The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. John 1:14
As we consider why it is necessary for the Word to truly be made flesh, we find both a complex simplicity and a simple complexity to the question and its many answers. Think about it this way: A brilliant and learned doctor of theology cannot fully answer the question, yet a kindergartner can easily explain it by proclaiming, “Jesus lived and died for me.”
It can be interesting to note that John begins his gospel the same way Genesis begins: “In the beginning . . .” Then he quickly takes us through a vital identification process when he writes: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Here some complexity can be very evident. The Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. That is complex!
That Word became flesh. God became man. Even more, he was born a baby. Really? God, a baby? The All-Powerful needed his mother to feed and change and care for him. The Eternal Word couldn’t speak words as a baby.
Why? Because of sin. Your sin. My sin. The sins of the whole world. God demands perfection, not just good effort or trying hard. Each and every thought, word, and action you have ever had is under God’s microscope of perfection. You cannot get away with anything less than 100 percent perfection, 100 percent of the time. You cannot give that to God. No one can. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And God’s justice proclaims that the wages of sin is death. This is why the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus became man to live the perfect life we are not able to. Then the Immortal One died, paying each of our debts to God. Then he conquered death with his resurrection, assuring us that we too will rise.
It is complex to think of God becoming man and living among us as my substitute. It is complex to think of Jesus living perfectly, then dying in my place as my substitute. But by faith, it becomes an answer simple enough for a child to proclaim, “Jesus loves me and lived and died for me.”
Dear Jesus, thank you for being made flesh and becoming my substitute in both life and death. Amen.
Rev. Doug Lange serves Martin Luther College as a professor of physical education and theology.