What is a word? Is it significant? What power does it hold?
These are powerful questions; important questions. Their answers are staggering. It was by the power of a spoken word that the universe was made (see Genesis 1-2). It is by the hearing of the word that we are saved (cf. Romans 10). We all know that words are imbued with power. We have all felt the sting of insults and the warmth of well-spoken compliments. History has been altered by words spoken emotionally, rashly or ill-advisedly. “Give me liberty or give me death” echoed in the hearts of the original American patriots while English resolve during WWII was strengthened by Churchill’s, “never, Never, NEVER give up!” What Christian has not been comforted by Jesus’ words in John 14 or heartened by David’s 23rd Psalm? The word is an alarmingly powerful thing and when we speak of God’s Word, the power is limitless.
So what is a word? It’s an expression. It’s a communication. It’s the attempt to convey an idea into something tangible and real. Now consider John’s phrase in John 1:14, “the Word became flesh…” All the power of God’s Word wrapped in swaddling cloths. The ultimate expression of the Divine idea of love is contained in the weak fleash of a newborn baby. All this power, all this love, all this expression, wrapped in the most unlikely of packages. Why? So that God could communicate His love for us in a way we would understand. Flesh to flesh. Face to face. Mouth to ear. The Word became flesh.
The next time you see a nativity set up, whether it’s in front of a church or in a store display, I pray you will recall the mystery of the Word becoming flesh. God did this so that he could “dwell” among us (John 1:14b). I love the KJV translation: “The Word became flesh and tabernacled amongst us.” The tabernacle is where God said He would meet His people and communicate His will for them. When Jesus came in the flesh the message is clear. God is communicating His will for us and He desires to meet with us. That’s the message of the baby in a manger. That’s the message of Christmas.