The gospel of John opens with these words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. In verse 14 John continues: “And the Word became 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.”
John writes these words after having 60 or so years to reflect on Who Jesus was. To showcase the eternal Deity of our beloved Christmas baby, John parallels his opening words with the opening words of Scripture: “In the beginning God . . .” and here, “In the beginning was the Word . . .”
Both God and the Word are eternal; they have existed from the beginning. Moses writes in Psalm 90:2, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”
In verse one John distinguishes the Word from God: “the Word was with God.”
But he also equates the two: “the Word was God.”
What is the relationship between the Word and God?
John provides the answer in verse 14: “The Word became 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.”
We see here that Jesus is “the only begotten of the Father.” Jesus was begotten from the beginning, before time.
But we also see here in verse 14 that Jesus, the Word, eternal God – “became flesh.” This is the incarnation, this is Christmas!
The angel Gabriel had told Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35) In Matthew we read that He is also called Immanuel, God with us. (Matthew 1:23)
Jesus was begotten of God before time, and in time he was begotten of the virgin Mary.
These truths are reflected in our historic creeds and in our church’s statement of faith.
In the documents of Nicaea (325) we read: “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by Whom all things were made.”
The later Creed of Chalcedon (451) builds on the story of Mary’s visit with Elizabeth to help define Christ’s human and divine natures. When visiting Mary, Elizabeth correctly recognized that the baby she was carrying in her womb was God. Elizabeth asks: “But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43) A favorite Christmas song asks, “Mary did you know?” But from Scripture we know what Mary knew. She begins with these words: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” Question: was Mary looking up to heaven in praise to God, or was she looking down?
Here are some of the words from the Creed of Chalcedon that distinguish us as Christians: “We declare that in His Divinity, He was begotten of the Father before time, and in His humanity He was begotten in this last age of Mary, the virgin, the mother of God, for us and our salvation. We declare that the one selfsame Christ, only begotten Son and Lord, must be acknowledged in two natures, without any co-mingling, or change or division or separation, that the distinction between their natures is in no way removed by their union, but rather, that the specific character of each nature is preserved, and they are united in one person.”
In the Creed of Athanasius, the Trinitarian Creed, we read: “The Father is not made by anyone, nor created by anyone, nor generated by anyone. The Son is not made nor created, but he is generated by the Father alone. The Holy Spirit is not made nor created nor generated, but proceeds from the Father and the Son. . .” And the words continue: “We believe and profess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is both God and man. As God He was begotten of the substance of the Father before time; as man He was born in time of the substance of His Mother.”
In my church’s statement of faith we affirm:
“We believe that the eternally existent Word of God, Jesus Christ, is God’s only begotten Son, The Second Person of the Trinity, and who was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, performed miracles and His teachings are truth. He is fully God and fully man, possessing both deity and humanity united in one person, without division of the person or confusion of the two natures.”
God assumed a human body. The infinite, transcendent, omnipotent, creator God became a finite, helpless, creature without ceasing in any way to remain fully God: omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent.
What a Child This is!!!
(All scripture references are from the NKJV)