In the War on Terror, the U.S. Navy SEALs have been utilized in many covert operations. In one of these operations, the SEALs, flown in by helicopter, stormed the room where American hostages were being held captive, finding the hostages terrified, curled up in a corner. When they beckoned the hostages to leave, none would budge. Then one of the SEALs put down his weapon, took off his helmet, and curled up tightly next to the other hostages, getting so close his body was touching some of theirs. He softened the look on his face and put his arms around them. Eventually every hostage was willing to follow him to freedom.
In order to be liberated, the prisoners needed to believe that each of their liberators was "one of them." John says that when the true light came into the world, the world did not recognize Him. To become one of us, to win our trust, He chose to live among us. When John announces, "The Word became flesh," the verb for became indicates that the One who was the Word already existed and transitioned to take on human flesh. This was no in-and-out rescue operation. Rather, dipping down from heaven to be like us, He made His home among us. As "one of us," Jesus experienced all that we experience. He attended parties with sinners and saints. He laughed with His friends and He wept with them. And in the end, He faced physical death just as every one of us will. Because He knows exactly what our lives are like, we’re able to trust Him.
The rest of John’s Gospel describes the details of Jesus’ encounters among us. Sidled up beside us, He proves himself worthy of trust. Those who stand to follow Him experience liberation from sin and death. Thanks be to God!
Apply the Word
Just as Jesus came near to know what our lives are like, He invites us to draw near to others in His name. This week, consider one person who is held hostage by the powers of sin and death. Purpose to enter into that one's life, meeting his or her eyes and proving yourself to be worthy of trust.