By: Patty Joyce
It’s the afternoon before Thanksgiving Day 2020, and Christmas lights are already twinkling on my street. The stores are jam packed with Santas of every shape and size, talking dolls, the latest superheroes, hundreds of ornaments to choose from, and the latest cell phone that does everything but the dishes! The backdrop of Christmas music adds another dimension of anticipation to this season that appears to get here quicker and quicker each year. The box that holds my little artificial table-top tree is sitting on the garage floor waiting for shelf space to call home. When decorated, the tiny white lights and the green, red, and gold decorations give one a sense of beauty and peace as it whispers Merry Christmas in my dimly-lit living room.
This year's holidays of Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and possibly New Year’s Day, will be ones without precedent, not just for the US, but some even globally. And yet, the gaiety of the season appears no less dampened even with a pandemic over which we have no control. I wonder how many are looking beyond the glitter and decorations to the original reason this celebration exists. John 1:14 (NIV) tells us: 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.
This is my favorite Scripture. In my home, we have a rendering of an Old Testament scroll being uncurled and becoming a man’s shoulders, head, arms, and legs. It is a daily reminder of mankind’s hope so graciously given to us by our Sovereign God. It is quite a picture of the Word. This Word is what Christians believe to be their source of life, not just here, but eternally. We also refer to this divine letter from God as the Bible, from the Greek word "biblos,” which is translated "book." The original manuscripts of the Bible were kept in the synagogues. Those who had custody of the manuscripts first used the Greek word to describe the collection, which later became known as "the Book." The word itself had the literal meaning of "paper" or "scroll" from the Greek word “papyrus,” the plant Egyptians used to make paper. It then came to be used as the ordinary word for "book." I would like to elaborate on this Word – the inspired work of Holy Spirit. Before taking a closer look at John 1:14 to better understand it, let’s start with John 1:1 (NIV): In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
If the Word was God and the Word became flesh, then God became flesh. God became human. Jesus Christ was human and Jesus Christ was God.
What does this Word do? The passage in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV) answers this: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
The word “inspiration” occurs only once in the New Testament, found in the Scripture above. The six words “is given by inspiration of God” are translated from one Greek word, “theopneustos,'' which literally means “God-breathed.” The Bible has been breathed out by God. Therefore, what is written is just as much the Word of God as what God could speak orally.
I wanted to share some facts that go along with the context of this subject:
The Word/Bible is comprised of 66 books with two major divisions: the Old Testament (39 books) and the New Testament (27 books). It has approximately 40 authors, some we know and some we don’t. It was written over a span of 1500 years – from around 1450 BC to about 100 AD. The Old Testament has four major divisions:
(1) The Law - 5 books
(2) History - 12 books
(3) Poetry - 5 books
(4) Prophecy - 17 books Similarly, the New Testament has four major divisions:
(1) The Gospels - 4 books
(2) The Acts of the Apostles - 1 book
(3) The Epistles - 21 books
(4) The Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ - 1 book
This book, with each of its sixty-six books, regardless of the writing span of over 1500 years, remains in concert with the whole. I once heard a pastor say, “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. One can’t exist without the other.”
Now, on to John 1:14:
The Word became flesh . . . This is commonly expressed by saying He became “incarnate,” which means one of a higher order and different nature than man assumes the appearance of man or becomes a man.
And made his dwelling among us . . . “Dwelt” refers to a tabernacle or tent. John’s objective was to give various evidence in order to prove the Word became incarnate. One was that He "dwelt" among them, sojourned with them, ate, drank, slept, and was with them for years, so they "saw him with their eyes, they looked upon him, and their hands handled him.” (1 John 1:1)
We have seen or beheld His glory . . . John now adds a new proof. They had seen Him in his proper glory "as God and man united in one person," constituting Him the unequaled Son of the Father. There is no doubt there is a reference here to the transfiguration on the holy mount (Matthew 17:1-9). Because John was one of the witnesses of that scene, he stated, "we beheld his glory." The word "glory" here means majesty, dignity, splendor.
The glory of the One and Only . . . This mean the only-begotten of the Father or Who came from the Father. The dignity which was appropriate to the only-begotten Son of God displays such glory, brightness, or splendor as could belong to no other and properly express his rank and character. When it is used to describe a person, glory has to do with how a person appears to others, suggesting a character that is attractive and honorable. In Jewish thinking, a son was to replicate the character of his father, thereby honoring the father and showing the son himself to be honorable. This glory was seen eminently on the mount of transfiguration. It was also seen in His miracles, His doctrine, His resurrection, and His ascension; all of which illustrated the perfections and manifested the glory that belongs only to the Son of God. The term “only-begotten” was never applied by John to any but Jesus Christ. It literally means an only child, as an only child is especially dear to a parent and one who is especially beloved.
Full of grace and truth. . . The word "full" here refers to the "Word made flesh," which is declared to be full of grace and truth. The word "grace" means "favors, gifts, acts of beneficence.” He was kind, merciful, gracious, doing good to all, and seeking man's welfare by great sacrifices and love; so much so, that it might be said to be characteristic of Him that He "abounded" in favors to mankind – the greatest favor being His dying for our sins. This grace answers the Old Testament’s description of God's covenant-keeping, gracious love. Truth answers God's covenant-keeping, faithful reliability in which there is nothing false or deceitful. He was also "full of truth." He declared the truth. No falsehood was in Him. He was not like the false prophets and false messiahs, who were wholly impostors. Jesus didn’t just tell the truth, He was THE TRUTH. He represented things as they are, and thus became the "truth" as well as "the way and the life.” The God of the Old Testament, who was "abounding in love and faithfulness," (Exodus 34:6) is now revealed in the New Testament as the Son who is full of grace and truth.
I especially like what one commentator said. He referred to Luke 1:34-35 and gave his own personal interpretation of how Gabriel answered Mary when she asked, “How’s this going to happen?” And the angel said, “All of the words spoken over 4,000 years, through hundreds of people, are going to conceive in you.”
1 Peter 1:23 says: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and reigns forever.
The virgin birth of Jesus was completely natural in every respect except one: It was not the seed of a man. The seed was the Word of God, and the Word became flesh!
So . . . the challenge to me and you is:
When I pick up this book, the Bible, do I really believe it is God-breathed and living; that every word in it is manifested in Christ?
Will I make spending time in it a priority in my life – even if it’s only reading one verse a day?
Will I study it and meditate on it?
Will I respect, cherish, and lovingly hold it when I so desperately need to and can’t even pray?
Will I hide it in my heart so I can share it with others?
As this is all far beyond any glitter and decorations!
Merry Christmas to you all!