"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made...And the Word became 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," John 1:1-3, 14.
Scenes of a baby in a manger, helpless and tiny, fill the yards and homes of Christians all over the world this time of year. My favorite shows St. Nicholas bowing before His crib, praying to the one who brought us the greatest gift(s) we can ever imagine. Yet, there is more to this. There is something deep, amazing and fantastically wonderful that will never be fully grasped this hide of heaven. The Word became flesh, the incarnation.
While we ponder the beautiful birth of Christ texts in Matthew and Luke, we must keep a watchful eye on the penetrating and glorifying words of John's gospel. Angels abound in Matthews gospel and dreams guide the Holy family as well as the wise men. We get a powerful glimpse of God's sovereign love through out this account. In Luke we have John the Baptists birth story told and we are shown a beautiful relationship between Mary and her older cousin Elizabeth. The baby Baptist even leaps in Elizabeth's womb with joy upon his first encounter with his Savior, Jesus in His mother's womb. These pictures of Jesus in Matthew and Luke put a proper emphasis on our Lord as a man, a real flesh and blood man, just like any one of us. This would be truly stunning to both the Greek and Jewish mind of the day for different reasons which the Church still fights against today through different heresies.
This is where John's Gospel so magnificently brings together Jesus' flesh with His glory as the Creator of everything. God coming in the flesh yet subordinating His power and glory to the will of His Father was something we could not imagine. The Greeks had their gods but they were petty, vicious, wicked and self centered to their core. They did not subjugate themselves to anyone and were contemptuous of the humanity they over saw. God, the true God, is altogether different and He is magnificent beyond our comprehension so He condescended. He made Himself of no reputation and took the form of a servant. Jesus tells us in the gospels that, "He came to serve and not to be served." What kind of a king says that? Yet Jesus demonstrated the power of God through His relationship to His Father who worked all sorts of miracles through His Son. Jesus' perfect obedience demonstrates to us the power of God in a completely submissive life. What could be more submissive than surrendering yourself to be born in a barn! What does this kind of submission say to us? Jesus' life was book ended by submission. "He became obedient, to the point of death, even the death of the cross," Paul explains to us. Our lives must be book ended by this same surrender mind set. All the books in the middle also must be filled with this same surrender instinct so that we are filled with the grace and truth of our Savior. The grace and truth that is distinctive to Jesus Christ and no one in human history.
Friends, we have this wonderful portrait of our loving God, bundled in a little blanket, meek and mild. He "was born that men no more may die". He was the embodiment of truth and grace. He was God who became a man. Let's be men(and women) who "walk according to the Spirit" and who put on the mind of Christ and let the light of Christ shine through our submission, our ultimate sacrifice to Him who sacrificed everything for us. Let us go learn, live and love the glorious gospel of Christ, our newborn King!