Rev. Deacon Allen Batchelder
December 25, 2011 Christmas Day
Isaiah 52:7-10, Psalm 98, Hebrews 1:1-4, John 1:1-14
From the Prophet Isaiah:
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation.
From the Letter to the Hebrews:
In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
And from the Gospel of St. John:
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 were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Let us pray:
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O God, our Rock and our Redeemer, our Strength and our Salvation.
When King Solomon dedicated his temple, he asked the question: will God indeed dwell on the earth? God’s glory had dwelt in the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34), and in the temple (1 Kings 8:10-11); but that glory had departed from disobedient Israel (Ezek. 9:3).
Then a marvelous thing happened: the glory of God came to His people again, in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. He came to us as a humble infant, a baby boy; born to Mary in the little town of Bethlehem. The writers of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) have given us “snapshots” of our Lord’s life on earth, for no complete biography could ever be written (John 21:25). Matthew wrote with his fellow Jews in mind and emphasized that Jesus of Nazareth had fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. Mark wrote for the busy Romans. Whereas Matthew emphasized the King, Mark presented the Servant, ministering to needy people. Luke wrote his Gospel for the Greeks and introduced them to the sympathetic Son of man.
But it was given to John, the beloved disciple, to write a book for both Jews and Gentiles, presenting Jesus as the Son of God. We know that John had Gentiles in mind as well as Jews, because he often “interpreted” Jewish words or customs for his readers (John 1:38). His emphasis to the Jews was that Jesus not only fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies, but He also fulfilled the types. Jesus is the Lamb of God (John 1:29) and the Ladder from heaven to earth (John 1:51). He is the New Temple (John 2:19-21), and He gives a new birth (John 3:4ff). He is the serpent lifted up (John 3:14) and the Bread of God that came down from heaven (John 6:35ff).
Whereas the first three Gospels major on describing events in the life of Christ, John emphasized the meaning of these events. But there is one major theme that runs throughout John’s Gospel: Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and if you commit yourself to Him, He will give you eternal life (John 20:31).
My sermon title this morning is “The Word became Flesh.” Much of our words reveal to others our hearts and minds, so Jesus Christ is God’s “Word” to reveal His heart and mind to us. “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). A word is composed of letters, and Jesus Christ is “Alpha and Omega” (Rev. 1:11), the first and last of the Greek alphabet.
Our Epistle reading this morning states: “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” Jesus Christ is God’s last Word to mankind, for He is the climax of divine revelation.
Jesus Christ is the eternal Word, for He existed in the beginning, not because He had a beginning as a creature, but because he is eternal. He is God and he was with God. Christ is the “author of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9). Through His death, He “obtained eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12) and He shares with believers “the promise of eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15). His throne is forever (Heb. 1:8) and He is a priest forever (Heb. 5:6). “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
Jesus Christ is the creative Word, for God created the worlds through His word: “And God said, ‘Let there be …’” “For He spoke and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:9). God created all things through Jesus Christ (Col. 1:16), which means that Jesus is not a created being. He is eternal God.
The verb was made is perfect tense in the Greek, which means a “completed act.” Creation is finished. It is not a process still going on, even though God is certainly at work in His creation (John 5:17). Creation is not a process; it is a finished product.
Jesus Christ is the incarnate Word, for He was not a phantom or a spirit when He ministered on earth, nor was His body a mere illusion. John and the other disciples each had a personal experience that convinced them of the reality of the body of Jesus (1 John 1:1-2). Even though John’s emphasis is the deity of Christ, he makes it clear that the Son of God came in the flesh and was subject to the sinless infirmities of human nature.
In John’s Gospel, he pointed out the humanity of Jesus when he said Jesus was weary (John 4:6) and thirsty (John 4:7). Jesus groaned within (John 11:33) and openly wept. On the cross, He thirsted, died and bled (John 19:28-34). After His resurrection, He proved to Thomas and the other disciples that He still had a real body (John 20:24-29), howbeit, a glorified body.
How was the “Word made flesh”? By the miracle of the Virgin birth (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38). He took on Himself sinless human nature and identified with us in every aspect of life from birth to death. “The Word” was not an abstract concept of philosophy, but a real Person who could be seen, touched, and heard. Christianity is Christ, and Christ is God.
The revelation of God’s glory is an important theme in the John’s Gospel. Jesus revealed God’s glory in His person, His works, and His words. John recorded seven wonderful signs (miracles) that openly declared the glory of God (John 2:11). The glory of the Old Covenant of Law was a fading glory, but the glory of the New Covenant in Christ is an increasing glory. The Law could reveal sin, but it could never remove sin. Jesus Christ came with fullness of grace and truth, and this fullness is available to all who will trust Him (John 1:16).
God’s Word comes to life when you read it with His Holy Spirit. Life is the key theme in John’s Gospel. What are the essentials for human life? There are at least four: light, air, water and food. Jesus is all of these! He is the Light of the World (John 8:12). He is the “Sun of righteousness” (Mal. 4:2). By His Holy Spirit, He gives us the “breath of life” (John 3:8; 20:22), as well as the Water of life (John 4:10, 13-14). Finally, Jesus is the Living Bread of Life that came down from heaven (John 6:35ff). He not only has life and gives life, but He is life (John 14:6).
Light and darkness are recurring themes in John’s Gospel. God is light (1 John 1:5) while Satan is “the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53). People love either the light or the darkness, and this love controls their actions (John 3:16-19). Those who believe on Christ are the “sons of light” (John 12:35-36). Just as the first Creation began with “Let there be light!” so the New Creation begins with the entrance of light into the heart of the believer (2 Cor. 4:3-6). The coming of Jesus Christ into the world was the dawning of a new day for sinful man (Luke 1:78-79).
Whenever Jesus taught a spiritual truth, His listeners interpreted it in a material or physical way. The light was unable to penetrate the darkness in their minds. This was true when He spoke about the temple of His body (John 2: 19-21), the new birth (John 3:4), the living water (John 4:11), eating His flesh (John 6:51ff), spiritual freedom (John 8:30-36), death as sleep (John 11:11-13), and many other spiritual truths. Satan strives to keep people in the darkness, because darkness means death and hell, while light means life and heaven.
This fact helps explain the ministry of John the Baptist (John 1:6-8). John was sent as a witness to Jesus Christ, to tell people that the Light had come into the world. The nation of Israel, in spite of all its spiritual advantages, was blind to their own Messiah! John the Baptist was one of many people who bore witness to Jesus, “This is the Son of God!”
Why did the nation of Israel reject Jesus Christ? It was because they “knew Him not.” They had Moses and the Law, the temple and the sacrifices; but they did not comprehend that these “lights” pointed to the true Light who was the fulfillment, the completion, of the Old Testament religion.
They saw His works and heard His words. They observed His perfect life. He gave them every opportunity to grasp the truth, believe, and be saved. Jesus is the way, but they would not walk with Him (John 6:66-71). He is the truth, but they would not believe Him (John 12:37ff). He is the life, and they crucified Him!
But sinners today need not commit those same mistakes. The Gospel of John gives us the marvelous promise of God that anyone who receives Christ will be born again and enters the family of God!
The Light is still shining! If we study His Word, feed on His word, He will come alive in us and dwell in us; and salvation and eternal life will be ours.
Let us pray:
O Lord, most merciful and gracious God. As we celebrate the birth of your Son Jesus, may we look forward to and with anticipation to His return. Help us not to get lost in the hustle and bustle of this world. We thank you for your gift freely given. We love you with all our heart, mind, and soul. May your light shine through us and give us the courage to be a witness to a darkened world. Help us to be true to you and to your word. As we feed on your Word, may your Word dwell within us. This we ask in the name of your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in whose name we live and pray.