by Matthew Morgan
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 to 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 become children of God. — John 1:9-12
He was in the world. – The Birth Story is God’s Story, present throughout Scripture. In the meditations for this week, we are exploring the mystery of Incarnation as well as the ways that the Nativity Story echoes God’s Bigger Story throughout Scripture, revealing that Christ “was in the world” from the beginning.
Read John 1: 1-3, 14
In John chapter 1, John describes the incarnation of God. Incarnation means a person who embodies God in the flesh. What does it mean for Jesus to be both the son of Mary and the son of God? Early church councils argued and debated before being led to proclaim that Jesus is both fully human AND fully divine. God became human. I don’t know that we could string together three words that would be more shocking than the idea wrapped up in the baby messiah. God creates people who rebel against him over and over and over again, so God becomes one of them to save them? It’s absurd! And yet it is the truth of Christmas. The New Testament begins with a genealogy. “Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father…” And on and on it goes. Luke’s genealogy goes all the way back to Adam. Jesus, like every person, is a child of Adam. This is crucial to understanding the work of God in Christ. Jesus is God. We must never forget it. But Jesus is also human.
Richard John Neuhaus, in his book, Death on a Friday Afternoon wrote:
(The council of) Chalcedon made it definite that Mary is to be acknowledged as ‘Mother of God’ (Theotokos is the Greek term). Others said that she is, of course, to be called ‘Mother of Jesus’ and even ‘Mother of Christ,’ but ‘Mother of God’ is going too far. No, responded the orthodox party, it’s not a question of our going too far but of how far God went in becoming man. She must be called Theotokos not in order to honor her, but in order to tell the truth about Christ.
We learn some important truths about God in the incarnation. We learn that God knows what it’s like to be human. In one of Job’s diatribes, he asks God, “Do you have eyes of flesh?” Essentially, he asks, Do you know what it’s like down here? Do you know what it’s like to be a person? The incarnation of Jesus gives us a clear answer. Yes! God knows what it’s like. Randy Harris says, “My favorite thing about the Christian story is that God doesn’t create and then sit back and look…Jesus shows us that God is willing to participate in whatever it is that we participate in.”
More importantly we learn that God will overcome any obstacle to be with His people. There is a distance between God and man. There is a distance between Heaven and Earth, a distance created by our sin. But our brokenness is not too much for God. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:11-12). God left heaven to come to earth to show us that no distance can separate us from the love of God. We can put up wall after wall after wall and God will just come over to our side of the wall. The incarnation is why Paul is so adamant that nothing…NOTHING! can separate us from God’s love.
How does knowing that God will overcome any barrier to proclaim His love for you change the way you relate to Him? How does it change the way you love others?