Christmas Day, 2018

The Epistle – Hebrews 1:1-12

The Gospel – St. John 1:1-14

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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The Gospel lesson we hear this Christmas morning is not anything like we might expect.

 

There is no mention of a child in a manger.

There is no mention of wise men or a star.

There is no mention of shepherds watching their flocks by night.

 

At the very end of this, what we call John’s prologue, there is a brief mention of this person called The Word….who became flesh and dwelt among us.

which certainly is speaking of the incarnation…of the birth of Christ, but even this can sound sort of cryptic.

 

This reading was once a separate reading, and part of the preparation of the priest for mass. It was read as a preparatory devotion.

At some point it was incorporated into the service and placed at the end as a way to hark back to the beginning, ….not of the service but of the beginning of time and creation.

 

But it is here for us today as a Christmas morning reading, and so now we have to break it down to understand why.

 

Why would such a passage be read on a day like this when we are thinking about Jesus’ birth, and all that goes along with it?

To see why, we need to understand this text. It might also be good to dig into this text because it is read at the end of our service and many have inquired as to it's meaning.

 

So let's go through this, step by step. Because understanding it is guaranteed to be edifying to us at Christmas time….as well as other times we might read it or hear it read to us.

 

It begins, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

 

To make it very simple, we can just substitute the word “Jesus” for Word and that will take care of the confusion is there is any.

 

However…. we have to be careful, because though it helps us greatly, it is not totally accurate.

 

As mentioned in the latest newsletter, the Christmas event is really a Trinitarian event.

 

As Christians we believe that God is the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 

 

There are somehow three persons who are the one God. This is a most difficult concept for us to imagine and understand. But it is central to our faith.

 

Whether we can fully understand it or not, we must believe it as orthodox Christians.

 

The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Three persons, one God.

 

If we are to think about “In the beginning” we have to think about a time….when there was nothing except God. We have to think about a time when there was no earth, or sun or moon or anything.

 

There was just God.

 

Recall that in the beginning of the bible in Genesis we read that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

 

Well, this is the same beginning we are talking about in our text here this morning.

 

In the beginning, before anything was created, there was the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…what we call God.

 

So God says that He will create a world. He said “Let there be light.”

“Let there be sun and moon and stars.”  “Let there be animals and plants and humans.

 

Though this is not a Greek lesson, a few words here will help us.

 

We are going to paraphrase some of this reading today so we can better understand it.

 

In the Greek, the three persons we call Father, Son and Holy Spirit are:

Patria - Father

Logos – Word (Son)

Pneuma - Spirit

All three of these make up the Theos…the God.

 

So to begin to put our paraphrase together, we can say that “In the beginning when God was creating the world, there was the Logos….the Word.

This Logos, this Word is the Son. He was in the beginning with God….and….. the Son was God.”

 

In the beginning there is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Son does not come along later. He is eternal with the Father and the Spirit.

 

So the Son is in the beginning. He was there when God created the heavens and the earth. He was in the beginning with God. …and He was at the same time God Himself.

 

So the Son is said to be God. Jesus is referred to the Son of God many times in the bible.

 

Luke 1:34–35

 

[34] And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

[35] And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. (ESV)

 

So this person we call the Son was in the beginning. He was with God and it was announced to Mary that this Son of God would be born into the world through her.

 

It goes on to say more about the Son today.

 

“All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

 

 

So the Son was in the beginning, when God created the world and it says now, “All things that were created, were created by or through Him.”

 

Without him, nothing would have been made. All things that are created are created by the Son….the Son, born of Mary.

 

Then we begin to get some other amazing things said about Him besides being the creator of the world.

 

It says, verse 4, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. [5] The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

 

 

 

In Him was life. All things are created by the Son and this means that all life is created by the Son. We are all created by the Son today.

 

The Son born to Mary created us. He is the life and the light of all men. All people who were and are and ever will be created are created by the Son.

 

He is the life of men. He is the one who gives life to all men.

He is life. He is light. The Son is light and He shines in the darkness.

 

Remember again, God said, “Let there be light.” Those words were uttered by God. The Son is God. The Son created the light.

 

Then we shift briefly over to John the Baptist.

This part is a bit easier to understand. It says, “[6] There was a man sent from God, whose name was John the Baptist. [7] He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. [8] He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.”

 

So John the Baptist came, as we have been hearing over and over all through Advent leading up to Christmas, that John came announcing that Jesus was coming.

 

This is the same thing here exactly.

 

John came, bearing witness to the fact that the Son was coming. God sent John the Baptist to tell people that the Son was coming.

 

John the Baptist told the people that the Son was coming into the world. The Son is the light that comes into the world.

 

John is not the light. Jesus the Son is the light. And He gives life and light to all people who are born into the world.

We all have the light of reason.

The light of understanding.

The light of thought and ideas.

 

Everyone who is created by the Son receives this light. What we do with it is a separate issue. But everyone who is born, has the light of reason and understanding.

 

Even people who don't believe in God…..they have the light….they just bury it under their own sin.

 

But the Son, created the world in the beginning, and gave light to all people, was born into the world through Mary.

 

Then we shift back to the Son now here in our text…

 

Verse [10] He (The Son) was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.”

 

The Son, even though He created the world and gave them the light of reason to know Him, when He was born of Mary, …was not recognized for who He was.

 

Even though He demonstrated it by miracles and authoritative teachings…the people saw it with their very eyes and yet many did not believe He was the Son of God. …the creator of the world.

Verse [11] “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.”

 

We know the Son was born to a Jewish mother named Mary. The Son came into the world and came specifically to the Jewish people.

 

They were waiting for His coming, but they did not see Him as a mighty man like they expected….despite the miracles.

He came to His own people and His own people rejected Him. …they even crucified Him. That is how far down they had suppressed the light that the Son had given them.

 

But, verse [12] “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

There were, as we know many who did believe in the Son. They believed He was the one who created the world in the beginning.

 

They believed that He gave them light. They accepted Him and trusted in Him. Those who did….and those of us today who believe in Him, He has given the right….not only the privilege, but the right to be children of God.

 

We are children of God because the Son has given that gift to us.

This is sometimes referred to as being born again. Born anew. Born of God.

 

We are born once again when the Son comes into our lives and makes us His children.

Being born into the family of God is quite different from being born into a human family.”[1]

 

Notice it then says, we who are Christians are born, not of blood (Verse 13) ….meaning we are not sons or children of God because we have a lineage or a bloodline with God.

 

Nor are we children of God by the will of the flesh…meaning we don't become Christians and children of God by some decision we make… or someone makes for us.

 

To become children of God is the work of God.

 

We don't do this. He does. The Son makes us children of God by His power…by His light.

 

And to the final verse [14] And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

 

Remember we have substituted the word “Son” to help us understand this. The word again was “Logos,” which means “Word.”

 

The Son of God is the Word of God. We are using it interchangeably here to help us grasp just who this person is.

 

The Son is God. The Son created the world. The Son gave us light. The Son gave light to all people.

The Son became flesh and dwelt among us.

 

Those three persons we called God in the beginning. The Second person, the Word who we have here called the Son….

 

Came into the world, being born of Mary this day, and dwelt among us.

 

God came down to earth. Was born though a human woman and lived on earth among us…among His creation.

 

Christmas is precisely this message here today. Christmas is the celebration of God the Son, (the Word) coming down to earth, being born of a virgin and coming to live among us for a while…as a human.

 

The Disciples understood this. ..much better after the Son was raised from the dead on the third day, of course.

 

John writes our text this morning. He says that he and the others saw this Son for who He was.  They saw His glory.

 

They saw His miracles. They heard his authoritative teaching. He says, this Son of God who did all of this…..we walked with Him.

 

We talked to Him. We touched his skin. We leaned against Him. We ate with Him….and all along, He was God.

 

We saw Him do miracles. We saw Him transformed before us “ and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (ESV)

 

So this passage, difficult as it is for us to understand, is why we read it this morning as a Christmas text.

This Jesus who we know as the Son of God ….is all of this we have heard here.

 

This is why Christmas is so important to Christians.  We are the ones who believe that Jesus the Son created the world and gave us His light and made us His own children.

 

Some…many will go to their deaths denying all that we have heard this morning. Some will go to their deaths rejecting Him.

 

But this is why Christmas is so special to us.

 

The message of Christmas has been commercialized and trivialized and Santa Clause and Jingle Bells really have nothing to do with the text we heard this morning that we have broken down.

 

So remember as you go about your Christmas this day who you celebrate. The Son who created the world….and then came to live in this world….so that  you and I could live with Him forever in the next world ….and we will dwell there with Him forever.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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[1] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 126). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.