F. O. Mullender, Lowestoft
In the birth of our Lord, there was divine intervention in human affairs; in the Gospel by Matthew the Spirit of God points out the exercises of Joseph, while in the Gospel by Luke we find those of Mary. But in John's account it is more the presentation of His incarnation in the profound and brief statement, "the Word was made flesh". In this connection false and antichristian teachings are abroad; on the one side is the Spirit of truth while on the other the spirit of error. Thus John wrote, "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God",, i John 4. 2. To say, as some assert, that He came a mortal man is not truth, since our Lord was not liable to death; rather He was capable and free to deal with it and with its cause, namely sin.
Later, we read that He "came by water and blood", that is by way of His death, 5. 6. The water refers to cleansing from sin's defilement, but the blood to cleansing from its guilt. In John 19. 34 the blood is mentioned first - this is God's viewpoint, namely expiation Godward, "when I see the blood", Exod. 12. 13. But John's Epistle places the experimental aspect first, and this answers to the Red Sea, where Moses said, "ye shall see them again no more for ever", 14.13.
Further, in 1 John 5. 20, the statement "the Son of God is come . . . and we are in him" is true as knowing Him as risen. "This is the true God", for in Him is the "Yea", and the "eternal life", and in Him is "Amen, unto the glory of God by us", 2 Cor. 1. 20.
Further, in 2 John 7, we read, "many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh". Here, following the Lord's Name and Title, are three Greek words which simply mean "coming in flesh". The verb is a present participle, and some suggest that this really refers to the return of "this same Jesus". This does not mean His coming in spirit as some erroneously affirm, for the Christian faith does not find its centre in a shadowy elusive spirit, but in the Man in glory; "when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is", 1 John 3. 2.
Let us finally think what it meant to our blessed Lord to bring God in grace so near to men in His lowly and loving service. He was handled lawlessly when "by wicked hands" He was taken "crucified and slain", Acts 2. 24. In His resurrection, He was probably handled faithlessly and fearfully when He said, "handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have", Luke 24. 39. But John in his Epistle suggests that He was handled adoringly, "our hands have handled, of the Word of life", 1 John 1. 1. Truly, He causes those who love Him to "inherit substance", Prov. 8. 21.