Where in the Bible do you find the Christmas Story? Most people immediately think of the beginning of Matthew or the beginning of Luke. This is so common because these passages contain the news of the angels, shepherds, wise men, and of course, the birth of baby Jesus.
But I would like to challenge you to look at John 1:14. It says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
After reading this verse, you might ask, “Where is the Christmas story?” Well, the trick is that it is difficult to see in English! Also, a little Old Testament reminder is necessary as well.
First, the Old Testament…do you remember the building of the tabernacle in the book of Exodus? The tabernacle was simply a big tent, but it was also God’s tent. Since everyone lived in tents, God said that He also wanted a tent, and His tent was to be in the middle of the camp. And in God’s tabernacle were certain rooms, including the Holy of Holies (or what is also called The Most Holy Place). In that room, the Ark of the Covenant rested.
Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would come in to the Holy of Holies to Sacrifice. When this happened, God’s presence would be manifested over the Mercy Seat (which was the top of the Ark). In a real sense, God was coming down to meet with man in the big tent. God was showing that He is Emmanuel – God with us.
At the end of Exodus 40, the Scripture says in v. 24, “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” Once again, we see God coming down to meet with His people in the tabernacle.
So now you might say, “What does this have to do with John 1:14?” Let’s now examine the English phrase, “and dwelt among us” from the verse. There is something going on in Greek that we don’t see in English. Literally, this could be translated that Jesus “tabernacled among us.” John actually takes the noun for “tabernacle” and turns it into a verb to describe what Jesus has done for us when he became man. John sees the Old Testament story of the tabernacle being fulfilled in Christ.
What’s the Christmas lesson here? Jesus is the personal fulfillment of the tabernacle. In Jesus’ first advent, He “pitched his tent” – that is, he “tabernacled” with us in human form. He is truly Emmanuel – God with us. In the Old Testament, everyone had tents, so God had a tent. But as time moved on, God’s revelation to man became even more personal…just as everyone has flesh and blood, Jesus came to us in flesh and blood – a baby, born in Bethlehem so long ago.
God loves you and me so much that Christ “tabernacled among us,” taking on our flesh and blood, becoming man without ceasing to be God. This, indeed, is the Christmas Story – God dwelling with man, as a man, in order to redeem man back to God. Merry Christmas.