In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it… He was in the world, and the world was created through him, and yet the world did not recognize him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born, not of natural descent, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5, 10-14)
Sunday morning I read this aloud to the group of usually wild fifth graders that my husband and I teach at our church. It was quiet. I was overwhelmed by these words, and our students were speechless (an extremely rare and short-lasting phenomena).
I’ve read this passage dozens of times, but reading it aloud let the words resonate with a distinct freshness. As I read, the words Philippians 2 rang in my heart, “he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of men…obedient to the point of death…” (Philippians 2:7-8). The dichotomy of Jesus’ God-ness and His humanity astounded me.
In the beginning was the Word…
Jesus as infinite, all-powerful Creator, life-giver, and light becomes Jesus as servant who emptied Himself of His rights as being One with God so that He could be with us. God’s Word became flesh and lived among the people God so loved—even though those people who repeatedly disobey Him. Jesus took on the curse of sin—the temptation, pain, grieving, opposition, and hatred, even though He had never sinned—so that He might conquer it.
And the Word was with God…
Jesus’ rightful place is at the right hand of the Father. Yet, Jesus left the perfect unity of the Trinity to enter into a lonely world that hated Him. I cannot imagine the weight of experiencing God’s wrath for our sin on the cross, but I also can’t fathom the pain of leaving God’s eternal presence. Jesus traded perfection and completion for ragged and broken.
And the Word was God.
Words tend to be the clearest mode of communication for humans. Similarly, Jesus is the clearest picture we have of God’s character. Jesus literally became Immanuel (“God with us”) or God with skin on. He was God, but He emptied Himself of all his God-ness to take on the human experience—an experience of futility broken by sin. The Creator would now live within the confines of His creation, relying on the systems He put in place to cultivate sustenance, experiencing human need and temptation, and living the life that we couldn’t live so that He could pay the penalty we couldn’t pay. Jesus, who was God, took our place and gave us His: Our rags for His righteousness. Our brokenness for his wholeness. Our sin for His purity before the Father. And not just for those who had formerly been God’s people, but Jesus grafted in all who trust Him into God’s family.
I never want to get over the length to which God went to redeem me. I never want to stop being overwhelmed by the way that Jesus gave up His rightful place at the right hand of the Father. How He took on flesh, revealing God’s deep love for His people. How the Father gave us Jesus so would know that He understands our every weakness, and that He has provided the payment for sin so that we might be reconciled to Him.
The Word became flesh, and because of this, everything changed.
Mary Wiley serves as the women’s and kids book strategist for B&H Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @marycwiley and read more at marycwiley.com. Today’s post is part of our series, Beholding Jesus. Read other posts in the series here.