Summary: When the Word became Flesh there were some incredible results.
WHEN GOD JOINED HUMANITY
Christmas is a time for receiving. Yes, that’s right; we do enjoy getting gifts at Christmas time. Even if we buy our own gifts it is a chance to indulge ourselves and buy ourselves what we really wanted. It’s also great to get a gift from someone who really knows you and gets just the right thing.
So maybe Christmas is a time for receiving graciously as well. For there are times when you receive a gift that does not fit who you are or who you think you are. You have to smile and politely say “thank you, how thoughtful.”
A couple of years ago on America’s Funniest Home Videos, a young boy was shown on Christmas morning. He came down to see a large present beside the tree and ran over to tear it open to see what was inside. The paper went flying and suddenly he broke into a dance and jumped around the room saying, “Wow Just what I wanted. I really love it. Wow.” After awhile he went over to look at it again and said with a puzzled look on his face, “What is it?”
On that first Christmas the angels announced the birth of a new child. The heavens were opened and all the company of heaven broke into praise. Shepherds went racing to Bethlehem to see what it was all about. And for two thousand years we have been jumping up and down saying, “Just what I wanted. Exactly what I needed.” But in the next breath we look again inside the stable and ask, “What is it?” We are puzzled by God’s gift. And like gifts that we think don’t “fit us” we cast it aside.
As we look into John’s “Other Nativity” we catch a glimpse of God’s perspective of his Son’s birth, his gift to humanity. We see the romance of the Nativity stripped away and the cold reality that humanity did not understand what they had received from God. If people had understood what was given to them they really would have sang “Joy to the World.”
Do we know what we have received? Are we still looking in the wrapping and asking “What is it?” Sure we know what it is. But like the wonderful gift that it is, let’s gaze at it and enjoy it as we unpack John 1:10-14 again.
1. The Incredible Blunder of Humanity
John took a detour to introduce John the Baptist in verses 6-9, the forerunner of Christ. In verse 10 John returns to writing about the Word when he became part of humanity. And here we read of the incredible blunder of humanity – not recognizing what they had received:
“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (10-11).
Verse 10 tells us that the creator of the world was neglected, and verse 11 tells us that the Savior of the world was rejected. How could the same God who created our world with the precise specifications for our needs be completely rejected by His own creation? Very simply, this is the same reaction God has received consistently throughout our entire history.
Just think of OT days when they killed the Lord’s prophets and ridiculed them for their messages. We read in Jeremiah, “From the time your forefathers left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their forefathers” (Jer 7:25 ff). Then think of the birth of Christ and how Herod the Great felt threatened by the Messiah and killed all the children under two years of age in Bethlehem. Consider the cross when Christ’s enemies stripped him, beat him, and nailed him to the beam and left him to die. Remember the early church and how every apostle except for John died a violent death. And for the last twenty centuries the Church has suffered for believing Jesus. And even today Christmas is downplayed so that the malls cry “Happy Holidays” and the schools have “Winter Festivals.” To reject Christ is humanity’s modus operandi. “…He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor” (1 Peter 2:4).
What is truly astounding is that the people to whom Jesus came were his own people. This could be translated “He came home.” They had the prophecies that foretold how and when the Messiah would come. These were Jews, the keepers of the flame of hope, possessing the proof that Jesus was who he said he was.
Dr. Peter Stoner of Westmont College once wrote about “compound probability” referring to 8 of the prophecies of Jesus coming true. He said that the odds of one man accidentally fulfilling 8 of these prophecies is 1 in 10 to the 17th power. That’s a 1 with 17 zeroes behind it. Picture it this way: That many silver dollars would cover the land mass of Texas to a depth of two feet. If you took one of those dollars and marked it with a red dot, dropped it from an airplane, then blindfolded your friend and told him to go somewhere in Texas, bend down and pick a dollar with the hopes of finding the dollar with the red dot, that would be the same odds as 8 of these prophecies coming true in one man. And Jesus fulfilled 48 of those prophecies.