Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Word Made Flesh

In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, he uses of the term “Word” to describe Jesus. The Apostle John seems to talk about Jesus in a poetic way – I guess John was a poetic kind of guy. But John’s use of the term “Word” to describe Jesus wasn’t just poetic. He used the term “The Word” because it had rich meanings to both the Greeks and the Jews.

These philosophical meanings are pretty deep, but when John used that term “Word”, his readers of that day understood exactly what he was saying. What I want to do is look at the term “Word” in a less philosophical way, but in a way that helps us understand one of the things God was doing by the Incarnation.

First let me ask, What are words? Words are expressions of hidden thoughts. Our thoughts are unknown to anybody until we express them in words, thus revealing what had been formerly hidden. Similarly, we can’t even begin to comprehend God unless somehow he is revealed to us humans in a way we can understand.

Jesus became a “Word” to reveal the hidden God to us. Jesus is God made available – when you know Jesus, you know God. God became one of us – he dwelled among us – so that we could observe and understand him at our level. Just as thought and word are one, so Jesus and God are one, as Jesus himself stated in John 10:30: “The Father and I are one.” Jesus told Phillip in John 14:9b: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

God came down to us on that first Christmas – the Divine met the human – and they became one in Christ. We, too, can meet the Divine when we have a relationship with Jesus. We don’t just believe in him – we have a personal relationship with him. That’s because he is a Person, not an impersonal being or some kind of concept or philosophy. God in Jesus became one of us so that what was formerly hidden could be more fully revealed – revealed in a way we could understand.

We celebrate not only God’s coming to earth, but perhaps even more importantly, what Jesus accomplished for the human race by his life, death, and resurrection. “The Word became a human and lived among us. We saw his glory — the glory that belongs to the only Son of the Father — and he was full of grace and truth.”

That’s what makes Christianity different from other religions. We believe God came down to earth from his heavenly home, lived as one of us, died a sacrificial death and paid the penalty for our transgressions, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. We believe we can have a personal relationship with God, and we don’t have to earn our way to heaven. Those are the beliefs that make us different.

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