Ready or not, here it is!!!! That's right, the Christmas season is upon us in full-swing, and whether you're ready or not, it always promises to be a busy time of the year. Decorating the house, baking cookies, buying presents, attending parties, practicing for cantata's – these are just a few of the extra things we do in the month of December. How often do we hear or we try to remind ourselves not to get distracted from the true meaning of Christmas, and yet, how often we do get distracted because of our sinful flesh. Well, let's take just a few minutes and focus in once again and why we really do have reason to celebrate this month.
John 1:14 says this, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” This verse is probably not the first verse many folks think of when they think about the Christmas story. Our minds go to Luke chapter 2, or Matthew chapters 1-2. Certainly, those passages give us much more detail concerning the Christmas story, but John 1:14 is essentially what took place at Christmas. As John 3:16 is sometimes called “the gospel in a nutshell”, I believe we can call John 1:14 “Christmas in a nutshell.” The eternal Word of God (the expression or revelation of God), the Lord Jesus Christ, took on human form and became a man. There are no adequate words to justly describe what exactly took place. Our finite minds cannot fully comprehend it. And yet, this is what the Bible clearly teaches. Jesus was both God and man.
What is the significance of the Word becoming flesh? In other words, why celebrate this every year? How does it impact our lives? Allow me to highlight three main thoughts concerning the Word becoming flesh.
First, the Word became flesh fulfilling God's plan. On that winter night over 2,000 years ago, when baby Jesus was born in that stable and laid in the manger of hay, understand it was the fulfillment of God's eternal plan. There are literally dozens of prophecies in the Old Testament about the first coming of Jesus. Here are just two:
Is.9:6 – “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace”
Mic.5:2 - “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting”.
Paul tells us in Galatians 4 that “when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son. . . .” The fulness of what time? God's eternal plan! We know pieces of God's plan as revealed in His Word, but we don't know the exact timing of everything. But our God has an eternal plan that will never be thwarted, and part of that plan was sending His Son to this earth to provide the way of redemption for you and me. The Word becoming flesh should signify to us that God keeps His promises and no one is going to stop His perfect plan. What an encouragement in the day of broken promises in which we live, that God has committed Himself to keep His Word. He did it when Christ was born in Bethlehem, and He will do it when Christ returns to rule and reign at the end of the age!
Secondly, the Word became flesh identifying with man. In order to be man's substitute, Jesus had to identify with man completely. Jesus never ceased being God, but He laid aside the independent use of His Godly attributes so that He could face life just like you and me (minus the sin nature). Philippians 2:5-8 speaks of the self-emptying of Christ, what He voluntarily laid aside when He took on flesh. Jesus mentioned several times throughout His ministry that He could do nothing of Himself, that it was the Father who dwelt in Him that was accomplishing the miracles (Jn.5:19, 30, Jn.14:10). My friend, Jesus was man as God intended man to be. He identified with humanity in every area, except for sinfulness. This is why He is such a sympathetic Savior. It is not just a nice thing preacher's say to make you feel better – He really does know what you're going through!
Matthew 1:23 says, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” What precious words these are! God with us – and He was literally with us in so many ways. It wasn't just that He was now physically on earth, it's that He experienced everything it means to be human. Again, John 1:14, “and he dwelt among us,” is very rich in meaning. He dwelt among us in solidarity, sharing in our griefs, heartaches, and human limitations. He wept, He experienced the loss of family and friends, He suffered physical pain, He had family that didn't like Him, He moved about from place to place with no true earthly security, yes, He was fully man and fully in complete need of God His Father. As you think about the babe in the manger, think about His identification with you in human weakness. He really has walked the road before you. And just as the Spirit carried Him through everything, He is willing and more than able to carry you through every circumstance of life. Praise God that He was made flesh!
Thirdly, the Word become flesh suffering for sin. This was the grand purpose of His coming. Truly, as the songwriter said, Jesus was born to die. He suffered and died for my pride, for my anger, for my lust, for my impatience, for my lying, for everything in me that is against God and His will. Christ paid the price of all the sins of all the world because, again, only He the spotless Lamb of God could.
The testimony of Scripture is unmistakable:
Is.53:5 - “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
Jn.3:17 - “ For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
1 Tim.1:15 - “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”
Heb.2:9 - “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”
The willingness of Jesus to not only identify with us, but to suffer in our place, to suffer unthinkable tragedy as the innocent One, that thought ought to warm our hearts this December and all throughout the year. One cannot separate Christmas from the cross; the precious babe in the manger was born to be the suffering Lamb of God. He was God's gift to us. He is still God's gift to us, the answer for whatever it is that we need. The cross surely paid our sin debt, and it also dealt with the sin principle within us so that we can now walk in the victory of Christ. Because of His choice to suffer for sin, life and light now to all He brings, risen with healing in His wings!
I hope that you take much time this holiday season to revel in the glorious truth that the Word became flesh. Take hold of all the implications for you personally, and then be sure to share it with others so they too can be blessed!