Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Word became flesh: looking again at Jesus IX

A sermon from John 1.1-14: Part IX
The Word became flesh. This conversation which we did not begin and into which we are invited, is to be conducted through a human, one like us. He is not so alien as to be unrecognisable. In fact, precisely the opposite: the danger is that he is too familiar. We think of him as just another guy. With six and half billion people around and in the middle of our busy lives, someone has to be pretty special to make it onto our “to meet” list.

Here’s what the great Swiss theologian Karl Barth says:

“Jesus Christ is not a demigod. He is not an angel. Nor is He an ideal man. He is a man as we are, equal to us as a creature, as a human individual, but also equal to us in the state and condition into which our disobedience has brought us. And in being what we are He is God’s Word. Thus as one of us, yet the one of us who is Himself God’s Word in person, He represents God to us and He represents us to God. In this way He is God’s revelation to us and our reconciliation with God.”

- Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, I/2, 151.

God surprises us by speaking a word that is far less alien than we might have expected. And yet its very familiarity - its human face, ten fingers and forty-six chromosomes - makes it quite possible to disregard. The light of the world shines in our darkness and we – overlook it. The Word became flesh and moved into our neighbourhood and we – treat it like any other neighbour: with polite inattention. I don’t know about you, but what usually happens when someone new moves into our building is you each nod and smile, maybe introduce yourself, and then proceed to ignore each other as much as possible. If we let you get on with your life, you’ll let us get on with ours. Is this how we treat Jesus? Have learned to not be too inquisitive, to limit our hospitality to the surface so all we see is our own lives mirrored back? Perhaps we are so easily bored with ourselves that when one comes who is flesh like us, we assume he too is boring. We are content with superficial relationships and so look superficially and do not see anything but the ordinary.
Series: I; II; III; IV; V; VI; VII; VIII; IX; X.