By James Gray

John 1:14

       Christmas is a great time of the year. Its attitude is one of joy and happiness. Yet, as believers, we are aware that there are two views of Christmas. The first is man to man. This is the world’s view of Christmas. This view is the same today as it was on that first Christmas, “no room in the inn for the Christ of Christmas.” This view has produced the commercialization, the making merchandise of the season, the nonsense of Santa Claus. It sees not the Person but the profit.

 The second view is God to man. This is the real view of Christmas. The world’s emphasis is the love of man for man, which has its merit. But, the reason for the season is God’s love for man (Jn. 3:16). The true attitude toward Christmas is the realization of John 1:14. To comprehend it completely is impossible for “Great is the mystery of Godliness: God was manifested in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). However, to begin to touch the realization of it is to begin to touch the realization of Christmas.

 In John 1:14 we see two great truths.


 “The Word became flesh.” The Word is God (Jn. 1:1). The tent that God pitched was not of cloth but of flesh. Paul reminds us that the body is not the real person but a tent (2 Cor. 5:1). God took this tent of flesh upon Himself. Why? Scripture reveals four reasons:


  1. To take upon Himself our identity

Hebrews 2:14 declares that “Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same.” The words “took part of” is a translation of the Greek word Metecho, which means to share in or to partake with. It is in the aorist tense which means that this happened at a point of time: a historical event. That event was the first Christmas. That babe in the manger was the God of Heaven taking on the tent of flesh. It was God taking on our identity.


  1. He identified with us so He could be touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Heb. 4:15). 

The word rendered “be touched with” in Hebrews 4:15 is the Greek word Sumpatheo, meaning to suffer with another or to be affected similarly. God, in the person of Jesus Christ, took upon Himself a tent of flesh so He could suffer with us in the limitations and the infirmities with which we suffer. He, thereby, would know through experience what it was to be man, yet without sin.


  1. He identified with us so He could die for us (Heb. 2:14). 

The word “that” is a conjunction of purpose; it gives us the primary purpose of Christ becoming flesh and blood. Hughes reminds us that:

 Nowhere does Scripture view the incarnation as a means to some kind of sentimental identification or association of God with men, as though it were a divine tribute to the surpassing dignity of man…or as though it were by itself a mystical means of raising human nature to a higher, or the highest level of evolutionary existence. The purpose of the incarnation was specifically that the Messiah might die… Only the assumption of human nature could qualify Him to fulfill His function of Redeemer, for His human nature fitted Him to suffer and die as Man for man, that is vicariously to beat man’s punishment and die man’s death on the cross (Hebrews, p. 111).


  1. He gives us an example of true holiness (1 Pet. 2:21-23). 

He was tempted in “all points,” but without sin (Heb. 4:15). The word example (Hupogrammon) is a rare Greek word used only in 1 Peter and denotes a model to be copied. It literally means to under-write, trace or copy. What are we to copy? His Holiness! We are called in holiness (1 Thess. 4:7). We are to be unblameable in holiness (1 Thess. 3:13), bear fruit in holiness (Rom. 6:22), and to continue in holiness (1 Tim. 2:15). (See also Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 1:4; 5:27; Titus 2:3 and 1 Pet. 1:15.)

 However, following His example alone will not save you. That is reformation. What is needed is regeneration (Titus 3:5-7). As sinful men, we don’t need an example, but a Saviour! As saints we are to follow the example of the Saviour.


 God did not take upon Himself the tent of flesh and stay in Heaven. No, He took the tent upon Himself to dwell with us. The Greek word is Skenoo, meaning to pitch a tent. It can be translated tabernacle. This presents the Bible student with an important comparison. In the Old Testament God dwelt with Israel in a tent of cloth: the Tabernacle. That tent was a type of the Son of God who would come and dwell among us. Note the comparisons:


  1. The Tabernacle was God’s dwelling place. 

In Exodus 40:34 we read  that “the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” When that tent of cloth was replaced with a house of stone (the temple), we see that “the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house” (2 Chron. 7:2). This was the Shekinah Glory: the visible majesty of the presence of God. However, in Ezekiel 10:11 we see that this glory departed. By the time of Christ, the house of the Lord had become a house of merchandise and a den of thieves (Mk. 11:17). There was no glory. But in this tent of flesh John says, “we beheld His glory” (Jn. 1:14). The Glory of God had returned! He was God manifested in the flesh and He dwelt among us. 


  1. The Tabernacle was the meeting place between God and man. 

In the Old Testament the Tabernacle was known as the “tent of meeting.” It was not only the place where the congregation of Israel met but the place where man and God met (Ex. 29:42-46).

 Likewise, Jesus Christ is the place where God and man meet. In John 14:6 Jesus is the place where God and man meet. In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” Paul reminds us that “There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man, Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).


  1. The Tabernacle was the place where atonement was made. 

In the Tabernacle there was a place calld the Holy of Holies. On the day of atonement the priest would enter in, once a year, to make atonement for the sins of the nation. This was done at the mercy seat (Lev. 16).

 Likewise, Jesus Christ is the place where atonement was made. In Romans 3:25, He is called our propitiation. The Greek word is Hillaste- rion. In Hebrews 9:5 it is translated mercy seat. Barclay reminds us that:

 All Greek nouns which end in erion mean the place where something is done. Dikasterion means the place where dike, justice is done and therefore a law court. Thusiasterion means the place where thusia, sacrifice is done, and therefore the altar. Therefore hilasterion can certainly mean the place where hilasmos, expiation, is done and made. (The Mind of St. Paul, pp. 66-67).

 Jesus Christ is our Mercy Seat! He is the place where atonement was made for us.

 The goal of Christmas is not the crib but the Cross! God manifested Himself in the flesh and tabernacled among us to make atonement for our sin. Now He seeks to dwell, not in the tent of flesh, but in our hearts (Eph. 3:17). The miracle of Christmas is alive! It happens day after day, month after month, year after year. Whenever a man accepts by faith what God had done because of the first Christmas, Christ becomes a resident in our hearts. Does He reside in your heart (Jn. 1:12; Rom. 10:9-10)?