of John. So if you have your Bibles or your Bible apps, you can turn to the Gospel of John chapter 1, and we’ll be starting at verse 1 – going down to verse 14. And I think we’ll read through the whole passage first, then we’ll come back and slowly work our way through it, digging out some of the key truths about Jesus as we go along.

So let’s begin at verse 1.

1 In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

2 He existed in the beginning with God.

3 God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.

4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.

5 The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.

6 God sent a man, John the Baptist, 7 to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. 8 John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. 9 The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

John 1:1-14

Now there is a lot of stuff packed in those verses and we certainly won’t get a chance to unpack it all today, but let’s see if we can at least pull a few key truths out of that we can chew on for a little bit this morning.

Let’s start with verse 1 and 2.

1 In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

2 He existed in the beginning with God.

John 1:1-2

Even in just these first two little verses, there is an incredible amount of information about who Jesus is. First of all, you’ll notice that John doesn’t refer to Jesus as ‘Jesus’ in these verses – he refers to him as ‘the Word’. Of course, as we continue to read, we see that John makes that connection for us – that ‘Jesus’ and ‘the Word’ are one and the same. So why doesn’t John just  start with that and say “Jesus” instead of ‘the Word’ in these verses? Wouldn’t that simpler? It might be simpler, but it wouldn’t be quite as accurate.

You see, Jesus is the name that was given to him only after he was born as a human baby. We read about that in Matthew chapter 1, verse 21…

“Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 

Matthew 1:20b-21

So Jesus was given the name ‘Jesus’ at his birth – but he existed long before that. According to these verses in John, Jesus did not come into existence when he was born as Mary’s child, but rather, He has always existed since before the beginning of the world. 

This is important for us to understand – Jesus has existed eternally. This is very different from you and I. I did not exist 100 years ago! Not as ‘Dave’ or as anything else. I wasn’t some bodiless spirit – hanging out with God in heaven, waiting to be born on earth… No. I only came into existence some 42 years ago! God created me and gave me life.

Psalm 139 talks about how God knit us together in our mother’s womb. We are created beings, but the person of Jesus is not.

1 In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

2 He existed in the beginning with God.

John 1:1-2

John makes it very clear to us that Jesus was not just another part of God’s good creation – He was not just a created being like every one of us. But rather, He has existed eternally. He is with God and is God.

He is with God because he is the second person of the Godhead. As you read through the Scriptures, we see three distinct persons who together make up the Godhead.  We most often refer to them as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are three distinct persons who make up one God. And I don’t intend to spend a lot of time trying to explain the trinity this morning, but I do want us to understand that John is clearly telling us that ‘the Word’ is part of the Godhead. He is with God and He is God.

In fact, John goes on to say how the Word was the key figure in Creation.

3 God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.

4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.

John 1:3-4

So before Jesus was born as a human baby, he existed eternally as the second person of the Godhead – and it was through Him that everything was created and given life! He is our Creator.

Now when you think about that in the context of the Christmas story – that’s just wild to think about!

That tiny little newborn baby that Mary & Joseph held in their arms, was actually the very Being who created everything. He was the one who gave life to everything. 

Can you imagine looking down at your little baby – looking at those tiny little fingers and toes – and then trying to wrap your head around the fact that that little baby created the universe. That little baby gave life to everything on the planet! That’ll little baby created you!

That seems like such a paradox! It’s such an impossibility – but that’s exactly what the Bible says!

If you jump down to verse 14 we read it clearly:

14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. John 1:14 NLT

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. John 1:14 NIV

This is probably the most incredible aspect of the Christmas story. The Word – the one who has existed eternally – the who was with God and who was God – the One who created the world and gave life to all things – that infinite God chose to become human – like one of his creations.  He took on a body of flesh and made his home among us.

And just as a little side note – what does that tell you about how much God loves and values the people that He has created?

How much worth does God see in us that he would clothe himself in humanity and make his home among us? And not just temporarily either! The Word didn’t just take on flesh for the thirty-some years that Jesus walked on the earth. This was a permanent arrangement. Christ’s humanity wasn’t just some costume that Jesus put on at birth and would later take off.

God permanently fused his diety with our humanity – Jesus will forever be fully God and fully human! That’s incredible! And why would He do that? So that he could make his home among us!

I tell ya, I don’t think we have clue about how valuable we are to God and how much God loves each one of us. 

But in fact, sadly, most of the world doesn’t even acknowledge his existence.

John speaks to that in verse 10

10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. John 1:10-11

As you read through the New Testament, you see that very few people recognized Jesus for who he really was! And on one hand, that’s probably understandable. And as we’ve already pointed out – it’s hard to see how that little baby laying in a manger could be the Creator of the world! Or even as Jesus grew up – who’s going to conclude that the kid selling furniture with his dad was the second person of the eternal Godhead? Those seem like such crazy notions!

But on the other hand, maybe it wasn’t so crazy. After all, for years the people of Israel had been anxiously awaiting their promised Savior and Messiah. The Scriptures were filled with prophecies about him (as we’ve seen through some our advent readings). As Jesus grew up and fulfilled more and more of those prophecies – living a sinless life in perfect obedience to God – and then as he preached about the Kingdom of Heaven and did all those amazing miracles – and clearly claimed to be the Son of God – the excuses for not believing in him quickly disappeared. And then, after seeing how Jesus died on a cross and rose again from the grave three days later, I really don’t know how anyone could justify not believing in him.

But yet, as John tells us…

10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. John 1:10-13

And that’s really the crux of Christmas. The Word became flesh so that we might become children of God. Or to put it another way – God came to dwell with us so that we might forever dwell with Him.

One of the key prophecies regarding the birth of Jesus is Isaiah 7:14 which says…

Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). Isaiah 7:14b

This has been God’s plan and purpose since the beginning – He desires to be with us! We see that throughout the pages of Scripture from beginning to end. In Genesis at the beginning of time, we see how God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden – just talking and walking and enjoying being with them. In Revelation at the end of time you see the same imagery – Revelation 21:3 says…

3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.

Revelation 21:3

This is the theme of the Bible – God deeply loves the people that He has created and He desires to be with them – so much so, that He Himself took on flesh. He irreversibly merged his deity with our humanity.

And he did that, not just so that he could spend those 30+ years on earth some 2000 years ago, but rather, he became human so that he could die a human death in our place – taking the punishment for our sin, so that we might be forgiven and be able to live in the presence of God. It was the only way that He could be with us forever.

In Colossians chapter 1, Paul talks about about this and he actually repeats much of what we just read in the first chapter of John. Have a look at Colossians 1 starting at verse 15 – Paul writes:

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,

16 for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.

17 He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together.

Sounds familiar, right? Paul continues…

18 Christ is also the head of the church,
which is his body.
He is the beginning,
supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything.

19 For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,

20 and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

Colossians 1:15-22

From before the beginning of time, this has been God’s plan to be with us! Even before he made the world, God knew how wicked we would become. He knew that we would reject him and would choose to live life apart from him. But that didn’t change how much God loved us and wanted to be with us!

Knowing that our sin would separate us from him for eternity, God chose to become one of us, so that some of us could choose to be with him. I guess more accurately, any of us could choose to be with him. God’s gift of life is available to everyone – but as John reminds us, most people will choose to reject that gift.

10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. John 1:10-11

The Bible is pretty clear – and we can see that for ourselves even today – that many people will fail to recognize Jesus for who he really is. Despite the wealth of information we have at our fingertips even today, the majority of people fail to recognize that the little baby that we sing about at Christmas time was actually the God of Heaven – our Creator – the author of life. They fail to see that the God who made us, loved us so much that he became one of us so that we might be with him for eternity.

I hope and pray that you are not one of those people who fail to see the reality of who Jesus is. Instead, I pray that you are one of the people that John talks about in verse 12.

12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.

Is that you? Have you believed and accepted Jesus for who He really is? Have you recognized him as Creator and as your Lord and Savior? Have you become a child of God?

I pray that this Christmas all of us would have a renewed understanding of who Jesus is – and that we would more fully believe in him and truly accept him as our Lord and Saviour.

For many of us who have been Christians for a long time, it’s pretty easy to forget the significance of Christmas because we’ve heard the story so many times! We have the head knowledge that Jesus was the Son of God, but do we have the life-changing heart-knowledge – a real understanding of how significant it is that our God and Creator would become one of us so that we could be with him for eternity?

Once you really get that, it’s pretty hard to see Christmas as just another holiday! Christmas becomes an amazing celebration of God’s incredible love for each one of us – and it truly changes the way we live!

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