John 1:1-18 / Christmas Day

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

We long to understand the universe and our existence. We want to understand where everything came from and how it was made. We want to know what lay behind the “Big Bang,” what came “before” the beginning. We want to understand not only how things exist but why they exist. Science, our reason, our senses can tell us only so much, but they cannot take us back to the beginning. Our reason and our senses can tell us that there is “something” there, but they can’t help us put our finger on it much less shake its hand.

The Word is the key. The Word that is “light” and “life.” The Word that both was with God and is God at the same time. This is the Word that says, “Let there be…” and there is. This is the Word through whom all things that exist were made and in whom all things that exist hold together and have their meaning.

The Word is light. Light was the first Word-event of the creation. “Let there be light.” And light there is, because the Word does what it says. The Word is the event. The Word is light. It causes light to be and to shine in the darkness. The darkness is nothing, empty, formless, void. The darkness offers no resistance to the Light. It cannot overcome the Light. The Word speaks into the silent Darkness and there is Light.

The true Light, who enlightens all, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not know Him nor did it recognize Him. His name is Jesus. Mary’s Son. God’s Son. You wouldn’t have recognized Him either. There was nothing extraordinary about Him. Yes, He was conceived and born of a Virgin, but that’s a hidden thing revealed by the Word. You must believe it. Yes, He is the Creator come to be with His creatures, and the ox and ass know their masters, but we have lost our way. We have forgotten our origins, our ears have gone deaf to the Word, our eyes have gone blind to the Light. Sin has destroyed our sight, our hearing, our minds. We’re lost in the silence of our own self-centered darkness.

Left in the darkness, we would be lost and die. Without Light there cannot be Life. The Light needs to shine. God must speak the Word-event – “Let there be Light” – into the darkness of sin, death, and grave.

The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.

The Light came into the world. The Light came not as a blazing sun or a star but as a tiny flame, a little speck of light so small you would miss it if angels didn’t tell you where to look. There in Bethlehem, in a manger, swaddled in clothes, is the Light, the Word Made Flesh who came to be with us, to dwell among us. The One who gives light and life to all comes like a little candle flame in the vast darkness. Humbly, meekly, rejectably.

Don’t be mislead by what you see. There is more light in that little flame of a Child than in all the stars of the universe. There is more life in this little newborn lying in a manger than all the life that has ever existed. In fact, He is the reason they, and you, exist. He is the Word Made Flesh.

And now we have come to the mystery of Christmas and the most difficult part for us to comprehend, we who would judge God and hold His Word to our standards. Here in the little Child who sleeps in a manger and who nurses at His Virgin mother’s breast is the infinite and holy. The second Person of the undivided Holy Trinity. The eternally begotten Son of the Father. The Word who was with God in the beginning before there was anything; the Word who is God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God.

Great is the mystery. The infinite resides in the finite. The eternal has broken into chronological time. The Creator has become the creature. God is Man and Man is God in this tiny Child of Bethlehem. The world scoffs at this notion. How can this be? But the world underestimates God, if it has any estimation of God at all. And it greatly overestimates Man. To become Man is nothing for God to do, for with God all things are possible. It’s nothing for God but everything for us. Literally everything.

Out of His fullness, we have received grace upon grace. He is Gift, pure gift. Undeserved, unmerited. He is God’s kindness to the unkind, His mercy to the merciless, His love to His enemy, His grace to the undeserving. There is nothing in us that we should deserve this Child. He comes as grace upon grace. This is how God loves the world. He sends His Son in the flesh, and says, “Go and make peace. Reconcile the world to me. Bring it back. Be the Lamb who takes away the Sin of the world. Go, my beloved Son. Be born of the Virgin, be baptized by John, be despised and rejected by your own people, be crucified, buried, rise from the dead and come back to me bringing the whole reconciled world with you.”

The Law came through Moses. Moses can’t save you. He can bring you through the wilderness with his commandments, but he can’t bring you into the promised land. Y’shua needs to do that. Jesus. Grace and truth come through Him. Moses can lead you to Jesus, and he will have succeeded if he does that. But Moses has nothing that can save you, nothing that you can hold before God, nothing to hide from the wrath of the Law. He has only commandments, threats, and promises. Grace and truth come through Christ Jesus, and only through Him.

No one has seen God. Some have caught a glimpse, but the glimpse they caught was only through Christ. No one may look upon God unattenuated and live. We would be destroyed. We may only look on God through His coming in the Flesh. The Word Made Flesh makes God known to us on our terms. We’re flesh. We cannot rise up to God. Our prayers cannot take us to heaven. Our faith cannot ascend to God nor can our hearts. God must come down to us. All the way down to us, to the lowest reaches of our humanity, to the womb and the grave. He must come to us if we are to meet Him. He did, and He does. The Word became Flesh.

We don’t go to Bethlehem to meet Him. There’s nothing in Bethlehem to see, except the historic remnants of that event centuries ago. The Word Made Flesh dwells with us in the same humble, creaturely way however. He is mangered in the preached and written Word, in the water of Holy Baptism, in the bread and wine of His Supper. There you will find Him, swaddled in all His enfleshed glory, offering you grace upon grace.

If you get nothing else out of this day, remember this: The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth. Light and Life have come. Joy to the world!

In the name of Jesus,
Amen

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