Christmas Day, 2021
Text: John 1:1-18
In the name of Jesus, Amen!
Since Dec. 5th, the first Sunday of Advent, we have been preparing our hearts for the Lord and waiting for the first coming of Christ that the OT prophets had prophesied of before Jesus was born on the first Christmas Day. Today, we read and ponder the amazing text from the Gospel according to the Apostle John about the eternal Word. The Word (logos) through whom all things were made CAME to this world; the light of life came to darkness and BECAME “flesh and dwelt among us”. Usually, the text that is read and preached contains only selected verses from this prologue of John because it is the assigned reading for Christmas Day. Today, we read the entire passage because although Jesus Christ IS the focus, it does mention another person. In verse 6, we read, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. ” John the Baptist was sent by God. He came and became a voice of God, as our text says, “as a witness, to bear witness about the light”, that is, about the Word who came to the world and became man.
In the OT, when God would speak to someone, the Bible doesn’t simply say, “God spoke to him”. Usually, it says, “The Word of the LORD came to him” as if the Word of the Lord was a person, who came and became, or at least appeared in some form — even physically as a person — and talked to him. There is a term in theology, it’s called “theophany”. It comes from Greek, meaning “God appears”. So, basically, the Word came to that prophet and became a person to speak to him. Sometimes, it was “the Angel of the Lord” or simply a “messenger of God”. It came as an angel, a man, or yes, even as God Himself, as Jacob experienced. Initially, Jacob thought he was wresting with a man, or an angel, but in the end, it was God Himself. God even appeared to Abraham as three persons when Abraham provided food for them and entertained them. That’s why the book of Hebrews says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Prophets, apostles, and those men of God were messengers of God. John the Baptist was unique in salvation history in that he came as the last prophet of the OT time, but at the same time, he became the first believer in the NT time to witness Jesus as Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
When John and Jesus came, they came into a world where religious, political, and economic establishments were corrupt, godly culture was destroyed, and people were oppressed and in suffering, very much like the situation we have today. You may say, oh, yes, that may be true in China. But Men of God in America have been warning for decades that America has gone astray. Now, it seems that the matter has come to its full fruition. Corruptions and perversions are prevalent in almost every aspect of American life, politics, media, entertainment, science, education, economy, and yes, even in the church. Godly culture is being canceled, we are quickly losing freedom, and people are being censored and oppressed. Smash-and-Grab robbery, burning and looting, false-accusations, frauds, and injustice of every kind, you think they are only happening in communist China? The last thing we want to hear from Jesus and John is that we are a part of it, we are sinners. We all need to repent.
Of course, the difference between Jesus and John is that John came and became a voice of God, speaking the message of repentance, and pointing people to Christ, while Jesus, being the eternal God Himself, came to live among us, and became one of us, yet without sin. You may well know that one of the most difficult parts of being a good actor or actress is that you really have to become that person, and to experience everything that person experienced. Jim Caviezel portrayed Jesus in Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ. Caviezel carried a heavy wooden cross through the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City on his way to Calvary. When he fell as Jesus did, the cross landed on top of him. He told reporters, “As I went down, the cross . . . it actually struck my head and buried my head in the sand. And I bit through my tongue. Now, in the tape, you’ll see streams of blood coming down from my lip. That’s actually my own blood.” Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became a human being. He had to experience all that we experience, how we live, what we eat, what we wear, what makes us hungry and thirsty, what make us cold and hot, what makes us hurt, what make us smile, what makes us tired, what makes us comfortable, what makes us cry, what make us angry, what makes us bleed, and what makes us die. Thanks be to God! By His coming to the world and becoming flesh and living among us, He gives light to everyone, brings the Good News of salvation for the whole world by accomplishing it on the cross to become sin for us, to die and to rise to conquer sin, death, and the devil.
Yet, when Jesus and John were on earth, though they spoke the truth, the people of that time ridiculed them. Why? Because truth hurts; even when Jesus brought the Good News of the forgiveness of sins, they didn’t want to hear it because forgiving sins presupposes admitting that you are sinners. That’s why our text says, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him”. Do you welcome and receive the Word? Or do you reject the Word? What do you do with the Word, when pastors preach God’s Word to you, or when a brother or sister comes to you and becomes a messenger of God by speaking God’s Word or the principles of the Bible to you? God promises in our text, “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”. In Baptism, the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit came to the baptismal rite. The Word of regeneration came to the water. The promise of life and salvation came to the baptized so that Christ “became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). In the Holy Supper, Jesus came to us in real presence and became the bread and wine in His body and His blood. By receiving these gifts of God, “you will become children of God”, and will “see his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth”.
In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen!