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 came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
If we are able to pause here and “get it,” we’ll have a proper understanding of the meaning of Christmas. I’ll be the first to admit, however, that these can seem like dense and lofty words.
In short, Jesus is God. Yes, we sometimes call him the “Son of God,” recognizing he is as fully human as he is divine. But he is God, and the divine aspect of Jesus has always existed—before the birth in Bethlehem and the manger, before the virgin conception, even before the universe and time existed.
If you agree with this assertion about Jesus, you are Christian in a scriptural, orthodox sense.
If you disagree, you stand outside that traditional understanding, even if you call yourself Christian. You at a minimum disregard or modify key portions of Scripture, particularly the early chapters of John.
This aspect or essence of God is called the “Word” in most English versions of John. “Word” is a translation of the Greek word “logos,” used by philosophers of the day to describe God’s wisdom. This logos was believed to hold the universe together, like stitches giving cloth its shape.
“And the Word became flesh and lived among us,” John 1:14 asserts, “and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”
The power that made all things and holds all things together lived in this world as one of us, an event we call the incarnation. We call this God-man Jesus Christ, and he surprised us with much of what he said and did, like forgiving his enemies and dying among criminals on a cross.
As we move through Christmas toward Easter, we will once again watch how Jesus lived and hear what Jesus taught. We should be constantly mindful that in doing so, we are experiencing a kind of wisdom far deeper than anything that could be contrived by human minds.
If we get it, we may find Christmas and much of the rest of the Christian year to be a serious challenge to how we live.
Lord, what a remarkable truth, that you came among us to teach us, love us, call us to obedience and die for our sins. This Christmas, may we celebrate well that moment of arrival. Amen.