Sermon – John 1.1-14 (Christmas Day)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Exordium: We have spent the Advent season as a time of preparation for the advents of Christ. We have considered His coming to us through the means of grace, and His coming into the world in glory on the Last Day to judge the living and the dead. And today we celebrate the birth of Christ, our Immanuel. And we are ready to celebrate, for we have heard the words of John the Baptist, who said, “Make straight the way of the Lord.” We have heard the Law, that we may acknowledge our sinfulness and need for the Savior to come. He has come. The angels have announced His birth, and sang their praise to the glory of God. The shepherds go and see the wonder of God’s love. And we with repentant and believing hearts go and ponder this thing that the Lord has made known to us. The Son of God is born in human flesh. What a wonder this is! It is the miracle of the incarnation. God became human for our sakes, so that we, through Him, would be reconciled to God. Our Savior is born, and it is this truth that makes today a great festival day of the Church.
Therefore, let us joyfully sing the praise of the Incarnate Son of God! We will sing the festival verse, hymn number 142, “Rejoice, Rejoice This Happy Morn.” Please rise.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.
8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
These are Your Words heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your word is truth. Amen.
Dear Christmas worshippers,
In the Age of the Enlightenment, the prevailing thought of the day was that the human mind was capable of the greatest things. It could understand all things, conquer all things, solve every problem, and some even thought that by the power of the human mind could create a utopia. The mind is supreme, and everything beyond what the human mind must be denied, that is, the supernatural. And so life, our beginning, sustenance, our experiences, feeling, our behaviors, our motivations, our meaning, and values all consists in merely natural processes. This kind of thinking is still fairly common today.
But this way of thinking about life, has been surpassed today with the idea that life is defined and shaped by our feelings, emotions and experiences. Led by these, we supposedly can achieve fulfillment and our purpose in life.
But whatever man tries to use as their life and light in this world fails, whether it is human reason, or emotion and experience or whatever it is. To think that life is found in our reason, or emotions, or experiences, is in fact rebellion against God. It is not the way of life, but the way of death. Such has been the case since the fall into sin.
Adam and Eve as the source and center of their lives God, the Creator. They lived in perfect communion with God, knowing God as perfectly as a creature is able to know His Creator. They had the image of God, their reason perfect, their feelings perfect, both completely in line with God’s will, enlightened by God, holy and good.
But Adam and Eve, at the tempting of the devil, were tempted to find life and light outside of God. The devil led them away from God and His Word, and tempted them to trust in him and his words. He tempted them to covet another way of life, one independent from God, one that they could have in themselves, for the devil said, “Your eyes will be opened, and will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
And the moment they disobeyed, they recognized the darkness and death that had just come to them-the just consequence of their sin. God entered the Garden where they were. What do they do? They do not welcome Him with joy eager to hear the words of His grace. They do not run before Him and bow down to Him. They are afraid. They see that the shame of their sins have separated them from God. Sinning against Him, they had broken their relationship with Him. And God’s holiness, basically the law, made them very well aware of this.
At least they noticed the problem. Much of the world today goes about completely unaware that they live in darkness. They desire independence from God, thinking that they have life in their own wisdom and feelings, that they are self-sufficient in themselves, and God can take a hike. But independence from God means separation from their creator, from His life and light, and being left in darkness and death. They exalt their reason, experience, determination, strength and power as gods, yet all these are under the power of sin and death, and lie in darkness.
Separated from God, there is only darkness, sin and death.
But, behold, life and light have come! Don’t look within yourselves. Well actually, yeah, first look for a moment within yourselves, not to find the source of life and light, won’t find it there, but look within with a humble and honest heart, and see the darkness of sin in your hearts. Yes, even though we are believers born anew in Christ that sinful nature still remains within us. See how we have exalted our wills, our reason, and our feelings above God and His will. See how we have sought independence from God, to be little gods ourselves, to think that we know better than God. Look there, see it within, and repent. And behold, your Life and Light comes to you.
He is Jesus, the child born of a Virgin. No mere human child can help us. No man has life in himself, and therefore, much less could any man bring us into life with God. But the good news is found in who this child is. And John gives us some beautiful theology about Him!
He is called the Word. He is the Word that has been with Father from eternity. He was there in the beginning when there was only eternity, and through Him, even time came into existence.
The child is the Word who was with God. The Word was not the Father. He is distinct from the Father, and from the Holy Spirit, for that matter. And He has always been with them from eternity.
And the Child is the Word who was God. The Word is not just sounds put together by the mouth of the Father, like the words that come from our mouths. Rather the Word was Himself 100% almighty God—of the very same divine substance as the Ffather and Holy Spirit.. And in creation, He was not simply an inanimate and powerless tool of the Father, but He, with the Father, is the almighty Creator of the universe. Through Him all things came into existence as we read here in John and also in Colossians and Hebrews. We owe our existence to Him. He is our Creator and we are His creation.
And this eternal and divine Word became flesh. The Creator became a creature, and He was born in Bethlehem. The divine nature and the human nature are there united in the one Person, Jesus Christ.
In the Word made flesh was life. This is the life that we had been without, the life of being united with God, of dwelling in His peace and joy, a life of knowing God, and living in perfect righteousness and blessedness in His presence forever. Only in Him can we be restored to life and light as Adam and Eve first enjoyed.
In His love and mercy He shines the light of His life upon the world. Though the world in its darkness did not see Him. The devil has so blinded the world and the world has so fallen away from God, that it turns away from Him and chooses darkness. The world put the Word made flesh on the cross. The world today rejects His life and light, and prefers the darkness of sin and death. It still prefers the life, rather than the death of going its own way.
But you have received Him, not by means of blood or of the might of your will, but by the working of God who gives you a new birth, a new life through His baptismal waters. The Holy Spirit has opened your eyes to see what John saw. John saw the glory of the Christ. Though Jesus’ divinity was hidden throughout much of His life, John saw glimpses of His divinity through the tremendous miracles that He performed, and His resurrection from the dead. And you see that Jesus is the Word made flesh.
And He is the perfect Mediator between God and man. He comes between us and His Father, and restores to us the life that we lost. He has taken upon Himself your rebellious independent sinfulness, comes between us and the Father and takes the Father’s wrath in our place. So since it isn’t just the suffering of one man, but the hellish suffering of God Himself for all the sins of the world, you are forgiven. The price has been paid. Christ has made full satisfaction, and now you have peace with God. In this saving work of Christ, is found the life we lost in the fall. And through faith in Him, we are restored to life! There is no longer need to hide from Him like Adam did, like that would do any good anyway, but because you trust in Christ as your Savior, you freely repent before Him and receive His forgiveness and life with joy! You have that perfect peace with God; you live in communion with Him as His dear people. You have eternal life with Him. That is the true life, the life of Christ in which you live.
And having this life, means that we also are new creations in Christ, having the new self which is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Thus we put to death the Old Adam which desires to direct our reason and hearts in darkness, and let Christ be the Lord of our reason and our hearts, directing them in righteousness and holiness according to His gracious will. Surely, we need this renewing each day, living the baptismal life, repenting of our sins, and being renewed by the gospel, sanctified, and strengthened to follow our Lord’s lead.
What a blessing it is to have Christ’s life. But make sure you recognize where we find the source of His light today as we live in this world of darkness. And in this we also get to rejoice. Jesus says, “My words are spirit and life.” Here we have the bright beaming Sun of righteousness shining on us with His precious life. And not only there, but He shines His life upon us in His holy Supper, where the very body and blood of the Word made flesh, that once lied in that manger, was given up into death, and now is in heaven, that very body and blood is given to you for your life!
No man could save us from the gloom of darkness. No mortal could give us eternal life. No sinner could restore us to God. No creature can save us from the sadness of fallen creation. But the Word became flesh. In Him was life, and His life is your light and your salvation! Thanks be to our God made flesh, our Immanuel. Amen.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. Forevermore. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto everlasting life. Amen.