Theme: He pitched His tent among us
Text: Ps. 147:12-20; Eph. 1:3-6, 15-18; Jn. 1:1-18
Read John 1:14 “And the Word became 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.”
One problem that frightens many people today is armed robbery and this has cost some innocent persons their lives. Many people see this as a problem for the police and feel there is nothing that individuals can do about it and so just ignore the problem. We have in fact become experts at ignoring problems. Just leaving our homes we cannot fail to notice the people, mainly children, selling all kinds of goods on the streets. Some of these children actually live and sleep on the streets. We pass by them everyday and it has become such a common sight that we are no longer concerned about their plight. Rather we have begun to see them as a source of cheap bargains. They are so desperate to sell something that they end up accepting very low offers, which prevents them from making any reasonable profit. We, however seem to forget that these children are growing up. What happens when they become adults and can no longer sell on the streets? Will they not become the next generation of armed robbers? Why don’t we help them? If it would mean that you give up your home to live under the conditions these street children live under just to help them, would you do it? I don’t believe you would, but this was what Christ did to help us. He left His home in glory and pitched His tent among us.
Not too long ago people living in an area knew each other personally. Today we appear to have neglected this very important part of our lives. But even when we do not know our neighbours personally, we are always curious to know their names and find out what they do for a living. When the Son of God pitched His tent among us John calls him “the Word”. He had always existed as the Son of God with the Father in heaven but He now chose to come into the world in a human body and live with us. His name “The Word” is very revealing. Before every word is spoken it is preceded by a thought. So the “Word” really means thought expressed in speech, a Spoken thought. That is the work the Word came to do on earth. He came to put into words God’s thoughts towards us. Who can put God’s thought into words if not God himself? Only Christ could do this because He is God. We are not only interested in the names of our neighbours and what they do but also in more personal things like their family and where they lived before they became our neighbours. John tells us that “the Word was with God” meaning that our divine neighbour, as God, was a separate Personality from God, the Father and the Spirit, and that as God He came from God.
Jesus Christ pitched His tent among us because God desires a relationship with us. In order to have a relationship with us He has to reveal Himself to us in a way we can understand. You cannot know another person and have a relationship with him or her unless they reveal who they are. We must relate to one another to have a relationship. Those who are married today will remember and those who are not married yet know that being attracted to a member of the opposite sex is not enough for a relationship. You could see their physical appearance and form a mental image of what they were like but you could not have a relationship with that person without speaking to him or her. It is what they say that really tells you who they are. Not only do they have to speak, but they also have to speak in a language that you understand. God became one of us to be able to speak to us in a way that we can understand so that we may have a relationship with Him. This is enough reason for us to value all He has to say to us and treat Him with every respect and reverence. Enough reason for us to spend time with Him and make every effort to understand what He is saying to us.
When the “Word” became flesh and pitched His tent among us He went through what all men go through. All of us find ourselves in 2 places during life, at home and at work and it is at these places that we are tested. Christ faced temptations just like all of us but resisted them at every point. We know that the home of Christ was a poor one because Joseph and Mary could not afford a burnt offering at His dedication. Instead they offered a pair of doves or two pigeons as requested by the law for the poor. To grow up in poverty with brothers and sisters is not always easy. He must have gone through all that is common to all homes, the fighting, the quarrelling, the teasing and the selfishness. Jesus was tempted in all ways as we are yet He did not sin. He never had the wrong attitude or motive in all He did, not even with His parents. Living in subjection to imperfect parents exposed Him to various forms of inward temptations. Like normal parents, they must have argued or quarrelled but Jesus never looked down on them or despised them. If He had He would have sinned. Jesus Christ being a Jew was brought up as a Jew. The so-called missing years, when some claim that Jesus went to India, was spent the way every Jewish boy spent his childhood. It was during this time that He had to learn the Scriptures. Learning in those days was by heart since there were no books and the handwritten scrolls that were available were too expensive for anyone to posses. Jesus definitely took His lessons seriously and did not cheat in any way. He wouldn’t make life difficult for some students and He wouldn’t ridicule anyone. After the death of Joseph, Jesus as the eldest had to take over the support of His mother and of His younger brothers and sisters. He had to work. Being faithful at work is a temptation we all face when we engage in any form of business. Jesus initially took over His father’s carpenter workshop and it is said He made the best yokes and that His yokes fit best. He must have faced the temptation to deceive especially when money was short but He never deceived anyone to whom He sold anything. He never cheated anyone. He would not demand more for any item He sold. He would not sell damaged items as if they were not and He would not keep the extra money when someone overpaid Him. He would not discredit His competitors and He was always seeking the good of others. He worked till His brothers and sisters were of age to support the home and then He was freed to begin His life’s work of ushering in the Kingdom of God. At this stage Jesus faced temptations that came with national fame but in all He did not sin.
Jesus revealed the glory of God. In the Bible “glory” often means the bright shining light, which was seen when God was present. It also means the perfection and excellence of God. No man can see God and live because of man’s imperfection. Moses desired to see God’s glory to give him an assurance and an experience of His presence but God could not grant his full request. He was only allowed to see God’s back, when God had passed by. Moses could only know God by His works and His acts. We however can see God, as He really is because the Word became flesh, and John says we beheld His glory. In Jesus we have God’s glory veiled in a body of flesh so that we are not slain by it. It is manifested in His perfect life and character. Jesus is full of grace and truth and undeserved kindness for others. He is also completely honest and upright and can never excuse sin or approve evil. To be completely gracious and at the same time completely righteous is something that only God can be. God wants us to live lives that will please Him. Whether at home, or at work, or in the Church, or wherever we are we should be concerned about pleasing God and not ourselves or our friends.
We can only live the life of Christ when we believe what Christ has done for us. He has made His life available to us and today, the first Sunday in the year, there is something significant we can all do. We can invite Christ into our lives and begin to live a life that pleases God. We need His life in us - a life that is complete and abundant – a life that only Christ can give. We need this new life and to get this life we must believe in Him. We must believe that Jesus is really and truly the Son of God, and that He is God. Only trust in Jesus gives purpose and meaning to life. If we really believe that Jesus is the son of God we would want to know him; not just about him but also to know Him intimately. We will be involved in those activities that please Him – serving Him in the Church and outside the Church.
Christ pitched His tent among us to meet us where we are and then to take us where we could never go by ourselves. Christ became like us, so that we could become like Him. God descended downward so that we could ascend upward. He lowered himself so we could be lifted up. God has done everything possible to save us and we have no logical reason to reject Him. To reject Him is to behave like a prisoner serving a life sentence that is pardoned but continues to remain a prisoner. Either he has not heard about the pardon or he has heard about it but not believed it and therefore makes no effort to leave the prison. The pardon does not help the prisoner in any way. Unless he accepts the pardon and leaves the prison he will remain a prisoner. The Word pitched His tent among us. ‘He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God.’ By welcoming and receiving Christ and by believing that He is God we enter a new life and restored relationship with Him.
Jesus was God’s way of meeting us where we were to take us where we could never go. When the “Word” came to live among us some of the people refused to recognize Him as the Word. Others welcomed Him and His presence greatly benefited them. What none of them knew was that He owned the place and had actually created it long ago. The Word came and lived among us. At thirty, during His baptism, the heavens were opened and the Spirit of God descended on Him like a dove and God, the Father spoke these words about Him from heaven “This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” This was before Jesus had performed a single miracle or preached a single sermon. God was pleased with the life He had lived, both at home and at work before He began His ministry. Jesus could never have become the Saviour of the world unless He had been approved at home and at work. He had to do one job well before He could be entrusted with the other bigger job. Christ has entrusted His followers with a job. As his followers, we are called to imitate His example. The majority of the people in our world, in our nation, in our community live in darkness. They neither know God nor seek him. It’s up to us to meet them where they are so God can take them where they cannot go. Christ has done all that is possible for Him to do and He has left the rest up to us. Let us go to those who need to hear the good news so that they will also enjoy God’s blessings this New Year. This should not be so difficult for us when we keep in mind that for our sakes Christ pitched His tent among us. Amen!