As we find ourselves once again looking at Christmas; Christians find themselves face to face with the conflict of worldly fantasy and spiritual reality!
As we celebrate Christmas let’s think about the incarnation. In John’s gospel chapter 1 and verse14 we read. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
The birth of Jesus was unique to say the least. The birth of any other child is the creation of a new personality. New life is created, a life that never existed before. The birth of Jesus was not the creation of a new personality, it was the coming of a person who had existed from eternity. Is there any wonder the angels awoke the slumbering echoes of the Judean hills with their praise.
John describes the incarnation using four words that contrast with the 2,500 words used by Luke. John tells us Jesus “dwelt among us.” The Greek word eskenosen gives us the meaning of pitching a tent. Said another way Jesus tabernacled among us. This word is significant in John’s gospel when describing the incarnation. Some scholars believe Jesus was actually born on the first day of the joyous annual Jewish feast of tabernacles (15th of Tisri or on our calendar September 29 in the year 4 BC). If this is the case, Jesus circumcision which took place on the eighth day would have taken place on “the great day of the feast” mentioned by John in 7:37. Regardless of where you stand on this thought it is an interesting study.
When we hear the word tabernacle it reminds us of the rich typology of the Old Testament tabernacle and its hidden glory. Have you ever thought about the tabernacle, it has no outward beauty? The furniture of the otuer court was made of brass (copper). The curtains were linen bleached white by the sun. The only color was the entrance gate which gave access to the brazen altar. Looking on from the outside there was nothing glorious about the tabernacle. It appeared to be just another tent placed among the tents of the common people, only the tabernacle was larger. When the tabernacle was moved from place to place the gold furniture was carefully covered from the eyes of the curious.
The glory of the Lord was a hidden glory. When Jesus came to pitch His tent, He did not lay aside His deity, He simply veiled His glory. The Apostle John tells us “we beheld his glory,” “the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” These remarks should direct our minds to the Shekinah glory that filled the tabernacle. The Lord Jesus had an inner glory that permanently resided within Him. John realized this inner glory, he saw God in Christ, “the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John was referencing the days he had spent in the company of the Lord Jesus. When John tells us “we beheld his glory” John is describing the glory that an only begotten Son receives from a Father. Also John tells us they saw one “full of grace and truth” this is a Hebraism for the sum total of diving revelation; grace is a reference to the revelation of God as love and truth is a reference to the revelation of God as light.
As we celebrate Christmas let’s look upon it as more than a baby in the manger. Let’s look upon it as a celebration of the Incarnation of God who tabernacled among us and still resides in the hearts of everyone who calls Him Savior today.