Living Christmasly, Part 2

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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No one has ever seen God. But the one and only Son is himself God and is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

John 1:18

Introduction to a series of Reflections on "Living Christmasly":

For most of us, Christmas is over. It’s still okay to play Christmas music and leave the tree up, at least for a few more days. But the main event has passed, with Christmas worship, perhaps a nativity pageant or a visit from Santa, then opening presents and a luscious meal with family and friends.

But if you’re one of those who recognize Christmas as a twelve-day festival, then it has just begun. The first reflection in this series went live on Christmas Day. This is day two of Christmastide, the season of celebrating the birth of Christ. Most folks are familiar with the twelve days of Christmas from the popular carol. But many don’t realize that the song didn’t make up the twelve-day idea. It simply reflects the way some Christians have celebrated Christmas for centuries.

This year, I want to celebrate the whole season of Christmas in the Daily Reflections. This means I’m planning to put on hold our examination of the Gospel of Mark for a few days in order to do something special. During the season of Christmastide, I’d like to think with you about what it means to live in light of Christmas. How can we live “Christmasly”?

I will base this series of reflections on biblical texts, of course. Some are commonly associated with Christmas. Others are rarely, if ever, associated with Christmas, even though they express profoundly some of the theological and practical implications that flow from the central truth of Christmas, which is the Incarnation, the Word made flesh, Jesus the Son of God, fully God and fully human.

Reflection on John 1:15-18

How do we know God? How can we know God, not just theologically, but relationally? Let’s keep these questions in mind as we turn to John 1:15-18.

After celebrating the Incarnation of the Word of God who became human and revealed his divine glory, (1:14), John underscores the Jewish context of these events. The Word Incarnate was the one about whom John the Baptizer testified (1:15). The law was given through Moses, “but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.” Thus the Word Incarnate fulfills Jewish hopes for the Messiah and completes God’s revelation that began with the Mosaic covenant.

This brings us to verse 18, which is one of the most astounding verses in all of Scripture. It is also a tricky verse to translate and interpret. Yet its basic meaning is clear . . . and stunning. “No one has ever seen God” underscores God’s distance and difference from human beings. Unlike the pagan gods who showed up on earth periodically, the one true God has never been directly seen with human eyes. Thus, we cannot know God truly through our own powers of observation and discernment. We need God to reveal himself to us in a way we can understand.

This is exactly what happened in the Incarnation: “[T]he one and only Son is himself God and is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.” The Word of God is also the Son of God. He has seen God and is thus able to reveal God to us. But, more strikingly, the Son is God (see John 1:1). Therefore he reveals God to us, not only in words and deeds, but also in his very person.

When we gaze upon Jesus, we peer into the face of God. Through Jesus we can know God, truly, intimately, personally. Yes, our knowledge of God is not complete (1 Cor. 13:12). But insofar as we know God through the Word Incarnate, our knowledge is genuine and trustworthy. Thus, we live Christmasly when our relationship with God is shaped by his self-revelation in Jesus. We allow Jesus to show us who God is and what it means to walk in fellowship with him each day.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How has Jesus shaped your understanding of God? How has God’s self-revelation in Jesus impacted your relationship with God?

PRAYER: Gracious God, apart from your help, we would never know you. Oh, we’d know something about you from observing your creation and our hearts would yearn for you, but we’d never know you truly unless you chose to make yourself known to us.

So today we thank you for revealing yourself to us. You have made yourself known through the Law and the Prophets, through calling Abraham and forming a covenant through Moses. But most wonderfully, you have revealed yourself to us by becoming one of us. In Jesus, the Word Incarnate, you have made yourself known to us. Thus you invite us to have a truthful, intimate, vital relationship with you.

All praise be to you, Gracious God, for revealing yourself to us in the Word Incarnate. Amen.

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