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Advent Dec 4: Man’s Response to the Incarnation Shows Our Need

• John McLeod

Posted in Advent, Devotions

Reading for December 4: John 1:1-13

Reflection: Man's Response to the Incarnation Shows Us Our Need for it.

Our first advent reflection took us back to the beginning, or at least near the beginning, of our story. We considered the events in the Garden that brought the curse on man and on the rest of creation, and we heard God’s first gospel promise. Today’s reading takes us back even further, to the edge of time itself. These few verses are a profound mixture of majesty and mystery, of surprise and hope. Instead of introducing us to the babe in the manger as do the other Gospel writers, John informs us that the Son has been forever with the Father, that he is fully God, that he created all things that were made, and that he is the source of life itself. The mystery of the Godhead here is profound, and the power and authority of the Son is beyond our comprehension. I wonder if our familiarity with the Christmas story dulls our sense of wonder at the Ancient of Days being born as a baby—at the Creator entering into his creation. If we didn’t know the story, perhaps we might feel the sad weightiness of what comes next.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. John 1:9-11

Here we are faced with the far-reaching, soul-deadening effects of the Fall: those who should have recognized him—who should have received and welcomed him into the world—rejected him. He was not only rejected by pagans, but by his own chosen people, the ones to whom he had revealed himself in the Law and the Prophets. Thus, man’s response to the incarnation shows our very need for it. Thankfully, the Lord knew this.

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:3-4

Left to ourselves, we would reject Jesus just as many Jews did over two thousand years ago, but we still have hope. We are invited, just as they were, to receive the Messiah. Jesus did come, “giving light to everyone.” In fact, this is the reason John wrote his Gospel.

... these [things] are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31

The advent season reminds us to pause and consider the wonder of God offering “the right to become children of God” to us—to those who would not have known or received him apart from grace. We should also take the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the other person in our passage, John the Baptizer, who “came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him” (John 1:7). Finally, I’d like to leave you with a few verses of a very old hymn written in the 4th century.

Of The Father's Love Begotten
Of the Father’s love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore!

At His Word the worlds were framèd;
He commanded; it was done:
Heaven and earth and depths of ocean
In their threefold order one;
All that grows beneath the shining
Of the moon and burning sun,
Evermore and evermore!

He is found in human fashion,
Death and sorrow here to know,
That the race of Adam’s children
Doomed by law to endless woe,
May not henceforth die and perish
In the dreadful gulf below,
Evermore and evermore!

O that birth forever blessèd,
When the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bore the Saviour of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face,
evermore and evermore!

O ye heights of heaven adore Him;
Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him,
and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing,
Evermore and evermore!

Christ, to Thee with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving,
And unwearied praises be:
Honour, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory,
Evermore and evermore!

John McLeod

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