He Was Coming Into the World – Advent 2019
Sunday 1 – They Didn’t Recognize Him
“The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.” (1)
Having been reflecting on that passage for a few weeks now, I’ve been trying to reconcile various thoughts that come to mind. It talks about creation, clearly, but also about revelation and incarnation, I think. But how do the pieces fit together?...
The World Was Created...
The psalmist says: “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.” (2)
I’m of those who are moved by the beauty of a blazing sunset or the majesty of a snowy summit. I like to look at pictures or videos showing the great whales diving playfully or the small hummingbirds executing an aerial ballet. Simply being in the wild is a way for me to reconnect with my Creator. I just sit there near a little bubbling brook and I let my eyes and my ears be filled with the images and sounds of nature. I reflect. I pray...
But associating the nature to the Creator is not automatic. Nowadays, science explains many things another way. And an atheist, before the same landscapes, the same pictures, and the same videos, will also marvel at the beauty of... nature, quite simply.
There is something missing...
“By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.” (3)
There is an invisible dimension to creation, to which we access only by faith. That’s where the Word of God takes action.
The World Was Created by the Word...
“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God [...] God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.” (4)
The apostle John says that Jesus is that powerful and working Word of God. And the apostle Paul says that in that same Jesus “lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (5)
“... for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” (6)
Jesus is “the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation.” (7) He is Wisdom, the architect at God’s side, rejoicing in his presence, happy with the world that was created. (8) (That makes me think of the way that the author C.S. Lewis describes the creation of the world Narnia in the book The Magician’s Nephew: Aslan the lion [which is Jesus] sings the world into existence.  I really like that picture.)
The Word Was In the World,
and the World Was Made Through Him... (10)
I must admit that there is something here that I don’t quite get... How can Jesus be in what he had created?...
The only answer I could find is that, on the one hand, God has created man in his own image, and on the other hand, God became man in Jesus.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. […]’ So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (11)
“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” (12)
Could it be that mankind was originally the mark by which one was to recognize the Creator in his creation?...
Instead of that, there was the fall and everything was messed up... until Jesus came. Him, the last Adam. (13) “Him who has seen me has seen the Father,” said Jesus to Phillip, who wanted to see the Father. (14) Hence, in order for the creatures to see the Creator, he himself entered into his creation in the person of Jesus.
That makes me think of a song by Michael Card (15):
A fiction as fantastic and wild
A mother made by her own child
A hopeless babe who cried
Was God Incarnate and man deified?
That is the mystery
More than you can see
Give up on your pondering
And fall down on your knees
Really, that is the only conclusion that we can come to: giving up understanding, accepting by faith, humbling oneself and adoring.
But the world didn’t recognize him…
Is it surprising?…
Myself, would I have recognized him, if I would have been there?
Of course, I like to think that I would have been like the old Simeon, who saw the Messiah in a small baby and blessed God. (16) Or that I would have been part of the wise men’s caravan coming from the East: after following the star for months, they recognized the King of the Jews in a child. (17)
Later, Jesus did the Father’s work, which attested that he was the Son of God, and the Jews tried to stone him. (18) Would I have also picked up a stone to throw it at him?...
And here I am today, amidst the whirlwind that the world imposes on me with the coming holiday season... Jesus is already there: he created everything, and it’s for him that we celebrate Christmas. Will I recognize him?...
On this first Sunday of Advent 2019,
may the Holy Spirit give us to grasp
the spiritual reality that we want to celebrate:
Jesus, the Creator, became a man
so we could see the Father.
Sincerely in Jesus,
Eleazar, the Bellicose Monk
All Bible excerpts are from The Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013).
(1) The Gospel according to the apostle John, chapter 1, verses 9 and 10.
(2) The Book of Psalms, chapter 19, verse 1.
(3) The Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 3.
(4) The Gospel according to the apostle John, chapter 1, verses 1 and 3.
(5) The Letter from the apostle Paul to the Colossians, chapter 2, verse 3.
(6) To the Colossians, chapter 1, verses 16 and 17.
(7) The Book of Revelation of the apostle John, chapter 3, verse 14.
(8) The Book of Proverbs, chapter 8, verses 30 and 31; read the whole passage from verse 22.
(9) The Chronicles of Narnia – The Magician’s Nephew, by C.S. Lewis (London: Fontana Lions, 1955); chapter 9, The Founding of Narnia.
(10) According to John 1.10 from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016).
(11) The Book of Genesis, chapter 1, verses 26 and 27.
(12) The Gospel according to the apostle John, chapter 1, verse 14.
(13) The First letter from the apostle Paul to the Corinthians, chapter 15, verse 45.
(14) See the Gospel according to the apostle John, chapter 14, verses 8 to 10.
(15) From To The Mystery by Michael Card. Click here to listen to the song.
(16) See the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 2, verses 24 to 35.
(17) See the Gospel according to the apostle Matthew, chapter 2, verses 1 to 12.
(18) See the Gospel according to the apostle John, chapter 10, verses 22 and following.