John 01:1-14 / Christmas Day / 25 December 2010 / Holy Trinity – Hacienda Heights, CA
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1:1)
People struggle at Christmas to find the true “reason for the season,” the underlying and enduring meaning of Christmas. Some search in their hearts for peace, love, and joy. Some seek it in “peace on earth” meaning an end of warfare and terror. Some see it in the exchange of presents, festive meals with family and friends, decorated trees and wreaths, colored lights and colorful paper wrapping and bows. Some seek it in acts of kindness toward others, especially the less fortunate, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving toys to poor children. And while these are all worthwhile and noble, they are not the reason for Christmas.
The reason is this: The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us. The eternal Word through whom all things were made and in whom all things have their existence and are held together, the eternal Son of the Father, the Second Person of the undivided Holy Trinity, became “bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh.” God became Man, born of a Virgin, laid in a manger, in Bethlehem.
The mystery of Christmas is a great and profound one. The Creator becomes the Creature. The Infinite takes up residence in the Finite. The fulness of the Deity dwells among us bodily. God and Man are reconciled. The image of God is restored to Man.
Gone are any pious notions of “God up there” and “we down here” or of our reaching up to God. What we cannot do, God has done. God has come down to us in the Child of the manger. We cannot ascend to God, either in our thoughts, our prayers, our dreams, or our faith. We cannot reach up to God, but God has extended His right Arm to us. He sent His Son into our Flesh. Gone are any pious notions of our seeking God. God has sought us and found us in the Flesh of His Son, conceived in a virgin Mother and laid to sleep in a manger.
Luther once said, “I know no other God than the One who hangs on a cross and nurses at the breast of His mother.” This is the profound mystery of the Incarnation. It is unmatched in any of the world’s religions. It is without comparison. God and Man are One in Jesus. God of the eternal Father, Man of His virgin Mother, Jesus brings God and Man together as one unique Person, a new Adam, a new Head for humanity.
Don’t simply think of Jesus as one man. He is much more than that. He is all men, all people, every child of Adam and Eve. His humanity is our humanity; His poverty is our poverty; His weakness is our weakness; His life is our life; HIs death is our death.
He is all that we are and yet without the one thing that doesn’t belong – Sin. He is like us in every way – bone of our bones, flesh of our flesh, born of woman – yet without the inherited taint of Sin that kills and condemns us.
He was made our Sin. That is why He was born. Jesus was born to die, not for His sin but for your sin, not for what He had done but for what Adam and his children, including you, have done. The cross hangs heavily over the manger. Jesus’ destiny is to be the Lamb of God, the Substitute Sacrifice, the Vicarious Victim, not only for our sins and the sins of believers, but for the sin of the whole world bar none.
The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us. The Son of God had fellowship with us, pitched His tent among us, that we might have fellowship with God. He came in humility that we might be glorified. He came in poverty that we might be rich. He came to die that we might live. He came to dwell with us that we might dwell with Him and His Father and the Spirit.
What glad tidings of great joy Christmas brings each year! “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” To you. Take it personally. God had you in mind when He sent His Son. For you, the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us. For you He was conceived by the Spirit and born of the Virgin. For you He was wrapped in cloths and laid in a manger.
See, my soul, thy Savior chooses
Weakness here and poverty
In such love He comes to thee.
Neither crib nor cross refuses;
All He suffers for thy good
To redeem thee by His Blood.
The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us. The incarnate Word continues to dwell among us enfleshed in our humanity even at the right hand of the Father. And so He still comes down to us, poor sinners, humble and lowly as His first appearing in Bethlehem. He comes to us in Baptism water and Lord’s Supper bread and wine and humble words of forgiveness.
This is where the true Christmas, the Mass of Christ, is celebrated, where His Word is preached and heard, where His Body and Blood are offered to us and received, where the Word made Flesh comes to us to embrace us, poor, dying sinners that we are.
The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us. And for this the heavens rejoice, the earth is glad, the angels sing, the shepherds worship, Mary ponders, and the whole Church sings praise to God for His undeserved kindness in Jesus His Son.
Joy, O joy beyond all gladness!
Christ has done away with sadness!
Hence, all sorrow and repining
For the Sun of Grace is shining. (LSB #897)