December 25, 2004: Christmas Day

Let us pray: Dear Savior, thank You for coming to earth!  Thank You for taking on our flesh and blood!  Thank You for showing us exactly Who God really is.  Thank You for shining eternal light into our lives!  Thank You for handing us Godly grace and truth!  Amen


TEXT:  John 1: 1-17

Fellow Redeemed Sinners:

Every year I look at all the lessons for Christmas Day and every year I come back to this one for my sermon.  These words of John, chapter one, are a magnet.  They draw me.  They are an irresistible force.  Of all the glorious sections of the Bible, I would rank Genesis chapter one and John chapter one as preeminent.  For both chapters lift you up on angelic wings and transport you to a higher plane, a heavenly one.  Likewise, both chapters are intertwined.  For both start out: “In the beginning.”  And when was that “beginning?”  Well, it refers to primordial existence.  It refers to a “time” when time hadn’t yet come to exist.  It refers to eternality.  Thus, in those three little words we know-it-all humans are definitely put in our place!

“And the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.”  All of you know that “the Word” is another name for Jesus Christ.  It is another name for the 2nd Person of the Trinity.  Note well that Jesus is distinct from the Father, He was “with God.”  Note also that there is unity in the Trinity, “the Word was God.”  Christ is 100% God.  He is not merely a part or an aspect of God.  He is not inferior to His Holy Father in His Godliness, power, and might.  He has it all!

The apostle John goes on to explain even more about our Savior: “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”  When I ask little kids questions in church about God such as: “Who made you?  Who created the world?  Who listens to your prayers?”  They always give the one answer that is never wrong—God!  But, here we’re given an even more specific answer.—Christ!  Christ made you.  The baby Jesus devised the workings of your heart and lungs.  That little boy in the manger dreamed up angels, elephants, whales, and the distant galaxies.  Yes, what Child is this?!

“In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”  We sinful humans live in darkness.  We live in the dark fear of being found out as frauds, as hypocrites, as small insignificant mortals who dread the darkness of a coffin because we have no answers for the unknown.  But, the Baby Jesus has all answers.  To Him nothing is unknown.  He sees our sins.  He sees our prideful posturings.  He sees the inner guilt we like to hide.  He sees our weaknesses that we like to ignore.  And He illumines us!  He shines light into us.  He warms our hearts with love and life.  O, I know that this sin-darkened world has little time for Him.  Most cannot even tear themselves away from their presents which mark His birth today to give Him some of their time, to honor Him.  And here’s the simple answer as to why that is: “the darkness has not understood His light.”

Throughout history which is really “His story” God has sent prophets to prepare us for His bursting into our reality.  One such prophet was John the Baptist who came to: “witness to the light.”  His message was simple, yet more profound than the entire universe rolled into one.—“The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.”

When Jesus came.  When the Word took on human flesh, our flesh, very few grasped the significance of it.  Very few made time to greet and honor Him.  Yes, “the world did not recognize him or receive him.”  Too bad, isn’t it?  People search their whole lives for wisdom and knowledge.  We send our kids to school, to college, to doctoral programs to attain knowledge and wisdom.  We value education to “get ahead in life.”  And yet, all the wisdom of the ages is to be found in Christ.  When we have Him, we have everything.  And what is that “everything” I’m referring to?

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children not born of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”  What greater honor can anyone have than to have God as their Father?  For with it comes happiness, inner peace, great joy, freedom from all fear, and eternal life!

And now comes the clincher: “The Word became flesh and lived for a while 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.”  God is bigger than the entire planet.  Bigger than the Milky Way.  Bigger than the entire universe.  And yet, the miracle of Christmas is that this God was contained in frail flesh.  The flesh of a Baby.  And He lived for a while, 33 years, among us.  He lived to die.  He came to give His life for ours.  He came to set us free from the confines of time and space and propel our souls heavenward.  He came to hand to us personally grace (His total undeserved love) and truth (the knowledge of eternity).

Dr. Luther said on more than one occasion: “I will know no God except the one lying in the manger.”  I agree!  Because that God graphically reveals to me that “His power is made perfect in my weakness.”  He reveals to me that He’s all about love for lost, forlorn, forgotten sinners—like me.

As I read this section from John’s gospel, I’m continually awe-struck.  No other section of the Bible, no other selection from any human book can come close to cutting my ego down to size while at the same time transporting my soul toward receiving a foretaste of heavenly bliss.  And that is why on Christmas Day I cannot imagine being any other place, but here, listening to the Word and having Him fill my soul.  Amen

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