The Word Became Flesh

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo - The_Nativity: Painting depicting Mary, Joseph, and the newborn Jesus

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 was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

John 1:1 – 18

Oftentimes, we speak of Jesus birth and life on this world as if they are secondary to His death and resurrection. There’s no question that Jesus’s death and resurrection is the culmination of everything the Old Testament prophets looked forward to, and it opened the way to salvation for all. I John 2:2 calls Jesus the propitiation for our sins; Hebrews 9:12 says that Jesus entered the most holy place by means of His own sacrifice; and Jesus Himself says, addressing the mob that came to capture Him in the Garden, “All this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled,” in Matthew 26:56.

There’s no question in my mind that Jesus’s crucifixion was intentional, divinely planned, and the dawn of a new covenant between God and His creation. But He could not die as one of us without first living among us, and that life teaches us much about who God is and who we should be. His life demonstrates to us what it is to be Christian. I Peter 1:16 states that we should be holy as our God is holy. Jesus’s life exemplifies what that means. He gives us the template after which we should pattern our own lives. His death gives us hope, and His life gives us purpose.

Philippians 2:5 – 8 illustrates this fact beautifully:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

We serve a Savior who humbled Himself to live a human life. We have a God who became a servant. We have a Messiah who suffered as we do; who faced temptations as we do; who felt the same joys and sorrows we feel. In doing so, He showed us what it means to be Christ-like in our own lives. As Hebrews 4:14 – 15 says, we have a High Priest who can sympathize with our challenges and our weaknesses, which allows us to approach His throne with confidence in our times of need.

While many of us recognize that December 25 was almost certainly not Jesus’s birthday and that the only event we’re commanded to memorialize is His death, may we never minimize the importance of His birth and life simply to counter popular culture.

Jesus could not have died had He not first lived among us. For that, He had to be born as Immanuel — God With Us. He had to fulfill prophecy that He would be born to a virgin, to the tribe of Judah, in the town of Bethlehem. May we live to glorify our Savior by taking hope in His birth, honoring and finding purpose in His life, and then living for the hope His death provides us. May we always glorify, honor, and magnify the Word that became flesh.

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