14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
14 Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας·
The eternal, pre-existing Word (logos) — fully divine — is made flesh — fully human — and dwelt among us. He lived, taught, healed, confronted, confounded, and even wept in our midst as one of us. He was betrayed, went through an unjust trial, was beaten, whipped, bled, suffered, hung on a cross, was abandoned by all, and died a real death. On the third day, he rose from the dead, victor over sin and death, the first to be raised with a renewed body, and the harbinger of the renewal of all creation (Rev. 21:1).
This is our ancient credal belief.
And in it is something truly radical.
A Hindu wishes, through a progression of reincarnations, to eventually escape samsara: the world of matter, stuff, mundane existence, or the earth. A Buddhist also wishes, through the following of the dharma, to escape samsara: this place of suffering, stuff, desires, and death, and reach Nirvana, the extinguishment of suffering and passion. Even many Christians believe our souls will leave our bodies to dwell in Heaven.
An American secularist is committed to material wellbeing. Death is the final enemy because it robs one of the good life. Once dead, there is nothing else.
But none of these is biblical. What is biblical is truly different.
The Jews at Jesus’ time, and the teaching of the New Testament, is that the Messiah ushers in a new age and a new earth. Former things have passed away, behold, everything is made new. The Final Restoration is not a dismissing of the crude stuff life is made out of; rather, it is the redemption and renewal of the earth and everything in it! We don’t escape it; we embrace it!
By infusing human life with Divinity, Jesus is the first of those to have a new body. But not just the body is renewed; all stuff created at the beginning is made new.
Stuff is redeemed!
So, we do not escape our bodies; our bodies are redeemed and renewed. Think Jesus’ resurrected body!
Why is this so important?
It means we care about the body. Christians, more than any other people ever have built hospitals, clinics, and healing institutions because we care about the physical life of others. It means we care about the earth: we want to preserve and protect it because we are part of it, and will be renewed with it. It means the stuff of creation matters and is not something easily dismissed or thought of as disposable, but it is the handiwork of God and in the process of being made new with us all.
Seriously…this sort of thing has prompted me to clean up my backyard. Seem trivial? Well, it starts there!