In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
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 testify concerning that light, so that through Him all might believe. He Himself was not the light; He came only as a witness to the light. 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—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 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. – John 1:1-14
Against popular themes and teachings around this Season of the Church Year, you have chosen, and we agree, to focus on Jesus – the reason for the Season, we have therefore chosen for our theme, “Jesus The Incarnate Word of God.” This theme is derived from the reading on John 1:1-14.
Our Text is John 1:14 – 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.
We need to understand the whole context of John if we are to catch his key message as one of the gospel writers. Our hope is that this Homily will inspire us to think more theologically about the Christmas event, rather than being sentimental and sensational about it. This way we bring Christ Jesus back into the Christmas Story.
- John’s Prologue – John 1:1-5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Christmas is a day to reflect on the most momentous day in all history, when God intervened in history and became a human being. John’s perspective of this event is not to talk about shepherds and angels (as in the case of Matthew and Luke) but to present Jesus – witness to Jesus as the Glorious Light of the World. The opening message of John tells of the Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ – The Incarnate Word, the Word become Flesh. Here we see the central theme of John, the apostle. To prove that Jesus really was God Incarnate, the promised Messiah, and The Son, Saviour of the Word. Therefore this gospel begins with a tremendous statement about Jesus Christ – called The Word – His timelessness, His relationship with the Father, and His own inherent deity (divinity) – as life-giver and Light to the World.
- John’s Expectation – John 1:9-13
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 – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
John expected that having known the facts about the divine origin of Jesus, his hearers will receive him – that is open their entire life to him. It is comparable to inviting and receiving someone into your home, not as a visitor, but as one to whom you wish to turn over your home – everything in it and all that it represents. Such a faith – surrender to Jesus gives we Christians a certain right, authority or “Power” to become God’s child, to be born of God.
Unfortunately today many fill our churches who have not genuinely received Jesus into their hearts. They may even be in ministry – music, usher, pastoring, etc. As a result we have illegitimate sons and daughters of God parading themselves as God’s Children! Are you one of them? I hope not.
John’s teaching is that this Word of God, Incarnate, this Jesus must be received personally and believed on. This is what it means to be Born Again (taken up by John again in Chapter 3).
- Jesus The Revealer Of God – John 1:14
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.
John called Jesus the “Word” and declared that the Word “became flesh and dwelt among us” (v.14). “Word” is the interpretation of the Greek word Logos which means a thought, or concept, and the expression or utterance of that thought. In the flesh Christ is the physical expression of God. That is why Christians call him the Incarnate Word.
Jesus embodies all the treasures of divine wisdom. He is the collective thought of God. The Divine Word had to be expressed for people to see. That is why the word became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ.
In verses 14-18 John returns to the theme of verses 4:1-4, Jesus the Word. He seeks out explicitly the results of the Word (Jesus) having become flesh.
The other gospel writers give the historical details of how “the Word became flesh”. The facts of Jesus’ birth in Matthew and Luke are necessary to fill out the brief statement given by John. Here John tells us what the Word was like when he “dwelt among us.”
However, John emphasizes two things: Jesus was full of Grace and Truth; and he shared God’s Glory – John lived with Jesus under many trying circumstances, including the crucifixion. As he looked back over everything, he captured the essence of what Jesus was like. In a word Jesus was perfection full of grace and truth – meaning, nothing less than that. Jesus was perfectly and completely gracious and truthful in all his thoughts and deeds.
He brought saving grace to the world, and he revealed truth about God. But he did far more than talk about grace and truth, he lived grace and truth in a hostile, unbelieving society. So much so, that John as eyewitness said Jesus was a truly glorious person. Jesus lived in such a way that observers could see God’s own glory in him.
- In what experiences do you see the struggle between light and darkness?
- In what sense is Jesus life and light to you?
- Among your friends and acquaintances, why do some not receive Christ?
- How can you help them see grace and truth in Jesus?
- What does it mean to be born of God?
- As God’s child, what do you want of him – this Christmas?
Using John 1:1-14, we have reflected on the theme “Jesus – The Incarnate Word of God.” We have stated that Jesus is the reason for the Season of Christmas. The theme brings us back to think theologically about Christmas – God incomprehensible made man. In Jesus the Word, we see what God is – Grace and Truth.
If we have really received Jesus, we too can become incarnate – dwell among our people as witness of Jesus so men can see Jesus through us – Here is a Christmas hymn to reflect on.
Love Came Down at Christmas – MHB 138
Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine,
Worship we our Jesus,
But wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.
Source: The Rt. Rev. Samuel Kofi Osabutey, Diocesan Bishop of Accra
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