The Christmas Story & Human Dignity
John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) The same was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (4) In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
The Gospel of John does not begin with what we typically think of as the Christmas story with a baby born in a manger, shepherds, and angels. But it does declare the significance of the Christmas story. The opening words declare the identity and origin of the baby born in the manger. In the opening of John, Jesus is called the “Word”. This is the only place we find this designation in all of Scripture. “Word” is from the Greek word, “Logos,” from which we get words like “logic”. This word was significant in John’s day because the Greek culture emphasized the “Ultimate Reason” for the order of the universe. John points to a Person for this created order. The Jews also equated God with His Word. When Moses brought the people to meet God, in Exodus 19:17-19, they did not see Him but heard His voice. The word, “Logos”, had significant meaning to both Greeks & Jews.
These first verses tell us that the Word is not identical with the Father (“He is with God”), but at the same time He is Divine (“He was God”). This distinction is revealed in Scripture when we see the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We see the Word is the Creator & Life-Giver. Jumping down to verse 14, we are told the “Word became flesh and dwelled among us.” He is the One we know as Jesus, the Christ or Messiah.
This event, the Word becoming a human, is called the “incarnation.” Without ceasing to be God, the Word added to His divine person a complete human nature. This underscores the dignity of humanity. The Creator took upon His divine person a fully human nature. Jesus was born like other humans. He had a human spirit. He had a human body. He experienced all that humans do, including growing from a child to a full adult. He experienced hunger, thirst, fatigue, and pain. He felt human emotions like joy, love, fear, sorrow, and anger. He knew what it felt like to be betrayed. He suffered death like humans do as well. The dignity of humanity is seen in the Creator becoming the creature.
What is also amazing is He continues as a human after His resurrection and ascension into heaven. In Acts 1:11, the disciples watched as Jesus ascended into heaven. An angel spoke to them and said:
Act 1:11 Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
Jesus will come again—“this same Jesus”—and He will do so in the same way they saw Him go into heaven. We also see in heaven His human form:
1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
He is still “man”. We also note in Philippians 3, part of our hope is declared in: Php 3:20-21 For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: (21) Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
We are looking forward to being changed to have a body like His, a glorious body, but this truth points to the realization that the Second Person of the Trinity continues in a human state. Humanity is not just another of God’s created things, like the birds, cattle, and sea creatures. Humanity is distinguished above the others.
The dignity of humanity is further seen in the reason the Word became flesh. He did so to redeem us. The Word became flesh to deliver human beings from the penalty and power of sin. Sin is not part of the original human nature. Sin has marred the original creation of God. The Word became flesh to restore humanity to what it was. To do that, Jesus Christ had to suffer for the guilt of sinners. Though He was not a sinner, He became as though He was a sinner by suffering sin’s consequence—death. Those He redeemed then begin a process of being transformed into the image of Christ Himself. Human beings are worth saving.
Finally, we also see that Jesus identifies Himself with those He redeems.
Heb 2:10-11 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. (11) For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,
This again shows the dignity of humanity. When God created humans, He did so by creating them in His image. Before He ever created them, He knew they would need to be rescued and had purposed to do it. According to Revelation 13:8, Jesus is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” God created humans in His image so that they are worth rescuing. So valuable is humanity that the Creator took on human nature to rescue them. He will continue to identify them with Himself as “brothers.”
The Christmas story reveals the great value and dignity of human beings. Every human life is sacred. The human life God gives cannot be treated with contempt and exterminated without consequences. Abortion and euthanasia devalue human life. Furthermore, we have no right to show contempt toward any other human being. We must not devalue other human beings despite social and economic difference, cultural and ethnic differences, nor even when sin has marred their humanity. Every human being was created by God in His image with an immortal soul that will exist somewhere forever. That soul is one for whom the Son of God “became flesh” to provide salvation.
As an “image bearer” Christ died for you. Have you received His gift of salvation?
Pastor Dan Stertz
Pastor of Bible Baptist Church, Hudson, WI and also a board member for Baptists For Life of WI