The Significance of the Incarnation
Day 22 Sunday, December 24th
1. Recognize the Context:
John’s Gospel does not provide a birth narrative. Rather, it begins with a prologue or introduction (1:1-18). This unique introduction sets the stage for the opening narrative with John the Baptist in verse 19
2. Read the Scripture: John 1:1-14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 14 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.
3. Reflect on the Scripture:
The opening words of John’s Gospel reflect the introductory words of Genesis, “In the beginning God…” However, here John is not concentrating on a fixed point in time like the initial creation. Rather, he is affirming a timeless eternity when only God and the Word existed. The Word existed with God, and the Word was God (verses 1-2).
The term Word (Greek-logos) had significance for both a Jewish and a Greco-Roman audience. For the Greeks, the Word was a philosophical term meaning reason or the rational principle that structured and organized the universe. It was an abstract concept. For the Jew, the term Word (Hebrew-dabar) meant that which was spoken. When associated with God, it referred to the Hebrew Scriptures and God’s self-revelation. So, John took advantage of both meanings in his presentation of Jesus to accommodate both audiences.
In verse 3, John does refer to the creation of the material world. He states the Word was involved in the creation process. In the Word, there was the vitality necessary for physical and spiritual life (John 14:6). John then used the contrast of light and darkness, which was common in his day, for good and evil. The Word was the light that pushed back the darkness (John 8:12).
In verses 6-8, John (the disciple) identified John (the Baptizer) as a witness to the light. As we read in Luke, John gave witness to Jesus in Elizabeth’s womb. As an adult, he gave a verbal witness to the coming Messiah and his kingdom. As stated above, this is where John’s Gospel begins its narrative with John the Baptist (verse 19).
In verses 9-13, we are reminded the Word created the world, including humanity. But he was neither recognized nor received by the world he created. However, those who do receive him are privileged to be called children of God or born of God (John 3).
Finally, verse 14, provides the earth-shattering news! “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” This had a powerful impact on both Gentile and Jewish hearers. To the Gentile, John said this universal sustaining reason, which holds the cosmos together, was God, and he became a human. To the Jews, John said the self-revelation of God, everything to which the Hebrew Scriptures pointed, became fulfilled in a human. Neither group would have expected such a bold statement, but there it was. God took on human flesh.
This picture was made extremely clear for the Jewish reader. The verb “dwelt” means “tabernacled” among us. It is the verbal form of the word used for the tabernacle in the Greek Old Testament. The tabernacle was the portable sanctuary the Israelites had in the wilderness after the exodus. On their journey to the Promised Land, they would stop and set it up, right in the middle of their camp, with the 12 tribes of Israel situated around it. This tabernacle represented the presence of God with them. For John, Jesus was now God “tabernacling” among his people and all of humanity. This is the heart of the incarnation.
4. Relate to life:
Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.
Today, from John’s perspective, consider how the humanity of God impacts the entire human existence, then and now.
Prayerfully reflect on the impact this has on your own human experience and on how you view others.
Prayerfully consider how you can share this message with others.
To do: (with the Holy Sprit's help)
Given the reading and prayer suggestions above, what can you incorporate into your life today? Think about your attitudes, actions, and words. Think about your family, friends, church community, co-workers.