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He Has Your Eyes
December 17, 1978

St. Paul's United Methodist Church

JOHN 1:1-14

It is fun to meet children for the first time of people that you've known for years. It is interesting to meet parents of children that you've known for a long time and see how the children resemble the parents, how they reveal the parents in their looks. He has your eyes, or in attitudes, or in values, beliefs. I imagine there was excitement that night in Bethlehem when gentle Mary laid her child in the manger and everybody who came oohed and awe like we do when babies are born. We say to the proud parents, “He has your eyes, or she has your mouth. Look at his ears.” I imagine there was an extra excitement that night in the stable to see how Jesus revealed not only his mother, but God. And through the years as Jesus lived and taught, more and more people came to see and to say to God, “O God, Jesus has your eyes. O God, Jesus resembles you and reveals you.” 

We call this the Doctrine of Incarnation. Especially at Christmas time, we are reminded of this belief— God was incarnate in Jesus. Jesus was God in the flesh. In Jesus, the Word was made flesh. The dynamic quality, dynamic power of God by which the world and the universes were brought into existence was made flesh in Jesus. The doctrine is not easy to understand. 

To believe in the Incarnation means to believe that Jesus revealed what God is like. He is the revelation of God. E. Stanley Jones liked to say that Jesus was the best picture God ever took. Jesus more completely revealed and showed God to the world than any other person who has ever lived. Out of all the people who ever lived, Jesus more than anyone else, more completely showed us what God is like. He was the best picture that God ever took. Out of all the people who've ever lived, Jesus was the closest and the most intimate with God. 

God can be seen in all people. We can learn about God by studying one another's lives. We can see God in nature. We can learn about God and how the world is put together by studying nature. We can see God in life all around us, but nowhere so completely, so wholly and so perfectly as we see God in Jesus Christ. That is what we mean by incarnation. 

Therefore, when we want to know more about God, we go to Jesus. When you want to know something about another person, how they think, how they feel, or what their attitude is about something or other, and you don't have access to that person, or for some reason, you really don't want to go to that person, you go to someone who is intimate with that person, someone who's close, someone who understands that person. And when we want to know more about God, we look at Jesus.

This means that Jesus is the criterion by which we evaluate all the information that comes to us about God, by which we evaluate all the experiences we have. We hold Jesus up as the criterion by which we evaluate and this makes us different from all other religions in the world. We are not arrogant and believe that we have all the truth about God, that no other religion knows anything about God. We're not arrogant. We don't think we're better than anyone else. But what makes Christians different from all other religions, is that Christians begin by saying God is like Jesus. That's where we begin. That's our criterion. 

What is God like? What is that force that brought this world into being? What is life and death all about? The Christian says, God is like Jesus. That is our clue. That is our measurement by which we measure all beliefs, by which we measure anything that anyone tells us about God. If it is in conflict with the spirit, life and teachings of Jesus Christ, then it is not of God. God was incarnate in Jesus. 

But, we mean more than that by the incarnation. John told us in our scripture lesson today that God was made flesh in Jesus. Jesus is more than a human being who shows us more of God than any other human who ever lived. Jesus is more than that. Jesus is more than a human who was very close and intimate with God. Jesus was God in the flesh. That's hard to understand. We do not mean that Jesus was a second God, or a distinct son of God or child of God, and therefore we have two gods or some denominations believe there are three Gods— God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. No, we do not believe there are three gods. We believe there's only one God. But we know this God in three ways like we know water. We know water as a liquid form, and we can drink it. We can wash with it, we can pour it. But we also know water when it is frozen and it's ice. We chip it off, or it comes in little cubes. It cools things. It's ice, but it's still water. We also know water when we heat it and it turns into a vapor, into smoke and we call it steam, but it's still water. 

And as we know water in three different ways, so we know God and experience God in three different ways. We experience God as the Creator, the one who made all that is, who made you and me. We know God as the one who walked on this earth as a human being in Jesus. And we know God as the Holy Spirit who is present with us right now working in our lives, moving among us in this building right now. We know God in three ways. Yet, God is still only one God. God became flesh in Jesus. This is difficult to grasp. 

Lewis Cassels has written a parable called “The Parable of the Birds”. Once upon a time there was a man who thought Christmas was humbug. He wasn't a Scrooge. He wasn't mean. He was a very good man. He was a very kind man, but he just didn't understand Christmas. He didn't understand the doctrine of the incarnation. It didn't make any sense to him. One Christmas Eve, his wife and his children went off to church for the midnight service, but he wouldn't go because the Incarnation made no sense. So he sat by the fire, put another log in the fireplace, got out a good book and began to read. It was a very cold night and it started to snow. 

And as he read there by the comfortable fire, he heard a thud on his window and then another thud, and another thud. He got up, went out and looked at a whole flock of birds that had got lost in the snow, and had been attracted by the light behind the window. They had flown into the window and now they they were dazed outside his window. And he said, “I can't leave these creatures like this, but what can I do to help them?” He thought of his barn, his warm barn. So he opened the barn door and turned on all the lights so that the birds could see the light and seek refuge, safety and warmth in the barn. But they wouldn't go so he thought that maybe food would work. So he went and got breadcrumbs and made a trail of bread crumbs all the way from the birds to the barn. But that didn't work. He tried to shoo them into the barn, but they were wild creatures. They just floundered and went in every direction. He tried to pick them up and carry them one by one into the barn, but they wouldn't let him, they kept jumping away from him. There was nothing he could do. 

And he thought, “What can I do? How can I reach them, and let them know that they can trust me and that I will help them?” And then he thought, “Oh, if only I could be a bird for just a few minutes, then maybe they'd follow me to the safety of the barn. If I could only be a bird for just a few minutes.” Just then the chimes on the church began to ring and toll. A crystal clear message from God came to him and he fell on his knees in the snow and prayed, “O God, now I understand why you came to the earth. Now I understand what it's all about.” 

The incarnation means that God became a human. Not that all of God was in Jesus for Jesus prayed to God. Not all of God was in Jesus, but all of Jesus was in God. The Incarnation means that God is involved in our lives. God became like us. He was born as a baby in very primitive surroundings, reared in poverty, born in a poor country, a hated country, a country that still has all kinds of turmoils and struggles. He was cruelly treated as he walked on this earth and died a criminal's death. 

God became involved in our lives and will lead us to safety. There is no experience you and I can ever have, there is no crisis so bad, there is no agony that hurts so much, there are no tears that God does not understand because God has walked where we have walked. There is no experience that is beyond the province of God, for God took upon himself suffering, anguish and pain. God lived as a human. God understands whatever you and I must face. And God not only understands, but God cares, God heals, and God touches us. God came in the flesh. God is in our midst today as the Spirit.

Linda Felder has written “Touching”. 

He came touching
as a baby does,
reaching out with tiny fingers
to explore the world around him.
He lived touching
as one does
who identifies deeply with human need, reaching out with heart and mind
to touch the barren parts of human lives and bid them bloom.
He even touched me.
Now I too can touch.
Christmas is a time for touching. 

Christmas is a time to let God touch us and share in our experiences. Christmas is a time to let God become flesh and dwell in our midst. God was incarnate in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, as the Savior. We believe that. We base our faith on it. We stand on that as a central doctrine in the Christian faith. God was in Jesus Christ bringing us all back, reconciling the world. Let's let that belief go from our head down into our heart, down into our lives and let Jesus touch us.

© 1978 Douglas I. Norris