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By: Larry Shaffer
The Cascades in Washington State
The Word Became Flesh
“The Word became flesh…” These four words are worth some good old fashion pondering. It’s actually worth more than pondering. It’s worthy of deep uninterrupted study, consideration and reflection. The precedent to these four carefully crafted words is “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” 1:1.
In a sense, it’s simple. The Word, Jesus, the pre-existent God and Creator, second person of the Trinity became a man in time and space. It’s such a familiar story to us. We celebrate it every December. It’s the beginning of the good news, the gospel. But let’s not allow the familiarity of it hold us back from considering the awesomeness of these four words and the impact of this event in time and space. “The Word became flesh.”
God took on a fleshly body. The infinite took on a finite tent; the eternal stepped into time; the Invisible One became visible. It’s important to understand that not one shred of His Deity was diminished. He did not become a lesser God. He added humanness to Himself, but He didn’t relinquish the essence of who He was and is.
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” This literally means to pitch a tabernacle or live in a tent. God dwelt on the earth with a human body that was clothing (but not diminishing) His Deity. WOW! Just like Moses could not see the Glory of God directly, Jesus dwelt among us with a covering. His physical body. Nevertheless, His light still shone through the darkness enough for each man and woman to know that He is God. “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men,” 1:4.
Scripture helps us interpret scripture. In this case, Paul provides us practical application of this monumental theological truth from John 1:14. In Philippians 2, Paul says,
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross,” 2:5-8.
So, He was God, a bond-servant and a man. This is a little technical but really cool. The descriptive phrase “form of” is used for both God and bond-servant. But for describing his humanness, the descriptive phrases are “likeness” and “in appearance”.
The word “form” indicates exact essence which means the essence of who He was on earth is fully God and fully a bond-servant. The appearance or likeness was that of a man. God took on flesh and took on all the attributes of humanity.
This was a humbling experience, to say the least. So, Paul give us some practical application when he says, “have this same attitude” of humility as Jesus modeled for us. Lord, you have a calling and purpose for us. May we humbly accept Your calling upon our lives and have the same attitude as Jesus. We are Your bond-servants. Amen!