Word becomes Flesh | John 1.14-18
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. John 1:14-18 | ESV
Today I yield the floor to Dwight Longenecker on the topic of incarnation – and commend him and his book Quest for the Creed to your robust consideration:
“In the center stand the philosophers Aristotle and Plato. Aristotle points down to earth and Plato points up to the heavens. Aristotle thought earthly realities more real than heavenly realities, while Plato thought the heavenly realities more real than the earthly. When the early Christians asked who Jesus really was. they were given the answer by Jesus’ immediate followers that he was God in human flesh. But when they got the simple answer that Jesus was God incarnate, they wanted to define just how Jesus was God in human flesh, and that’s when the fight broke out. The quarrel was the usual clash between heaven and earth. Was Jesus a man who seemed godlike or a god who seemed manlike? Was he a very good man, but not fully God, as a teacher called Arius claimed, or was Apollinarious right that Jesus was fully God but not fully human? The truth is always stereoscopic. Error, on the other hand, has single vision. That is why pirates always wear eye patches. The clash between heaven and earth is solved by the conception of a child who was both fully God and fully human. The early Christians understood that only a fully stereoscopic vision of Jesus as the God-Man would reconcile the opposing factions and change the world forever. If Jesus Christ was only a good man, then the world had not changed. If he was God who only seemed to be a man, then again, the world had not changed. But if Jesus Christ is truly God and man, then a bit of heaven had been planted in earth and the clash between heaven and earth was over forever. The chasm was bridged, the wound was healed, the war was over. This is why Christianity in its full-blooded rumbustious dogma is subversive and revolutionary – because it taught that in Jesus Christ there is a stunning new relationship between all things visible and invisible. This is why Christianity is unique among world religions. Every other religion tries to bridge the gap between earth and heaven through some technique. Some call for their devotees to make bloody sacrifices to please the gods and get them to come down. Others call for the flesh to be subdued by obedience to a strict law code. Others call for their followers to forget their suffering of the flesh in order to achieve a higher consciousness. In each case, they try to bridge the gap between flesh and spirit, but in Christianity the gap is bridged for us. It is accomplished at the moment that the Holy Spirit conceives the God-Man.”
Good stuff, that Longenecker…
Does the idea of Christ’s incarnation – God becoming a human being and living among us – does this present you with a theological/philosophical/metaphysical problem, or does it leave you lost (found!) with a deepening sense of wonder and thanksgiving? Why?
Lord, fill me with fresh wonder at the very thought of you becoming a human being and “moving into the neighborhood.” When I feel distant, remind me that you have bridged the gap, that you yourself are the bridge. Open my eyes to see the beauty of your Face; in your Light let me see light. Through Christ.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.