THE WORD BECAME FLESH (JOHN 1:14)
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
According to Forbes magazine, Christmas shoppers will shell out an average of $607.01 on gifts this year (2006) - $454 on presents for their family, $86.13 on their friends and $22.29 on coworkers. I heard on Chinese radio they spend half as much in Hong Kong and China.
According to the Greeting Card Association, the U.S. Postal Service will deliver some 2 billion cards this Christmas. The average household will spend $47.14 on decorations and send some 26 Christmas cards. And as for the senders, BIGresearch estimates they’ll spend $30.77 each cards alone, an average of $19.11 on flowers and $91.83 on food for Christmas. Americans plan to buy 31 million real Christmas trees, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. Some 40% of celebrators are hoping for some sort of electronic gadget this Christmas. www.forbes.com/2006/12/04/christmas-spending-breakdown-biz_cx_lr_1205christmas_slide_2.html?partner=msnbc
But even with the increased options, Deloitte says 24% of celebrators still don’t think they’ll get what they want come Christmas morning.
I won’t blame you if you fall to sleep reading John’s stripped-down version of Christmas. It has no stars dancing in the heavens, no camels galloping across the desert, no magi hiding gold in a trunk, no shepherds huddling together in glee, no cows lowing in the barn, no loving parents to hold a cute baby, and no mad king to plot the child’s destruction.
How does one celebrate Christmas without the parties, presents and pageantry? What does Christmas mean without the malls, the meals and the music?
Experience the Riches of the Poverty of Christ
Enjoying the riches of life has nothing or little to do with money. When we were little, we crowded excitedly outside our neighbor’s steel gates to catch a glimpse of the most popular kid’s show then – Ultraman. Other things that thrilled kids back then were playing soccer, reading comics, playing marbles, spinning tops and collecting cards.
Up to elementary school, my brother, my sister and I, who are all 15 months apart, shared a bed. Some of the sweetest and richest memories include my grandmother ordering coffee and pouring half of it on the saucer for me to sip, cracking a raw egg over steaming rice and adding soy sauce on it for dinner. A 50 cents piece of ma-you fish, beef and milk for my birthday treat made me feel like a million bucks.
Today I live my life the same way, understanding the value of money, stretching my dollar’s worth and giving the Chao-zhous a run for the money. If Gillette shaving cream is $1.69 and Colgate is $1.29, then I’ll choose the no-foam, no-cap and no-frills 99 cents Barbasol! Once I bought two bottles of VO5 shampoo on sale at 77 cents each! In fact, my shaving cream, my hair gel, and my VO5 shampoo are a dollar’s worth, even though my wife swears that my hair will coarsen, gray or even rot. I never pay $5 to rent a DVD from Blockbuster when I pay $1 in Ontario Library or nothing in Norco Library. We eat whatever vegetables, fruits and meat that are on sale. My van mileage is close to 200,000 miles after seven years. We eat out once a week and have literally tried all good restaurants tried but still we scratch our heads thinking what is worth the travel, the hassle and the price. My wife’s classic statement: “You are stingy and I am thrifty.”
“The word of God” is exclusive to Jesus, a phrase referring to Jesus not used in any book except John. “Flesh” (v 14) has its figurative and literal meaning. Figuratively, it represents the weak, lowly and fallen nature of man. Literally, it means the physical, human and bodily form. In this passage, it means the latter.
Jesus became an average person born to an ordinary family and he lived as a commoner. The divine word of God became human flesh and chose the simple life, some say the hard way. He was raised in a humble, lowly and even poor home and family. His parents could only afford a pair of doves or two young pigeons when the time of their purification came (Luke 2:22-24). Leviticus 12:7-8 says, “These are the regulations for the woman who gives birth to a boy or a girl. If she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean.”
Jesus’ home was not filled with luxury, but filled with love. If you think He only cared about himself and had no hardship, you are never more wrong. Have you ever given thought to why Jesus’ public ministry began so late in his life? Jesus had a family life; he had parents and siblings. Scholars believe that Joseph had died by the time Jesus began His ministry. As the eldest son he had the heaviest responsibility to provide for his family. Because my brother was a big bully, when I was young I resented being the youngest. Now I know being the youngest was a picnic in the park and being the eldest was a pain in the neck. When I see Jesus, I see him as one who did not choose the easy way out. Mark 6:3 says he was a carpenter by trade and he had four brothers - James, Joseph, Simon and Judas – and at least two sisters (Mark 6:3, Matthew 13:55-56). He did not begin His ministry until he was 30, enough time for the siblings to be independent, not leaving his mother all the work.