Summary: The incarnation of Christ sends a message to the world that we desperately need to hear: God says, "I love you."
Christmas is Love
Text: John 1:1-12
Introduction: For more than 10 years two British artists named David Chorley and Douglas Bower waded into the grain fields of England. Using some basic tools (strings, boards and crude sighting devices) they formed intriguing geometric patterns in the crops or what we have come to know because of a popular movie called "Signs" as crop circles. They did this more than two dozen times each season. The results of their pranks generated a host of explanations, with some suggesting that these crop circles were the results of ball lightning created by atmospheric microwave fields, and others arguing that they had been the landing sites of unidentified flying objects (UFOs). The September 23, 1991, issue of TIME magazine recorded the actions of the two perpetrators of this giant deception, noting that in response to these unexplained formations, a new science had arose, labeled "cereology," along with a group called "The Circles Effect Research Unit" to study them. (See Foundational Faith, John Koessler, general editor, P. 104.)
Although the hoax fostered by Chorley and Bower was relatively harmless, deception can and often does cause great harm! For example, what if Jesus Christ was not really God in human flesh? If this foundational belief is nothing more than wishful thinking, or worse--a deliberate deception carried on by the early church, then many of our most cherished doctrines must be called into question.
Every year during the weeks leading up to Christmas, we celebrate the incarnation of the Christ, i.e. the human birth of the Son of God. The prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament alluded to this in chapter nine, verse six. "For unto us a child is born (a statement of His humanity)..." "He will be called (among other things) Mighty God (a statement of His deity)." Earlier he calls this person "Immanuel" meaning "God with us (See Isaiah 7:14)" To be fair the word "incarnation" is not actually found in the Bible, although when you break it down, its components "in" and "flesh" certainly are. It was John the Apostle who used these words together in 1 John 4:2 ("Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God"). In the verses that precede the text that was read this morning he wrote, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." Thirteen verses later we’re told that "... (God) the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us." It is very obvious from these passages that John, like Isaiah, except that he had the privilege of seeing the Messiah, believed Jesus to be God in human flesh.
Why is this teaching so important to us as Christians? Actually there are a number of reasons, not all of which we will be able to cover in a thirty minute message. But allow me to address some of them by looking at the incarnation from three perspectives: What Christ came from; What Christ came to; and What Christ came for.
I. What Christ came from (See John 1:1). Before Jesus ever came to earth, He existed in the spiritual realm with the Father. Though He in every way was in the very form (essence) of God, Jesus did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped (in the incarnation), but emptied Himself (i.e. made Himself nothing--See Philippians 2:5-7)! There are some in the last two centuries who believe these verses teach that Jesus voluntarily gave up some of His divine attributes (i.e., omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience etc) when He became a man. This is called the "kenosis theory." To support it, they point to occasions in Christ’s ministry when He could not do the things that God does (For an example see Mark 5:24-32). Bear in mind, however, that no recognized teacher in the first 1,800 years of church history interpreted the passage this way. Further, the passage doesn’t say this. No where does it state what He emptied Himself of! To understand this passage, you have to consider the context. Jesus did not set aside any of His powers as God when He took on flesh, but gave up the status that was His in heaven by taking the form of a bond-servant. In so doing, Jesus chose not to pursue the glory that He had with the Father before the world began (See John 17:5), the glory that was rightfully His prior to His human birth and now is again following His resurrection and ascension (See Philippians 2:9-11). Instead "though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor (See 2 Corinthians 8:9)." Application: Why did Jesus forego the glory that was His and take on human flesh? The answer is obvious: He loves us (See Revelation 1:5)! There’s really no other explanation. It isn’t some need of God’s that demands it! The truth is that God has always done quite well existing independently of us (See Acts 17:25). Neither does the justice of God for we could all just die in our sin and go to Hell and His justice would be satisfied. It is the love of God expressed in His mercy and grace which compelled Jesus to take on human flesh. He wanted the best for us regardless of the cost to Himself even if it meant setting aside His glory. Illustration: John Kass, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, wrote about a waiter named Bouch who works at a tavern in Chicago. Bouch decided to write to the king of his homeland, Morocco. The king, Mohammed VI, is immensely popular because he often interacts with his subjects in public. He has free political prisoners, and he helps the poor and disabled. When Bouch wrote to him from Chicago, King Mohammed VI, true to form, wrote back. "Look at the letters," said Bouch. "These are letters from the king. If I meet him, I’ll be so happy." Kass, the columnist, muses, "How many guys hauling beer and burgers in a Chicago tavern have a correspondence going with a royal monarch?" He spoke with Morocco’s deputy counsel general in Chicago and was told that it isn’t unusual for the king to write personal letters to his subjects abroad. "It happens a lot," the official said. "He loves his subjects." To think that a king would associate with commoners -- go figure. You know, come to think about it -- it looks as if the Son of God has one-upped the King of Morroco. He didn’t write a letter, He paid a visit! You see, He, too, loves His subjects. Why else would He come?