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Celebrate Jesus: The Incarnation

John 1:14

Series Text: 1 Tim. 3:16 

And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Beheld by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.

Around the turn of the Century, Albert Schweitzer wrote The Quest of the Historical Jesus. While challenging the conclusions of "19th Century liberalism" about the historicity of Jesus, he wrote the following: "The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth, and died to give His work its final consecration, never had any existence. He is a figure designed by rationalism, endowed with life by liberalism, and clothed by modern theology in an historical garb." (Schweitzer, p. 398) In short, Schweitzer did not believe as Peter affirmed, that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the living God," rather he would simply say this Jesus was a good teacher, an ethical man, but that He was not fully God and fully man.

In today's text, Paul speaks of "the mystery of godliness." He does not confine himself to the linear logic of the western culture, nor the processes of scientific rationalism. Instead, he speaks of the effectual work Jesus as a "mystery." Something only those who have experienced Him can know.

In Col. 2:1-3 NASB, Paul wrote: "For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf, and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, [2] that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself, [3] in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."

Some would say, allow me to put Jesus in a test tube, analyze Him, then I will believe. Yet Paul indicates that only those that believe have real understanding. The sceptic says, seeing is believing, the man of faith says, believing is seeing. After his conversation with Thomas, the Risen Lord said, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." (John 20:29 NASB)

Part of the "mystery" is that Jesus Christ was fully God, and yet fully man, or as Paul put it, "He who was revealed in the flesh," John, the beloved disciple began his gospel with these words: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1 NASB) And a few verses later he wrote, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us," (John 1:14a) John affirmed the mystery. The eternal God became flesh. Notice the word John used to describe Jesus the Word or the Logos.

According to Aristotle, three things convinced men: the ethos (personal character of the speaker) the pathos (persuasion from within) and the logos (the proof) The logos, to the Greek mind, was the ultimate proof or the final word.

The Apostle John did not write, "in the beginning was the ethos," nor did he write "in the beginning was the pathos," rather, he said, "in the beginning was the Logos the ultimate proof the final Word!" Neither did he say the ethos became flesh or that the pathos became flesh, instead he used the terminology that said Jesus, the "final argument the ultimate proof," became flesh.

The pre-existent Logos broke though eternity to become man to dwell among us. God appeared many times before Jesus' birth. Some men heard his voice. An arrogant King once saw his finger write on the wall. Moses heard him speak out of a bush that burned, but was not consumed. This time, God didn't briefly come on the scene and leave, He "pitched His tent" (another translation of dwelt in vs. 14) among us.

John claimed to see Him, hear Him, and even handle Him! "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life--" (1 John 1:1 NASB)

God became man! But why? Did He come just to enlighten us? John wrote: "There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man." (John 1:9 NASB)

It is true that Jesus is the Light that destroys the darkness. John 1:5 records, "And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." The Greek word for comprehend can also be translated, "overpower" or "over take" it. Simply put, where there is light, you can no longer see darkness. The light forces it from the room.

Jesus is the Light that exposes evil. John 3:19-20 NASB "And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. 20 "For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 

Jesus is the light that guides our destiny. John 8:12 NASB "Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life."

Yes Jesus is the light that destroys the darkness, exposes evil and guides our destiny, but there is more. 

Jesus didn't come to show the way. Neither did he come to illumine the truth. Nor did He come to show us life. He said Himself, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6 KJV) He doesn't illumine the path He is the path!

Yet, many of his contemporaries rejected Him. "He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him." (John 1:11 NASB)

In His "Sermon on the Mount," Jesus said,"Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it." (Matthew 7:13 NASB)

That's the bad news, the good news is that some received Him. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name," (John 1:12 NASB)

The Apostle John had no problem believing that the historical Jesus he heard, saw and handled was the pre-existent Logos the eternal God! 

Because he could not dissect Him, confine Him in his rationalistic test tube and prove his existence through the scientific method, Schweitzer chose to declare that He never existed. 

Frankly, a God that can be fully explained and understood is not one I'd choose to believe in. I'd rather just declare with the Apostle Paul, "And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh,"

Paul simply stated the path to salvation in Romans 10:9. He wrote, " that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;" 

The quest for Jesus is never satisfied through intellectual gymnastics. Jesus can only be found through faith.

Today, that is the invitation I bring to you. To come to Christ through faith. 

First, do you believe that God raised Jesus from the dead after He died on the cross? 

If you do, then will you confess Him to be the Lord of your life the controller of your destiny? 

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