“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 1:14

Have you ever noticed people have a philosophy about area codes? This somewhat new phenomenon is a byproduct of two realities of modern living: transience in society and the invention of the cell phone. As people relocate, we can retain the number of our homeland or change our number to conform with our new locale. Upon moving to a new city or state, some people hold on to their original area code as an homage to home. Whenever they give out their number or call someone the foreign area code says, “I’m not from around here.” Bravo for loyalty to your homeland!

Others, upon moving, choose to sever the connection to their old label and embrace a new identity (albeit with great inconvenience to their friends and family who now have to update their contact info). This is a bold move. It says “I may not be from here, but I have chosen to identify with this community.”

This latter area code philosophy is not new. Since Adam and Eve left the garden humanity has been transient, and by necessity people have had to identify with new people or places. Often transience is forced upon us, and with pain we may choose to accept a new people as our own. Once it happened that one chose to identify with a community not because of sorrow, but to remove it. We read about it in the gospel of John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus, the eternal Word of God, second person of the Trinity, agent of creation, became flesh. He adopted our area code. He chose to be one of us, to walk with us. He set up camp with us.

This imagery is loaded with allusions to the tabernacle in Exodus. When God rescued Israel out of Egypt he instructed them to build a tabernacle so that he could dwell with them, right at the center of all the tribes in the encampment. God’s plan was not just to deliver his people, it was to dwell with them. So the Word became flesh.

Perhaps this year at Christmas you feel isolated—like no one gets you or knows your pain. Maybe it’s worse than that, maybe you feel like no one takes time to really identify with you and get to know you. As you think of the incarnation this year be encouraged: Jesus adopted your area code. He took on flesh to identify with and represent you, and he did it to reveal the glory of God. John recorded this so that people would read it and believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for their sins and rose again, and by believing would have life in his name. If the Word didn’t become flesh, we would have no such hope.

John goes on to point out that as the second person of the Trinity Jesus uniquely gives us a vision of the glory of God. That glory is the Father’s glory, and it is full of grace and truth. These two nouns are not chosen at random. What do sinners like us need? Grace from God to forgive and transform us and truth to build our lives upon. Jesus is full of both. The Word became flesh so we could receive God’s grace. He purchased that grace for us on the cross. Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save the world. The Word became flesh to show us the truth. The truth doesn’t ignore sin, but deals with it. The truth isn’t dependent on our emotions or whims, but rather is a function of God’s eternally unchanging character. We all need grace and truth, and Jesus is the one place we can get both.

Long ago Martin Luther reflected on the Word becoming flesh: “It would not be out of place for us still to weep with joy.” This year at Christmas you may be suffering, but even so the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Take heart, he chose to identity with us! Jesus adopted our area code, and offers us grace and truth through faith in him. This is a reason to weep with joy. Merry Christmas!

It would not be out of place for us still to weep with joy.

Martin Luther

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