Part 2: “Made His Dwelling Among Us”
By Tensley Almand
Have you ever noticed that a lot of us treat the life of Jesus like it consists of only two events: his birth and his death? I suppose it makes sense; after all, these events dominate two of the church’s biggest holiday seasons. But as we look at John’s New Testament account of the meaning behind that first Christmas season, I want to focus on what it means for us that—to use John’s beautifully poetic phrase—the “Word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14 NIV).
It’s a remarkable way to describe what was undoubtedly a horrific scene: this young mother struggling to bring a child into the world between livestock and farming equipment. If we want to be frank about it, Mary had basically been deemed so unimportant by the society around her that she couldn’t even secure an indoor space to perform one of the most harrowing tasks anybody can face—giving birth to another human being.
Yet in that child, John tells us we find a Light greater than those dark circumstances. John calls the baby who was born that night “the Light of all mankind—full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 NIV).
Full of grace, because if anybody had a right to demand better for himself, it should be the Creator of the world, right? I mean, born onto a planet that wouldn’t even take the trouble to give him an actual room where he could take those first breaths, and yet, when we follow accounts of the life of Jesus, we see the opposite of a sense of entitlement.
Instead, Jesus’s life and work provide us with a beautiful model of what a completely different, radically generous version of the world looks like. It’s a place where people who the law says deserve death, get to walk free. And those who society rejects for being ill or deformed? They are healed and affirmed with the truth that every person is filled with dignity and worth because every person is a living expression of their incredible Creator.
So, as we continue through this Christmas season, I want to invite you to consider John’s reminder that Jesus wasn’t just born in order to someday die, but instead that he “made his dwelling among us," as “the Light of all mankind, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 NIV).
Where have you benefitted from that grace in your life? What would it look like for you to let that truth rearrange the way you see the people around you during what just might be the most stressful holiday season many of us have ever lived through?