“…and Dwelt Among Us”
Part 2 of Word Became Flesh
CCCAG January 21st, 2018
Scripture- John 1:14B
Won’t you be my neighbor? Show Mr.Roger’s Opening Video
Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood
From 1968 to 2003, Fred Rogers encouraged children to learn to care for others around them. His signature song, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” exemplified his simple message- know, respect, and care for the people around you.
I don’t know how many people know this, but Fred Rogers was an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church. His message was one he had heard himself, as he echoing the words of His Lord Jesus.
In Luke 10, a teacher of the law stood up and asked Jesus how to enter into heaven. Jesus asked him, “What do you see written in the law?”
The teacher of the law replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus said, “You have answered correctly, do this and you’ll live”
The teacher of the law then asks, “Who is my neighbor?
That’s the question isn’t it?
In this incredibly polarized society we build walls, we erect fences, we try to demolish others with our emotional arguments, casting logic and common sense aside with the certainty that we are right.
And in doing so, alienate ourselves from the very people that Jesus left us on this world to reach.
Another way of seeing this was found in the beginning.
After the first recorded murder in the bible, God asked Cain where is your brother Abel?
Whenever God asks a question it isn’t because He needs information that only you know. It isn’t like God is sitting on the edge of His throne right now telling the angels to stop their praising because He hasn’t heard this sermon yet. When God asks a question, it is to elicit a response, and the response HE was hoping to get from Cain involved an immediate prayer asking for forgiveness and repenting of his horrible act of killing his brother in a fit of jealousy.
Instead, God got a hard hearted and cynical answer, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
That same question echoes down thousands of years later to us this morning?
Are we our brother’s keeper?
Are we our brother’s keeper”
Who is our neighbor, and are we our brother’s keeper?
The Apostle John has some things to say about this.
Our verse this morning will answer those questions-
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
Answering the questions “Who is my neighbor and “Am I my brother’s keeper” exposes the heart of a person.
The teacher of the law didn’t want to consider those dirty Gentiles to be on the same level as himself.
Cain didn’t’ like Abel before he killed him and venting his rage on his brother didn’t purge it from him-in fact it probably hardened it even further.
That same cynicism today is seen today and it is why the church in America doesn’t witness.
It’s why the church in America doesn’t give,
it’s why the church in America doesn’t want to live for the Kingdom of God.
Live Kingdom lives
Under the authority of Our King Jesus
But that isn’t why Jesus came to us?
The Word of God is powerful in whatever language you read it. (repeat)
But to really dig into the mysteries of God, you need a good interlinear bible and something like Vine’s definitions to understand it as written in its original languages because there is so much depth there that is missed in the translation to English.
John uses a particular word that I want to spend the rest of our time here this morning, and that word in the Greek Language is “Skeenoo”. It has several meanings, and I want to explore those meanings today to fully understand how the Word became Flesh and Dwelt (skeenoo) among us.
The first meaning of “skeenoo” is this-
I. Jesus came to Encamp
The word encamp or encampment is a military term. It means to set up your forces in battle readiness expecting to attack, or be attacked.
The concept of encampment defines Jesus’s mission-
Jesus came to earth to fight a battle. You automatically think of the cross as the battle, but Jesus was a man as much as He was God.
That means that the first battle He fought was with Himself in the Garden. You remember the record of Him agonizing in prayer with Father God, begging Him to take away this cup of suffering that was coming.
Inside this cup was the beatings, the mockings, floggings that tore chunks of skin from his body.
The tearing of his beard, the thorns mocking a crown that was thrust into His scalp, and finally the nails driven through is hands and feet that fastened Him naked to a cross for everyone to see.
Jesus knew in the Garden exactly what was in that cup. Jesus fights a battle against His humanity and He does so in prayer.
He was in such agony that the bible indicates that his sweat actually became blood- a medical condition called Hematidrosis-a condition in which capillary blood vessels that feed the sweat glands rupture, causing them to exude blood, occurring under conditions of extreme physical or emotional stress or fear. Three times he cries to God to take away that cup, and three times there is silence from heaven.
Finally, Jesus bends His human will to the will of God, and the bible says that it was then that angels attended him.
There is a lesson there for us- God’s silences are not necessarily God’s denials or God being angry or disappointed with you. Often God’s silences are because there is something in your life that you are struggling with Him about, and HE wants you to surrender your will to HIS will, and then you will know His presence, His power, and His blessing in your life.
The word becoming flesh and dwelling with us means that Jesus came to encamp in our lives, and to destroy the work of the enemy.
The Old Testament prophet Joel explained the mission of Jesus this way
Joel 2:25- I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.
26 “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
Jesus didn’t suffer, die, and rise again just to pay for your sins. He did all of that to restore to you everything the devil has stolen from you over the years.
Anyone remember that praise song?
I went to the enemies camp, and I took back what he stole from me?
Jesus coming as the mighty warrior, encamping about you, did just that for you.
But it wasn’t just the battle. It wasn’t like so many of the wars that you see our nation fight today- go in, fight, and then leave.
Oh no, Jesus-
II. Jesus came to Occupy- the second meaning of dwelling among us
Let me ask you a few history questions to put this into perspective for us-
What happened when we pulled south of the 38th Parallel in Korea? We lost the land.
What happened when we pulled our troops out of Vietnam? It fell to the communist forces of the north.
What started to happen when we pulled out of Iraq? ISIS formed and reigned terror throughout Iraq, Syria, and many other places in the World.
What happened when we started to pull out of Afghanistan? The Taliban came right back in.
What does this tell us?
You can’t defeat an enemy, and then leave it open for him to come back.
Jesus Himself tells us a parable
Return of an Unclean Spirit
Mat 12:43 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none.
Mat 12:44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order.
Mat 12:45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”
Here is the scenario that Jesus is speaking to, and it reflects many in the church today-
A person admits they are a sinner, believes in Jesus and comes to Him in repentance. Jesus comes and cleans out your spiritual house. He clears the cobwebs, sweeps the floor, vacuums the rug, dusts the end tables, and takes out the garbage.
But then HE leaves
So what is the condition of the house after all the cleaning is done?
It’s still empty. All that garbage we allowed the enemy to hoard in our spiritual closets might be gone, the piles of refuse filling our spiritual living room might be on the curb, and all the dishes dried and put away.
But the house is empty.
That’s what often happens when people have a “salvation experience”- they live for a time with joy and thankfulness for what Jesus has done for them, but they never think to stop and ask Jesus to come in and take up residence.
The want the benefit of Jesus, but not the presence of Jesus.
We saw that over and over again in the Old Testament- people would have a spiritual experience and be filled with the Holy Spirit, but there was never an abiding presence. They got filled, said, “Wow, that was incredible” and all that spiritual power they were filled with leaked right out and they were back to the way they were, or worse.
That’s why the Word Became Flesh and DWELT (OCCUPIED) among us.
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Because Jesus knows if He does not take up residence in the house He just cleaned up, then he loses the house. Remember our history lesson?
That WAS the point of Calvary’s cross. It wasn’t just to get your sins forgiven. It wasn’t just to restore a people back onto God.
It wasn’t all about us-
It was about God’s desire to live inside the creation HE has made.
III. The 3rd meaning of dwelt or skeenoo- Jesus came to Reside inhabit the temple God has always wanted- our hearts
God instituted the Mosaic or Levitical forms of worship as the proper ways of worshipping Him.
In response, humanity made huge temples, expensive tools, stands, arks, curtains, firepits, and other articles used in worship. In fact, there was so much wealth given to the original form of worship seen in the Tabernacle that Moses had to beg the people to quit giving the priests money, gold, and other expensive items.
God’s responded favorably at first, and HIS presence filled the tabernacle, with such an overwhelming manifestation of His glory that not even Moses could stand it.
But like all things Old Testament, it faded. It faded because with all of its symbolism, with all of it’s pageantry, all of it’s ceremony and with all of it’s exactness in how to sacrifice the various animals used it worship-
Hebrews 10:4 tells us that they blood of bulls and goats can never take away sin.
That means under that Old Testament system of worship- the house could never be swept totally clean, it could never be spiritually sanitized so God’s presence could dwell there, nor could it hold even a small portion of God’s presence for any length of time before our sinful humanity drove God’s presence away again.
The Word became Flesh and Dwelt (Resided) among us. Jesus came to dwell inside of the temple HE has always wanted- us.
Think about that for a moment-
God’s plan wasn’t that He was found in the largest and most beautiful cathedrals.
God doesn’t want a fancy temple made of stone
He isn’t impressed by megachurch’s or cathedrals
A multimillion dollar campus doesn’t catch His eye
But watch God when a sinner repents.
See the angles stop their praise for a moment and gaze in wonder as a human soul is redeemed.
Like the famous hymn says
“No angel in the sky, can full bear that sight, but downward bends his wondering eyes at mysteries so bright”
When a person repents and turns from their sin, it’s just like-
Moses hanging that final curtain on the tabernacle
Or Solomon placing the final piece in the temple
Or 120 disciples praying in an upper room-
It’s a God explosion of power. The house is in order, and God comes and moves in to our lives, our souls, and our Spirits are set free to worship and live for HIM.
The Word became Flesh and Dwelt, encamps, occupy’s, and resides.
When Jesus comes and encamps, choses to occupy your life, and then takes up residence in your life there is a response in the natural-
IV. Our Response
If Jesus is indeed taking up residence in you, there should be a response. I’m going to share what that response should be from John 1:14 from the Message bible translation.
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.
Last year, Larry Liebe gave his second to last address as our district superintendent. If you don’t know, he is retiring after this year’s district summit.
In this address, he brought up this verse, translated in this way, and asked the district pastors to lead their congregations to be intentional about neighboring.
I want you to think about this- When you decided to follow Jesus- Jesus moved into you,
Because of that- Jesus moved into your family, your friends, your workplace, and your home. That means the people living on your left and right, or down the street, or over the next hill are Jesus’ neighbors.
It is our job to show them what kind of neighbor Jesus is-
Jesus might help them snow blow or shovel
He might help them rake.
Jesus might offer to tend their pets while they are away.
Jesus might babysit their kids when childcare for work falls through…and might even do it free of charge on those rare occasions.
In other words, Jesus would be intentional about loving His neighbor, and in doing so, answer that cynical question of Cain’s.
“Am I my bother’s keeper?”
Yes, you are
Or the question posed to Jesus by the teacher of the law- “Who is my neighbor”
It’s whoever God allows to cross your path, work and live with you, and share life with.
It doesn’t matter if they are Christians
It doesn’t matter if they are of another political party
It doesn’t matter if their accent, skin color, or culture is different, or they don’t speak our language because they are here illegally.
They are still our neighbors, and were still placed in our lives so that we can shine the light of Jesus into their darkness.
The Word became Flesh and Dwelt among us. Jesus moved into our spiritual neighborhood.
Let’s do the same for our neighbors. Amen?
Prayer for a desire to reach out to those who live, work, and are within our sphere of influence.