Day 6: The Word Became Flesh

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

The unique thing about John’s Gospel is that it predates the birth narrative of Jesus. Not just by a few years or decades. It goes back before the foundation of the world, into the annals of eternity.

John introduces us to the Word—logos in the Greek language. Logos does not really mean “word,” as we know it in English. We simply don’t have another word that expresses its meaning. In Greek philosophy, logos carried with it the idea of a central, divine, organizing principle of the universe. What John does is connect this idea to the beginning of creation (“In the beginning…”, Gen. 1:1) to convey the notion of God’s divine self-expression. Thus, John goes beyond the Greek philosophers who came before him. The logos is indeed central to the origin and purpose of the universe. But it’s not an impersonal force or an idea. This Word, this logos, this self-expression has found fulfillment and completion in a person. John identifies this person as the “the only Son from the Father” (v. 14), the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ.

God’s solution to the brokenness of this world was not to ignore it, start over, or let us fend or ourselves. He entered. The God who created the universe and everything in it, took part in his creation. It’s like Shakespeare entering Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth and participating in the story he’s writing. Can you believe it? A Creator who lives not only among created things but partakes of flesh and blood, skeleton and muscle, tendons and ligaments? One who gets hungry, stubs his toes, enjoys sunsets, and, yes, even goes to the bathroom? It seems to good to be true.

But it’s not too good to be true. It’s the miracle of the incarnation. Advent means the end of vague spirituality, it also means the beginning of God-in-the-flesh spirituality. Christmas is the celebration that God has acted in time and space. And this changes everything.

Scripture and Reflection Questions
Read John 1:1-18

  1. How should the fact that God enters creation in flesh and blood change your outlook on the physical and material?
  2. Read v. 11. Who are Jesus’ “own”? Why didn’t they receive him? How is that a warning to you?
  3. Have you received Jesus and become a child of God? If not, what’s holding you back? If so, how should your life be different?
  4. If you know grace and truth through Jesus, how then should you live today?
  5. Read John 14:9. How can you cultivate a desire to look at Jesus, and therefore God, more and more?

From We Look for Light: Readings and Reflections for Advent


The Flesh Cannot Please God

In Romans 8:8, Paul writes, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”  What he means is that whoever does not have the Holy Spirit living in their human spirit cannot do what God wants, demands, or requires.

This verse is enough for me to believe that the new birth happens only by God’s doing with no contribution of our own.  Why?  It’s simple.  If a person who is only flesh (i.e. not born again) cannot please God, then how can he muster up enough faith to do the ultimate pleasing and believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior?

The answer is that he cannot.  There is not an iota of goodness in a human being in God’s eyes before salvation (Rom. 3:10-18).  That is what is communicated when Paul uses the word “flesh.”  Flesh is opposed to the Spirit (see Gal. 5:17).  Flesh is our carnal, sinful nature.  Spirit is our God-given, new nature.  Before salvation people live “according to the flesh” and “set their minds on the things of the flesh” (v. 5) because they don’t know anything else.  But Paul goes further than that though.  He says that unregenerate people “cannot please God.”  In other words, it is impossible.

So if there is no good in people — apart from Christ, when there is no Spirit in them — then there is no desire to do good, be good, or seek to know and please the One who is infinitely, inherently, and eternally good.  For that to happen, it would take a miracle, and this miracle is called being born again.  This is impossible with man, but the good news is that with God nothing is impossible.

To be continued.