CHRISTMAS 1, C, the Feast of St. John – December 27, 2015

 SCRIPTURES – John 1:14 & 16

           

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth... From His fullness we have all received grace upon grace.”

 

            Today, December 27, is the Feast of St. John. It’s only the 2nd day of Christmas, but decorations will soon be put away and the house be put back in order. Regular schedules will soon resume. But there is a sense of “newness” even as this is done, as new clothes are worn and new computers and new tablets and new cell phones are being used.

 

            “Look at what I got for Christmas!” We like to show off what we have received, especially when it’s a very beautiful, valuable, or meaningful gift. And as we show off the gift, we show off the giver. “How thoughtful your husband is! What a wonderful wife you have! You’ve really got a great sister!” Gifts reveal the giver.

 

            And so it is with Jesus. As the identity and preciousness of the infant Jesus are more fully revealed, also revealed is God and His thoughts toward us. For, Jesus is the Word, the voice or communication, of the Father.

 

THE WORD OF THE FATHER NOW IN FLESH APPEARS!

 

I.  HE WHO IS ETERNAL IS GIVEN INTO MORTAL FLESH.

 

The eternal Father has given us His eternal Son. You cannot sing a Christmas hymn without being confronted with this wondrous message. This Child of Mary is the eternal God come among us in the flesh! Our eternal Creator has joined His creation.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men....The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1)

 

How vastly beyond us and unlike us is this Child of Mary! We live for a while and then we die. He is deathless, eternal; He is - always! As God, He didn’t even have a beginning! Try to understand this, and you will not; you can only believe it. Jesus is life. He always has been and always will be life. On Him all life, including yours, depends!

 

And yet, we now see Him dependent Himself, a helpless baby suckling at his mother’s breast and needing His diaper changed. How amazing!

 

Don’t miss the point. It is indeed amazing that our eternal Creator has come down to us in our flesh; but He did so because of how deeply we have fallen from Him because of our sins. He had to come down to us, for we cannot go to Him.

 

Thanks be to God: what love He must have for us, to give us such a wonderful gift! How high we have been lifted up. God sends His Son for you, in your flesh!

 

There is no more important message, no greater news. Do not be neutral or blasé toward this message. God has rent the fabric of time by sending His eternal Son into time! God rends our time-bound and sin-bound lives with this birth. And that was His plan, His desire. As we sang (hymn #362),

O sing of Christ, whose birth made known the kindness of the Lord,

Eternal Word made flesh and bone so we could be restored.

 

II.  THE SON OF GOD CAME SO THAT WE WHO ARE MORTAL MIGHT BE MADE

     ETERNAL.

 

This was His plan from eternity. God’s sending of His Son among us was no after-thought. He didn’t create everything and then say afterwards, “Uh oh, they’ve messed things up! Now what can I do? I know: I’ll send My Son to fix things!” God does not merely react to events. No, God planned all of this from eternity. He had you in His mind and heart before you even existed! Before God even began creating He planned to send His Son into the flesh for you!

 

Of course, now our reason and suspicion rise up, don’t they? “If God knew this was going to happen, why didn’t He change things? Why did He allow sin and death to enter in and mess everything up? Where was God then?” When such thoughts and questions arise, you must not give place to them. Silence them! For, such suspicion corrupts. It leads to further sin and kills faith. Our reason in such matters will only serve to obscure the love of God. Therefore, turn from it! Do not give in to it or make room for it! Instead, be awed by the eternal love God has for you, and rejoice in it! What love our heavenly Father has for us, that from eternity He sends us His Son!

 

Why? That in Christ we might be “freed from our sins by his blood and [be] made a kingdom, priests to his God and Father” (Rev. 1). It was necessary for our freedom from sin that the eternal Son of God not only become flesh; He had to in His flesh bear the penalty of our sins, to shed His blood and give His life for them. For yourself, to receive the freedom from sin that He sacrificed Himself to gain for you, you also need to “enflesh” your sins. You must admit to them and confess them. Do not be afraid to do so! It is true that we deserve that God punish us for them, here in this life and also after this life; but, by the gift of His Son God is telling us that “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1) John says in his Gospel, “From His fullness we have all received grace upon grace.”  We have received:

  • The grace of God taking upon Himself our flesh and bearing in His flesh our sin and death;

  • The grace of Him joining our flesh to God, that we who receive His forgiveness by faith might on the Last Day be raised up in a pure and holy flesh and share in His eternal life.

    Martin Luther put it this way in a sermon:

    “The most precious treasure and the strongest consolation we Christians have is this: that the Word, the true and natural Son of God, became man, with flesh and blood like that of any other human; that He became incarnate for our sakes that we might enter into great glory, that our flesh and blood, skin and hair, hands and feet, stomach and back might reside in heaven as God does, and in order that we might boldly defy the devil and whatever else assails us. We are convinced that all our members belong in heaven as heirs of heaven’s realm.”

     

                Rejoice this day, for as you receive this Jesus, this Word and message of God, you are received by God as His child! The apostle John says, “to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1) O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord! Amen.