While Matthew and Luke tell us some of the detail of Jesus’ birth, John simply writes ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us’ (1.14).
Matthew and Luke are quick to acknowledge Jesus’ divinity but their perspective is very much a human one as they recount Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem under the most difficult of circumstances and that there was no room for them when they arrived. They tell of celebrating angels, curious shepherds, and worshipers and murderers who came looking for the baby, and the flight of the family to Egypt seeking refuge.
John bypasses the details and writes of a mystery so great that it is almost impossible to grasp. He tells how the Eternal One enters into time, the Creator enters into creation, the one who made the limitlessness of space entered into the contained space of humankind, and he who made mankind became a man. The ‘what’ of incarnation, already beyond our grasp, is surpassed by the ‘why’ of Incarnation.
The ‘why’ is conceived in God’s limitless love that no single act nor any combination of accumulated acts can dull or deflect. This is love so vast that it undergirds and is reflected in an attitude that we describe (but may not fully understand) as grace. This is an attitude of unrelenting favour towards us as a race despite our individual and corporate unworthiness. God has no conditions for the outpouring of his grace and we have no merit to receive it.
All people who love God have the privilege of living in a constant state of amazement. Leaders have the privilege (and challenge) of describing the indescribable and explaining the unexplainable. Their task is never to reduce the magnitude of these truths to the plane of the ordinary but to lift the people we lead into a greater appreciation of grace given and greater responsiveness to the indescribable gift received.
(National Leader of The Apostolic Church UK)
Rev Tim Jack