“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” - John 1:1
There’s a story about a little boy who was wakened during the night by a thunderstorm. He called down the hall to his mother because he was scared. Well, now and then we all have less-than-perfect parenting moments, and in the wee hours, Mom was hoping to avoid getting out of bed. So she called back, “Don't worry, sweetheart. God loves you, and He’ll take care of you.” But after a moment the little boy answered, “Mom, I know God loves me. But right now, I need someone with skin on."
In the last few weeks I’ve been looking at the Christmas story through the eyes of the gospel writers. In the final gospel, the apostle John gives us his take on the birth of Jesus, and here’s what he tells us: Jesus Christ came to earth as God with skin on.
The book of John opens, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” From that opening verse, John wants us to wrestle with the earth-shattering truth that Jesus is God. And so, when Jesus was born on that first Christmas, God had come down. Jesus was God in the flesh, and this world would never be the same.
Warren Wiersbe says it well: “Much as our words reveal to others our hearts and minds, so Jesus Christ is God’s ‘Word’ to reveal His heart and mind to us. Jesus said, ‘He who has seen me has seen the Father’” (John 14:9). Isn’t that awesome? For centuries people wondered what God would look like and talk like and act like in the real world. Well, Jesus showed us once and for all, didn’t he? Jesus is God’s heart and mind with skin on.
John 1 makes it clear that Jesus created the world. So creation—including humankind—was rightfully his. But when Jesus came into the world, most people did not recognize him as the Word of God (John 1:10-11). Most people didn’t recognize him as the Creator. So, when given the choice of whether to receive him or reject him, most people opted for rejecting him. But for the few who did receive him, for the few who did place their trust in him, “he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12b).
This is an important distinction. You see, many people say, “After all, we’re all children of God.” No, we’re not. Biblically, that’s just not true. We are all CREATIONS of God. But unless we become believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we will never become CHILDREN of God. Spiritual adoption into God’s eternal family can only come through Jesus Christ: the eternal Word of God.
And in verses 14 and 17, John gives us two words that seem to hop off the pages of our Bibles: grace and truth. Let’s look at that first word, one of the most wonderful words in the English language: Grace. It means “undeserved favor.” It’s one thing for God to show us mercy—withholding the punishment from us that we rightly deserve for our sins. But it’s quite another thing for God to show us grace—blessing and favor that are completely unmerited. It’s one thing for Jesus to rescue us from Hell. But to give us the gift of heaven, after all we’ve done to rebel against God—that’s grace!
And Jesus is not only our grace. He is also our truth. If you want to know the truth about why you’re here on earth, the answers you seek are in the Word of God. They are found in Jesus. If you want to know the truth about where you stand with God right now, the truth is found in the Word of God. It is found in Jesus. If you want to know the truth about how your broken relationship with God can be patched up, the truth is found in Jesus. And if you want to know how you can be sure that when you die you will go to heaven, the certainty that you seek is found in Jesus.
Once you know who Jesus is and why he came, what are you going to do with him? You can choose to reject him. That’s an option. Or, you can choose to receive him. That’s a much better option. As we look at Christmas of 2017 in our rear-view mirror, it’s my prayer that you’ll recognize Jesus for who he is, and receive the great blessing of becoming a child of God.
Dane Davis is the Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information, visit www.fccvv.com and join us for worship Sundays at 10 a.m.