year old son, Tyler, loves anything with wheels.
From John Deeres and Caterpillars to Ferraris and
Porsches, if it has a motor, he wants to check it
out. Even though he can’t say Lamborghini or
Mercedes yet, he already knows how to identify them!
It doesn’t hurt that one grandpa farms and the other
has built parts for the automotive industry for over
35 years. The boy has something in his DNA for sure!
But a few months ago, he surprised me. While sitting
on the couch reading one of his many car books, we
came across a picture of a Corvette. When he saw the
picture, he pointed at it and said, “Dah,” which is
pretty much his generic word for anything he can’t
pronounce. But then, he proceeded to push the book
away from me, get down from my lap, and disappear
into the other room. I couldn’t figure out what he
was doing. I had always taught him to like Chevys
more than Fords, so for a second, I thought maybe
this was his first act of rebellion. However, about
a minute later he reappeared with a toy Corvette,
just like the one in the picture, climbed back up on
my lap, took the car and matched it with the picture
of the Corvette on the book, and once again said, “Dah.”
I was one proud daddy! You see, Tyler realized that
the pictures in his books were images of real cars.
The pictures weren’t the point in and of themselves.
They were only meant to teach us about the real
At that moment, it hit home to me that John wants us
to get the same point when it comes to Jesus Christ.
In John’s rather unusual introduction to his Gospel,
he calls Jesus “the Word.” He talks about how “the
Word” was the one who created all things, how he was
with God in the beginning, and how he came to shine
his light into the darkness. But then John goes on
to say maybe the most profound statement in his
entire Gospel: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt
among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only
begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth”
(John 1:14, NIV).
I had a spiritual awakening the day that Tyler
matched the picture of the Corvette with his toy
Corvette. This is what John has been trying to say,
and so often I have failed to grasp it. Throughout
the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), God didn’t
just want to reveal stories or laws. He wanted to
reveal himself. He didn’t want people to merely see
how they should live. He wanted people to see their
Creator and emulate him. So when the time had fully
come, God didn’t send another prophet or another
king to tell people about God. He sent himself. God
took on skin and bones and lived among us. He was
born just like the rest of us. He walked our streets
and got his feet dirty. He became susceptible to
sickness, heartbreak, temptation, pain, and yes,
even death. He experienced the fullness of humanity
because he was fully human.
When John says
that Jesus “dwelt among us,” the original hearers would have heard
that to mean that he “tabernacle” among us. It is temple language.
To the Jews, the concept of the tabernacle, or later, the temple,
was extremely important. This was the dwelling place of God. This
was the place where they came to worship and to offer their
sacrifices. What John is saying is that God’s intention was not to
merely reside in a building, but to walk our streets and to live
with us. Through Jesus, there is a new tabernacle where God resides:
the whole earth is his temple.
We often talk in our culture about “remembering the spirit of
Christmas.” The only way that we can really remember the spirit of
Christmas is to remember the flesh of Christmas. The Word became
flesh and made his dwelling among us. He became God’s Word among us
so that we could live out God’s word in this world. He gave his
flesh for us so that we could be redeemed from lives of sin and
instead live out grace and truth.
When it mattered most, God didn’t merely give us a book or a
picture. He gave us himself. He gave us the greatest gift by taking
on skin and bones and dwelling in our presence. As we gather around
the manger this Christmas, may we reflect his example to his world
by living lives full of both grace and truth.
[Pastor Dustin Fulton, Jefferson Street Church]