(If this day falls on the first Sunday after Christmas,
please refer to that devotion instead.)
1 John 1:1-2:3
He Came in the Flesh
Today I take up a passage during these twelve days of Christmas which is intended to balance John 1:1-18 which I wrote about on Christmas day. That passage of Scripture tells us in magnificent language about the majesty of our Lord – the Word who is God and was with God, a quintessential passage for the doctrine of the divinity of Christ, whom the Church has understood from the beginning to be the God-man, the second person of the Triune God, who, in the fullness of time, assumed our flesh, adding our human nature to his divine nature. He must be God to save us (for we cannot save ourselves), and he must be human to take our place (for it is our sin which must be atoned for).
It is his human nature which we take up today. Our Savior is not part God part man; he is fully God and fully man. And with this passage from John’s First Letter — written by that very same John who wrote the Gospel and spoke of Christ as the Word who was with God the Father from the beginning — this same John hammers home the reality of that very human nature which the Son of God assumed. You see, there were false teachers already in the Church at that time (the latter part of the first century) who were teaching that Jesus only “seemed” to take on human flesh. They were called “docetics” from the Greek word meaning, “to seem.” John would have none of it. Listen to the emphatic announcement he makes right from the start: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us – that which we have seen and heard….”
John proclaims, “We saw him! We heard him! We touched him!” Indeed, John ate and drank and lived with him. The gospel depends on the truth of our Lord’s humanity just as much as on the truth of his divinity. The very story of his birth in Luke 2 is as earthy as any story of childbirth ever told. Other religions have gods who may visit the earth and take human form for a time. Christianity is the only faith where God comes and lives with us, in human flesh, dies for us, in human flesh, and, praise God, rises for us, in human flesh. And it was his very real blood that he poured out for us that cleanses us as we walk in his light in sweet fellowship with one another. And now he is our Advocate, sitting at the right hand of the Father, having taken our nature and body with him. This is our God – a God who knows us, not just cerebrally but experientially. Which is all to say, our God understands us.