Christmas Day, 2019
Text: John 1:1 -18
In the name of Jesus, Amen!
The icon for the Gospel according to John is a flying eagle, which reflects the sheer majesty of John’s message introduced already at the beginning of the Gospel, which reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Today’s question is, does this Word and God have anything to do with us? The answer is, yes, He has everything to do with us because verse 14 says, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. That is to say, He is one OF us, TO us, and FOR us.
For religious people, those who believe in Judaism, Islam, or Buddhism, when they contemplate their religion, it can be very high and deep, but at the same time, very abstract and empty. If people ever admit that there is a god of the universe, in their mind, their god is only a concept, mighty and demanding, but at the same time remote and indifferent to humanity. Such is not the God we believe, certainly not the God whom the apostle John is talking about here. The Word, logos, bears all the characteristics of wisdom, abstraction, and reasoning, and the height and depth go beyond what any words can express. As God, through the Word, “All things were made, and without Him was not any thing made that was made”. This Word, God is almighty, He “spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm”. This Word, God goes beyond, that is, transcends everything, including time, because the first two words, “᾿Εν ἀρχῇ” (“In the beginning”) means that at beginning of time there was the Word already. He was beyond the time and started time. However, this God of highness and might like an eagle breaking the clouds of darkness descended to earth. He took human flesh to become a man and dwelt among us to be one OF us.
He was born of a woman. He lived on earth, walking, eating, and sleeping as a human being. The words “dwelt among us” can be literally translated as “tabernacled among us”. The tabernacle basically was a tent. Actually it was the moving temple where the ancient people of Israel worshiped God. God was with them in a cloud by day and a fire by night when they wandered in the wildness and eventually went into the promised land. “Tabernacled among us” means that this Word set up a tent to live among us, becoming the tabernacle or the temple. In fact, Jesus said in the next chapter of John, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” implying that His body was the temple and He would resurrect even if He was destroyed bodily, because true identity of the Word is God. “The Word was with God and the Word was God”. He is the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God as verse 14 continues, “and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth”. This Word, this God of almighty who created everything, and who transcends high above everything became one OF us, living and being with us. His name shall be called “Emmanuel”, “God with us”. He is God with us. He is one OF us.
The Word became flesh to be one OF us. But why? Verse 4 says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Because of sin, people are separated from God. Therefore, people live in darkness without true knowledge of God and truth about themselves. That is, they don’t know who God is, and who they are as a human being. We are sinners wandering aimlessly and heading to destruction. One night, when I was driving, I forgot to turn on the head light. My wife saw this in the distance and tried to call me to turn on the light. Why? Simply because it would be too dangerous, and I could hit a car or something and be dead. Without light of life, we are doomed to death and eternal punishment. Thanks be to God! The Word is light and life TO us. “The light shines into the darkness” of our heart. By this light, we may see clearly the truth so that we may know about ourselves and about God. Verse 17 and 18 says, “The law was given (TO us) through Moses; grace and truth came (TO us) through Jesus Christ”. “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known (TO us)”. By the Word of God, the truth is given TO us. The Law and Gospel works in our heart so that we may know God’s grace that through this incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ, sinners like you and me may have life in His name. The Word becoming flesh means that He was born TO us as a gift, giving light and life. “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
The Word became flesh to be one OF us. But why? I was good at playing soccer when I was young in China. However, I liked to play basketball too, though I was not as good. Sometimes when I played basketball, I dreamed to have Michael Jordan in our team. Oh, yeah, he was my super star. For the younger audience, you may wish LeBron James would join your team. Why did I wish Mike Jordan to join my team? It’s simply because I wanted him to be one OF us, to show us some truth of basketball, to graciously teach us some moves and some shooting skills, and of course, most importantly to win the game FOR us. By the same token, the Word becoming one OF us is to come FOR us, to win the final game FOR us, to win the victory over sin and death FOR us. Today, this incarnate Word still comes TO us and FOR us in Word and Sacrament. When He says, “take and eat. This is my body, which is given FOR you,” “Drink of it, all of you. This cup is my blood shed FOR you, FOR the forgiveness of sins,” He is still with us, living among us, and giving Himself TO us and FOR us.
Thanks be to God! The Word became one OF us by joining the team of humanity. He was given TO us as a gift, giving light and life so that we may know God’s grace and truth. Through the incarnate Word of God and by believing in His name, we are given “the right to become children of God. This is the reason that the Word became flesh because He is one OF us, TO us, and FOR us.
In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen!