We ought always to reflect on the profound reality of the Incarnation. Over the course of time, we have added a bunch of cultural traditions to the celebration of the Christmas season, which is absolutely fine, but at the same time we want to take care not to obscure anything central. So, enjoy the fudge, and the sleigh bells jingling, and bringing the woods into your living room… but enjoy it all for the right reason.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (Jn. 1:1,14)
John’s gospel begins with the words in the beginning, deliberately echoing the first words of Genesis (Gen. 1:1). Just as God created the heavens and the earth, so in the arrival of Jesus, He was recreating the heavens and the earth (v. 1). In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. What does this mean? The withness is defined by the word Word. The Word was with God the Father in the way our words are with us. They are not the same. And yet, at the same time, our words reveal us and are to be identified with us. We are what we speak. Out of the abundance of the heart, a man speaks, and we are this way because God is the same way. Out of the abundance of His heart, He speaks. Now, this perfect Word, this Word that came from the Father without any degradation of meaning, this Word which was also to be identified with the Father, what did He do? He became flesh, John says, and dwelt among us (v. 14). Did this bring about degradation of meaning? No, John says— we beheld his glory (v. 14). What glory? The glory of the only begotten of the Father. What glory? A glory that was full of grace and truth.…
…Now, consider the nature of the miracle we celebrate at Christmas. Without losing anything “in the translation,” God brought this conversation into this world, starting in the womb of a young Jewish woman. The Word (the Word we have been speaking of) became flesh, and all carnal philosophy and wisdom fall backwards, like the men who came to arrest the Lord.
…we need to take careful note of the fact that Jesus was not telling us to do something that He was unwilling to do Himself. We should see this as the very model of His particular kind of servant leadership. Jesus told us to become like little children. And what did He do in the Incarnation? He became a little child. The one, in short, who told us that we needed to be humbled, converted, and made like little children, was the same one who humbled Himself and took the form of a baby in the womb of a young maiden. Jesus told us to become like little children, but He did so as the one who had— in an utterly unique way— become a little child.
He, the eternal Word, the one who spoke the galaxies into existence, was willing to become a little baby boy who could do nothing with words except jabber, and in that jabbering, make glad his mother and earthly father. He, the source of all life and all nourishment for that life, was willing to be breastfed. He, the same one who had separated the night from the day, and had shaped the sun to rule the day, and the moon to rule the night, was willing to have his diapers changed for a year or so. It is not disrespectful to speak this way; for Christians, it is disrespectful not to. We believe in the Incarnation, in the Word made flesh. This is our glory; this is our salvation.
Jesus told us that in order to enter His kingdom, we would have to stoop. This is not surprising, because He was the one who stooped in a mystifying way in the creation of that kingdom. He stooped —the ultimate Word became a single cell, and then a cluster of cells, and then visibly a baby, although still less than a pound, and then a child who kicked his mother from inside, delighting her immeasurably. He became a little child, and then, years later, He told us to copy Him in this demeanor— to become little children.…
…The atonement did not start when the first nail went in and then stop when the Lord breathed His last breath. The entire life of Christ was involved in our salvation, from His conception on. Indeed, the prophet Isaiah said that we were healed by His stripes, which were inflicted before the cross (Is. 53: 5), and that by His knowledge He will justify many (Is. 53: 11). The Lord’s time on the cross cannot be detached from the rest of His sinless life, and it is theological folly to try.