AND THE WORD BECAME FLESH
THE ETERNAL WORD
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1v14)
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God, John begins his gospel with this important statement revealing the nature of the substance and being of the Son of God before He became man. He who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh was the Eternal Word, Who was always with God, being God Himself. He was the brightness of His glory, the express image of His person, Who when He became flesh was the Word that brought God into visibility, expressing and manifesting from the beginning all of His nature and being. He is the eternal Word through whom God speaks into existence all that is within Himself, His wisdom, power, love, beauty and harmony. It is through Him that He made the worlds and all that is in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, “for of Him and through Him and to Him are all things”. (Colossians 1v15-18)
HE BECAME FLESH
This is He Who at a certain point in time became flesh, truly man, born of a woman just like ourselves, He lived among us and as John the apostle who saw him in those days declares, “we have seen His glory…” (John 1v14) At the command of God, given through the angel Gabriel He was named Jesus. He first, is the great mystery of godliness. Paul writes of this, “He was manifested in the flesh,” (1 Timothy 3v16) and was not of the nature of angels but was of the seed of Abraham, partaking of flesh and blood like us, so that through death He might destroy the one who had the power of death that is the devil and deliver His brethren from their captivity. (Hebrews 2v14&15)
Jesus, being the true man, grew in stature and wisdom in favor with God and man. (Luke 2v40&52) He lived and walked in perfect dependence, obedience and submission to God His Father. He loved to refer to Himself as “the Son of Man” and as such He walked within the constraints of His physical body like any man, the same limitations and conditions that governed Adam and Eve in their sinless state before their fall were those under which Jesus lived His life. He was not born in sin and because He was without it He lived in perfect harmony within Himself for He was able to abide in unceasing communion with God His Father, seeing, hearing and pleasing Him. As He walked He was extremely sensitive to human misery with its profound need, pain and tears and this sensitivity particularly included the sinful nature and hardness of heart inherent in and manifested so frequently in men and women all around Him. Jesus could easily discern the hypocrisy of the religious leaders and their enmity against God and Himself, He was aware of the innermost thoughts and motives working in human hearts, nothing was hidden from His eyes. None of His human faculties were numb; instead all His being was alive and awake to God, to people, to nature and to the tempter also. As a man He considered His body to be the temple of God and therefore sanctified it and used it solemnly for His will alone. We do not know the form, measurements and characteristics of His physical frame, such things are obviously unimportant, but we can affirm that He did not differ in any significant way from other men in any physical way. His body was not a supernatural body, but one like ours, with the same needs for food, water and sleep and was subject to pain and tiredness, hunger and thirst.
SUBJECT TO TEMPTATION
Jesus was tempted and tried on many occasions but the most famous of these occurred when He was thirty years old. They took place in the wilderness and in the first of them Satan tried to trick Him into using His divine power to supply His own personal needs apart from the will of His Father, but Jesus refused to act independently as the Son of God and so this satanic attempt utterly failed. If Christ had heeded the subtle suggestions of Satan He would have come under His tempter’s power and God’s plan for the salvation of mankind would have failed. All God’s purpose lay in Jesus as the Second Man. The first man Adam had failed when tempted in the garden and the Second Man was victorious when tempted in the wilderness. The witness of God, “You are my beloved Son….” (Luke 3v22) uttered from heaven a few days before, was still fresh in His mind, He had full knowledge of who He was, there was no need to prove anything to God, Satan, Himself, or anyone else. Jesus was thoroughly awake and aware of His mission knowing that He must accomplish it as a man obedient and submissive to His Father and in complete dependency on Him. “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” (Luke 4v4) was His answer to the tempter and these words perfectly expressed the way Jesus lived every day. He obeyed His Father in all things right to the end, even unto the death of the cross and in so doing He fulfilled all righteousness and attained the fullness and perfection of manhood according to God’s plan and will. “Though He was a Son He learned obedience by the things He suffered. And having being perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” (Hebrews 5v8&9)
SONSHIP WAS ALWAYS GOD’S PLAN
From before the world began God had purposed to give to men the great privilege of becoming His adopted sons and it was His pleasure to do so. He loved man far above all His other creatures even before He had formed even one of them! His heart’s desire was to enter into a relationship of love and communion with man His choicest creature and eventually to place him as His dear son (adopt him) and make him head over all His other creatures. For this to take place it was necessary that God should make man in His own image and likeness. God, though complete and content within the communion of love of the Three Persons of the Trinity desired to share that same communion of love with one of His creatures, to have a friend and companion who would be the object of His affection and with the powers of their being to respond back to Him in the same way. He had not created angels with those powers; it was not His mind for them for they were granted those abilities that enabled them to be ministering spirits, servants of another order in His house. It is a wonderful and liberating thought to know that the desire for communion with man and His purpose to elevate him comes from God. The initiative is always God’s, it is He Who loved us first and as Jesus said to His disciples it was He Who chose them, they did not make the first move. (John 15v16) The everlasting posture of God toward man is one of friendship and everlasting love. The fact is, that when men walk with God, His heart is full of joy and satisfaction. He called Abraham His friend. (2 Chronicles 20v7, Isaiah 41v8, James 2v23)
GOD’S ELECTION AND MAN’S RESPONSIBILITY
There are things about the Being and ways of God that are puzzling to us and as we consider them they seem to contradict each other. One of the reasons for this is that He is God, beyond and outside time and space whilst we are not God the Creator but creatures living within the boundaries of both time and space. Among the mysterious elements of God’s ways is the relationship between His predestination and election and the free will of man. These are two lines of truth and they seem to run in parallel with each other throughout the Scriptures. It is a wise thing for us, with a humble heart, to keep them both in perspective and honor each in that way that does not do dishonor to the other. Paul writes that, “God elected His people in Christ and destined them unto adoption to Himself according to the pleasure of His will before the foundation of the world.” (Eph 1v4&5) It is obvious though that their free will which is a prerogative and a gift from God is absolutely essential for their development and destiny unto son-ship, therefore let us keep both these truths together in the measure of our limited understanding without violating either of them. The fact that God foreknows, elects and predestines does not absolve those who He elects and destines from responsibility in effecting their election and destiny. If we to honor God and His truth we must take into account all the facts and aspects of His character revealed in scripture. One of the fundamentals about God is His righteousness and the justice of all His ways. Every creature shall confess that He has been utterly right in every thing He has done when the end comes and every eye shall see Him. The fact that He has elected His sons in Christ from before the world’s foundation must not be considered an unjust act on His part for it is His prerogative. Paul challenges this idea when he says, “will the thing formed say to Him that formed it why you have made me like this? Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lamp to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?” (Romans 9v21) But we must be careful to take into account the aspect of man’s responsibility also though there appears to be a contradiction present. God is not playing games with us, in Him there is no darkness at all and He is not a heartless, emotionless, impassible sovereign being who ordained everything irrespective of the will of man. The idea that in some way the response of man is not involved is nothing but sheer fatalism and is deadly to the truth as it is in God. God was revealed in Christ for in Him God was manifested in the flesh and in the incarnation we do not see any kind of fatalism at all, rather we see that God foreknew the fall of man and we can safely assume that He not only expected it but also allowed it as another step in His final plan for the making of His sons. Yet none of this means that He was not heartbroken when mankind fell from their high calling in Adam.
Our understanding of God is limited and so many things are still hidden from our eyes. For though He is sovereign and works all thing according to the counsel of His will and knows from beforehand the things that shall come to pass in time, we must not think of Him as One Who is not grieved when things go wrong or rejoicing when things are done according to His will. The Scriptures reveal that times God is disappointed, changes His mind, regrets (regretted making man) and so the list could go on. The doctrine of the predestination and foreknowledge of God if it does not take into consideration these other aspects of God’s nature will tend to channel our thinking into a diabolical distortion, He will seem to be a heartless, sovereign, all powerful God, indifferent to the pain and agony of the world over which He presides and as long as He achieves His ends He doesn’t mind the tragedy on the way. The truth is that God’s heart was broken for Adam’s fall. He must have felt the pain of betrayal, as though God was surprised that His man should turn on Him as he did. He was disappointed and heart broken with His ancient people Israel, though He foreknew that they would turn their backs to Him, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” cries God through the prophet. (Jeremiah 9v1) Was not Christ sad with Judas? Though Jesus was aware from the beginning that Judas would betray Him He called him and loved him in the hope that he would come to his senses and change. We read that God regretted creating man and He sent the flood to destroy the world but He made sure there was a righteous Noah through whom He could preserve man! Did God not repent for making Saul a king and did He not gladly yield to the intercessions of Moses and change His mind concerning His thought to exterminate the people in the wilderness? All these things, (and many more could be added) teach us that our understanding of God’s foreknowledge, election and predestination must be considered together with the fact that all things are not fixed by Him and He also wants man to have part in sharing with Him concerning his destiny.
God is mindful of His creation, more than we can ever understand. He is not a stone or emotionless idol without speech or heart; He is love and there are rich emotions in Him far beyond our poor measures and definitions. There is sadness in Him together with joy; anger is mingled with compassion whilst disappointments run in counterpoint to successes. In Him all emotions have their origin. He is rich in mercy speaking also about His failures though we must note that none of these occur because of fault on His part. If we look carefully into these things we will see how He improvises in order to correct faults and failures, He never jettisons the clay marred in His hands but makes it again as it pleases Him. (Jeremiah 18v1-11) God loves the world and every person born in it. He is grieved with the suffering, pain and the misery and hears every faint prayer, eager to give a helping hand, even to those that do not know Him. At the same time there is so much joy in Him when a person is saved. God loved Adam greatly, not only was this man His creature but also His friend, His companion, God walked with him daily in sweet fellowship and wanted him to be as happy as possible. He planted a paradise in which His precious man could live and when he rebelled asked, “why, how can my man, my friend whom I have made, whom I have loved, turn away from me?” Many years later, concerning His people Israel, He actually said, “What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it? Why…” (Isaiah 5v4) “How could Israel whom I have chosen amongst all nations and loved with an everlasting love turn from me the living God to other gods?” “My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart;” cries Jeremiah expressing God’s feelings. (Jeremiah 4.19)
STRANGE STEPS TO FINAL DESTINY
Adam was created in a state of innocence; he was a glorious child, full of wonderful potential but he needed to grow to full manhood. Amazingly, in him were all the sons of God. We must understand though that these sons were initially in Christ before they were in Adam. Here we are faced with a mystery un-searchable to the carnal mind. It was necessary that all mankind should be in Adam and share in his fall; their birth into life through his seed was vital so that they could arrive at their destiny. These sons had to be men, fallen men and had to taste sin and death, then redemption, salvation and victory before entering the high office of adoption by God into son ship. Indeed, “who has known the mind of the Lord or who became His counselor? (Romans 11v34) We can assume that the devil, out of sheer jealousy, intervened as soon as the plan of God began to unfold. With subtlety he came into the garden that he might frustrate God’s plan. He wanted to prove to all the rest of God’s creatures that God’s man was not fit for such an honor. The devil was not aware of all the counsels of God Who works all things according to His will and nothing can stop or divert Him from finally achieving His ends. God encouraged Adam to eat of the tree of life and forbade him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because he needed to grow in the knowledge of God before knowing anything else, he had to first learn to cleave to God in obedience, choosing Him and using his will in the right way and so grow up into a perfect man who God could publicly adopt as His well pleasing son. When Adam failed, not only did he lose this glorious hope for himself but also became temporarily the coffin for such privilege for all his descendants, for in him all sinned and died and came short of the glory of God. (Romans 3v23)
MANY SONS’ IN THE SON
What Adam failed to attain JESUS accomplished! He is the second man, (1 Corinthians 15v47) Who through obedience brought His humanity into the perfection of manhood and became the first man to receive sonship from God. He was and is the Son of God but at His resurrection and ascension received the public, heavenly adoption by the Father as His man son. Resurrection from the dead was the first indisputable proof of that because death was not capable of holding Him captive. It has power over sinful, imperfect men, and Jesus Christ was not one of them. “Whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be held of it.” (Acts 2v24). God turned and changed the pains of death into the travail of birth and so His first man son was born from dead. “Concerning His Son Jesus Christ who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and appointed to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Rom. 1:3) God’s triumphant, joyous cry was then uttered, “you are my Son today I have begotten you.” (Acts 13:33). On this occasion we hear the glad declaration of a father who had waited long for the birth of His firstborn son and now received Him in full acknowledgement of His maturity as His Son. As in the beginning when the foundations of the earth were laid and the sons of God shouted for joy and the stars sang together, so it was now for the angels and all heavenly hosts marveled as they beheld the new creation of God, a man next to God, a Son sharing His glory. This was the greatest day for God in the realm of time, and for man it marks our destiny fulfilled in Christ. As the sun rises above the horizon with the glad tidings that the morning has come dispersing the darkness of night, so that day, the living hope began to spring back into the hearts of men. The joy in heaven was unspeakable, not only because Jesus Christ through His resurrection from the dead, entered into this glorious privilege Himself, but also because through Him and in Him myriads of others that were elected by God in Him were soon to be brought into the blessedness of adoption.
It is through His Son, the man Christ Jesus that God won the battle for the redemption of His sons along with the rest of His creation. In Him there is deliverance from the terrible state of captivity and corruption in which all had been languishing. He could now transport them out of the authority of Satan into the kingdom of the life of His Son. God’s eternal purpose, to crown man with glory and honor and subdue all things under his feet began to be accomplished in Jesus Christ. When Jesus ascended up and sat down at His Father’s right hand as Lord, man received the greatest honor and glory that was ever given by God and this because Jesus received from that moment a place far greater than that of angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they, the name of Son, “For unto whom of the angels said He at any time, Thou art my Son, today I have begotten you? And again, I will be unto Him a father and He shall be to me a Son.” (Heb1v4&5)
How wonderful are the ways of our Lord! In all these things we see that Jesus Christ is always the beginning, the forerunner, the firstfruit, the firstborn from the dead, the firstborn brother of all that are destined to inherit the same glory. “For it became Him, for whom are all things and by Him are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brothers.” (Heb 2v9-11) Jesus is the beginning of a new generation, a new family, whom He is not ashamed to call brothers because they are from the same stock, human beings who are born from above, sharing His nature and His character, destined by God the Father to the position of sons before Him through the resurrection from the dead.
FEEDING ON HIM TO REIGN WITH HIM
Jesus had been told by His Father that it was His will that not one son should be lost that He had given Him. The sons are given to the Son as His brothers so that Jesus might present them to the Father, all resurrected in the last day. Through His incarnation and death on the cross and the outpoured Holy Spirit Jesus made His humanity (His human life) available to us. Our full salvation depends on that, for unless we eat His flesh and drink His blood, we cannot possibly have His life in us and we shall be lost. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6v54) Only His life lived in our flesh is acceptable to the Father and by eating Him we become like Him and this is only possible by the Holy Spirit for there is no other way. Only through the Spirit can we feed upon Jesus, see Him with the eyes of our hearts and hear Him with our inwards ears. It is by the Spirit’s power and presence that we are able to follow the Lord and it is by Him that we are transformed, “with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3v18) Jesus saved us from a great death, He continues to save us and we trust that He will save us to the uttermost. The writer of the Hebrew letter calls all of this, “a great salvation,” and none of us can afford to neglect it, the price paid for it is beyond all calculation and it involves God’s greatest work as He saves men and woman and brings them to states of eternal, incorruptible glory. The sufferings of Christ, as a man, His humiliation and death were the means through which we were lifted out of the pit of hell and shame and have become members of the church of the firstborn. The writer of the epistle addresses those to whom he writes with the most honorable title: “holy brothers, partakers of the heavenly calling.” (Heb 3v1)
The declaration, “Thou are my Son today I have begotten you,” is taken from Psalm two and is the fulfillment of prophesy concerning the final victory of God over evil and the establishment of His kingdom on earth. “Yet I have set my King on my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree, the Lord has said to me, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will give you the nations for inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron. You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.” (Psalm 2v6-9) The kingdom belongs to His Son. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and His brothers shall reign with Him as a kingdom of worshipping priests and princes, “for He did not put the world to come into the subjection of angels but for which we speak, but one in a certain place testified saying, what is man, that Thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that Thou visit him? You have made him a little lower than the angels; you have crown him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” (Heb 2v6-8) Jesus by His triumph over His enemies, ushered in the era of the coming of God’s kingdom, for He Himself when He ascended entered His ministry of intercession, waiting for His Father to put all His enemies under His feet.