John 1:1-4; 14 (Modern King James Version)
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
We were on a family vacation, myself, my wife Hope, and Danny, our thirteen-year-old grandson. We tented for eight days – for the first time in forty years! My wife and I, both in our 70’s, hadn’t been tent camping since we were in our thirties! And I am not planning to do it again for another forty years! In the midst of our experience, my dear wife said to me, “If I suggest that we go tent camping again………JUST SHOOT ME!” Well, Hope, I won’t have to do that because both of us are never planning on tent camping again!
However, we survived!
And it reminds me of another camping experience, one that took place over sixty years ago, when I was 15. I, and two of my buddies, Roddy and Bill, decided to go camping one weekend on the Appalachian Trail that ran through northwestern Connecticut within a couple of miles where I grew up in the Berkshire Mountains. The only caveat was, it was in December! It wasn’t all that cold that Friday when we hiked into a spot on the trail where there was a three-walled shelter, three picnic tables, and a stone fire pit. We unpacked our sleeping bags, food, and cooking gear that Friday afternoon, and as darkness fell, we began to settle down “for a long winter’s nap”! That night a snow storm moved in and the temperature dropped about 20 degrees below normal, down to almost zero! We were so cold we burned every scrap of dry wood we could find, plus one of the picnic tables! The next morning there was a foot of new snow on the ground, and we cut our camping trip short, slogged through the snow, and made it back to our homes and our warm beds!
I have never since found tent (or shelter) camping very comfortable!
Consider our featured Scripture, John 1:1 through 4, and verse 14:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men....And the Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us. And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and of truth.
I chose the Modern King James Version because of one word in verse 14, tabernacled! “And the
Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us.” According to Thayer’s Greek Definitions, the word σκηνόω (pronounced skay-no’-o) means, “…to fix one’s tabernacle, have one’s tabernacle, abide (or live) in a tabernacle (or tent), tabernacle…to dwell….” Obviously, “the Word” in our featured Scripture, who “was God” and “became flesh, and tabernacled among us” is Jesus Christ!
- He left the comfortable glories of heaven where He enjoyed being One with the Father and the Holy Spirit, being adored by all the holy angels, residing in perfect glory for all previous eternity!
- He came to earth to ‘tent-dwell’ – to tabernacle with sinful human beings, who didn’t even want to receive Him!
Talk about roughing it (or maybe we could even say, ‘slumming it’!), Jesus came to die for our sins so we could live eternally with Him in heaven, and experience full life here on earth! (see John 3:16; 10:10). Why did He do it?
- The highlight (or maybe I should say the ‘low-light’) of the Appalachian Trail tabernacle experience was suffering through that freezing night as a foot of new snow fell!
- The most challenging event in the tabernacle experience of Christ was the cross!
✞ For as He faced the cross (He being loaded with all our sins on His sinless self) and the brutal events immediately leading up to that cross, He cried out to the Father as He sweat blood, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39). ✞ But He persisted on the Divine course, accomplishing that ultimate sacrifice, so we could be reconciled to God!
We are told in Hebrews 12:2. “…for the joy that was set before Him, [He] endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” What was the joy that was set before Him? It was you and me being reconciled to the Father by means of the Son’s sacrifice! That’s how Jesus endured the humiliation (the final days) of being “…tabernacled among us…”!
That doesn’t make our recent ‘tabernacling’ experience seem so bad! And maybe it just gives me a bit of a new appreciation of what my Savior and Lord did for me!