Summary: This was the first of a series of sermons from John’s Gospel.
Down to Earth
The story is told about General Schwarzkoff during the gulf war, that he loved nothing more than to sit down and eat with the ordinary soldiers. How wonderful it was to see a 4 star general coming down to the level of an ordinary private. He was much admired for the fact that even though he was so important yet he could humble himself in this way.
A similar story if told regarding King George V and the Queen Mother during the Second World War that eventhough they had been encouraged to leave London for the safety of the country yet they stayed on, and visited amongst ordinary people during such times of difficulty. They were still different because of their important position, but came down to the level of ordinary folk to share with them.
When we think of Christ coming into the world we tend to have that lovely Christmas picture of a little baby in a warm, cosy, clean manger. But was it really like that? I am sure the manger was not too clean, and the smells not too sweet. What was it like for the second person in the Trinity to come into this sin-cursed world? For all eternity He had enjoyed the glories of Heaven being worshipped and exalted and adored, yet here we see Him taking on human form - not just any human form, but that of a baby. He was not born in some great palace fit for a King, but in an old dirty cattle-shed. This of course brings us to the doctrine of Kenosis, which says that Jesus emptied Himself in order to dwell amongst man. Did He, as Charles Wesley declared, "empty Himself of all but love"? Surely not. He did not leave behind Him His divinity or His power, or for that matter any of His attributes. It surely would be better to sing that He "emptied Himself because of love". He did leave behind the glories of Heaven, and He did this for love of us. How wonderful to consider that One should love us in such a way. Therefore in this passage in John’s Gospel we find:
1. A Condescension
In verse 14 we read that the "Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us." The question could be asked, "What did Christ do before coming to earth?" John here certainly answers such a question. He says that Jesus was the co-creator, that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God" (vs1). This Word was Jesus Christ and verse 3 shows that not only was He co-creator, but also co-sustainer. Christ was heavily involved in the beginning and the continuing of all things. Christ also was involved before coming to earth as being the revealer (vs 4, 9) who both shone the Light and came as the Light. Therefore Christ was not sitting about in an inactive atate in Heaven prior to coming to earth but was active, in working with the Father in our world.
Christ the Word came to fulfil the Father’s redemptive plan. In Genesis 1 we find that God speaks and then there is light. Now we find God speaking through the Light which has come into the world. Even from Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden God said He would send one who would "bruise the serpent’s heal". Now He has. Jesus is here. Why did Christ have to come in the flesh? Would it not have been enough for Him to reveal Himself as a spirit, still in a Heavenly form? No, this would not have sufficed. Adam was flesh and sinned against God and therefore all humans deserve to die, for "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." The Messiah therefore had to come in fleshly form as the last Adam. Jesus Christ is therefore totally man (vs14) - but at the same time totally God (vs1).
Not only did Christ become totally man but He chose to dwell among us. In the Garden of Eden man had close fellowship with the Father, for He "walked" with Adam in the "cool of the day". As a result of Adam’s sin he had to banished from the garden and also from such close fellowship with God. Man ever since then has been yearning for such close contact with God. Man has always been looking for a way to get back to the Garden. This was why the Children of Israel were always looking for that "promised land", but even there God’s presence with them was not as it was with Adam in the Garden. As man yearned for such fellowship again, so did God, and He knew the only way would be through His Son, who would not only offer up the sacrifice for mans’ sin like the High Priest, but become the sacrifice Himself to bring us to God. Throughout the travels of the Children of Israel the tabernacle was set up to show that God was with them wherever they went. When someone becomes a Christian Christ tabernacles within their lives, and mediates between them and the Father. Such matchless love! In this passage we see Christ coming to earth and dwelling amongst man to set an example of how to live, but most of all to die for our sins on the cross. Has He taken your sins? Have you asked Him to?