I want to share a Christmas story that isn’t often told. It’s from John 1:1-18. Many scholars believe this was an early Christian hymn that predates the New Testament text. I will share the portion of this ancient hymn that directly pertains to the Christmas story. This particular story gives us a unique perspective into why Jesus came to us on Christmas day.
1 In the very beginning the Living Expression was already there. And the Living Expression was with God, yet fully God. 2 They were together—face-to-face, in the very beginning. (John 1:1-2 TPT)
The Passion Translation (TPT) translates the Greek word, logos, as the “Living Expression.” This word also had significant historical meaning to both the Greeks and the Jews. Basically, it meant “the structuring Reality of everything!” I wrote about that here.
We should also understand from this passage that God has never been alone, for He has always enjoyed continuous fellowship with the Son. The Trinitarian life of God is often called the “Divine Dance.” Here’s how theologian, C. Baxter Kruger, describes this divine fellowship:
“From all eternity, God is not alone and solitary, but lives as Father, Son and Spirit in a rich and glorious and abounding fellowship of utter oneness. There is no emptiness in this circle, no depression or fear or insecurity. The Trinitarian life is a great dance of unchained communion and intimacy, fired by passionate, self-giving and other-centered love, and mutual delight. This life is good. It is right, unique, full of music and joy, blessedness and peace. Such love, giving rise to such togetherness and fellowship and oneness, is the womb of the universe and of humanity within it.” (C. Baxter Kruger, “The Trinitarian Summary Vision”)
Next, we see the Living Expression bringing this structuring reality we know as “existence” into being. God said, “Let there be light” and this Logos brought order from chaos (Gen.1:1-3).
3 And through his creative inspiration
this Living Expression made all things,
for nothing has existence apart from him!
4 Life came into being because of him,
for his life is light for all humanity.
5 And this Living Expression is the Light that bursts through gloom—the Light that darkness could not diminish! (John 1:3-5 TPT)
Not only did the Living Expression create all things, and nothing has existence apart from Him, but He’s also continuously holding everything together! (See Col.1:16-17.) That means, at this moment and every moment forward, your atoms, along with everything else in the cosmos, is sustained by His power.
But this poses a relational problem for us. How can we, His finite creatures, living inside this fishbowl we call the cosmos, relate to a God who is wholly other, existing outside of every created realm? Philosophically speaking, this is an ontological category difference. We live in one plane of reality, if you will, and He exists in quite another.
C.S. Lewis said this problem would be like Hamlet trying to relate to Shakespeare which, of course, would be impossible since Hamlet only exists in the pages of a play and Shakespeare existed in our world. How can the protagonist of a script relate to its author?
It’s this question that philosophers have pondered from the beginning, and men have invented religions to try to answer this question—how can we know God?
And this gets to why Christmas!
To use C.S. Lewis’s analogy, the only way for Hamlet to ever truly know Shakespeare would be for Shakespeare to write himself into the play. And that’s exactly what God did! With the incarnation of Christ, God wrote Himself into our world! And this was all His doing, not ours.
13 He was not born by the joining of human parents
or from natural means, or by a man’s desire,
but he was born of God.
14 And so the Living Expression
became a man and lived among us!
And we gazed upon the splendor of his glory,
the glory of the One and Only
who came from the Father overflowing
with tender mercy and truth! (John 1:13-14 TPT)
THIS is the Christmas story. The One who continuously holds the universe together became a man and lived among us! This Living Expression, this infinite, creator God, came to us from the womb of an unwed teenage girl, seen first by lowly shepherds, as a totally vulnerable infant lying in a feeding trough in a middle-of-nowhere town called Bethlehem. Who would make up such an incredible story!
“Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven! For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons of men.” (Luke 2:14 TPT). With the incarnation of Christ, God is now fully accessible to us! We can relate to Him, as John said in his first epistle:
We saw him with our very own eyes.
We gazed upon him and heard him speak.
Our hands actually touched him,
the one who was from the beginning,
the Living Expression of God.
2 This Life-Giver was made visible
and we have seen him.
We testify to this truth:
the eternal Life-Giver
lived face-to-face with the Father
and has now dawned upon us. (1 John 1:1-2 TPT)
John tells us that, in Christ, we see what God is really like. Jesus Christ explains God to us, and this God comes to us, not through the law, but “wrapped in tender mercy.”
17 Moses gave us the Law, but Jesus, the Anointed One,
unveils truth wrapped in tender mercy.
18 No one has ever gazed upon the fullness of God’s splendor
except the uniquely beloved Son,
who is cherished by the Father
and held close to his heart.
Now he has unfolded to us
the full explanation of who God truly is! (John 1:17-18 TPT)
I’ve talked about this a lot here, but as Bill Johnson said, “Jesus Christ is perfect theology.” Whatever is like Jesus is like God; whatever is not like Jesus is not like God. In Jesus Christ we truly know God, for He is the Truth, He is the structuring reality of everything, and in Him we now can experience God’s own life (see John 14:6; 17:3, 23-24).
So, why did this God create? Why did He create us? And why did He write Himself into our “play” on Christmas day?
The answer revealed to us is that God is love (1 John 4:8), which is other-centered and self-giving, which also means that Love always desires to share of itself with others. Jesus came to us because God wanted to share His life with us. Merry Christmas!
“The stunning truth is that this Triune God, in amazing and lavish love, determined to open the circle and share the Trinitarian life with others. This is the one, eternal and abiding reason for the creation of the world and of human life. (C. Baxter Kruger, “Summary of the Trinitarian Vision“)