Christmas From 20,000 Feet

We love the Christmas story. The baby, a virgin mom named Mary, wise men, Joe the innkeeper (well, we don’t know his name, could be Joe). In this brief blog I just want to consider the opening verses of John’s gospel. I’m writing this as we taxi for takeoff to visit our kids in South Carolina. Soon we’ll be cruising at 20,000 feet (that’s a guess) unless of course we crash, then I’ll be with Jesus sooner than you. And if they recover this iPad, I’ll be deemed a prophet! Kind of a win/win.

So now we’re in the air looking at a sweet sunset over Philadelphia. Houses look tiny, people are impossible to see, and one's perspective is completely altered. The gospels of Matthew and Luke tell us details of Messiahs birth, shepherds, angels, you know, things that make for a great Christmas pageant! John’s gospel is different- he looks at Christmas from 20,000 feet so to speak. He’s recounting a grander view. Not better or worse, just different. Here’s how the gospel opens:

“In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God ….”

What? No shepherds, wise men, awesome star, crying infant? John is taking us back to the beginning… so does God have a beginning? Short answer… nope. This verse is about some incredibly lofty topics, aseity, trinity, incarnation, eternality, just to name a few. You see… Jesus is the second person of the trinity. The God we worship is one who dwells in community: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. He also is uncreated. That’s the meaning of the term aseity… he is eternally existing, uncreated… concepts that literally boggle the mind! So, in the beginning (as we know it) God just is. And so is the Word. The Word (Jesus) was both with God and was God. Awesome stuff to ponder! Here’s the nativity part of John 1:

“The word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory… the glory of the only begotten, full of grace and truth”

The baby born in Bethlehem is the second person of the trinity. Jesus is God. The Word takes on flesh, and lives among us. This is the essence of our faith. God came to earth to live among us and eventually die on Calvary’s cross to rescue you and me. He “dwelt among us” the roughly 33 years of his life were lived and also inscribed in holy writ so that we can know grace and truth!

The first chapter of John is deep and profound. We could write for a long, long, time on it. But my brief reminder here is that Jesus is the Word. He is God. He is truth. And John is reminding us that the story is lofty and wonderfully complex. It began in eternity in a manner none of us can fully grasp! And I for one am so blessed that the Christmas story, along with being complex and magnificently deep, is also simple, so much so that even a child can embrace its saving message. I’m also grateful for that wonderful phrase describing Jesus “full of grace and truth." He is the truth. A truth that runs so deep that all of our lives we are discovering new nuances of its beauty! And if you know Him, you have found the grace of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

His grace embodies forgiveness, hope, peace, joy, and the promise of heaven. The Word becoming flesh was about our rescue and the fact that “God so loved the world… “

It’s a grand plan.

He is a gracious savior.

The way is simple … run to Jesus.

John 1:12, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision, or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

Merry Christmas!

Pete Nelson