Mark Twain’s first historical fiction was a story called, The Prince and the Pauper. The story is about Edward Tudor, Prince of Wales, the son of King Henry VIII, and a pauper (or poor Londoner), named Tom Canty. The two have nothing in common except a remarkable physical resemblance to each other. They decide to have some fun with this coincidence by exchanging clothes “temporarily.”
But things go awry when the palace guards mistake Prince Edward in pauper’s clothes for Tom, and eject him from the palace, where the Prince ends up in Tom’s home and is subject to the misery and abuse of Tom’s alcoholic father.
The Prince goes from one misadventure to another, including a stint in jail, experiencing the injustice and brutality of English street life. The enduring charm of the novel lies in the return of the Prince to the palace, in time to ascend the throne of England, where the lessons gleaned from his firsthand experience of his subjects’ suffering, makes Edward VI a merciful and benevolent ruler.
The Prince and the Pauper reminds me of another story, a true story, written long, long before the days of Mark Twain, by the Apostle John.
3 INTRIGUING INSIGHTS INTO THE NATURE OF THE WORD
1. ENTRANCE OF THE WORD
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
This is the most profound fact of human history.
“The Word” is from the Greek term, logos, from where we get logic, and it refers to intelligence and animating, life-giving force. The Greeks used logos to refer to the intangible, ineffability of deity, or to coin a phrase, the “untouchable God-ness of God.”
Greek philosophers also taught that spirit was pure, but physical matter was corrupt. The term for this corrupted, weak, unspiritual part of humans they called sarkos, or in its form here sarx, for flesh.
So, all of John’s readers would accept the majestic statements: John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
This was all fine and dandy…until verse 14 And the Logos became sarx …
Say what now?!?
The perfect, spiritual essence of God, who was self-existent, pre-existent, and co-existent … this Word/Logos, became weak, mortal, pierce-able, vulnerable, sweaty, flesh/sarx?
But John is teaching that Jesus was incarnate. Carne means “meat” or “flesh” so incarnate literally means wrapped in flesh: The Word became flesh …and dwelt among us.
The Word in flesh got tired, hungry, thirsty, and sad. How did this happen?
Luke 1:35 And the angel answered her (Mary), “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
As Charles Wesley would wax eloquent:
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate Deity!
The presence of God would manifest in an invisible, spiritual sense and the Spiritual presence of the Logos would “fleshi-fy”, or incarnate, and as it multiplied human cells would develop into a bouncing baby boy…And the Word became flesh.
2. EFFECT OF THE WORD
John 1:14And 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.
For the first time we see the glory of God in living color.
John emphasizes that he was a witness to this truth: We have seen his glory…full of grace and truth.
By the time John wrote this there was a heresy wafting about in Ephesus known as Docetism. Docetists taught that flesh was sinful and spirit was sinless, so Jesus was never actually flesh. His body was an apparition, like a vision. So, John’s gospel and his letters emphasize the physicality of Jesus throughout.
1 John 1:1 …What we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—”
Suffice it to say that Jesus was full to the brim of grace and truth, which fully convinced John.
3. ESSENCE OF THE WORD
1:14And 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.
Here for the first time, John calls the Word something new. He calls him the Son.
And not just any son. He was the only Son from the Father.
We are introduced to an important word: monogeneis, which is usually translated “only begotten.” Here the ESV uses an awkward turn of phrase: only Son from the Father. But it’s trying to upgrade an old English word we don’t really use a lot of today in this way: begotten.
To beget means to generate or produce. Like “Traffic begets stress.”
So, monogeneis, mono= only, and geneis = generated, means Jesus was the Son that was alone-generated by the Father.
He was not born, because “born” means that came into existence at a particular time.
Only-begotten means that he was uniquely and “eternally generated” by the Father with no beginning. There was never a time that the Father had no Son. He was eternally the Father and he was eternally generating the Son.
Jesus did not shed himself of his Father’s divine nature when he took on flesh, he added a second nature.
Colossians 2: 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,
This is not like Jesus was God with a human disguise. He was God and truly human.
He was hurt emotionally and physically: he could be betrayed, pierced, and crucified. He took on our weaknesses and limitations that he never experienced in eternity past so that he can fully identify with us.
Jesus had to learn to speak, and walk and understand theology. Just like us. He wasn’t born able to walk, talk, and make himself a sandwich. He had to be kept warm in swaddling cloths and nursed by Mary, and taught.
Luke 2:40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom…52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
Jesus matured physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. Just like we do.
And so “…we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15).
This story makes no sense!
It’s the Prince becoming a Pauper, and then dying a torturous death, punished by his father, so that we paupers can be princes, adopted into the King’s family and live in sinless perfection forever. ….So this Christmas time, marvel at the wonder of the Son of God becoming man, marvel at his death on the cross in our place, and worship him as he deserves.
Originally Published on thecripplegate.com at http://feeds.thecripplegate.com/~r/TheCripplegate/~3/eseEzeE0SKo/