And the Word Became Flesh
In the twelve days of Christmas that we celebrate, should this passage come at the beginning or at the end? I really don’t know. On the one hand, it should come at the beginning since John takes us all the way back to the beginning, indeed, the beginning of beginnings, the beginning before the beginning, eternity in the past, back when all there was was, uh… well, God. This One, called the Word, was in the beginning with God and was God, plainly meaning that He is both one with and distinct from God. And this is basic Trinitarian theology, though we have not yet mentioned the Holy Spirit. Thus, the first five verses of the Gospel of John tell us that the Word, who is the Son, has ever been with the Father from the beginning; indeed, is begotten of His Father such that the Son is also God as God can only beget God. God may create a cat, a donkey, and any number of worlds, but He may only beget God—who is His Son.
But on the other hand, this passage may come at the end of the Christmas season as well; after all, what passage sums up better theologically what the other passages we read describe historically: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” This is the One who is at the Father’s side; he is the one who has made the Father known to us, since as God Himself only he can make Him known. Indeed, the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth (i.e., God, Himself) was revealed to us by the Son (“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father, John 14:9). And to think that Almighty God dwelt (literally in the Greek, “pitched his tent,” or “tented”) among us in the flesh!
But the passage also tells us a sad truth. Though the world’s Creator came into His own world, and though the Lord and Master came unto his own people, that world and those people neither knew nor received him. And why did they not know him? Because they did not recognize him disguised in flesh? Sure, but that’s not it. Jesus said that his works proved who he was (John 10:37-38). Then why? Because their proud and impenitent hearts kept them from seeing the majesty veiled in flesh. And the only reason we recognize this is that our Lord and Savior has enlightened our minds through the regenerating and sanctifying work of His Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:18). And since we have thereby received him by faith, he has given us “the right to become children of God.” And it’s all because he became flesh and dwelt among us. Merry Christmas.