Dave Black on Matt 6:33

Dave Black reflected on his blog about what Jesus might have meant when he said “seek first the kingdom of God.”  I thought it was really good and wanted to share with you here:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

7:15 AM Jesus repeatedly emphasized that following Him meant radically changing our priorities. What did He mean when He said, “Seek first the kingdom of God”? Here are some ideas:

1) Seek first the kingdom of God vocationally. Ask tough questions about your employment. Are you where God wants you to be? If so, are you using your occupation to advance God’s kingdom?

2) Seek first the kingdom of God maritally. Have a Great Commission Marriage. Put the kingdom first in your married and family life.

3) Seek first the kingdom of God geographically. The issue of where we live has everything to do with the kingdom. Let’s be open to God’s guidance. Unlike our secular counterparts, we can no longer select a place to live based merely on comfort, affordability, good schools, etc.

4) Seek first the kingdom of God ecclesiologically. I strongly urge you to find a church home that shares your urgency for the kingdom and global missions. Traditional wisdom dictates that we are to seek a church on the basis of buildings, programs, convenience, and, regrettably, personalities. As a result, church life becomes inwardly-focused, and we fail to become the presence of the kingdom in society. When Becky and I joined our church in Roxboro, NC, we did so largely because of its clear and consistent vision to be a part of the kingdom initiative of God. It seeks to manifest the values of Jesus’ upside-kingdom. It gives high priority to missions. Our goal is to strive as authentically as  possible to incarnate the life and teachings of Jesus in our corporate and individual lives.

5) Seek first the kingdom of God financially. Jesus calls us to avoid the rat race of consumerism and materialism. Let’s reexamine our lifestyles to see how we can free up dollars for the kingdom.

6) Seek first the kingdom of God physically. Obesity and self-indulgence characterize many American evangelicals. It never occurs to us that avoiding overeating is a way to serve the kingdom. As disciples we are called to set aside physical comfort and devote our bodies to God as living sacrifices. I struggle constantly to keep my weight under control. But I must maintain good physical condition if I am to be able to walk long distances in Ethiopia.

7) Seek first the kingdom of God ministerially. Every believer is a fulltime “minister.” Churches can do much more to utilize qualified volunteers who essentially pay themselves to serve. We must change the emphasis in our churches from hiring professional staff to equipping “laypeople” to be the church.

8) Seek first the kingdom of God institutionally. Let’s ask, “How can we use our corporate resources most effectively and sacrificially for the kingdom?” Take our church buildings. Surely we can do a better job in constructing and utilizing church properties so as to channel more resources into missions and service to the needy. I once read of a congregation of 4,000 in Oregon that, instead of building a new sanctuary, established a separate corporation to build a self-supporting convention hall that the church uses free of charge. Another example: Missionary organizations can separate overhead costs from money raised for missionaries. In other words, money contributed to missionary causes would go entirely to these causes, while all overhead costs (including salaries for executives) would be raised separately.

9) Seek first the kingdom of God intellectually. Has Christ’s lordship had any effect on your thought life? What you read? Your attitudes? Sometimes it is easier to read books about the Scriptures than to read the Scriptures themselves. What makes us think that commentaries or websites are more important than the Word of God? We neglect the Bible to our own peril. I often remind my students that 99 percent of what I know about God and the Christian life I learned from reading my Bible rather than books about the Bible. God does not ask us to forego reading books by human authors (goodness, I’ve written my share of them), but His lordship is not visible in our lives until we prioritize His Word.

These are some practical ways by which we can seek first the kingdom of God. I’m sure many others could be mentioned. Seeking first the kingdom of God means that our time, our money, our very selves are available to God, to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to the world. It’s not a matter of simply attending church or participating in endless rounds of programs. It’s about changing the world by becoming what Jesus intended the church to be: a servant to the world. “The church is only the church when it exists for others,” said Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Christ calls us to pour our lives into the needy world that surrounds us. He promises us that as we do this, we will find that His yoke of service is easy and His burden is light. If you live this way, you will find His promise — as Becky and I have — to be true.

I’ll tell ya, I really like how Dave thinks!  To be sure, he is such a blessing to those who know him, are in his classes and or read his blog.

Blessings,

Neufeld thoughts on the Revelation

Henry Neufeld taught recently on the book of Revelation and shared some of his reflections about that experience:

  1. I’m more convinced than ever that we need to read Revelation more for theology and spiritual growth and less for trying to lay out timelines for the end of the world. I find good theology and good principles in many of these passages even if we continue to disagree on the specific referents.

  2. I have a great deal of sympathy for the preterist position, even though that is not precisely what I believe. Symbols generally do find credible referents in the immediate time and place. The problem with the preterist position, in my view, is that it is easy to leave all the book’s other lessons in the past as well. Revelation spoke to its own time, but it also speaks to the future.

  3. Revelation is possibly the most violent book in the New Testament. But it’s not about the violence. It’s about God’s faithfulness.

  4. Revelation is an unfolding of the gospel. It begins with Jesus with his church/people, and it ends with Jesus with his people. The rest assures God’s people that God is paying attention and is with them even when he doesn’t appear to be.

  5. In teaching Revelation we need to emphasize the persecuted church more. When you get to the fifth seal, for example, and the souls under the altar are asking “How long oh Lord?” it helps if we understand what persecution was and is like. I have always discussed persecution as an historical phenomenon. This time I spent more time discussing the present and what some of these passage might mean viewed from the perspective of people suffering persecution right now. Like Hebrews, Revelation speaks to people suffering or soon-to-suffer great hardship. We American Christians, in our ease, are likely to have a hard time hearing the message.

  6. The most important thing a Bible teacher can so, I believe, is teach people how to study for themselves. It’s not about getting across all of my beliefs or particular interpretations. What people need is to find a way to experience God for themselves—to hear God’s voice—through the pages of scripture.

I think these are some good thoughts!  I have never taught on the book of Revelation before, but I really like Henry’s reflections here.  Additionally, I agree with David Alan Black that Henry’s last point is his most important point.  🙂

Quote of the Day: Jesus Feminist

Debbie is reading Sarah Bessey’s recently published book: Jesus Feminist.

Jesus-Feminist-Cover-copyHere is one of the many good portions:

Mutuality is a beautiful picture of trust and a sign of the Kingdom of God. Sometimes the questions people ask or the judgments they imply make us chuckle.

Well, who is in charge here?

“We are.”

Yes, but if push comes to shove who is the leader?

“We are.”

But then, who is the spiritual head of your home?

Only Jesus. Only ever our Jesus.

When we were pastoring at the Grand Canyon National Park – we had this exact conversation so many times… and that to the head scratching and consternation of many. Why? Because we were “co-pastors.”

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve shared with people my position on all this (what you see in the quote above is how I would say it) only to have people seem to change how they view me – not as a good man or even a strong man, but weak – submissive, letting my wife “wear the pants in the family” so to speak, not taking my proper place in the marriage, not being a good leader.  So, really, this little quote is a good encouragement to know I was not the only one who thought this way or even lived this way.

Here is the deal  – healthy relationships are built on and sustained by mutuality and trust – they work in tandem with each other.  If one is missing the relationship(s) will falter.  Without trust – mutuality will be hard to sustain; and mutuality can’t function without trust.  They have to work together.  Even further, mutuality is something that involves a strong sense of equality – a sort of even balanced give and take or rather receiving.  Both are giving, both are receiving and back and forth in a dynamic inter-relationship between the two that is centered in, on and around Jesus Christ – so Jesus is the head of the relationship – the center; both the centripital and centrifugal force that pushes out and draws in, again, in a dynamic exchange of inter-relationship between one another, one with the other.  Obviously, Jesus is the one who is over and above it all – he is the Lord of all, yet in relationship with the couple (here we speak of marriage) he is the source and energy and drive behind the mutuality and trust.  He is the center and spiritual head of our lives, our marriage, our home, our family, and our church.

QOTD: Carson on Philippians

basicsThe Kindle edition of Don Carson’s book, Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians (Baker Academic), is on a temporary $4 sale.

Here is a good quote from chapter one (worth the price of the $4 Kindle edition alone).

I would like to buy about three dollars worth of gospel, please. Not too much— just enough to make me happy, but not so much that I get addicted. I don’t want so much gospel that I learn to really hate covetousness and lust. I certainly don’t want so much that I start to love my enemies, cherish self-denial, and contemplate missionary service in some alien culture. I want ecstasy, not repentance; I want transcendence, not transformation. I would like to be cherished by some nice, forgiving, broad-minded people, but I myself don’t want to love those from different races— especially if they smell. I would like enough gospel to make my family secure and my children well behaved, but not so much that I find my ambitions redirected or my giving too greatly enlarged. …

Carson, D. A. (1996-04-01). Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians (Kindle Locations 44-50). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I preached through a large part of Philippians when we were at the Grand Canyon and it sure was a challenging book to say the least!  I think its one that every church needs to go through verse by verse.  It so integral to the life and health of the congregation – what can be more important that building one another up in the faith and promoting unity for the sake of the gospel??  But and However, in order to get to that place, most congregations have a lot of work to do – you know – work out their salvation with fear and trembling.  No, silly, not trying to earn one’s salvation but learn to work out personal differences and setting aside personal agendas and following the model of Christ himself, the humble obedient servant, the one who’s attitude we must emulate if the gospel is going to impact not just our communities and the world, but also our own community of faith and our own hearts.  

That bears repeating – the ONLY WAY the gospel will go forth in our own hearts and in our own communities, really and truly, is for each person and for the whole congregation to take on the attitude of Christ, becoming humble obedient servants – to Christ, to one another, and to the gospel – SO THAT the gospel may go forth.  

St Paul was a man of singular passion – Christ and the gospel – that was it, nothing else mattered.  NOTHING.  

I wonder, is it the same for us?  Don’t tell, show me!  🙂  

Blessings. 

on the household codes

I know Rachel Held Evans drives a lot of folks batty but I thought this particular post was really really good.

She talks about the household codes in the letters of Paul and Peter.

It steps on a lot of toes.

Here are a couple pretty key points I though were worth consideration:

Jesus changes everything.

and

Paul is not simply talking about equal access to salvation here; he is talking about the creation of a new family where the social and religious lines that once separated men from women, slaves from the free, Jews and Gentiles vanish in the Household of God. 

also,

So when Peter and Paul introduce Jesus to the household, everything changes. Rather than placing the male head-of-house at the sovereign center, Peter and Paul place Jesus Christ at the center. And with Jesus Christ at the center, all the old boundaries break down and the hierarchies begin to blur.

It is hard for us to recognize it now, but Peter and Paul were introducing the first Christian family to an entirely new community, a community that transcends the rigid hierarchy of human institutions, a community in which submission is mutual and all are free.

finally…

Given the context, it seems clear that the ultimate purpose of the Christ/Church metaphor is intended to point men and women toward more mutuality, not more hierarchy,

Suffice it to say, there is some good stuff here.

 

On John 20:19-23 and Acts 2

One of my NT professors from AGTS, Ben Aker has written what I would say is a tremendous article on the Biblical distinction between Regeneration and Spirit Baptism in reference to John 20:19-23 and Acts 2. Trust me, its really good!

Dr. Aker writes:

There are two Biblical texts that scholars often discuss, frequently misinterpret, and thus confuse regarding regeneration and the baptism in the Holy Spirit. They are John 20:19-23 and Acts 2. In the first of these references the word “breathed” occurs. This study then will focus on the meaning and use of the word in John 20:22. I propose that “breathed” refers to regeneration and concerns an actual, supernatural event in which Jesus imparts eternal life to the first disciples through the Spirit. This paper will discuss“ breathed” under two main headings: its lexical and conceptual meanings and uses and the contribution of John’s theology to its meaning and use.

Well, it blessed me and I hope it will bless you too!

Pope Francis I on ‘the Cross of Christ’

via Pastor Dan’s blog:

From Pope Francis I’s first homily:

Pope Francis praying at Rome's Santa Maria Maggiore basilica“We must always walk in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, always trying to live in an irreprehensible way,” he said in a heartfelt homily of a parish priest, loaded with biblical references and simple imagery.

“When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we proclaim Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly,” he said.

“We may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, all of this, but we are not disciples of the Lord,” he said.

He said those who build on worldly values instead of spiritual values were like children building sand castles on a beach. “Then everything comes crashing down,” he said.

More HERE.

Sounds like things are already off to a GREAT start!

Guest post on the Daughters of Zelophehad

The who?  🙂  Today is International Women’s Day and Debbie has written a post about some hero women in the Bible!

Daughters of Zelophehad: Spiritual Mothers of the Ancient Near East

Recently human trafficking, sex trade, prostitution rings, and the mistreatment of women and children have gained international attention. In various parts of the world, women struggle to even be treated as humans. The book and documentary, “Half the Sky” revealed the inhumanities done to women and now considers itself a movement against the oppression of women worldwide.[1]

The injustices done against women are anything but new. In the Mishneh Torah, boys and men were encouraged to pray this ‘blessing’ each morning,

“Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has not made me a non-Jew. Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has not made me a woman. Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has not made me a servant.”[2]

Whether or not one argues this ‘blessing’ actually validates the beautiful role of women in the Jewish faith and culture, the reality of the human heart has turned it into a curse and bondage. Inadvertently or intentionally, it leaves a woman feeling she is ‘less than’ her male counterpart.

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(photo taken from Convoy of Hope facebook page)

A Biblical Example: Daughters of Zelophehad

This was the context and culture of five sisters who lived in the Ancient Near East. On International Women’s Day, these sisters are heroines of the faith. Their story is actually found in the Bible. Numbers 27 talks about the daughters of Zelophehad. They had just buried their father. They lived in a time where women did not hold positions of honor or receive inheritances. Expectations of women were to work in home or in the fields.[3] Because of their gender, they received nothing. All their possessions they had known and grown up with was no longer rightfully theirs after their father passed on. What must have it felt like to lose everything after burying a loved one?

Numbers 27:1-4 reads,

The daughters of Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, belonged to the clans of Manasseh son of Joseph. The names of the daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah. They came forward and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly at the entrance to the tent of meeting and said, “Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among Korah’s followers, who banded together against the Lord, but he died for his own sin and left no sons. Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives.[4]

Bold Prayers2

Legally these five sisters received nothing, but they knew something had to be done. They wanted to receive their property, their inheritance promised to their forefathers and their family for generations.  They decided to come together and ask for an inheritance. Against all odds and against everything they asked.

It is also possible Zelophehad, their father, was a criminal. He may have died receiving the death penalty for a sin he committed. Notice the distinction made in verse 3 when they speak about their father’s death. “He was not among Korah’s followers, who banded together against the Lord, but he died for his own sin.”

These daughters not only lived without any property or inheritance rights, but they lived under the shadow of their father’s sin. For them to come and ask for an inheritance was huge. They had to come and stand before the same people who possibly condemned their father.

Without batting an eye they asked for their inheritance boldly. Numbers 27:5-11 discloses their sheer determination.

“Give us property from among our father’s relatives. So Moses brought their case before the Lord: and the Lord said to him, “What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right.” You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and give their father’s inheritance to them. “Say to the Israelites, ‘If a man dies and leaves no son, give his inheritance to his daughter. If he has no daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers. 10 If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father’s brothers.11 If his father had no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative in his clan, that he may possess it. This is to have the force of law for the Israelites, as the Lord commanded Moses.”

What happened as they went before the assembly boldly and asked for their inheritance? In this text, they are granted their request but God also changed the culture and their governing laws concerning women. Later on in Scripture we find out they received their inheritance and then some. Because they asked boldly, they received ten tracts of land for their inheritance. These sisters left a legacy for their daughters and grandchildren.

734585_10151399973829681_583031258_n(photo taken from Convoy of Hope facebook page)

I struggled with this passage. It is an obscure passage in the middle of nowhere. Take a right turn after Leviticus and a left-turn before Deuteronomy to Numbers. Rarely will you hear any inspiring, vision casting, turn or burn sermons from this little known book in the Old Testament. When I read over it, I almost missed it. But I had never heard this story before about these sisters. And the more I read, the more it got my attention.

Is this small story about the five sisters overcoming obstacles? That reason in itself could preach! Is it about these confident and self-assured women leaving their past behind them, and moving forward to better things? They were definitely not their father, they were women of integrity. Was it about injustices and God making that which was unjust, just? All of us have experienced injustice in this world and some of us have experienced it more than others. Is it about claiming their ancestral land? We do not know how many days, months or even years passed between their father’s passing to when they were able to receive and use their actual inheritance – their tracts of land.

Still if you narrow it down to all of these, there is still something missing.

What’s Missing?

After long hours of studying this passage and crying out to God, I realized it was right there! And if you aren’t careful, anyone can miss it. This text is actually about prayer and going boldly before God. Moses is a type of mediator between God and man. As a mouthpiece for God, he stood as an example of One who was to come! Hebrews 3:1-2 proclaims,

“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses.”

This story about the five daughters of Zelophehad is about prayer! Prayer that moves mountains, prayer that is truly sacrificial and thinks not of the present situation, but asks boldly with faith. It took them everything to go before Moses and the assembly. Above all of that, they knew they stood before the one and only God, the King of the Universe. They were coming to Him with their petition.

Psalm 2:8 says,

“Ask of me and I will make the nations your inheritance.”

We sing about it, we pray about it, but what does this verse mean? What is the significance of this verse when it talks about inheritance? What is this inheritance?

We are the Lord’s inheritance. You and I are part of the inheritance of faith. Yet there is more. Those people who have not yet believed, they are a part of an inheritance to come. They are our inheritance of souls we work to bring into the kingdom of God.

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(photo taken from Convoy of Hope facebook page)

Kingdom Issues

On International Women’s day, we who are followers of Christ, must understand the issues for equality are also in the church. This ongoing battle for equality is a more than a gender issue.  It is a kingdom issue.  Jesus says,

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Pray therefore that the Lord of the Harvest will send laborers into the harvest field.”

If Jesus himself said that laborers are few, why do we as his body continue to limit women in their working the fields of God’s calling?

And what is our response as women to those who place limitations in the ministry? The story of the daughters of Zelophehad is an amazing one – it is one of boldness and prayer. We too can respond through going to the Lord for the injustices we see and walking with integrity in front of others, including our accusers. With God’s help, culture can change and we can work together to bring in an inheritance of souls.

by Debbie Fulthorp

Photo on 1-31-13 at 10.47 AM

[2]http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/920169/jewish/Chapter-Seven.htm (some have also translated ‘slave’ into ‘dog’, and non-Jew would’ve been transliterated “Goyim” or another word for Gentile)

[3] John Oakes, “What Life was Like for Women of the Old Testament,”Evidence for Christianity, 2011,http://www.evidenceforchristianity.org/what-was-life-like-for-the-women-of-the-old-testamentr/ (accessed January 17, 2013).

[4] All Scripture unless otherwise noted is the updated 2011 NIV.

Book Review: Christ and the Desert Tabernacle

It’s with thanks to Shaun Tabatt owner of Cross Focused Media, LLC, which serves the Christian publishing community providing social media and literary publicity services, such as book reviews and blog tours, for the opportunity to review J.V. Fesko’s Christ and the Desert Tabernacle (EP Books, 2012) .

Christ-and-the-desert-tabernacleI admit it.  I like reading and seeing the Scriptures from the perspective of redemptive history.  I do.  I know there are those who do not and feel it violates the purpose and intention of the Old Testament writers and that it is in the realm of theology and not bilical studies.  They feel the Old Testament needs to be left to speak for itself and on its own terms.  I understand why folks feel this way.

But (there is always a “but” in there somewhere right?) in light of the life of Christ, I think it is near impossible not to do that.  For even the New Testament authors themselves at times utilized a redemptive historical approach in interpreting the person and work of Jesus Christ.  You could say they may have even done a tinsy winsy bit scripture twisting to get their interpretations across.  The simple fact of the matter is, once Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, everything anyone in that time knew or understood about the Hebrew Scriptures, changed.  I just don’t see a way around it.

In light of this, in reading Fesko’s Christ and the Desert Tabernacle we are able to see the meaning of nearly every aspect of the Tabernacle in the light of Christ, that in fact, each piece is a shadow in some way of the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Fesko does not use the term “redemptive historical” or say that that is the approach he is using but really it is.  In this book he hopes

to be able to show readers, young and old alike, that far from being boring or uninteresting, the Old Testament tabernacle, and later the Temple in Solomon’s day, is a shadowy picture of Christ and the church…. the Old Testament tabernacle is literally an entire world of references, allusions, and foreshadows of Christ and the church.  One not need go very far to uncover the connections between Jesus and the Old Testament tabernacle  – the New Testament reveals them to us (12).

From the first chapter on building materials, to the ark of the covenant, to the bread of presence and the lampstand and oil, to the priestly garments and consecration of the priests, to the altar of incense you will see and learn, and hopefully be ministered to by the ministry of the work of Christ.

We see the Letter to the Hebrews (written by Paul right Dr Dave?  😉 ) chapters 8-9, the ministry of Christ in the true tabernacle made by God, everything we see in the Old Testement account of the Tabernacle (Exodus 25-31).  The Old Testament Tabernacle was a shadow of the things to come, a type of the heavenly temple.

Hebrews 8:8

Now the main point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent[a] that the Lord, and not any mortal, has set up. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They offer worship in a sanctuary that is a sketch and shadow of the heavenly one; for Moses, when he was about to erect the tent,[b] was warned, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” 

Hebrews 9:

11 But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come,[h] then through the greater and perfect[i] tent[j] (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), 12 he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

So, there is good biblical support for looking at things from a point of view of redemptive history and I think Fesko did well with is book and I think it would be a good resource for when preaching through the book of Exodus or on the Tabernacle.

Good book!  Get it.  Read it.  Digest it!  🙂

Blessings,

on John 1:14

I was looking at John 1:14 the other day:

Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαναὐτοῦ,

δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (NIV)

I know this is the central point of the passage, the center line in the chaiastic structure of the passage as it well should be.  It also forms an inclusio with Jn 1:1.  We also refer to this verse when speaking of the Incarnation.

I noticed three things about this verse in relation to the Incarnation that I thought were interesting.  I call them “elements of the Incarnation.”

First I noticed  ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο.  The Word became flesh.  God became one of us.  This is significant because there were those in the highly pluralistic audience whom John was writing to who had issues with the flesh and notions of divine incarnation.  There were those who saw all matter, especially bodies as evil and too limiting for divinity to take on.  They believed the spirit was good and matter was evil so how could God become man?  Why would he do that?  John is siding with his Jewish roots and taking a highly affirmative view of both humanity and the human body.  Because Genesis 1 tells us God saw all the he made (including man and woman) and called it good.  The human body, though effected by sin, is good.  Human bodies, however limiting, are are good things and Jesus becoming human, taking on human flesh, fully embodying himself in the world and walking among us, is a very strong affirmation of this truth.

The second thing I noticed was ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαναὐτοῦ.  We have seen his glory.  In Exodus 33: 18 Moses says to YHWH, “Now show me your glory.”  Then YHWH went on to show him his glory in a limited way since he said in the next verse (19) “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”   Whereas in the past one was only able to “see”  God’s glory in the form of the cloud (hence, the shekinah glory), now we see it in it fully in the person of Jesus Christ.  Glory in the Bible includes notions of beauty, splendor, magnificence, radiance, and rapture (Dict of Biblical Imagery).  In other words, it. is. ah-ma-zing!!  It is a quality primarily attributed to God and places of his presence including places of worship and heaven. The glory of the God is an image of his greatness and transcendence.  It is seen in things like the might waterfall verse the small stream; the Sun or the Moon; it is seen in the thunder and lightning verse the rain.  The glory of the Lord is awesome.

Jesus Christ is the glory of God come down in all its fullness – and that in bodily form, a human body.  This is the awesomeness of the incarnation and a huge affirmation of σὰρξ as part of God’s creation.  Glory was associated with Jesus’ birth in Luke 1:14.  He is the Lord of glory (1 Cor 2:8) and the glory of God is seen in the face of Christ (2 Cor 4:6).

Finally, there is πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας.  Full of grace and truth.  John says later in this passage that “we have all received grace in place of grace already given.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (TNIV) Jesus Christ is full of grace and truth.  He is the way the truth and the life (Jn 14:6).  Romans 3:24 tells us we are all justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came [through] Jesus Christ.  It is through grace and truth we are saved.  Jesus is the fullness of God’s grace and truth.  I think too it is fair to say the incarnation was an incredibly gracious act on the part of Jesus.  He left the glories if heaven and came down to become one of us – he knew it was the only way.  He is full of grace too.  He came not to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through him (Jn 3:17).  Though he has the right to judge he has graciously withheld his judgement that we may come into the light of truth, that he is.  He is full of grace and truth.

So those were some “elements of the incarnation” I saw in that verse I think it is pretty cool really.  Powerful too if you think about it.  And I think too it is something we are called to emulate in our discipleship to Jesus.  We too are to take on an incarnational approach to our relationships with other and as an expression of the People of God in this world.  As we go about our lives and as we go about pursuing God’s salvation to the ends of the earth, we are to be incarnational, living in with and among this world, though not of it, we are to live in it, full of grace and truth.