His Guidance in the Way We Should Go

“Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul . . . Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (vv. 8, 10)! This New Year, you should ask God to guide you in the way you should go; ask him to teach you his will; and ask him to lead you on level ground. David wants to know the way he should go. The way of the LORD is the way of righteousness. “For the LORD knows the way of the righteous” (Ps. 1:6). It’s not the way he wants to go in his selfishness. Rather, David wants to know the way of God, the way of righteousness. David wants to follow the way of God which is the way of righteousness. Thus, to ask God for the way you should go is to be willing to follow his way of righteousness. To follow God is to do his will.

David gives the reason for doing God’s will—“for you are my God” (v. 10). He is saying, “LORD, you are our covenant God. You are bound to your promise to Israel. You have a relationship with us. You are my God and I am willing to obey your will.” Thus, the basis of David’s obedience to the LORD is the promise of the LORD to be the covenant God of his people Israel. (Vangemeren) The ground of David’s obedience to God is the covenant relationship of God with his people. On this ground and this ground alone, David will do the will of God. It’s not because he’s more religious. No, it’s because of God’s covenant relationship with his people. On this ground, David will do and obey the will of God.

Let me ask you—why are you here today? Why are you worshiping God here in this church? Are you here because your parents or your wife forced you? Are you here because you like the worship and the word? Are you here for any other reason except God? For if you are here today because of something or somebody else except God, if that someone or something will go away, there is a good chance that you may also go away.

But if you are here today because of God and your relationship with God and with this church—it is God whom you trust; it is God whom you lift up your soul; it is God whom you are thirsting, Christ whom you are trusting; and him alone whom you are following together with us; then on that ground, and on that basis alone, I will say, you will obey God together with us and stay in this church, and serve the Lord together with us.

This New Year, ask God to show you the way you should go. Then tell him that you will do his will, for he is your God and Christ is your Lord.

His Faithful And Righteous Commitment To Preserve Us (Vv. 11-12).

Finally, let’s ask God this year to preserve our lives. “For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble! And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant” (vv. 11-12). Notice that when David asks God to preserve his life, he always says—for your name’s sake, by your righteousness, and by your steadfast love. It means that David is more concerned for God’s glory. David wants God to move in order to magnify the glory of God.

This New Year, they say that there’s a new COVID mutation. They say the vaccine is not effective against the mutation. They say business might not be good this year; they say some people will lose their jobs. Some people are in despair today.

Let me tell you what the Bible says—Fear Not. Can you say that to the person next to you—Fear Not. Do you know how many times the Bible says, Fear Not? 365 times; that’s one “fear not” for every day of the New Year.

This New Year, do not despair. If you despair, you will be like David; and like David, you can take your despair to the Lord in prayer and faith.

This year, ask God to preserve your life—for his name’s sake. Ask God to bring you out of trouble—by his righteousness. Ask God to cut off your enemies—by his steadfast love. Ask God to move in your life so that he will be magnified in your life. Ask God to move in your life in ways that will magnify the glory of God.

His Speedy Reply When Our Spirits Fail

“Answer me quickly, O Lord! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit” (v. 7). It’s our privilege to ask God for a fast reply when our spirits fail. David’s situation is different. He felt that if God will not answer him, he is like one of those who go down to the pit. He feels like he’s a dead man walking. That is why David asks God to answer him speedily.

I searched the gospels last night and I saw the story of the blind man.

One day, a blind man cried out to Jesus.

‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’

Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?”

‘Lord, I want to see,” he replied.

Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. (Lk. 18:38-42, NIV)

That is one speedy reply from God!

We can ask God to answer us speedily this year when your spirit fails and your spirit is crushed to the ground. Call on God and ask God to answer you quickly and speedily. “Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me” (Ps. 40:13, emphasis added)! “Hide not your face from your servant, for I am in distress; make haste to answer me” (Ps. 69:17, emphasis added). “Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call” (Ps. 102:2, emphasis added)!

It is your privilege as a child of God to ask God for a quick reply when you are in despair, when you need his grace to strengthen you.

“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul” (v. 8).  Even in despair, David asks God to let him hear his “unfailing love” in the morning. O what a nice prayer!

I’ve often wondered why he asks to hear God in the morning. Then I read Ps. 130:6, “My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.” David is like a watchman or a guard who waits for the morning dawn. Ps. 30:5 says, “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” David looks forward to the unfailing love of God in the morning because in the morning, the steadfast love of God will come to him. He expects to receive the favor of God in the morning. God’s favor is joy for David; so the favor of God that comes in the morning will bring him joy to him in the morning. That’s why he asks God, “Lord, let me hear your unfailing love in the morning.”

Are you weeping today? Are you loaded with care today? Let me assure you—your weeping is only for the night; but joy will come to you in the morning. The favor of God will come to you in the morning.

Ask the favor of God for you this New Year. Claim the favor of God for you this New Year. Your weeping will be turned into joy in the morning.

His Help When We Cry

Let’s ask for his help when we cry.

3 For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.

4 Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled.

5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.

6 I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

This is a prayer of lament. Lament is a genre in OT literature wherein the person pours out his anguish to God. There is a book of Lamentations that we seldom read. Lament is part of our spiritual life; part of our relationship with God while on this earth. Because of sin, struggle, and despair, we lament.

This is the lament of David. His enemy has crushed him to the ground. Therefore his spirit faints. So David stretched out his hand because he was crying for help from God.

The stretching out of David’s hands to God is a cry for help. “Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary” (Ps. 28:2). “My eye grows dim through sorrow. Every day I call upon you, O Lord; I spread out my hands to you” (Ps. 28:2).

David was crying out to God like a thirsty land needing water. The reason is because of an enemy who hunts him to kill him. This enemy has “crushed” (daka, piel perfect) him to the ground (Ps. 143:3). The picture is a dead animal’s body crushed to the ground (Ps. 89:11). Sometimes, when I drive around Cebu, I see the carcass of a dog, cat, or rat crushed to the ground by passing vehicles. David says that his oppressor has made him feel like a dead man (Ps. 143:3).

His spirit faints within him (v. 4). The verb “faints” (asaph, hithpael imperfect) pictures the fainting of babies who faint in hunger and thirst in the streets of Jerusalem during war (Lam. 2:12). “My strength leaves me” (v. 4, NET).

His heart is “appalled” or “astounded” (shamem, hithpoel, BDB) (v. 4). “I am absolutely shocked” (v. 4, NET). His strength leaves him; he is shocked by the weight of despair (v. 4).

Have you experienced it like David? Your so discouraged; your spirit is  crushed, so shocked; your spirit faints within you; you’re so discouraged.

So David remembers the acts of God in the past. He ponders the works of God in redemption (Ps. 77:11-12). The more David remembers God’s works, the more he longs for God. (Vangemeren)

In his depression, David did not go out of town to relieve himself of despair; he didn’t go to the gym; or eat away his worries at Viking’s. Rather, he allowed his problem to lead him to God. He let his misery and heartache to lead him to God. He let his thirst for deliverance lead him to the living water of God.

That’s what we should do this year. I will not promise you only good things this New Year. There will be good things but also bad things. So expect the best but prepare for the worst. Prepare for bad things to happen—things that will discourage you and depress you; your spirit will faint; you will be crushed to the ground.

But instead of feeling self-pity on yourself when problems come, you should go to your God. You should let your problems make you look up to heaven. The devil will throw everything at you to crush you. But like David, let your heartache, your suffering, and your disappointment this year lead you to God. Stretch out your hand to God. Cry out to God, thirst for God, and ask for his help.

His help will certainly come in the day of trouble.

His Mercy for Our Unrighteousness

“Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you” (v. 2). This year, we must ask God for his mercy for our sins, our unrighteousness. David asks God that God will spare him from divine judgment. The reason, David says, is that no one is righteous before God.

If God will judge every sinner in this church, no one will stand. Psalm 130:3 says, “If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O LORD, who could stand?” Who can stand before God if God will count our sins? No one. No prayer will be answered in that case.

David is aware of his unrighteousness before God. He is conscious of his sin before God. He knows that there is sin in him and if God will judge him for his sin, he will not be able to stand before God. He will not be redeemed by God and thus, he will remain in his troubles. So David asks God, “Lord, please have mercy on me a sinner. No one is right including me. Please don’t count my sin; don’t judge me. I’m asking of your mercy.” That is the point of David because he is aware of his sin and so he asks God to spare him from judgment.”

Like David, we should acknowledge our sin before God at the beginning of the year, today. The acknowledgement of our sin is the beginning of our confession of sin. Like David, it is when we are cornered with discouragement and despair that we begin to be aware of our sinfulness and our inadequacy before God.

The prodigal son wasn’t thinking about his sin of his selfishness, his disrespect of his father, and his greed. He wasn’t thinking of his sin when he wasted his money in wild living. He only began to realize his sin when he lost all his money and there was a famine in the land; when he found himself among the pigs; when he was hungry and starving to death; it was only at that point when he was cornered in his despair that he began to remember his sin against his father and he made the decision to go back to his father and confess his sin against heaven and against his father (Lk. 15 11-21).

When we are cornered in our misery, we become aware of our sin. That’s a good thing; that’s what happened to David. In his despair he remembered that no one is right and thus he threw himself upon the mercy of God.

David’s recognition of his sin moved him to throw himself upon the mercy of God. Think about it; your self-assurance and self-righteousness can move you away from God. Your self-blaming can move you toward despair, depression, and discouragement. But your admission of your sin will move you toward the mercy of God. That’s what we should do this year—acknowledge of our sin and throw of ourselves upon the mercy of God.

So how can we start the New Year right? We can start it right by admitting what is not right in our lives now. What is not right in your life right now? If there is something that is not right in your life before God now, I encourage you to get right with God now.

Acknowledge your sin and confess it to God. Throw yourself upon the mercy of God.

Make Me Know the Way I Should Go: A Prayer For 2021

Psalm 143 is a prayer of David. It is a prayer for mercy, strength, guidance, and deliverance. It is a prayer of faith amid despair.

You may wonder why I’m beginning the year with a sermon on prayer. The reason is that we need to learn to pray. God wants us to get closer to him in prayer.

Our relationship with God is a two-way street. God speaks to us by his Word; we speak to God in prayer. If we do not pray, we do not relate with God. If we pray, we get closer to God. For 2021, we need to get closer to God in prayer.

Yesterday, we held a Prayer Walk at 5:45 AM at Paseo, Banawa. We started 2021 in prayer. Last Wednesday, I told Mylene that there’s only one way to learn how to pray. The only way to learn how to pray is to pray. Pray before you go to sleep and pray when you wake up. Pray on Worship Wednesday and pray during small groups. The only way to learn how to pray is to pray. You and I need to pray every day.

What can we learn from David’s prayer? What can we learn from this prayer that we can ask God for the New Year?

I. His Faithful and Righteous Commitment to Answer Us (V. 1).

We can ask God for his faithful commitment to answer us. “Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness” (Ps. 143:1)! David asks God to answer him by God’s faithfulness [emuna]. The faithfulness of God is the “firmness, steadfastness, fidelity” (BDB) of God to keep his covenant promises to his covenant people Israel. (Willem Vangemeren)

David is asking God, “Lord, you are our covenant God, please be faithful in answering me because you have promised so in your covenant with your people. I appeal to your faithfulness, O God, your steadfastness, your firmness in fulfilling your promise to your covenant people Israel; and so by your faithfulness I’m asking that you will answer me.” That is the prayer of David.

The word faithful is the same word for “steady” in Ex. 17:12. “But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady [emuna] until the going down of the sun” (Ex. 17:12). This was in the battle against the Amalekites. When Moses’ hands went down, Israel would lose the battle. When Moses’ hands were held up, Israel would win the battle. So they made sure that Moses’ hands were steady.

David is asking God, “Lord, in your steadiness, your faithfulness, your firmness, your fidelity to your covenant with your people Israel, I’m asking you to answer this prayer.”  

David also appeals to God’s righteousness to answer him. By this he means the benefits of God’s righteousness to his covenant people (Ps. 103 17-18). The benefits of god’s righteousness include his answer to the prayers of the righteous (4:1); his deliverance of Israel from her enemies (9:4-5; cf. 5:8; 7:9; 31:1; 34; 35:24; 103:6; 125:3); and his righteous kingdom rule (9:8; cf. 11:3, 5, 7; 96:13). (Vangemeren) So David is appealing to the righteousness of God—“Lord, I’m asking you by your righteousness, please answer my prayer.”

Do you know that you are a member of the new covenant of Christ? If you have trusted Christ as your savior, you are a member of the new covenant of Christ in his blood. In the same way that Israel is the covenant people of God, we are the new covenant people of God through the blood of Jesus Christ; and God is obligated to answer your prayers in Jesus’ name because he is righteous and faithful to his covenant in Christ.

So this year I encourage you to ask God for his righteous and faithful commitment to answer our prayers.

God is Seen and Known in Jesus

“No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (v. 18). There are three important thoughts here. First, God is not seen by any man. Moses saw the glory of God, but not God himself (Ex. 33:20). Moses saw the form of God, but not God.

In 2000, a 6 year old boy, Alex Malarkey, wrote a book, The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven. It became a best-seller. “The book’s publisher, Tyndale House, had promoted it as ‘a supernatural encounter that will give you new insights on Heaven, angels, and hearing the voice of God.’” But 5 years later, the publisher pulled the book from the market.

The decision to pull the book came after Alex Malarkey wrote an open letter to many Christian publishers. “I did not die. I did not go to Heaven . . . I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.”[1]

No man can see God. Don’t believe anyone who claims he has seen God.

Second, God is seen in Jesus. “The only God, who is at the Father’s side” has seen God. John calls this only God “Jesus Christ” (v. 17).  Jesus was with God; he is from God; thus, Jesus has seen God. Jesus said, “Not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father” (John 6:46). “Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Do you want to see God? See Jesus and you will see God.

Third, God is known in Jesus. John says the Word was with God. How close was the Son with God the Father? John says the Son is “at the Father’s side” (v. 18). The phrase “at the Father’s side” (ton kolpon tou patros) means “in the bosom of the Father” (NASB). “Bosom” (kolpon) means “breast, chest.” (Gingrich) John wrote that he was “reclining on Jesus’ breast (John 13:23,  NASB). To be at the Father’s side, to be in the Father’s bosom, is to be close God, to be intimate with God, and to know God. Jesus was so close and so intimate with God that he knows God.

John said, “He has made him known” (v. 18). The verb “make known” is from exegeomai where we get our English word “exegesis.” It means “explain, interpret, tell, report, describe.” (Gingrich) Jesus explains God; he interprets God; he tells about God; he reports about God; he describes God. Jesus has made God known to us in the Bible. Do you want to know God? Know Jesus in the Bible and you will know God.

Christ gives you grace today; it’s generous; it’s limitless; it’s free. You need to receive his free grace today.

John Piper wrote, “This Christmas he wants to treat you with grace—to forgive all your sins—all of them!—to take away all your guilt, to make your conscience clean, to help you with your problems, to give you strength for each day, and to fill you with hope and joy and peace. Isn’t that the meaning of grace? And isn’t that why he pitched his tent among us?”

Won’t you receive the grace of Christ today? Take his grace; receive it; enjoy it today. Then receive more grace tomorrow and every day. Receive his grace upon grace, grace after grace. Then you will be glad there’s Christmas; for the Word has become flesh and dwelt among us; and we continue to experience his grace—grace upon grace—every day.

[1] https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/01/15/377589757/boy-says-he-didn-t-go-to-heaven-publisher-says-it-will-pull-book

God Gives Us Grace Upon Grace in Christ

“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (v. 16). In the Greek, it reads, “Because out of his fullness we have received grace upon grace.” (oti ek tou pleromatos auto hemeis pantes elabomen kai karin anti karitos) John says, the Word is full of grace and truth because out of his fullness we have received grace upon grace. They have taken it; they have grasped it; they have experienced it. They have received “grace upon grace (karin anti karitos).”

The preposition “upon” (anti) here means “after,” or “upon” (Gingrich); thus, “grace upon grace,” “grace after grace,” or “grace replacing grace.” It means that “fresh grace replaces grace received, and will do so perpetually . . . inexhaustible grace.” (Beasley-Murray) As a new wave replaces an old wave at the seashore, Christ’s grace replaces grace in our lives. (A. T. Robertson) As a new leaf replaces the old leaf that fell from the tree, Christ’s grace replaces grace in our lives. O what a wonderful truth! In the Word, in Christ, who is full of grace and truth, we have received grace upon grace, grace that replaces grace, forever and ever, limitless, endless, and boundless grace! There is “unli(mited) rice,” “unli(mited) drinks;” and there is also “unli(mited) grace” from Christ.

Where can you get this grace? It’s not in your baptism, communion, religion, priests or pastors; not even in Mary. The Douay-Rheims (Catholic) Bible calls Mary “full of grace” and the NKJV and NIV, “highly favored” (Lk. 1:28). However, the Greek is perfect participle passive, which is literally translated, “being favored” and not “full of grace” or “highly favored.” The Bible says that only Jesus is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Only Jesus has the “fullness” of grace and truth (v. 16). Thus, only the Word, Jesus Christ, can bestow “grace upon grace” to believers. Believers can receive this forever grace only from the Word who is full of grace.

We just announced the wedding anniversary of a lovely couple here. In marriage, you need to give each other grace upon grace. You can hurt each other every week with hurtful words. I have offended my wife many times; I have asked her forgiveness many times; she has given me grace upon grace. Give new grace to replace the previous grace.

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (v. 17). The conjunction “for” gives the reason for receiving, “grace upon grace.” We received grace upon grace through Christ for this reason—the law was given through Moses; and grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

There are several reasons why “grace upon grace” refers to the continually replenishing grace of Christ only rather than both law and grace. First, John applies the word grace only to Christ in the context (“the only Son . . . full of grace and truth” (v. 14); and “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (v. 17). Conversely, John does not use the word “grace” to describe the law.

Second, the grace of Christ is the fulfillment rather than the announcement of the Law of Moses (John 5:46). The announcement cannot be properly categorized as the fulfillment.

Third, John appears to draw a contrast between the giving of the law through Moses and the giving of grace through Christ rather than showing the law to be a kind of grace. Verse 17 then makes a distinction between the law of Moses and the grace of Christ rather than an explanation of “grace upon grace” in v. 16.

Fourth, John is clear that the grace of Christ is the gift of grace through Christ rather than the Law.

Thus, grace upon grace is the continuing replenishing of Christ’s grace for believers. We receive new grace replacing previous grace—grace upon grace.

God Revealed to Us His Glory

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (v. 14). The revelation of the glory of the Word calls to mind the revelation of the glory of Yahweh to Israel in the Tabernacle. “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. . . . For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys” (Ex. 40:34, 38, emphasis added).

The glory of Yahweh is the visible appearance of his presence. “While my glory [kabod, translated as doxa, “glory” in LXX—the same word used by John in v. 14] passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by” (Ex. 33:22). The glory of God is the visible expression of God. (D. A. Carson)

As Yahweh revealed his glory to Israel, so the Word revealed his glory to his disciples; for John said, “We have seen his glory” (v. 14). They saw the glory of the Word when he raised Lazarus from the dead. “Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.’ 40 Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?’” (John 11:39-40, emphasis added). Jesus prayed and “cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.” Then the dead man Lazarus came out (v. 43). They saw the glory of the Word that day!

Two things to note here: First, the glory of the Word is the glory “as of the only Son from the Father” (v. 14). The phrase “the only Son” (monogenes) means “the only one of its kind of class unique.” (Friberg)

The word also refers to one who is beloved. he daughter of Jephthah is called “his only child” (yahid) (Judg. 11:34). Yet the Hebrew yahid is translated as agapetos “beloved” in the LXX. Thus, “the only Son” means “beloved Son.” Jesus is called the beloved Son by the Father. “And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased’” (Mark 1:11).

The glory of the Word is the glory of the only Son, the only beloved.

Second, the glory of the Word is the fullness of grace and truth. “We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (v. 14).  What does it mean? The answer is in the OT; for the apostles always base their theological concepts in the OT. Exodus 33:18-19, “Moses said, ‘Please show me your glory.’ And he said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy’” (Ex. 33:18-19, emphasis added). The glory of God is the goodness, grace, and mercy of God.

Exodus 34:5-6. “The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, ‘the LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love [hesed] and faithfulness [emet]” (Ex. 34:5-6, emphasis added). Grace is a key character of God’s steadfast love. (Carson) The steadfast love of God is gracious. This is the grace of God—gracious, steadfast love (hesed). This is the truth of God—faithfulness, truthfulness (emet).

The glory of the Word, John says, is full of grace and truth. The Word, Jesus Christ, is full of steadfast love and faithfulness. The Word, Jesus Christ, is full of unfailing grace and true faithfulness.

Christmas is the revelation of the glory of God—the glory of the only Son, full of grace and truth.

God Wants to be With Us

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (v. 14). The verb “dwelt” (skenoo) means “live or camp in a tent;” “dwell, take up one’s residence, come to reside.” (Friberg)

Have you tried setting up a tent before? I remember helping to set up a tent in Christian youth camp. In High School, I attended a youth camp in a sugarcane field in Negros. It was so rugged—we ate anywhere; we brushed our teeth anywhere; we peed anywhere; I don’t even remember where the restroom was. We had a large tent set up for our big meetings. I remember we had a Bible memory contest. There was this young boy who stood up and recited Ephesians Chapter 1. While he was yet speaking, I went to take a pee. When I came back he was in Chapter 2 already and still going! I could never forget that young boy in that big tent.

John here draws a picture of the big tent of meeting in Israel. In that big tent, God came and dwelt in Israel.

7 Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. . . 9 When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses” (Ex. 33:7, 9, emphasis added).

Why did the LORD have to come down and speak to Moses? The reason is the LORD wanted to be with Moses. That’s why Moses called it the tent of meeting. God wanted to meet him there.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Word who was God came to live with us in the flesh. Why? God wants to be with us. He wants to be close to us; he wants to bond with us.

One of the reasons I pushed for buying the building at A. Lopez is my belief that God might be leading us to plant us church there. A Pastor told me, “Isn’t A. Lopez a bad neighborhood?” I was shocked at his words. Did God call us to build a church in a good neighborhood only? Didn’t God come down to earth to live with a bad neighborhood? Isn’t that why Jesus came—to call bad people to repentance? Then why should we worry whether our building is among bad people?

If you will build a beautiful church with a big wall around it in a high end village, you’re telling people loudly about your intent to be with the rich. But, as John Piper said, “If you pitch a tent in my backyard, you will probably use my bathroom and eat often at my table.”[1] The Word left his home in heaven and came to live in your backyard! He wants to use your bathroom and eat at your table. He wants to talk to you; to laugh with you; and to cry with you. He wants an intimate relationship with you. That, my dear brothers and sisters, is the reason for Christmas!

Christmas is about God who wants to be with us.

[1] John Piper, “The Word Became Flesh,” Desiringgod.org. Accessed December 13, 2020. https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-word-became-flesh

The Word Became Flesh

Matthew’s view of Christmas is—God is with us. Luke’s view of Christmas is—the Savior is born. John’s view of Christmas is—the Word became flesh. What does John mean by that? The answer is in John 1:1-3, 14-18.

There are five things to know about the Word who became flesh.

First, God Became Human (v. 14)

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (v. 14). Who is this Word? To answer that, we go back to v. 1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (v. 1). First, this Word was in the beginning of creation. The word “beginning” recalls creation in Gen. 1:1—“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” This Word was already existing in the beginning of creation. This Word did not become God at the beginning. Rather, he was already existing as God in the beginning.

Second, this Word was with God.  He was a person that existed with God in eternity. He was co-existent and co-eternal with God.

Third, this Word was God. “The Word was with God” (v. 1). It emphasizes his nature as truly God. (Beasley-Murray) This Word who was in the beginning, who was with God, was God. “He was in the beginning with God” (v. 2). John repeats it here for emphasis. The Word who was God was with God in the beginning.

Fourth, this Word made all things. Conversely, without him, nothing in the universe was made. “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (v. 3). Only by him were all things made. God created the universe through the Word. This Word was the co-Creator of the universe.

Now this Word who was God became flesh. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (v. 14). The verb “became” (ginomai) means changing one’s properties; transforming into a new thing; and becoming into what is not before. (Beasley-Murray) The Word did not just take on flesh; he became flesh. The Creator became the creature; the eternal became time-bound; “the infinite became finite;” “the invisible became visible;” the “supernatural” became “natural.” (The MacArthur Study Bible) God became flesh; God became human. Thus, Jesus Christ was God and Jesus Christ was human.

This God became a human body; he became a baby. I remember when my son was born. He had a small body but a big head. Now he has a big body with a small head. We’re have many babies now in our church. The Geniston family welcomed a new baby into their lives. One day my daughter said that she wanted to have a little sister. I told her I also like that.

Christ became a baby with a small head, small hands, and small feet. He cried for his mother’s milk; he peed; and he pooped. This big God chose to rely on a human mother’s milk to sustain him. This Creator of the whole universe chose to rely on a human mother’s hands to clean and hold him.

Christmas is about the Word who became flesh.