December 23, 2008

The Single Most Important Verse In All Of Scripture

OK, that might be overstating the case just a little bit, but John 1.14 is, despite what lots of signs at sporting events might argue, the most important verse in John's gospel.

The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood... (1.14a, The Message)

The ramifications of the Incarnation, the Word becoming flesh and blood, are enormous. The word John uses for flesh [and blood] is sarx, the same word Paul uses in those lists of sins of "the flesh"; the same that the Greek philosophers used when railing against the messiness of humanity.

That God (or any god for that matter) would deign himself to the messiness of flesh is radically unorthodox in John's time and place. While we might be very familiar with the great poetry of the prologue to John's gospel we can't forget how mind-shatteringly huge this phrase from 1.14 is.

And it doesn't even stop there. God didn't become flesh and blood for a couple of minutes to prove a point. No, God became flesh and blood and abided with, set up he tent next to, moved into the neighborhood with real people and spent 33 years in that state. 33 years of messiness. 33 years of the divine will coming up against the human will. 33 years of dirt and dust and sneezing and heat and cold and thirst and hunger. 33 years!

It could be argued there are more important verses in the Bible - a piece of the creation poem, a part of God's covenant with Israel, the Resurrection - there are many. What can not be overstated, however, is how supremely important it is that we wrestle with and try to understand the enormous ramifications of John 1.14a.

As you celebrate Christmas this year, please try to keep in mind that God deigned himself into the messiness of flesh for you, and for me, and for the whole of creation.

Merry Christmas!

1 comment:

Peter Carey said...

You may be right!

Great post today - just what I needed. I linked to it, here:

Merry Christmas!