So here we are again, another year, another Christmas.
If you are a Christian, it can be all too easy to be blasé and not truly reflect on what Christmas actually means for you personally, the wider body of believers and humanity as a whole. If you aren’t a believer, you may be wondering: what’s the point apart from the presents and the mass food eating etc ? It seems to me that many like to think of Jesus as a sweet docile baby who grew up to be a good guy. But is this how those around at the time of his life viewed him?
The Gospel of John (an eye witness account of the life of Jesus) thought not, and throughout the many carol services I’ve attended this year one key message has struck me: ‘The Word became flesh.’ But what does this mean? Here are three pointers.
1. The Word (Jesus) was no one less than fully God himself (John 1:1 )
John 1:1-14 explains that the Word was God (v.1) and that the Word became flesh (v.14). In other words, God himself came down and dwelt among us in human form. Evidence of Jesus’ deity can be seen throughout the Gospel of John, which I encourage you to read over the Christmas break with some port (port optional). Clearly then, it would not be right to consider Jesus as just a baby, he was clearly much bigger and more important than that.
2. Jesus can be known (John 1:14)
Because Jesus was fully God yet came down to dwell on earth as a human being, he can and wants to be known to and by us. Throughout my life, I’ve often heard people say that they’d believe in the Gospel of Christ if only Jesus would make himself clearer. Yet, in the Gospel of John (and indeed throughout the Bible) we’re given historically accurate accounts of what God is like (demonstrated in the person of Jesus Christ), what he has to say about humanity and how we should respond and relate to him.
3. Jesus came to be light in a darkened world (John 1:7, 9-13)
John (as do the writers of the rest of the Bible) makes it clear that we live in a world marked by sin (i.e. our rebellion against God), which is described in this particular passage as ‘the darkness’. Further, Jesus is described as ‘the light coming into the darkness’. Therefore, quite staggeringly, despite humanity being fundamentally opposed to Jesus (v.11) we can through faith in ‘his name’ (v.12) become reconciled to God (v.13). This is played out as we read further in John’s Gospel that Jesus came into the world to take on the sins of mankind and defeat its power (which is death) so that we could, as John said, be children of God.
The real message
I humbly put to you that these three points form the real message of Christmas. If you’re already a Christian, be encouraged and awed! If not, why not look into the claims of Jesus further via a Christianity Explored course and/or by reading the Gospel of John with a friend?
A talk by Jamie Child, a Minister at St Helen’s Bishopsgate which more fully explains the ideas set out in this article can be listened to here.