Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Word Became Flesh

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

14 Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας.

Now that I've finished slogging through Luke's Greek in Luke-Acts it's time to go back through John. As a preview of what is to come, I plan to go through John, 1-3 John, and Revelation. Then I'll go back to Paul. I believe that John wrote those five books, so I want to get a sense of how it all ties together. Plus, I think it's good to mix things up once in a while.

If you've been around church for any length of time you're probably familiar with at least the clause Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν. This is a clause that maybe gets a little bit overpreached, but let's break it down a little bit. The verb ἐγένετο is an aorist. That means that at some point in time the Word became flesh. Aorist doesn't necessarily mean puncticular as some older preachers may have learned, but what we do know is that at some undefined past time the Word became flesh.

The word ἐσκήνωσεν is also an aorist. This has the idea of putting up a tent to settle down. You may have heard it preached as "And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us." I think that may be overtranslating it a bit, besides the fact that "tabernacle" is not a great expression to use in 21st century America. Basically, I think that we can understand this as saying that Jesus became flesh and for a time made His dwelling with us people.

What can we use to illustrate this? Let's say that you felt called to help the homeless. Since you're reading this on a computer I'm going to assume that you are not too badly off in your personal finances, even though you probably don't feel particularly rich. Would you be willing to grab a tent and live with the homeless in the woods near the highway? Let's take it a step further. I have a great box that we got from our new mattress. Would you be willing to take that and live with the homeless on the grates in the city?

To be honest, I wouldn't do either for various reasons. One big one is that it would be really inconvenient. I have a wife and children to love. I have work to do. I have schoolwork to complete. I have grass that needs mowing. I can't spare the time from what I consider to be really important.

Another is fear. Generally-speaking, the folks who are homeless are there for a reason. It's not always true, but there are often stories of addiction or other problematic behaviors. You're telling me to live with these people? I can't sleep with one eye open.

That leads to perhaps the greatest, but most shallow. It would be uncomfortable. These people stink. They aren't pleasant to be around. Camping in the woods would be great yesterday and today. The weather is beautiful. What about two weeks ago when it was raining sideways? I think you get the idea.

Now take all of those reasons and look at Christ and what He did by leaving heaven and coming to earth to be with us. I don't want to leave my comfortable house in Cary. He left heaven. I don't want to endanger my body. He came to die on a cross. I don't want to leave the comfortable sights, smells, and relationships I have at home. He left perfect fellowship with the Trinity to spend time with people who would all leave Him at His most difficult hour. We truly worship and awesome Savior.

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