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The Word Made Flesh

The Cost of the Gift  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The Gift

I was 7 years old.
My dad gave me a special present that his grandfather had given to him.
He gave me a necklace.
On the necklace was a tooth from a lion.
I was 7 years old and I’d proudly wear this silver chain with a large, sharp white tooth on the end.
I thought it was cool.
And it was cool.
That tooth got me in trouble though.
I remember the first time it got me in trouble.
I was at school, on the playground, and had a profound 7 year old thought.
Some of the worst ideas come from 7 year olds.
My great thought was, what would happen if I scratched this tooth on the pavement?
I then put that thought to the test.
I took the necklace off, and proceeded to scratch the blacktop with my white lion’s tooth.
The result was a white streak on the ground.
I then proceeded to write my name with the tooth on the ground.
In reality, I wasn’t scratching the pavement, I was dulling the tooth.
When I was done, the tooth had the look of a piece of chalk that had been used.
No longer pointy, but dull and flat.
My dad saw the damage to the tooth and was angry with me.
I didn’t treat it properly.
I didn’t treat it with respect.
Didn’t I know my grandfather gave it to me?
I did.
But I didn’t know my grandfather, nor where it came from.
Oh … and I was 7.
I wasn’t prepared for this gift.
The second time that lions tooth got me in trouble was the last time I wore it.
Mostly, because I never knew where I put it after I wore it that last time.
I lost it.
It could have been anywhere.
My friends house.
My house.
In that treasure box I buried in the front yard that I never found.
And again, when my dad found out I lost it, he was just as upset as when I scratched it the first time.
I didn’t handle the gift right, because I didn’t appreciate it.
I didn’t know where it came from.
I didn’t know the history behind it.
Did my grandfather shoot the lion?
Did he get it from a Cracker Jack box?
I never knew, and I’ll never know.

In our preparation for Christmas, we want to appreciate the gift.

We are considering the Cost of the Gift.
In the week’s leading up to Christmas, we are pondering and considering the cost of the gift of Christ.
We don’t want to handle the gift of Christ, like I did that lion’s tooth.
We are in a series called the Cost of the Gift.
It’s an effort to not simply go through the motions leading up to Christmas Day.
But to give serious attention to the price that Jesus paid, to give us the ultimate gift of salvation.
This sermon isn’t going to have many action steps.
It’s merely, to look upon Jesus and to see Who He is, understand what He went through, so that we can better appreciate the gift.
I know we can do that.
I know you can look at Christ and for that to be enough.
You do that when you watch a movie.
You admire the story line and watch the characters.
Sometimes it brings you to tears.
Sometimes it puts a smile on your face.
Sometimes you just watch.
But you’re able to watch a movie and appreciate it.
So this morning, let’s look at Jesus and appreciate Him.
Please open your Bibles to .
We will look at .
What makes this passage so special?
The eternal dwelt with what is mortal.
The uncreated dwelt with the created.
What was the price that it cost Jesus to do this?
What did He to pay to dwell with man?
That’s what we will see.

Once upon a time, God dwelt with man.

Once upon a time, God dwelt with man.
He’s actually dwelt with man a few times and in different ways.
Originally, it was in the Garden.
God created Adam, placed Him in the Garden of Eden.
They had fellowship together.
God was close to him, and even walked in the Garden with him..
But then Adam sinned, and that fellowship was severed.
Adam and his wife, were kicked out of the Garden.
They were left to grow food, deal with weeds, and the pain of childbirth.
Fast forward to the time in the Wilderness under Moses.
God dwelt with man again.
This time in a tent.
There was the Tabernacle.
God would enter the Tabernacle in smoke.
It was a real presence.
It left Moses’ face shining.
Fast forward to the time under Solomon.
Solomon built a Temple to the Lord.
And there, the presence of God existed in physically.
The time God’s presence entered the Temple, all the priests had to leave, because the glory of God was so dense.
Sadly, eventually had the Babylonians destroy that Temple.
Because of Israel’s rebellion against God, He sent the Babylonians to conquer, exile and destroy the Temple.
The Prophet Ezekiel described seeing the glory of God sadly depart from Israel.
Thankfully, the story didn’t end there.
God would again dwell with man.
But not as a cloud, nor as a pillar of fire.
He would actually be with men, live with men, … and be a man.
He would remain fully God, but also would be fully man.

That’s our first point, Jesus was fully man

Often times in our view of Christ we look at his Divinity.
We looked at that last week.
But what’s harder for us to grasp is His humanity.
Throughout the centuries there certainly have been many controversies and disagreements within Christianity.
Calvinism and Arminianism.
The Holy Spirit
But certainly one of the biggest has had to do with the nature, rather natures of Christ.
He is fully man and fully God.
In our text, , it begins by saying, “And the Word became flesh”
The first thing to see with this is that Jesus voluntarily became human.
No one forced Him to do it.
God didn’t grab him and say, “Now you better do this.”
It wasn’t cosmic child abuse.
The way it’s worded, is that the Word, made Himself flesh.
God had a plan, and Jesus submitted to it, and became flesh.
What this means is that when Jesus came to earth, He came because He desired it.
He came because it was an expression of His own love for His people.
Next He became flesh.
That word flesh is an interesting word.
He didn’t become man
It’s a powerful word.
It’s also why there is so much controversy regarding the nature of Jesus.
John’s gospel was the last Gospel to be written.
It’s written after Matthew, Mark and Luke.
It’s also written after many of Paul’s writings.
And Paul used this word, flesh, in His own writings.
For example,
, says, “For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.”
Or , “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”
Paul used the word flesh not to talk about our skin, the thing that people see.
He used the word to mean our nature.
Our humanity.
And that’s what John uses in .
He says, the Word became flesh.
That very same thing that is a weakness for us, is what Jesus became.
Jesus didn’t simply put on skin.
It’s not as if He took His glory, and put on a robe of human skin on top of it and called it a day.
It doesn’t say, “He became man” though that’s a part of it.
It doesn’t say He put on flesh.
It says, He became flesh.
That word that Paul uses to describe human nature.
Jesus became flesh, He took on the nature of humanity.
What does it mean that Jesus took on a human nature?
First, let me say that this is not a comfortable thought.
I love worshipping a powerful God.
I love worshipping a mighty God.
I love the way Jesus is described in and in His second coming.
But if we are going to understand the cost of the gift, we have to understand the cost of Jesus’ mission to enter into humanity.
says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
That passage says that Jesus emptied Himself.
What does that mean?
It doesn’t mean He stopped being God.
It means He took on humanity.
He added human nature to Himself.
He became human, along with all its weaknesses.
What were the weaknesses that Jesus put on Himself?
First, He came as a baby.
He didn’t come as a full grown man.
He didn’t come like how He will at the end.
He didn’t come in power and might, with a sword.
He came as a baby.
And unlike the words in Away in a manger, he cried.
He was a normal baby.
Babies need to be fed.
They need to clothed.
They need parents.
He had Mary and Joseph as parents.
Just think of that, the Eternal Word, needed two humans to raise him.
Then He matured, developed and grew.
says, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”
Basically, that means He had to learn stuff.
He learned how to talk, walk, and the basic functions of a human body.
That’s a weakness.
When the Word, who was in the beginning, with God and was God, put on flesh, He put on a human nature, that needed to learn the most basic functions of life.
He came as a weak human.
He would hunger.
He would thirst.
He would grow tired.
He would need sleep.
He didn’t come as a supermodel.
He wasn’t like Thor in those Marvel movies.
With a chiseled body and a beautiful face.
says, “… he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.”
I’m a fan of super-hero movies.
I enjoy stories of Superman and Spider-man.
I like Star Wars.
Jesus … wasn’t like them.
When He came in the flesh, He became dependent upon the power of the Holy Spirit.
He certainly did miracles and accomplished wonderful things.
But it was with the power of the Holy Spirit.
He lived by obedience to God, and the depended on power of the Holy Spirit.
This is an amazing point.
Here is the one who:
Is eternal.
Was with God.
Is God.
All things were created by Him and for Him.
And yet, He lays any claim to His power aside, so that He can be human and depend upon the Spirit.
Do you ever consider the cost that went into Christ becoming man?
And in addition to the things already mentioned, He didn’t come in a body that was could stop bullets, or have mutant healing.
He came in a weak body.
It could be beaten.
It could be pierced.
It could bleed.
It could die.
This is what it means that He became flesh.
This is what it means that He is fully man.
Do you ever consider the cost that went into Christ becoming man?
John Calvin said of John’s choice of language in this verse,
“He intended to show to what a  mean and despicable condition the Son of God, on our account, descended from the height of his heavenly glory. When Scripture speaks of man contemptuously, it calls him flesh.”
Jesus coming in flesh wasn’t a high point.
It was a humble point.
The word flesh was a statement of human weakness, and that’s what Jesus became.
At Christmas time, we use the word incarnate to describe Christ’s coming.
Incarnate is a combination of two words:
In - which means … in.
And Carnate, which means carnal, or flesh.
Jesus coming in the flesh is not a grand statement, it’s a lowly statement.
But to go one step forward, He also dwelt among us.
To fully understand this verse, you have to go back to a Jewish mindset, to the Old Testament.
God dwelt with Israel while in the Wilderness in a tent.
But now the tent that Jesus comes in, isn’t made of fabric, but of skin.
And He dwelt with us.
He not only looked like us, but He lived as one of us.
To dwell among us means that Jesus lived a human life.
He had rules, He had laws to live under.
He had governments to obey.
He had taxes to pay.
Do you see His humility here?
says that thrones, dominions, rulers and authorities were created by and for him.
says that the nations are like a drop in a bucket or dust to Him.
And yet, He obeys the earthly authorities He created.
On top of having human authorities to obey, He also obeyed the God the Father.
He who gave the Law, was obedient to the Law.
Because He was the perfect man.
He was our man.
He came to save men, but in order to save men, He had to be just like us.
says, “For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
He had to be just like us.
If God was going to forgive sins, then the payment had to be like those He was forgiving.
You see, though in the Old Testament there were sacrifices, those sacrifices couldn’t actually remove sin.
A lamb would be killed.
But that lamb couldn’t pay for your sins.
Why? Because you are better than a lamb.
says, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”
So in order to pay for sins, Jesus had to become like us in every respect.
The cost of the gift is that the eternal One, would put on mortality and lived with us, and then die for us.

Notice who is doing all the actions.

It’s Jesus who became flesh.
It’s Jesus who dwelt among us.
That’s the Gospel.
The Gospel is Good News.
The Gospel is Jesus has done something for you.
He became flesh.
He dwelt with man.
He lived a perfect life because we aren’t perfect.
The reason why He did this was so that He could stand in your place before God.
He stood in a weak body.
He stood having experienced the struggles of life.
He stood having withstood temptation and was perfect.
He stood being able to perfectly represent you before God.
As a Christian, we have the Holy Spirit and we become Christlike.
We know that we are being conformed into His image.
Do you ever stop to think about Christ?
He became flesh.
So while we are being conformed into His image, in a sense, He was conformed to ours.
In a sense, He was conformed into our image.
All so He could perfectly represent you before God.
All so He could perfectly represent you before God.

Jesus does this wonderful work, and what do we do? We have seen his glory.

The main meaning behind that text was of John and the disciples.
They literally got to see the glory of Jesus.
They saw the transfiguration.
They saw the resurrected Lord.
Jesus became flesh, Jesus dwelt with us, and what is our job?
What is our application in this text?
To see His glory, or to behold His glory.
To recognize Who He is.
says, “Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;”
Jesus has come.
And what does He do?
He opens the eyes of the blind.
If you are a Christian, you have received sight.
Your eyes have been opened.
If you have new eyes, then you are to gaze at Christ.
You get to admire Him.
How important is all this?
Someone might say, “Can’t I believe that Jesus died for me? Isn’t that enough?”
No, it’s not.
What was the problem with the lion’s tooth my dad gave me?
I didn’t know it.
I didn’t understand it.
So I broke it.
I lost it.
If you don’t understand the price that Jesus paid to simply be a human, you’ll never understand the price that was paid so that your sins could be forgiven.
That’s not just theoretical language either.
says, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.”
Or . 7, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.”
To reject that Jesus is fully man and came in the flesh … is to be an antichrist.
I didn’t know it.
I didn’t understand it.
Not something I’d ever want to be accused of.
So I broke it.
Therefore, if you want to have the gift of eternal life, the forgiveness of sins, you must gaze upon Christ.
I lost it.
You must acknowledge His humanity.
So gaze upon the Son.
If you don’t understand the price that Jesus paid to simply be a human, you’ll never understand the price that was paid so that your sins could be forgiven.
Dive into Scripture.
Read the Gospel of John sometime, and you’ll get a pretty good picture of Who Jesus is.

And what do we see when we see Christ?

He’s fully man - which we’ve seen already.
And He’s also fully God.
At the same time.
These are the two natures of Jesus.
He’s fully man and fully God.
By the way, we only have one nature - fully man.
But Jesus has two.
Fully man and fully God.
How fully God is He?
It says, “glory as of the only Son from the Father”
This is the same glory that God the Father has.
It’s not a separate glory.
We don’t worship 2 gods, or 3 gods.
says of Jesus, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. ...”
Back in Exodus, Moses wanted to see God.
God said He wouldn’t show His face to Moses, but He would pass by him.
As God passed by Moses, He said, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” ().
And that same statement that Moses heard from God … is true about Jesus as well.
“glory as of the only Son from the Father”.
God the Father is full of grace and truth.
And what of Jesus?
, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Jesus also is full of grace and truth.
If you want to know God, then you must know Christ.
Let me say that again, if you want to know God, then you must know Christ.
This is glory that is deserving of worship.

What do we celebrate at Christmas?

It’s not just a birthday.
It’s when the eternal Word who was with God and is God became flesh.
And in the fullness of that word.
Put on our weakness.
Put on our nature.
It’s when this Word, became flesh, and lived with us so that we would be saved.
This Christmas, contemplate the Eternal Word, humbly descending to earth, becoming man, adopting our nature, to save rebel sinners like ourselves.
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