It is an honor to receive what we call a personal invitation. Ironic that what we call a “personal invitation” is something sent to us through the postal service. We can really highlight this if someone important comes up to us and says they are pleased to meet us can come to their home. “I have been personally, face-to-face invited to….”.
In this historical message of this in Christian thought, that is the beauty of the incarnation. As I write this my wife is putting up the Christmas decorations around the house and somewhere will be the line from scripture and many yuletide songs of “peace on earth and good will towards men”. This is the story: Jesus, the Son of God, Word with God and is God (John1:1) could not just be explained the light and send an impersonal invitation. Actions speak louder than words, and thus, the act of incarnating himself on earth is the beginning of the message of Jesus’ presence on earth through a real mother, in a real town in the context of a marginalized blue-collar family.
He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him (John 1:11-18).
This passage is a center of much theological tension or debate this past 2,000 years. Water down a key word here or there and Jesus is either so lofty that he drops truth like a dry letter or is so earthy that redemption on the cross has limited or no effectiveness. Jesus has from birth and now forever the 100% existence of being 100% God and 100% man. And dear reader, if you say that you completely understand it, I may have written something wrong. Why is it a mystery? From an evangelistic rationale, I could point to the three theological transcendentals: beauty, goodness and truth. Respectively, the drawing of ones heart to things above, what is rightly ordered and what is applicable. These are impulses of the heart and not formulas of the mind. The incarnation of Jesus as divine Logos made flesh speaks to those conditions of humanity.
to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God– – This is outlined in a few chapters later by Jesus. It is a birth that is real, spiritual but not mad made. Man has something to do with it as a vessel but it is not initiated by fleshly means since it is grace. The “grace on top of grace” is because the prior grace was emphasized through men but now and forever would be through Christ the unique mediator. If we are tied to religious expression that neglects that understanding, we neglect God and his intent.
And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.- – I would like to return to the theme I pointed to earlier in that God is not out to wow us. The “still, small voice” is in Jesus. The prior grace that Israel knew a grace to prepare us for the higher one at best. And this grace now would be experienced. Christ is described several times to have had compassion. Compassion means to suffer with. His heart was drawn to the hungry so he gave them bread and fish. In turn, we are able to connect with Jesus as Christians by living an intentional lifestyle in carrying our own cross and even adding our own to his. “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24). It is a part of intimacy with Christ that we can “know him and the power of his resurrection and [the] sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death” (Philippians 3:10).
The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me– – This is more profound than it likely appears upon first reading. Yes, John the Baptist is right, Jesus is greater than him. But if one sees Jesus only through the eyes of the flesh then this must be incorrect. After all, John was conceived three months before Jesus. Though the timelessness of Jesus is implied by the earlier versus of John it is worth pondering in the journey of ones conversation to Jesus that we how “eternity stepped into time”. Jesus is not a being for today but forever.
while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ– – The Greek word for truth was alithia. This was inspired by the Lithia River in Greece which meant “forget”. When one puts the suffix “a” before it the meaning is “not forget”. We remember what we experience. While we do not demand as Christians to be “wowed” or coerced into faith, the ongoing experience of salvation is a joint journey to experience grace of the Lord Jesus Christ together. To be “followers of the Way”.
No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him– – Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:7). This unveiling is part of a long term journey of growth under the fatherhood of God. The more we “behold the Lamb of God” (John 1:29) the more we peer into the agape love of the Father’s heart and give full yielding to the redemption through the Cross.
In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe, who is the refulgence of his glory, the very imprint of his being,
and who sustains all things by his mighty word. When he had accomplished purification from sins, he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:1-3).
Below is a link to a song called “Final Word” that think connects to many of the themes I wrote here.