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And the Word Was Made Flesh

by Rev. W. Cairns Henderson

Two inspired Gospels, and only two, record the story of the Lord's birth. However, a philosophical statement of the Incarnation is found in the doctrine of the Word made flesh with which John's Gospel begins. The Lord from eternity was Jehovah, in a human form, but not yet in the flesh; for an angel has not flesh, and it was by means of an angel that He then appeared; and as Jehovah willed to put on the entire Human, He assumed the flesh. Thus the simple but profound statement made by John records the fulfillment in time of the Lord's will to become Man in ultimates - to take on His own proper Human; and it is the basis of our belief that the Lord Jesus Christ who was born in Bethlehem was Jehovah incarnate: the Word that was in the beginning with God, and was God.

Yet we are taught that the full meaning of scripture is not found in the letter alone. In the internal sense, "flesh" does not mean the material body, but the sensuous which is the ultimate of the natural; and in this instance the reference is not to the material body which the Lord assumed from Mary but to the Human which He put on from the Divine itself. When the Lord was born, the Word was indeed made flesh externally in His infant body; but this was not the complete fulfillment of that scripture, and the Word was not made flesh internally until the Lord had made the Human in Himself Divine down to the sensuous and had thus become the Word in ultimates. In other words, John's inspired statement is an announcement not only of the Incarnation but also of the Lord's glorification; and its fulfillment was marked by His saying, after His resurrection, "A spirit hath not flesh . . . as ye see Me have."

This extended view takes nothing away from John's words as a profound statement of the Incarnation. Rather does it carry our thought forward to the glorification, for the sake of which, as the means of salvation, the Lord came. For by "flesh" in reference to the Lord is signified also His Divine proprium - the Divine good of the Divine love proceeding from the Divine Human; and from that flesh, the teaching is, all flesh is vivified by the appropriation of His love, which appropriation is signified by "eating the flesh of the Son of Man." This appropriation is effected by the life of love and charity, which is also the life of faith. It is represented and actually takes place in the Holy Supper according to the presence of that life; and that it can take place, to effect conjunction, is because the Word was made flesh.

-(Editorial) New Church Life 1966;86:606-607

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Word Was Made Flesh

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