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Christmas Day – John 1:1-14

by pastorjuhl ~ December 23rd, 2011

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

            Once upon a time the devil attended Divine Service in a church where it was customary in either the Lord’s Prayer or in the Creed to sing: Et homo factus est, that is, “God’s Son has become man.” While they were singing this, the people just remained standing and did not kneel down. The devil was so incensed, that he slammed his fist into one man’s mouth, saying, “You rude bum, aren’t you ashamed to just stand there like a post and refuse to kneel for joy? If God had become OUR brother, as he did become YOUR brother, our joy would be so great that we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves.”

The devil understands the Nativity of Our Lord better than most Christians, especially you. This is why the Gospel appointed for Christmas Day is the prologue of John’s Gospel: the most beautiful words ever written. These words are beautiful chiefly because they are penned under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Judged from a secular perspective, the 18 opening verses of John’s Gospel might be called sheer genius. John spirals out from one main point, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, to the reason why there is hope for mankind, And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

No wonder the devil socked that fellow in the mouth who would not kneel in honor of God becoming man. That’s the way it is with mankind. God breaks through to His people repeatedly with signs and wonders in the Old Testament, yet His children go through life as if they wear blinders. Scientists make silly theories about how the world came into being. Theologians debate whether there is a place for evolutionary theory when God created the heavens and the earth. Preachers grow tired of preaching Christ crucified, so they wander off into guidelines for living a better life here rather than prepare their hearers for the life of the world to come.

Perhaps you have lost the mystery of the Christian faith. Everything must be understood rather than believed. All the ceremony and celebration of the Divine Service might be hiding the fact that the emperor has no clothes. God’s only Son descending from His Father’s side into the womb of a young girl and becoming man is not possible. Being born in a stable in a place called Bethlehem is not possible. Where are the rolls of thunder and crashes of lightning? Where is the neon arrow from the sky pointing the way to the King of Kings? Where are all the signs pointing His way through the years?

The signs are there if you are willing to hear them. John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.… For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.

These words from John, Isaiah, and God Himself are quite familiar to us. There is one word that is familiar, but perhaps not contemplated as much as the many Messianic prophecies. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. God created light for His creation. Without light, it would be impossible to see. He made a greater light, the sun, and a lesser light, the moon. He also made the stars. What does creating light have to do with Jesus Christ?

In [the Word] was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. God created light in order that you might see His creation. This created light is not the light that saves from sin and death. If this were so, mankind remains hopelessly lost in sin. Nothing that is made by the Hand of God is able to save mankind from sin, death, and hell.

What brought light into being? The Word of God brought light. The same Word that brought light, heaven, earth, sea, sky, plants, animals, creeping things, and humanity into being now brings Himself into flesh in order to make His tabernacle among His people.

When the Israelites first set up the Tabernacle as they journeyed to the Promised Land, the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. The Most Holy Place in the Tent of Meeting, the Most Holy Place of the Temple of the Lord, a place of mystery and holiness, now lies in a manger in Bethlehem in swaddling clothes. He nurses at the breast of Mary. He is doted over by Joseph. He is marveled by shepherds. He is worshiped by Magi. He is carried into Egypt to avoid slaughter. He is called out of Egypt to Nazareth. He grows in wisdom and stature like other men. He is baptized in the Jordan River. He performs signs and wonders. He preaches repentance toward the forgiveness of sins. He does not cast the first stone against prostitutes. He knows everything about a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. He casts out demons. He raises Lazarus from the dead. He institutes His Holy Supper. He is betrayed by a close friend. He is mocked and whipped. He dies and is buried. He lives. He breathes on His disciples. He ascends into heaven. He is coming soon to judge the living and the dead.

Now you see why Satan punched the fool who would not honor Christ’s incarnation in the Creed. Today God comes to be your brother. Today God comes to partake in your flesh, except for sin. Today God begins the long, slow march to the cross and the tomb. Today God comes to be your Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord! Merry Christmas!

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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