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John 1: 9-14, 16-18
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came into that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to be called children of God — children born not of a natural descent, nor or human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in the closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
The words are so familiar, our celebrations of Christmas so ingrained, that we can easily miss the full meaning of Christ’s incarnation — the Word made flesh.
Incredibly, the Creator of the universe, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the second Person of the Trinity, willingly became a human baby. The Word that first spoke flesh into being Himself became that flesh. The highest became the lowest. Since we could never come up to Him in time, space, character, majesty, splendor or holiness, He came down to us in order to show us the way.
Just as the mind boggles at the vast infinity of the universe, so it should be overwhelmed at the sheer distance of its Creator and Sustainer descending into the flesh of a helpless infant, completely dependent on others for its very existence. Equally hard for us to grasp is the truth that this Child was fully human, yet retained His deity. He was still God, but chose to restrain His powers so that His Father’s perfect will would be done.
In our finite thinking, if you’re fully human, then by definition you can’t be anything else. If you’re fully divine, then you’re God, period, end of sentence. This is a mystery that only God can fathom, much like the separation, yet complete unity, of the three Persons of the Trinity.
What is important for us to take hold of is the extent of God’s love reflected in His reaching down to us, No scientific instrument is even remotely capable of measuring the distance Jesus came to be born in a stable and live among us. No calculation could begin to measure the gap between a heavenly throne and a rough-hewn cross, the apex of exaltation and the excruciating humiliation of crucifixion. The Perfect came to the imperfect, the Holy to sinners, the Light to the darkness.
God has repeatedly shown grace to His people. He gave them instructions to teach them how to live, but they largely ignored them. It would take something — Someone — else to open their eyes, minds and hearts.
The law was words. Jesus is The Word. When the Word became flesh, God’s infinite grace was in place. By His grace, Jesus made himself nothing so that we could have everything we need for our salvation. He gave up His glory so that we could know Him and choose to share in His eternal glory in personal relationship with Him. He shared our flesh that we would be able to share His Presence with us now and through all eternity.
His grace is in place. This Christmas, let’s take special care to celebrate the birth of Jesus with a real consciousness of it.