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 "And the Word Was Made Flesh"

by Rev. W. Cairns Henderson

No account of the Lord's birth is given in the Gospel of John. Instead the Gospel begins with a philosophical statement of the Incarnation - the doctrine of the Word made flesh. 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. As Jehovah willed to put on the entire Human, He assumed the flesh. So the simple yet 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, and became flesh to dwell among us.

Yet we are taught that the full meaning of scripture is not found in the letter but in the internal sense, and in that sense "flesh" does not mean the material body, but the sensuous which is the ultimate of the natural degree of the mind. 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 glorified His Human all the way down to the sensuous and had thus become the Word in ultimates. In other words, John's inspired statement does not speak only of the Incarnation. It is also an announcement of the Lord's glorification; and as such its fulfillment was marked by His saying, after His resurrection, "A spirit hath not flesh . . . as ye see Me have."

This longer view of their meaning does not take anything away from John's words as a profound statement of the Incarnation. Rather does it lead our thought forward to the Lord's glorification, for the sake of which, as the means of salvation, He came into the world. 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 who love the Lord are vivified by the appropriation of His love, which appropriation is signified by "eating the flesh of the Son of Man." This spiritual 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 with the Lord, is because the Word was made flesh. Let us approach the festival Communion with this idea in mind.

New Church Life 1971;91:572

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Word Was Made Flesh

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