John 1:14 contains one of the most stunning statements ever written.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
Churches and believers everywhere read this verse every year around Christmas-time. How often do we just breeze right past it in our haste to see a baby in a manger — or more likely, to see the presents under the tree? Time to stop and consider the meaning of these words.
Our Greek textbook highlights both the translation and meaning of the verse. In the original language the phrase o` lo,gos tou/ qeou/ — “the Word of God” — would have been immediately understood by John’s contemporaries as referring to “God’s transcendent rationality that gave the universe order and purpose. […] As such, o` lo,gos tou/ qeou/ was foreign to human ways, above us and distant from us, guiding us from afar.” (Basics of Biblical Greek, Mounce, 75)
The ancient Greek philosophers agreed with this definition and often constructed elaborate systems of thought and practice to attempt to reach the heights of heaven. Platonism — which emphasized denial of the flesh and the passions — is one famous example of this kind of thought. The philosophy is rooted in the belief that the things of the spirit and the things of the flesh are entirely different and in fact oppose each other. Therefore the flesh must be denied if the spirit is to thrive.
Yet the apostle John writes “the Word became flesh” — the word for “flesh” is sa,rx which is pronounced approx “sarke,” and makes up the first half of the English word “sarcophagus”. In other words, the Word of God became mortal. Became one of us.
This is no distant God whose superiority, utter perfection, and ultimate power keeps him apart from his creation and out of reach of his people. This is a God who is perfect spirit and is willing to commit the scandal of putting on flesh. And in doing so he overturns those who think they have all the answers, who think they have knowledge that will get them to God, or who think they honor God with better-than-thou lifestyles. He does all this just to rescue a soul that is lost. This is a God of love.
“This affirmation about lo,gos and sa,rx is the very heart of our faith. God has not abandoned us. No lowliness, no misery, no sinfulness is beyond God’s comprehension and reach. […] This is the mystery and the power of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.” (ibid p. 75)
This is Truth. This is the Word of God.