Incarnation – Adding Nonverbals to the Conversation

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As was mentioned in a previous post, much of communication is done non-verbally. One of the difficulties of the Law in the Old Testament was that transformation is much more easily done through face-to-face interaction than through a series of written rules, regulations, and requirements. When the Law was first given it was done face-to-face. But with a gap of 1300 years since the law was given at Sinai, there had been quite a few people who had the law communicated to them as text. When Jesus came, he put flesh back on the words. He put flesh on the text. He added skin and bones to the law and lived it out perfectly before our eyes. Every “t” was crossed and every “i” was dotted to result in the perfect, sinless life lived only by one man in all of history (Rom 8:1-4 & John 8:29). Just as at Sinai, the Word again came through vocalization rather than parchment and pen. More on that in a bit…

Through the incarnation of Christ the Word/text now had a face. The Word/text now had actions (restorative and regenerative one at that!). The Word/text was living and breathing. And only when the text is living and breathing and walking among us can the text offer new and authoritative additions to what the text had already offered mankind. That is what many Jesus different than the Rabbis. The Rabbis read and interpreted the text. Jesus was the text. The Rabbis couldn’t offer anything but interpretations of what was there. Jesus could not only interpret text past, he could offer text present because he was Word in the flesh (Mark 1:27). He added nonverbals to the written Word.

We could turn to passages like John 1:1, 14 to make the point. There John tells us that the Word has always been. On several occasions Jesus made reference to his eternal nature. We see this in his use of the phrase “I am” (which is the exact same phrase from the Greek old testament found in Exodus 3:14). Not only is Jesus eternal but John tells us that he “became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” As you have probably heard before the word “dwelling” is the word that means “tabernacle.” A tabernacle is a dwelling and in scripture it is the place where God’s presence is among his people.

So the eternal Lord came, put on flesh, and lived among us…the very presence of God in our midst. And in doing so he added nonverbals to the conversation. He was with us face-to-face. There is no mistaking what he came to do and what he had to say. When you send a letter or an email it can be read in a variety of ways and you hope you are heard correctly. It is hard to convey tone in text. The same email or even blog comment can be read as angry or joking. But if you know the person you probably know which one it is. But if that person is standing in front of you and says those things, chances are you know exactly what they are saying because over 80% of communication is nonverbal. When Jesus came in the flesh his message was unmistakable. What is more amazing is that he didn’t come as a messenger of the will of God and then ascend back to heaven after he made the message clear. His communication strategy was for a variety of learning styles…he acted out the message as well. Not because that is an effective communication strategy but because without the cross and the resurrection…no amount of teaching and interpreting of the text, no matter how clearly presented could suffice.

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