Jesus, forever man for us
by Andrew Lansdown
Whenever it is read, the prologue to the gospel of John (1:1-18) confounds the mind with wonder. In it, God’s creative and redemptive achievements are revealed, Christ’s person and work are defined, and the gospel message is proclaimed. And the prologue seems invested with a special power at Christmas, when our thoughts focus on the birth of Christ.
John tells us that the Word, who from the beginning both fellowshipped with, and possessed the nature of, God—the Word, through whom every created thing came into existence—this Word “became flesh and dwelt among us.” The mind staggers with incomprehension: God became Man!
Mary, favoured of God and blessed, gave birth to the Son of God. The infant she suckled at her breast was and is God incarnate—her (and humankind’s) Creator and Saviour! Who could have imagined? Surely not the shepherds, not the Magi, not Joseph, not even Mary herself could have imagined, let alone comprehended, the mystery of this child.
What are some of the implications of this unique, historical event?
Because Jesus humbled himself through the incarnation, we have been exalted. Human beings alone among all creation can rejoice that the Creator has adopted our form and our nature. For love of us, the Creator, who made us in his own likeness, took upon himself our likeness. But there is more.
In a way deeply paradoxical and mysterious, the incarnation inaugurated a change in the changeless Godhead. For the Word became a man, body and soul, permanently.
Jesus lived as a man, died as a man, rose as a man and ascended as a man. He did not shed his humanity after his resurrection and ascension. He did not become a man merely for a brief moment in history, only to resume his former divine state after completing his mission.
When the Son came to Earth he did not forfeit his deity and when he returned to Heaven he did not forsake his humanity. Hence, the Second Person of the Godhead continues to wear the flesh, to bear the nature, of man. In the Eternal Council, in the Triune Fellowship of Love, there is a man.
In Christ Jesus, human beings are eternally represented and resident in the Godhead.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” He did this to usher in the age of God’s grace. He did this to give all those who receive him by faith the power to become the children of God. He did this to make God known.
John emphasises this latter purpose in his prologue. For it is the revelation of God that paves the way for our reconciliation to him. All those who desire to see God must look at Jesus Christ. For as words express and reveal thought, so the Word expresses and reveals God.
Two millennia ago, seeing the newborn child, who could have imagined such things?