In these final two weeks before Christmas, I want to bring our attention to a perspective on Christmas that is often overlooked or just simply misunderstood. If we go all the way back to the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, Genesis 1, we soon discover that God brought everything that we can see, measure and understand into being out of an infinite universe of “nothingness” simply by “speaking.”
Genesis 1:3 says “And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.” And on and on it goes. For us, as human beings, no one has ever discovered the power to create something… from nothing, let alone by simply “speaking” it into being.
When God spoke, billions of galaxies were born and set into place. Stars burned the heavens, and planets, in perfect order, began orbiting their suns. We know that the words of God have incredible, immeasurable and unlimited power. However, when it came down to the pinnacle of His creation – men and women created in the image of God, God also spoke in a mysteriously complex way that forever changed the possibilities of human existence. Created so that mankind, men and women, might have the possibility of eternal fellowship with this almighty, powerful and all holy God. God spoke once again. The gospel of John vs 1:1-14 clearly declare the connection between God speaking and the possibility of human beings being redeemed by God for all of eternity.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1
It’s helpful to know that the Greek word that is translated “the Word” is the word logos which has a multitude of translations and implications.
In Greek philosophy, the Word was the principle of reason that governed the world. In the Hebrew of scripture, the Word was an agent of creation (Psalm 33:6), the source of God’s message to His people through the prophets (Hosea 1:2) and His law, His standard of holiness (Psalm 119:11)
And so John, who was the disciple who was closest to the heart of Jesus, makes the astonishing statement that
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (NIV)
If we step back just a moment and consider this statement, it helps our limited intellectual understanding to acknowledge that the same God who “spoke the universe into being” also spoke to the people He had created by incarnating His very being into a fully human form. For the first time ever, in any religion, the God who is acknowledged as the one who created everything that is also chooses to reveal Himself in human form so that we might understand what God is really like. As Jesus lovingly responded to Phillip’s passionate request
“Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’
Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.'” John 14:8-9
One of the reasons why the incarnation is the bedrock upon which our entire Christian faith is built, is that not only did God “speak” about who He is and what He does; His Word, that is, His very essence, “became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” John 1:14a
It’s not unusual for people to ask this pastor something about the question of “What does God look like?” Putting it another way, “What is God like and how would you describe Him to me?” My answer is always the same and fairly appreciated when I first offer it to them. I would say something such as “Look at the life of Jesus, how He lived during the 33+ years that He was on this planet and especially upon the final days of His life with us when He chose to give up this life (in order to pay for the penalty of all of our sin and our very sin nature); He did so by dying on a cross for no wrongdoing, but simply because He acknowledged that He literally was “God in the flesh.” It’s interesting to me that in the introduction of John’s gospel in the Life Application Study Bible the original audience is defined as: “new Christians and searching non-Christians.” The other 3 gospels were written to, “the Christians in Rome”(Mark), and “the Gentiles”(Luke). Only John’s gospel is written to a much wider audience that is broadly defined as “new Christians and searching non-Christians.”
Interestingly enough, though the Christmas story as we have come to know and love it so well only appears in Matthew and Luke, not Mark or John, and only John is seen as being directly targeted to “new Christians and searching non-Christians.”
Over 90% of John is unique to his gospel. John does not contain the genealogy or any record of Jesus birth, childhood or temptation, etc., etc. It does, however, contain the clearest amount of detail with reference to Jesus suffering, crucifixion and most certainly his resurrection from the dead.
I try to give this overview to simply encourage this one discipline over the remaining 10 days before Christmas and that is this: “What is God saying to you about this time in your life and how might He intervene to bring about a seemingly impossible resolution or transformation?
For me, that’s really what I am choosing to do this Christmas. It’s not that I won’t deeply appreciate the Christmas so try as presented in the other gospels. There’s something so beautifully simple and profound that I never tire of reading it, hearing it, and experiencing my memories of it.
However, I believe this year God is wanting to speak His Word in my life in specific ways so that I might know and experience the same power that flung the galaxies into existence, the stars and the planets in their perfect orbits, the wonder of the physical creation all around me which is undeniably as beautiful as it is complex, and yet what I feel I need the most is for His Word to speak into my life situation.
Let me ask you directly. What would that circumstance or situation be for you? What relationship, what limitation, what physical or emotional pain or heartache are you experiencing, or what personal dream or aspiration do you hold that will only come to pass if God speaks and brings that much needed breakthrough into your life? What does that look like? How would you know if it happened?
You see, that’s what makes the Christmas story so incredibly relevant. It’s not just the miraculous power of God that comes to the earth as a beautiful and perfect infant in the flesh who lives and moved among us for 33+years; only to die for our sins and be resurrected three days later to show that the Heavenly Father accepted and approved of the Son’s actions on our behalf which contain in them the hope of eternal life in the presence of God now and forever more.
Yes, as unspeakably wonderful and glorious as that is; for many of us there are real life personal struggles and limitations that may keep us from fully knowing and experiencing the love, joy and peace that only God’s presence can bring to our lives not just at Christmas, but every day of the year.
Yes, God spoke at Christmas and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, the Word in the flesh full of grace and truth.
That same God continues to speak living words into the hearts and lives of everyone that seeks to hear His voice.