John’s nativity scene is much different than what we find in Luke’s account. There’s no trip to Bethlehem, shepherds in the field, or angels singing. It’s more theological than biographical. It consists of him telling us that “the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us,” (1:14). That’s a pretty impressive resume and you wouldn’t think anything was missing from it. Yet the prologue is bent toward telling us what the Word became. There is something He wasn’t and needed to be in order to fulfill God’s purposes.
What He needed to be was flesh.
That’s more than a little surprising because flesh is the stuff that gets us into trouble, isn’t it? Didn’t Jesus talk about the spirit being willing but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41)? Why then did God want Jesus to become flesh?
Captain John Miller leads a small group of men into France after the Normandy Invasion to search for Private James Ryan in the movie Saving Private Ryan. All three of Ryan’s brothers have died in the war and the Defense Department has issued orders for Ryan to be located (he’s missing in action), and sent home. When they find him, Ryan and a few others are defending a bridge. After being told by Captain Miller that all of his brothers have died and there are orders for him to return home, Ryan doesn’t want to go. He says, “It doesn’t make sense, sir. I mean, why me? Why not any of us? Hell, these guys deserve to go home as much as I do. They’ve fought just as hard.” Miller asks, “Is that what they’re supposed to tell your mother when they send her another folded American flag?” Ryan replies, “You can tell her that when you found me, I was here, and I was with the only brothers I have left and that there was no way I was deserting them. I think she’d understand that.”
What’s true for James Ryan was true for Christ! He came in the flesh because that’s where His brothers were! That’s where the battle was being fought. But He didn’t come on just a rescue mission—He came to show us how to stand and fight. He came in the flesh to show that weak as it could be, Satan has no (inherent) right to reign there (Romans 8:3). We don’t have to capitulate to sin. We don’t have to give in. He became so we might overcome. He became what we were that we might become what He is.