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As we approach and go through the Christmas season we are providing short devotions to enable us to focus for a few moments each day on the real meaning of Christmas and look forward to his second coming. If you've missed some days click here to see the series so far or subscribe.

Day 9 : John 1:14  Full of Grace and Truth 

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1v14
Yesterday we saw that God’s glory was visible in Christ in a way that hadn’t been possible through the tabernacle. The truth is, the people of God had been ‘starved’ of God’s glory (and so in some senses his presence) since they had been exiled from the land. When the temple had been sacked God’s glory had departed and, even though they had built and dedicated a new temple, his glory had not returned… until now. In the person of Jesus.

Now we don’t have to ‘meet’ with God through a physical building (though buildings are good and important, and it would be nice to meet in one this season...!), now we meet with him through a person. A man.

And did you notice how this man came to us?
             …from the Father, full of grace and truth.

In a world where love and acceptance are very often conditional and we constantly feel the need to match up to expectations and standards, Jesus comes to us full of grace. Not expecting us to perform. Not saying we have to earn his love, but rather that he accepts us because of what he is like, rather than what we are like. Because of what he has done, rather than what can do. This year of lockdown for many of us has been especially hard because our identity that comes from activity and ‘doing’ has been stripped from us and that’s exposed insecurities. But Jesus comes to us full of grace. 

And in a world of polarised opinions, where we very often struggle to know what ‘truth’ is, with conflicting claims and opaque arguments and statements, here is one who comes full of truth. How refreshing! Someone we can really trust. Someone with words that we can build upon, who’s not in it for themselves but rather that we might have the life that we were made for. 

This is what life is about. 

What a glorious truth to help shape us, and our plans for Christmas.


Dan Steel, 29/11/2022

Day 8 : John 1:14  We have seen his glory... 

I once listened to a six-part sermon series on this single verse. We’re not going to do that, though we will be here for a couple of days.  It’s a packed verse with lots of background that we easily miss if we’re not familiar with the Old Testament. 

Famously, John makes up a word in this verse to describe Jesus coming to live among us. Where you read ‘made his dwelling’ it’s actually ‘tabernacled’.

And why does John put it like that? Well he wants us to join the dots…

Thousands of years before God had rescued his people when they were suffering as slaves in Egypt and had promised to lead them to a beautiful land where they would be provided for and protected.

And he does. Under Moses God sets them free but on their way there, through the wilderness, God is with them, in their midst because at the very heart of their nightly camp is a special tent called the tabernacle (or tent of meeting). 

And yet listen (from Exodus 40) to what happens when Moses makes the tabernacle…

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.  Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

God’s glory.  His brilliance and majesty and power is so amazing that people couldn’t be in the same place as him. There is a relationship there, God is in the midst of them, and yet there’s a distance. 

But look what happens here in John 1. Do you see the change? In Jesus we have God taking on flesh and tabernacling among his people, but how does the verse continue? 

We have seen his glory. Wow.

Reflect on that today.


Dan Steel, 28/11/2022

Day 7 : John 1:12-13  Children of God?! 

On Saturday we considered that many who ought to have recognised and received Jesus, did not. Today our verses reflect upon the fact that many did (and continue to).  
 
Because for those who DO receive him, for those who believe in his name, so he gives them a right to become children of God. A few thoughts on this
 

  • ‘Right’ is a strong word, isn’t it? Think about the extravagance of this; he freely gives me what I don’t (nor could I ever) deserve and then insists it’s actually my right to have it now! What astonishing kindness. What marvellous generosity.
     
  • Did you notice too that it’s for ‘all’? Again as the gospel unfolds you see that worked out with all kinds of different people with all kinds of backgrounds, stories and skeletons coming to Jesus. Whether Samaritan women who had (very-likely) been ostracized by their community, blind beggars who hadn’t walked for 38 years or indeed proud Jewish professors who thought they knew it all. Again, more bountiful, beautiful love. 
     
  • And it’s not as if God then allows us in, but keeps us at arms-length, rather we become a part of his family! Do you see that something of a swap happens? Athanasius put it…

“He became what we are
 
so that he might make us
 
what he is.”

 
He takes on flesh and a name and a face and becomes a man, so that we might be brought into his family. He lays down his life, that we might receive real-life. In fact - as the story unfolds and we head towards the cross, in John 17 Jesus prays an extraordinary prayer for all Christians, all around the world, and all down the ages that as they trust in him they might actually be taken into the inner life of the Trinity. This is, in some senses, the climax of God’s amazing plan. That we might share in the unity and glory that the Word who was with God in the beginning enjoyed for eternity. 


Dan Steel, 27/11/2022

 
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