Monday, December 14, 2009

The Other Christmas Story


Most folks with a Christmas tradition that involves reading the Biblical "Christmas Story" turn to the second chapter of Luke's gospel. It's a very descriptive and detailed account, which is why it is read so often around Christmas. But there is a fantastic follow-up to this chapter that you might consider adding to your Christmas tradition.

In John, chapter 1, verses 1-14, we see a picture of Christ painted for us that lifts away the veil and reveals the truth and significance of the Christmas story in a way that Luke doesn't. Luke tells the story from the viewpoint of third-dimensional physical existence. John tells the story closer to God's viewpoint, recognizing the cosmic reality of who Jesus is.

You'll notice that John uses the odd title "The Word", to describe Jesus. He describes "The Word" as having existed before ANYTHING else. The Creator of everything that DOES exist. The giver and sustainer of ALL life, and a being that can NEVER be overcome by evil. He also said that "The Word" became flesh and lived among humans.

Imagine that concept for a second. If you're a sci-fi buff (and if you're reading this, chances are good that you are) you may be familiar with the science-fiction concept of a non-linear being. A being existing outside the confines of time and the 3rd dimension. Although this concept is represented in various ways in sci-fi and fantasy stories, ultimately it is portrayed in physical images for our linear, 3rd dimensional brains. In the end, we simply can't comprehend the concept of a non-linear, non-physical being.

Now consider that this infinite, timeless God chose, in ways we can't fully understand, to limit himself to the life of a human. Stew on that for a minute and try to comprehend it. God and human... at the same time. Jesus says later in Chapter 10, verse 30, "The Father and I are one." And later on in chapter 14, verse 9, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." Even wilder concepts still. 

The Hebrews of the time understood "The Word" to be the acting power behind creation (Psalm 33:6) and would also have understood it to make reference to God's law and goodness.

The Greek philosophers of the day would have recognized the Greek word used for "Word" here: logos. In Greek philosophy this word was a reference to the divine source and sustainer of all things in the universe. John was writing so that both Hebrews and Greeks would clearly understand that Jesus is God in every sense.

And keep in mind, Jesus did not become God more and more as he grew older on earth. He was just as much God on the night of his birth as he was when he rose from death. Infinite, unknowable power packaged in such a weak and helpless form. Even setting aside the cross for a moment, we will never fully know what the God of the Universe gave up to live as one of us.

This is the true wonder of Christmas!

1 comment:

  1. Nice post,
    The christmas story is a beautiful account...
    Thanks for writing, most people don't bother.