Summary: John 1:14b. What were the purposes of God dwelling with his people in the person of Christ? Here are some important answers...
THE WORD BECAME FLESH | BIBLICAL CHRISTOLOGY FOR CHRISTMAS
THE DWELLING – HE DWELT AMONG US
- About 730 years before Jesus of Nazareth was born, King Ahaz was the ruler of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Ahaz was an idolatrous king who led the people of Judah away from the worship of the one true God. Because of his idolatrous heart, he refused to trust in the God of his fathers for protection during military conflict. Nowhere is this clearer than in his encounter with Isaiah the prophet around 735 B.C.
- The king of Syria and the king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel had joined forces in order to attack Judah, specifically at Jerusalem, its capital. Upon hearing the news that this tandem was coming against him, Ahaz began to panic. Seeing his fear, God sent to him Isaiah with a message to trust in the LORD. The end result was that Ahaz would not trust God, but would instead give himself and the nation to the king of Assyria as servants in exchange for military aid.
- But during his exchange with Isaiah, he was told something that would forever be remembered as one of the greatest prophecies ever given by a messenger of God. It was a statement that had immediate impact and application in his own day, which he may have understood. But it also looked far beyond his life to a day when Israel’s Messiah would finally come. Isaiah asked Ahaz to request a sign from the LORD that he would indeed protect his people from the coming invasion. Ahaz hypocritically refused. So Isaiah responds to him in this way: Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
- Beyond the immediate context of those words lay a larger redemptive context that the Apostle Matthew picks up on over seven centuries later. A young man has a young fiancée who has recently become pregnant. Because he knows that he has not had sex with her, he is debating about what to do about the situation. Then an angel comes to him in a dream and says this: Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew goes on to explain: All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
- The words spoken by the prophet of God to a rebellious king seven centuries before that moment had found their ultimate fulfillment. God was now with his people in a way he had never been before. The title that Isaiah prophesied and Matthew applied to Jesus sums it all up: Immanuel; which, as Matthew explains, means “God with us”. When Jesus Christ was born, God came to be with his people.
- The parallel to this great statement in the Gospel of John (though his gospel contains no nativity narrative) is found in 1:14. In our last look at this verse we labored to establish the fact that Jesus is the eternal Word of God; and that upon his birth he became the incarnate Word of God – God wrapped in flesh. We focused in on the first phrase of this verse. Now we will move to the second. Here again, is what it says:
[READ JOHN 1:14]
- When John writes that the Word dwelt among us he is echoing Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23, which call Jesus “Immanuel – God with us”. And since we have established who Jesus is, (he is the eternal and incarnate Word of God – both God and man), now we will probe the importance of his incarnation. Why is it so important that God became a man, that the Word became flesh, that Jesus is Immanuel – God with us?
- I have four reasons that I want to share with you; but first I want to say a word about this phrase and dwelt among us. Some of you may know that the verb that is translated as dwelt literally means “to pitch a tent”.
- It is an allusion to the Old Testament tabernacle and temple where God came to meet with his people in the Most Holy Place. Now, however, John is saying that God is not to be met in the temple above the ark of the covenant, but he has actually come to live among his people. He has tabernacled; he has pitched his tent among us. He has identified with us in the greatest possible way – he has become one of us.