Jack Graham - God in the Dirt
Today in John chapter 1 as our primary text, we're going to meet "God in the Dirt". A bit of an unusual title I would say. "God in the Dirt". But you're going to see why in this passage of Scripture. You know, there was a group of Greeks that came to Israel to the time of Christ, and they went up to one of the disciples of Jesus whose name is Philip and said, "Sirs, we would see Jesus". We want to meet Jesus. That's the goal of this message series. We want to help you to meet and know Jesus. More about Jesus, the beauty of Jesus, the grace of Jesus, the glory of Jesus, the power of Jesus, the salvation of Jesus, the coming of Jesus, the cross of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus. This is Jesus and He is God in the dirt.
John chapter 1, verse 14: "And the Word became flesh". This is a part of the prologue of the Gospel of John because it is in the four Gospels that we get the initial primary focus on Jesus, of course. And John is focusing at the outset on Christ who is the Word of God. And that Word is reflected and, "became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth". "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men".
In this prologue of the Gospel of John, this beginning of this story of Jesus through John, we meet the living Word of God. The Word... what is the Word? The Word is a reflection of an idea; it's the communication of a message. The Word is the articulation, and in the sense of Jesus, Jesus articulates God. He is God's vocabulary; He is God's version on earth and, therefore, we have in Jesus the Word made flesh, the Word made alive! We call this a theological term, the incarnation. We celebrate it at Christmas, but we celebrate it all of our lives knowing Christ, because we know that God now is one of us. His name is Immanuel, God with us.
So "the Word was made flesh". Carne, The infinite, eternal God is now touchable; He is knowable, He is understandable; He made His home among us. Therefore, Jesus is the incarnate Son of God and Son of Man; one with us. Jesus often called Himself the Son of Man, a favored title that He took for His own. He is a full-fledged human being and that is going to be our focus in this message. God in the dirt. The humanness of Jesus! And the reality that God stepped into history. That deity intersects with humanity. And this was not a masquerade man, but a real man. And we get a clear picture of what He looks like in these four Gospels. That God exists, that He revealed Himself in Christ and God has intervened in our lives, and that He stepped into human history.
God in the dirt personally, physically, and, yes, permanently in Jesus Christ. God entered our world in a supernatural way and lived among us in a human way, so that broken men and women like you and me can know God, can know Him forever. And because of this, sin was destroyed and Satan was disarmed and death was destroyed and life begins, because "In Him was life, and that life was the light of men". To be a Christian is to believe in both the deity of Christ and the humanity of Christ. Let me say that again: if you are a Christian, you believe in the deity of Jesus and in the humanity of Jesus as well! He is God made Man. He became Man. Not man who became god; that's impossible; that's New Age Mysticism, and it never happens!
God was made Man; it wasn't a man who became god. Nor was He half man and half god! That would be a freak of nature. Not half god and half man, but perfect God and perfect Man! The Man/God! Someone put it this way: He became what we are that we might be made what He is. His divinity intersects our humanity. To deny the deity of Jesus is heresy! It is also heresy to deny the humanity of Jesus! As a matter of fact, among the first heresies of the church in the early centuries of the Christian faith was Gnosticism which was a heresy of denying the true humanity, the flesh and blood of Jesus.
Through the years we've had ideas about who Jesus is and what He looked like. The most recent presentation of Jesus is seen in The Chosen. And our family, we've been watching The Chosen, both seasons, and the third season is coming up. And The Chosen, I believe, is a very powerful and persuasive image of who Jesus is. And I thought I could just show you a photograph of The Chosen Jesus or I could bring you a clip. So I brought you a very powerful clip just to give you a taste of it, and this is Jesus speaking to the man who had being lying for 38 years at the Pool of Bethesda. It's a very powerful moment and you see Jesus who says, "Look at Me". Watch.
Crippled Man: The others step down in front of me! You saw!
Jesus: Look at me. That's not what I asked. I'm not asking about who's helping you or who's not helping, or who's getting in your way. I'm asking about you.
Crippled man: I try.
Jesus: For a long time, I know. And you don't want false hope again. I understand. But this pool, it has nothing for you. It means nothing, and you know it. But you're still here. Why?
Crippled man: I don't know.
Jesus: You don't need this pool; you only need Me. So, do you want to be healed? So let's go.
Jack Graham: Woo! That gives me God bumps! And Jesus said, "Look at Me". So what does that mean for us? "Look at me". "Looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith". And if we're to look at Jesus, just how human is He? Just how human is Jesus? When you look at our Lord through the lens of Scripture, He was as an adult in His early thirties. A Jewish man with a dark complexion, no doubt. He's a common Jewish man. Dark hair. We don't know that He had a beard but most Jewish men in that era wore a short-cropped beard, not a long beard. He was most likely a man with short-cropped hair as well. I know we've seen the long flowing hair of Jesus in our minds, but most Jewish males of that era cut their hair cut rather short except those who had taken a Nazarite vow like John the Baptist.
So we don't know, of course, whether He had a beard or didn't have a beard; He probably did. Dark complected, dark eyes. He was a Jewish Semitic man. If He was common, as we believe He was common to others in His same time period, as a Jewish male, He would have been about, now are you ready for this? 5-foot 1 inch and 110 pounds. So Jesus was not giant Jesus; He was probably smallish, and because He was a carpenter, in effect a contractor or a construction worker who lived outdoors and worked outdoors. He would have had a weathered face and a winsome face because we know that He was kind and gentle and humble. But there was nothing about His physical appearance that would have taken you in. Isaiah in speaking of the coming of the Messiah, said of Him, he said, "He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we desire Him".
I'm pointing out to you that if you saw Him physically, there was not anything special about Him physically, certainly not supernatural if you just looked at Him. But here's what we do know through the lens of Scripture. We're capturing Jesus in the lens of Scripture. He was born of a woman. He had a human body, a real human body; He was not a phantom or a ghost. He had flesh (carne), organs and bones. He grew up as a baby, then a toddler, then a teenager. Imagine that. He had a family, lived with His family. He grew up in a small town, a very small town, Nazareth. About 4-500 people lived in Nazareth when Jesus grew up there. He obeyed His parents.
That we know from Scripture. He worshiped God in the synagogue, at the temple and He prayed. He was a common laborer. He got hungry; therefore, He ate. He grew tired and weary, even exhausted at times, and therefore, He slept. He was thirsty and so He drank. He even asked people questions. I mean, He knew the answer because He knew what was in the heart of all, but in His humanity, in His humility, He asked for information. He asked for help when He said to the woman at Samaria, "Would you give Me a drink"? He was at times stressed, troubled. In the Garden of Gethsemane before Golgotha, there was Gethsemane and He was sweating blood.
So stressed that the small capillaries of His skin burst and oozing out of His skin was blood. He was stressed to the nth degree. And yet while stressed and sometimes He was angry, yet He never sinned. He was the kind of man that overthrew the moneychangers in the temple when He saw injustice, when He saw people in pain and misuse and abuse, He said something, He did something! Yes, He was gentle Jesus meek and mild, but He was also when needed angry at sin and forceful with His message and taking things into His own hands. He was loving and compassionate, and yet, He was willing to confront evil and wrong when He saw it. He made friends and hung out with His friends, both female and male friends. He traveled with them.
But here's what the world wants to do with Jesus. Jesus, they want Jesus. Because they don't believe in God, they don't believe Jesus was anything special. "So he, you know, he had a house, a mortgage; he had a wife, he had kids. He was just like us in this way". No! The Scripture never says that Jesus had a wife, though He had wonderful friends. Jesus loved children, He loved children. Little children would crawl up in His lap and He would speak to them tenderly. I always, as a little boy, related to those little kids who loved Jesus. He celebrated holidays, religious feasts and festivals of the Jewish faith and tradition, and Jesus entered in a... Oh, yes! And He entered, and He went to parties! And weddings!
A lot of people see Jesus as, you know, because they see pictures of Jesus that they think that's Jesus, it's boring. Or maybe they went to church and church as boring so Jesus must be boring! But Jesus was not humorless in His humanity. He was joyful Jesus! Jesus with a smile. I can imagine it; can't you? Even in His preaching and teaching when He told some of those parables and antidotes, it was humorous to a first century audience. You may not get the joke, but there were jokes in there. And we'll get to that when we talk about the teachings of Jesus. But Jesus said, "My joy I give to you". What joy you talking about? Jesus joy! The joy that He knew.
So Jesus was joyous Jesus. Oh yes, He was a Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. We're going to talk about that in just a second. But in His sorrow, there was great joy. "For the joy set before Him He endured the cross and even despised the shame". Yes, Jesus celebrated life! He went to parties. And, you know, you don't invite a buzzkill to your parties. People enjoyed being around Jesus. Tax collectors and sinners. Just people, common people couldn't wait to hear Him; stayed all day to listen to Him preach and teach.
And one last thing: I could say much more, but one last thing about Jesus, He loved His mom. That's good, isn't it? Say Amen! He loved His mom. Took care of her to the last breath on the cross. Yes, Jesus was real. Real blood, His blood ran red. Human DNA, authentic. Not a masquerading man, but a real Man. God in every way and Man in every way. And that's why as He diminished His dignity by coming to earth but He never gave up His deity. He emptied Himself, took on the form of a man. This is Philippians chapter 2, and became in the form of man, the physicality of a man, and because He became a servant in this humanity, He's now exalted and He is King of kings and Lord of lords, "That at the name of Jesus every knee would bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord".
So Jesus was a man; He suffered as a man. There was pain in His life. There was struggle, human struggle. He lived in a world of death. The Roman world, every thing around them, people were dying. The average life expectancy for the first century Roman world was 21 years of age. Can you imagine? Jesus saw the death and the brokenness and the tears and the hurt, and He Himself suffered. He was tested and tried, the Scripture says, in all points, such as we are tested and tried. God got down in the dirt, didn't He? He washed dirty feet. When a woman was accosted because of her adultery, He got down and wrote in the dirt. What, we don't know exactly. What a picture of God down in the dirt! For the sins of a woman and a man.
That's what His humanity is. He stooped down, the divine Servant, the Son of Man, the Savior of the world, God in flesh, God in the dirt! He got on the ground for us. And this is such an incredible encouragement to us because we do live in a broken world, in a sinful, wicked, depraved, defiled, sin-sick world and culture. We live here. We live here now! But God in Christ stepped into this world for us to show us His humanity, to show us that He understands us, that He knows us! Now He didn't have to come to earth to understand us, right? I mean, He could have understood us from heaven. He did understand us from heaven! But He came to earth to show us so we would know that He cared about us, that God cared about us, that God understood us.
So we don't have a high priest that is not acquainted, does not know our hurts, our pains, our heartache, our heartbreaks, our tears, our fears! He picks us up. He stoops to pick us up. When I was a child, I had, when I was three years of age. My brother was 13 years my senior, my big brother. He was a great big brother. So he would have been 16. I was 3 years old when it happened. We were picking him up for lunch at school and going to lunch and then taking him back. I'm sure of those details but I was in the backseat of the car in my car. And my mother had made me a sandwich of some kind. And so I was willing to eat the sandwich; what I was not willing to do was to eat the crust around the bread.
Now remember, I'm 3 years old. I'm already a sinner in my little wicked heart. And I'm about to lie to my mother because what I did in the backseat, I just peeled the crust off as I often did. And I would get reprimanded and I did it, and then forced to eat the crust by itself. That was not pleasant. But I took off the crust around the thing, and now balled it up in my hand. So I'm sitting there in the backseat with my sandwich and the crust in this hand. I'm going, "Now what am I going to do with this? She's going to catch me. She's going to know what I did". Now, I'm a liar and a deceiver at this point. So I said, "I know what I'll do. She's driving the car. My brother's in the front seat. I know what I'll do". I said, "I'll roll down the window quietly and I'll throw the crust out the window".
Now I'm not only a liar and a deceiver, I'm a litterer! So I reach over to roll down the window, looking at her. And unfortunately, instead of the window, I told hold of the car door, I opened the car door and guess what happened? I went flying out! It wasn't that funny! I went flying out, landed on my head, forty miles an hour! My dad always said, it's a good thing I landed on my head, I was always so hardheaded and stubborn. I landed on my head. I'm lying in the street, bleeding. I'm still conscious, I think.
But what I remember is my brother getting out of the car and running to me, my big brother running to me. He had a plaid orange and yellow shirt and blue, I can still remember. Beautiful shirt. He picks me up and now he's got blood all over his beautiful shirt. I'm bloody, he's bloody. Takes me back to the car. I'm trying not to cry. And my big brother holding me and my mother. And we go to the hospital. I've still got some scars from that experience. I clearly survived the experience. But I've always thought of that story and of someone else who's our Elder Brother, the Lord Jesus. When we fell and were broken and wounded; left for dead, our big brother the Lord Jesus Christ, He came down of heaven, He got down on earth, He picked us up. He mingled His blood with our blood and carried us to healing and hope.
That's why God dwelt among us. And don't think for one skinny minute that when Jesus ascended, after His resurrection, when He ascended into heaven that He left His humanity behind here on earth. Not at all. He is still our Man in heaven. He's our Elder Brother. "There is one mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus". And God, in Christ, in His humanity is standing with us, still to this very day, interceding for us and picking us up. We have a Man in heaven! We have a Savior in heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ, our God and our King. Yes, yes, He is!