The Word Made Flesh: A Meditation on Jesus’ Life

Part two of the Back to the Heart of the Faith series.

“In the beginning…” John writes at the start of his particular Gospel account regarding the very Word [made flesh], continuing to write that the Word itself existed as both uniquely unified and distinguishable from God, which is to say that, as he writes, “the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1; emphasis added appropriately). Going further, the Word was in the beginning with God and all created things have their beginning through Him, yet, the Word, being God and existing prior to creation, was not created and existed just as God exists, for “without him nothing was made that has been made” (v. 2-3). Despite the speechless and incomprehensible existence, of which the human mind could not so much as feign understanding, the Word became flesh – that is, condescended to man (v. 14; Phil 2:7). Even though donning the suit of a servant, in Him the very fullness of the Godhead existed in bodily form, but this One, though divine, was not too lofty so as to become detached from us, no, see in His very life here, walking among the people, He too suffered.

Soon after Jesus had been baptized by John, He had gone into the desert and fasted for forty days and nights. Suffering from hunger, He began to be tempted by Satan. The tempter, knowing Jesus’ hunger, entices Him to turn the stones to bread if He really was who He said He was. If He truly was who He claimed to be, the tempter offers again, bringing Him to the highest point of the temple, He should then throw Himself from it, for God offered protection. Finally, he attempts to offer Jesus power – the kingdoms of the world were to be given to Jesus if He would bow before and worship him. These things are why the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews offers, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted…we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Mt 4:1-11; He 2:18; 4:15).

Jesus is able to empathize with human weaknesses and His compassion is profound. While He walked among the people, He took time to heal broken, dying, or dead for both the sake of those grieving and as an attestation to the validity of His own authority. Jesus showed this in His healing of the paralytic man (Mt 9:1-8), where He forgave the man of His sins and healed Him to show the truth behind His own authority. Not all had to have that underlying purpose and such attestations occurred as a consequence or effect of the action, such as the healing of every disease He came across (Mt 4:23) or the healing of Lazarus, who had died (Jn 11:1-16). The Gospel accounts contain numerous recorded events where Jesus felt compassion for the sick and dying, but this compassion is not limited to the healing of physical ailments, for He even gave a longstanding offer of refuge from the difficulties of this life.

Jesus as refuge is a common theme in the New Testament and this is found in no more specific manner than Matthew 11:28-30, wherein He extends to all, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Knowing the human propensity to worry and struggle, Jesus gave all mankind a way to find peace, but it is not simply to end the matter with this alone. Jesus appealed to humanity’s insatiable thirst and hunger when reinforcing Himself as the bread of life and giver of living water to sate the appetites and thirsts of humanity’s need (Jn 4:10; 6:35; 7:37-38). It is in this that one may understand Jesus’ encouragement, for, in seeking first the kingdom of God, one may have both freedom from concern and assurance of one’s needs being filled.

Finally, as simple as it is to say and as common knowledge as it is for all among the brethren, Christ Jesus serves as the example for those who have been circumcised in their hearts. Jesus, in offering us certain refuge and rest, described Himself as being both gentle and humble and Paul, writing to the Ephesians, urged the brethren to be “imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2). Those in Him should, then, in like manner, follow after His example, becoming humble, gentle, loving of one another and the truth. Further, more than just loving one another, the sheep must love those who are also not among the flock, just as He came and gave His life for all of mankind. In this, one cannot pass the fact that Jesus was more than just His crucifixion and the significance is more than the consequence of a sacrifice. No, He lived a life which we are meant to follow with every step and every breath, thanking and praying, loving and giving, until we are called to eternal, intimate fellowship with the Most High. All to the glory of the very Word made flesh, who, in the beginning was with and was God, then, donning the suit of a servant, became a little lower than the angels, but, in bodily form, all the fullness of the Godhead. Amen.


A Foreshadowing

Part one of the Back to the Heart of the Faith series.

How awesome, incredible, unsearchable is the wisdom of God, for He, knowing the great need of His creation, established the plan – a mystery of old, which was hidden from before the creation of the world! Christ Jesus, the Lord and incarnate Son, was offered as that sweet smelling sacrifice on which the sins of the world would be placed and through whom mankind could be redeemed from the stench of sin and its rightful condemnation. This redemption was expected, though, unknown and, save God Himself, no one knew or could. Nevertheless, before Jesus was given to the world as means to reconcile the fallen creation with the holy Creator, the Most High sprinkled symbols that would speak of this Cornerstone until His incarnation.

Looking back, we assuredly must find a sense of awe in seeing what was so mysterious and certainly fascinating before the arrival of the Messiah as the people looked to the promise. From the fall of man, the allusion to the victory of Christ over the cursed serpent is easy to see (Ge 3:15). That which enticed man to sin and threw into question the truthfulness of God would strike at the heel of Eve’s offspring and he would crush the serpent’s head. Jesus Himself is the victor over sin, their consequences, as well as the one who entices and we are victors through Him.

Later, the Lord commanded Abraham to take his son, the child of promise, and sacrifice the boy on Mt. Moriah. Whatever struggles Abraham had aside, he brought the boy to the mountain and prepared to sacrifice him in faith, but he was stopped by the angel of the LORD, who called out to him, “Do not lay a hand on the boy…” and, just as Abraham faithfully spoke, the LORD would provide the lamb. On this mountain, of which it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided” (Ge 22:8-14), the LORD did indeed provide the Lamb, triumphantly entering Jerusalem (Mt. 21:1-11): the city upon Moriah itself. It was this city, in which Jesus was being led like a “lamb to the slaughter” (Is. 53:7).

Abraham had passed, both Isaac and Jacob were gone, and Egypt had forgotten what Joseph did for the Egyptians after having been sold into slavery. The Israelites, now in Egypt, were dealt with harshly as slaves forced into labor for their masters. Their cries were heard by the eternal “I AM”, who sent the man, Moses, to them as a leader. Moses reached out to Pharaoh, whose heart had been hardened, and plagues were sent to afflict Egypt, yet, Pharaoh continued to deal harshly with the Israelites in their bondage. The LORD commanded Moses and Aaron to instruct the Israelites to take a lamb and slaughter it “at twilight”, dipping hyssop into the blood and placing it atop and along the sides of the doorframe of their respective homes (Ex. 1-12). Who among them saw the drops that fell from atop the frame and the blood along the sides to what would have certainly collected along the ground and recognized the cross which had served as the final sacrifice for all time? Who among them could have seen the symbol of the Son, nails driven through His hands and a crown of thorns around His head?

Christ Jesus was that provided Lamb, whose sacrifice was a mystery shown through types throughout time and He conquered death and sin, striking the very head of that deceiving serpent itself. Jesus is that Passover Lamb, protecting all those who would come to Him from the approaching judgment of God. Though a mystery and profound one at that, God had shown what was to come even if man saw through dim eyes. It was Jesus who was to die and victory would come for all who would come to Him with broken and contrite hearts. How amazing and limitless indeed is the richness of the wisdom of the Lord!