In the Flesh
One of my favorite foods to eat in the winter is chile con carne. Anybody here like that? It’s pretty much the perfect thing to warm you up when it’s really cold outside.
It’s only recently that I learned what the “con carne” part means. Does anybody here know? It means “with meat” or, you could say, with flesh. When you order chili con carne, you are ordering chili with meat.
One of the most amazing things about Christmas is that God came to earth with flesh. He came in a human body. You could say that Christmas is the story of God con carne.
Dawna just read for us:
Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. (Luke 2:10-12)
Another Gospel says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).
The heart of our message is that God didn’t wait for us to come up to him in heaven, which would have been impossible. He came to us. He lived on our turf. He went through everything that we go through. He started out as a baby, just the same as all of us do. He was hungry. He had to learn how to walk. He got colds. He got tired. He got excited.
He became God con carne, God with flesh.
There’s a lot that we could say about this, but I want to just think of one for a few minutes this morning. There’s a big word that people use that means transcendence. Anyone know what that means? That means that God isn’t limited the same way that we are:
We’re limited to one spot. We can only be in one place at a time. God is everywhere.
We don’t know everything. Anybody here forget anything? All the time. God never forgets a thing.
We can’t do everything. I’ve tried. There are lots of things I can’t do. I can’t lift some things. I can’t change the weather. I can’t see into the future. God can do anything.
God isn’t limited. We are.
There really aren’t any problems with transcendence – well, except for one. God being free from all the limitations of this world means that there is a gap between us and God. It means that he is something that we are not. He can seem distant. There is a huge gap between us, because we are so limited and he is not.
In fact, one of our prayers is that this gap would be closed. If you’ve ever prayed the Lord’s Prayer, you know this one phrase: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is really a prayer that the barrier between heaven and earth would be bridged; that earth would look a little like heaven looks.
It’s a prayer that a little bit of heaven would come to earth; that the gap between heaven and earth would be a little bit smaller.
That’s exactly what God did on Christmas morning. He sent his kingdom in the form of a baby.
Have you ever felt that God is really distant? You don’t need to anymore. God isn’t distant anymore. He is here. He came as a baby. He came to us because it was too far for us to come to him.
Have you ever really hoped for something? Ever really wanted something as a present? I remember lying awake at night longing for something. One year I really wanted a telescope. I asked Santa for a telescope. I was kind of disappointed because I got a letter from Santa saying that they were all out of telescopes that year and he hoped I would understand. I did understand, but I have to admit I was disappointed. I really did want a telescope.
Imagine my surprise when Christmas morning came and there, under the tree, was…a telescope! It turned out that Santa was able to locate one after all.
That’s what happened with Christmas. That which people had longed to receiver from God, that for which they had given up hope, they received that morning, in the flesh. He was a Savior, a Messiah, the Lord, in the flesh. He came as God with flesh.
Close your eyes and imagine every longing of the prophets fulfilled: people living in harmony with one another, God, and the world; no enmity, greed or hunger; you have what you need, and so does everyone else. That isn’t just pie in the sky. Everything that you have hoped for is lying there, wrapped in clothes and lying in a manger.
Quite a long time ago, Charlene and I were watching the news. Lady Diana was in town. She was a princess, and princesses don’t get to Toronto very often. On top of that, she was a celebrity.
We saw that she wasn’t far from her house, and if we left right away, we might catch a glimpse of her. We didn’t have any kids back then, so we hopped in the car and drove to the dock where the royal yacht was moored. We made it in time, and from hundreds of feet away we were able to barely see this person, who I’m told was Diana, go from her car to the boat. It all lasted just a few seconds, and it was terribly exciting. Not really!
That’s about as close as I can ever hope to get to royalty. They live on the same planet, and they are just ordinary people. I can tour the Queen’s palaces, and I can see where the Queen has been, but I can’t really expect that I’ll get closer to royalty than I did that day.
That’s about as close as you could expect to get to God as well…except God didn’t wait for us to come to him. He came to us. And instead of letting us see him from a distance, he came up close, close enough to be held. He came and moved right in, living with us, not just for a brief glimpse. He made this earth his home, had a family. He became one of us. And everything that God’s people longed for came true in him.
What does Christmas mean? It means that God came in the flesh, to close the gap between heaven and earth. He came to become one of us.
Not only was God present in the flesh back then, but Jesus still has flesh today. Not only that, but his presence is even closer today. He takes up residence in his people. When he left, he said, “Surely I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20).
That’s why they call it good news. That’s why they say:
Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.
God came close to us because we couldn’t get close enough to him. He became one of us. And he’s still present today. So let’s praise him.