In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
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 1:1-18
By now you know a little bit about the history of the Twelve Days of Christmas I hope? You know that Christmas lasts until Jan. 5? Christmas isn’t a day – it’s a season! From our celebration of the birth of Jesus on December 25 until the arrival of the Magi on January 6, it is the Christmas season. Here is what I have been learning about not only the Twelve Days of Christmas but today we land on the Twelfth Day, did you know:
The twelve days of Christmas traditionally ends with the celebration of the eve of Epiphany on the Twelfth Night, January fifth. As practiced in years gone by, churches would generally begin its feasts on the eve of the day for example: Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, Easter Vigils, etc… Epiphany is the celebration of the revelation of Jesus as the Savior of the whole world as first shown by the coming of the Magi, the three Wise Men, and thus Jesus’ physical manifestation to the gentiles. If you’re like me, I didn’t know, but now we do. So how does this speak to Christmas?
Earlier in the season as I was preparing for this blog post I was challenged with the question, “If someone were to ask you to summarize the basic message of the Christian faith in just one verse from the Bible, which one would you choose?” Isn’t that a great question? Some would say John 3:16 perhaps? Romans 5:8? Ephesians 2:8? Admittedly, it is an unfair question, it would be hard to say that any single verse of Scripture tells us everything that God wants us to know about His plan to redeem and save us from sin and death.
In the article I was reading the author concluded, “But if I were forced to answer that question, the verse I would choose is John 1:14, The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (NIV). The question really challenged me, but when the author went on to explain why, he certainly gives a compelling argument:
“This verse describes the incarnation, the central fact of the entire Bible. It is the key to understanding everything else the Scriptures teach about God, human beings, the meaning of history, time and life itself. And what does the incarnation mean? Simply this: The one, eternal, triune God of holiness and love; the very God who created the world and everything in it; this very God has Himself entered into the world that He made, and He did so in the most personal and intimate of ways–as a Baby in a manger, as a Man on a tree.”
The statement in John 1:14 that “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” is really the Christmas story pressed into a nutshell. This is the Main Event—Jesus, the eternal Word, became a human being and lived among us in obedience to the Father’s eternal, redemptive plan.”
Don’t we as Christians know this. We tell this to our children every year. But we need to remember that it’s still a profound mystery—and one worth diving into. As Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 3:16, “Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ was revealed in a human body” (NLT).
For many it is a mystery, but for those of us who spend enough time with the real Jesus and learn the whole Christ story, we can better appreciate Christ at Christmas, and yet when we read the Gospel of John, from all appearances, it would seem that John knows next to nothing about angels or shepherds, stars or magi. Goodness, he doesn’t appear even to know the name of Jesus’ mother! Why, then, this particular reading as an option for the Twelfth day of Christmas? Because it captures the heart, meaning, and benefits of the Christmas story in a nutshell.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” If you go to your commentaries to study, you find in the original Greek text, John uses a word here that literally means “he pitched his tent among us.” That word picture reminds God’s people of the time after God freed Israel from Egypt and they traveled through the wilderness. Wherever they went, the tent of God was in their midst. During the day God’s glory stood over the tent like a pillar of cloud, and at night it glowed as a pillar of fire. In fact, the Tabernacle was sometimes called the Tent of Meeting because it was the divinely-appointed meeting place between God and man. In the same way—but in a much deeper sense—Jesus is the place where we meet God today.
Eugene Petersen in The Message paraphrases this verse, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14 MSG). For thirty-three years God moved onto our cul-de-sac. He walked down our street. When he stepped out, Jesus lived among us. God lived among his people, giving them water to drink and food to eat. That’s what it was like when Jesus lived among us. As God in human flesh, we saw his glory in everything he did. He healed the sick, raised the dead, fed great crowds from a little boy’s lunch, and sat at table with sinners like you and me. This is the Christmas story…
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David… While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and Mary gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”Luke 2
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”Matthew 2
I pray you too will join me in celebrating the whole season of Christmas as we worship the incarnate Jesus, God in flesh this day.
Lee Faust | Executive Pastor
Billy Graham, Decision Magazine, Wikipedia, John Piper