Three Christmases in One
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it...The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us.” John 1:1-5, 14.
Christmas is about incarnation. An incarnation happens when the spiritual becomes physical. An incarnation literally means, “to put on flesh” or to “put on the physical”.
John, a personal friend and disciple of Jesus, tells of two incarnations in the opening lines of his biography of Jesus. The Word is a translation of the Greek idea Logos. Logos was a concept popularized by a man named Philo. Philo was Jewish ethnically, but Greek academically. He used Greek ideas to communicate Jewish truths. Logos for him was the intermediary between the spiritual and physical.
John is saying that the Christ who he calls the Logos or Word created the universe and is God. John is implying that the Christ can be seen in creation. Jesus the Christ is an intermediary between the spiritual and physical realities of our universe. He can be seen in the physical world and therefore is incarnate in his creation. A simple example of this would be darkness and light. Just as Jesus went into the darkness of death and rose again to the full light of day, so we go into the dark at night to rise in the morning to a new day. This is a simple illustration of how Jesus the Christ is fleshing himself out every day in our world.
Another incarnation takes place in John’s opening lines. The Word (the Christ) who made all things and can be seen in all things became one of us in verse 14. The Christ became Jesus. We can see in Jesus what God is like. This is the story of Christmas we all know best.
But there is the third incarnation in the gospel of John. In John 17 Jesus is praying before he goes to his cross. In verse 23 he prays, “I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. “I in them.” Did you catch that? Jesus is praying about being in us. He wants to incarnate himself in us so that the world may know God and his love. Whoa!
Three incarnations. Christ in creation. Christ in Jesus. Christ in us. Three Christmases. So much to celebrate!