“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
I never liked flesh, especially mine. It’s not just the saddlebags that are beginning to hang so elegantly off my hips (and to a lesser degree, my jaws). It’s the whole messiness of the deal from beginning to end.
For a long time I tried to abandon my flesh, my humanity, in a quest for purity and holiness. Boy, that was an extended exercise in futility and frustration. Then I realized that I wasn’t too keen on other people’s flesh either. What a revelation: a pastor that didn’t like people! The whole humanity thing just seemed like the pits.
But then, yesterday, the Lord took the scales off my eyes (the ones I used to measure myself and others by) and showed me how very glorious flesh was: that He Himself took on flesh and lived among us. It wasn’t an exercise in futility and condemnation; instead, He showed us the fullness of Himself – the fullness of His glory, grace and truth – in the flesh.
And as if that’s not enough, to the complete bewilderment (and disgust) of those standing by, Jesus said,
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:51
And when Jesus rose from the dead, initially the disciples thought He was a ghost. In reply to their confusion and unbelief, Jesus said:
“Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at My hands and My feet. It is I myself! Touch Me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” Luke 24:38-39
And in the opening stanzas of Revelation we read:
“… Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood…” Revelation 1:5
Holy, holy, holey flesh.
The firstborn from the dead who used His flesh and blood to free us from sin and death and who retained His (glorified) flesh – even the puncture wounds!
Perhaps I’ve had this all wrong? Perhaps there’s more to this flesh thing than I think?
Then what about Paul’s letter to the Galatians?
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24
Yes, crucifixion is necessary if our flesh is to experience resurrection. But Paul didn’t direct us to throw away our flesh, only to make sure it’s dead so that it can live to be the temple of the Living God.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Honor God with our bodies, with our flesh and bones and the crazy messiness of our not-so-common humanity. After all, we have been made in the image of God.
We can take what He’s given us as a gift – our messy, sinful, fleshy life – and offer it back Him: “Here, thanks, kill it off. Breathe Your Spirit. Give it new life.” Then we can receive the gift of resurrected flesh – His real and living presence with us and in us.
God in the flesh.
After all, we are the Body of Christ.