The Word Became Flesh

–December of 2002

The Word Became Flesh

At the close of the First World War, Prince Edward of Britain visited a hospital that was caring for thirty-six of Britain’s greatest war heroes.  The Prince was taken first to a ward of twenty-four men.  Before leaving, he asked, “Are there are no others?”  The nurse responded in the affirmative, but she has questioned whether or not the Prince wanted to see those who were more seriously wounded.  Demanding to see them all, he was taken to another room of eleven men.  The Prince was stunned at the awful condition of these noble defenders of the Crown.  He was moved to tears as he offered each man his deepest appreciation for his noble service.

Again upon leaving the room, the Prince remarked that if he had counted right, there was still one more.  The nurse remonstrated rather strongly about seeing the last one since that veteran was in isolation and his condition was so critical.  The Prince demanded a visit.  The nurse protested that the situation of the man mighty truly be unbearable to the royal visitor.  Edward would not be dissuaded and was soon standing by the bedside of the dying hero.  He was not prepared, however, for what he saw.  The brave soldier had taken the worst of a fiery explosion.  Much of his body had been either blown or burned away.  His face was disfigured beyond recognition.  The stench of death lay heavy in the room.  The Prince shuddered as a wave of horror swept over his soul from what he saw.  After a moment to regain himself, the Prince leaned over the bed, and calling the soldier’s name, told him who he was.  The old warrior’s eyes twitched, and the stub of an arm on the right side of his body jumped in an effort to salute.  Prince Edward stooped down and in the most tender tones poured out the deepest thanks on behalf of his country.  Then stooping lower, he kissed the disfigured brow of the dying solder.  This was a condescending moment for the noble Prince of the English throne.

There is One who has stooped far lower to plant the kiss of redemption upon the wretched brow of lost humanity.  No human story, however noble, compares with our Savior’s condescension.  The King of Glory came down!  The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.  The Lord of eternal glory and splendor wrapped Himself in the fading garment of our humanity and pitched his fleshly tent on a bed of straw, in a lowly stable, under a brilliant star.

Why did he come?  He came to save!  How would he save?  By identifying completely with our humanity, yet remaining the sinless Son of God.  By taking our sin upon Himself and dying—the just for the unjust.

Why become flesh?  God had created man but he had never been a man.  He had watched men toil, but He had never blistered his own hands with a carpenter’s tool.  He had never felt the onslaught of the tempter, or had his soul pierced with the sorrows of life.  He had seen men sink into the hopeless depths of the grave, but He had never felt the cold grip of death or spread His omnipotent shoulders on the bottom of a sepulcher.  Only through His incarnation could he take our place and be crucified.  Only through assuming a human body could he suffer the sting of death, break the bars of the grave and make it possible for us all to shout, “O death where is thy sting?  O grave where is thy victory?”

Why did Christ come down in human flesh?  He came down that His mysterious incarnation might reunite us to God; that His atoning death might purchase our justification and become the spring of our eternal life; that His resurrection would be the pledge of our glory, and His ascension the triumph of our souls!

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