God in the Flesh – December 2, 2022

The Christmas season is upon us. If you are like my family, you have Christmas songs playing regularly. My wife enjoys decorating for Christmas. She has placed and decorated nine trees in our house (yes, you read that right). Everyone is thinking about the presents they will give to others. Christmas is in the air.

However, it is easy to get caught up in the frivolity of Christmas and miss the true meaning we celebrate. Christmas is one of the two most important holidays on the calendar (Easter being the other). This is the day we celebrate the fact that God became a man. Jesus Christ took on flesh to take our sin on himself.

As we look through 1 John, we arrive at some confusing verses: 1 John 5:6-12. Yet, these verses contain a vital test of faith for every Christian. As we face life’s challenges and sin in our hearts, we wonder if we can gain victory. The answer is yes. Indeed we can. John asks, “who can overcome the world?” The one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. This Jesus is the one who came by water and blood.

So, who overcomes the world, who has the victory, the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. This is a statement about the Deity of Christ. John then provides the evidence that Jesus is indeed God and that he can grant us life. He presents three witnesses to Christ’s deity: The water, the Spirit, and the blood. This is important because, in Jewish law, at least two witnesses must confirm someone’s testimony (Deut 19:15).

What are these witnesses? One view holds that these are the ordinances that the church celebrates. However, this seems very much to read into the passage as baptism and the Lord’s Supper are nowhere else mentioned and don’t provide a concrete witness. Another view is that water and blood refer to the water and blood that flowed from Christ’s side when he was stabbed with a spear at his death. This does prove Christ’s humanity but does not prove his deity. The third option, to me, seems the most probable and best fits the text and context. Probably he is referring to the water of Jesus’ baptism and the blood of his death. This view was espoused by the Church Father Tertullian, who believed water refers to the baptism of Jesus, at which he was declared the Son and commissioned and empowered for his work, and blood to his death, in which his work was finished.

We will work with the third view in mind and the three witnesses. All require that Christ took on flesh. So as we work through these the next few weeks of the advent season, consider what we celebrate. Jesus Christ became flesh and dwelt among us. Through him, we are made righteous!