Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Word Became Flesh

Humans are limited by our human understanding of God.  And sometimes we re-create God in ways that we understand and limit God to our human thoughts.  But… John in his gospel is telling us about the Word sent into this world to reveal God to us.  

And we note a number of things about the Word that tell us just what kind of communication this is…

The Word is God, creator, pre-existent.

 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.

Words have to do with communication… with words we communicate in an orderly fashion so that we might be coherently understood.  The Greek word for word is logos and has to do with logic… There is a logic about God in the way he is and the way he communicates.  John says that Jesus is the logos, logic, or the coherent communication of God…Jesus as logos fully reveals the divine will of God… like a light within the darkness…darkened by the sin-infected cosmos.

Jesus pre-existed with God in the beginning.  He was a co-creator with God in the beginning.  In fact nothing was created except through him.  John is bent on telling us that Jesus is indeed God… but more he is God and communicating God coherently, logically, in reality, with integrity.   

The apostle Paul  says it this way… when he speaks about the Spirit… 

 10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. 

   The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 

We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:   16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord      that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. 
Amazing… the one who intimately knows God, the one who is God has come to share himself and his way with us.

Second, John is telling the reader that this word, this communication gives life to everyone.  What does he mean by that?  

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

If you remember what happened in the Fall of humankind in Genesis.  The first people wandered from God and were tempted into sin through the fine-sounding—seemingly coherent wisdom of the evil one.  And the penalty was death.  Jesus is being revealed by John as the giver of life to all humankind—the remedy healing the present death.

I think this has to do with physical death… the death of the body.  We know, it is completely obvious, that each human being will die a physical death.  But because of Jesus and what Jesus has done, all humankind has the potential for eternal life beyond the grave.  Christians believe in a physical resurrection.  

This also has to do with a life-giving relationship with God through the Holy Spirit that we may receive what will awaken us so to speak… from the deadness of our spirit that comes from disconnection with God.  

Jesus has come to give life… And I don’t think this happens only one time “when we receive Christ personally… I think this is a new on-going connective relationship with God that begins when we invite Jesus to dwell within us.  

Yesterday, I was visiting a friend who had a number of people over for dinner.  One man had just begun a relationship with Jesus.  He shared about the life he had begun to experience with God and how it came about.  He had a nanny who was a Christian… she  pictured life… and each day she prayed for the salvation of the family she served.  Two years later, this man became a Christian and was awakened to God in a real way.  He also shared about how he had grown up in church and had not been aware of God at all because the church he attended had no life.  

Third, this communication of God is a powerful light… 

 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. 

I am reminded of the scripture in Psalms, “the entrance of his word give light.  The cosmos or world system is dominated by darkness, contaminated by sin.  But Jesus penetrates the darkness with himself as light.  

When I think of light, I think of reality or truth… the ability to see clearly.  In a world that has mis-understood God, in a world-system that is opposed to God, Jesus has the ability to expose the false system for what it is… illogical, incoherent according to God’s design.    

There is a world system that functions according to the logic of the world, we see it in operation everyday.   It runs on power over other through dominance.  It is about accumulating wealth.  It is about security resting in that wealth.  It functions through using and dehumanizing people.  We could go on.

The light that is Jesus reveals the false system by which our world operates.  Jesus does more than shine the light, he is the light… so when a bit of wisdom is compared to Jesus and how Jesus lived his life… we see the falseness.  

Paul says in the verse we quoted above from 1 Cor… that we have the mind of Christ.  We are given the mind of Christ as we are in relationship with him.  But Paul also says that we must have our minds renewed in Romans 12.  We are born according to pattern of the world system.  
Insight is gained through bible study and regular relationship with God through prayer and in relationship with others in the church.

Jesus is light and in relationship with Jesus, we are given light..

In psychology, we have the concept of crazy making.  What that means is this… if you put a sane person in the midst of a group of insane people… the sane one will think he is crazy.  And the reverse is also true…   In relationship with Jesus and a new community of Jesus followers, the world, and the world system is revealed for what it is… false.  And we find comfort and light in a new community of Jesus followers.

Forth, John tells of a world that did not recognize him.  His own people did not recognize him.  

 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.

The people who had the law and the prophets and the written word of God did not grasp just who Jesus was.  Religious leaders with pre-conceived ideas, or illogic about the nature of God and what God was about did not see… because they were blinded by the existing system they knew… the system they understood.  

Jesus… the sane one who entered the insane world was considered the crazy one.  If we use our above example.  Some did see God in Jesus, and God’s communication in him.
Some did understand and receive the light and life God offered.  

And the author of John goes on to tell that story in the subsequent chapters of john.  He writes about Samaritan women who gets it and tell their neighbors (the woman at the well), He writes about blind men who begin to see, and religious leaders who don’t see.    He writes about the dead that come alive and the wounded who are healed.  

To those, who believed him and accepted him, they were given the power to become the true children of God.  This Word… the word who is God, the Word who is light, the word who is life, the communicating word…can be accepted or rejected.  Some received Jesus, and others rejected him.
We are given that same invitation… 

Fifth, Word has now come to dwell with people.

  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. 15 John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’” 16 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

It is this one who is so close to God that he is one with God that has revealed God to the people with whom he dwells.  

It has always been in the heart of God to dwell with his people and reveal himself.  

There is a big, gigantic truth present in this text… and while John means this portion of his book to be a prologue hinting at the story to come… the big audacious truth is this:

God has come to dwell with humans and communicate himself within a powerful and transformative relationship.

30 years ago, I met and married Dan.  I will never be the same because I have known him deeply.  How many know, that when you dwell with someone, you come to know them in ways that you would not have had opportunity in any other way.  What God has done in coming to us as a human being is to invite each one of us into a powerful, transformative relationship and form a powerful illuminating community of people who dwell daily with God in a very dark world.  .  

It’s a new relationship that brings us into reality, within which we are healed and made whole.  

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