(16th century Geneva)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.
12/25- John 1:14- Calvin’s Citizenship on Christmas Day!
14 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.
Calvin abridged: When he was clothed in the flesh, he showed himself openly to the world. This is an unutterable mystery. The word denotes a real being or subsistence in the essence of God. He uses the word “flesh” instead of “human” to show what a mean, despicable condition the Son of God descended into for our account. The two natures of Christ were so united in his person – that Christ is one and the same true God and true man. The unity of this person does not hinder the two natures from remaining distinct so that his Divinity retains all that is peculiar to itself, and his humanity hold whatever belongs to it. When it says the word was made flesh it makes it clear that it is impossible that he who is now a man could be any other than he who was always the true God, since it says that God was “made” man. But Christ, who was the word, did not cease to be who he formerly was. “we beheld his glory” Christ was known to be human in such a manner that he exhibited in his Person something far more noble and excellent. He calls him “the only begotten” (TNIV “one and only”) because he is the ony Son of God by nature, placing him above all people and angels, and all creation. “Full of grace” He could have chosen another quality of his majesty, but it is by grace that we obtain an advantage for our faith- and Christ is the inexhaustible fountain of grace. This “grace and truth comes from Jesus Christ” is repeated later in contrast with the law. So here the meaning is that the apostles acknowledged Christ to be the Son of God, because he had in himself the fulfillment of the spiritual kingdom. He is the Redeemer and Messiah. (Calvin’s Commentaries abridged).
Thoughts: John Calvin was a refugee for many years in Germany, Italy, and Switzerland since 11/1/1533. He spent much of his time as an exile in Geneva. The people of Geneva even kicked him out once. But on Christmas day in 1559, toward the end of his life, he became a citizen of Geneva. What a meaningful thing! Jesus became a citizen of this earth on Christmas day- becoming one of us. Calvin finally became one with the people of Geneva, that he had served for so many years. Calvin imitates Christ by coming, sacrificing, being persecuted, yet continuing to love his people. While our ultimate citizenship is in heaven and here we will always be strangers and pilgrims, it is also true that Christ came to our earthly home because he cares about our earthly lives. Christ is our greatest Christmas present. In imitation of this the people of Geneva gave a present to Calvin. In this day of overindulgence (even in a recession), and some having to cut back- it is important to remember that this world is not our home- we are true citizens of heaven. Yet, it is also a gift of God when we are loved by other human beings and welcomed in. When so many are gathered in families this Christmas, let us love them as Christ loved us- not only coming to them, but serving them in love, turning the other cheek when we are criticized, and seeking to build them up. Merry Christmas!