Sermon for Christmas Day, 2017 (Year B)
Text: John 1:1–18
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,[b] and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son[d] from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.[e] 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God,[f] who is at the Father's side,[g] he has made him known.
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
John, more than any other evangelist, draws our attention to Christ’s eternal existence. He calls the preincarnate Christ the Word. Before the Son of God took on our flesh and dwelt among us, He was with God, He was God, and He created all things. Therefore this Word is not simply an emanation from the Father that comes forth from Him at a particular time. The Word was God, and is God and ever shall be God. There was not when He was not. At no point in time or eternity was Christ the Son of God not present, even before He made the Godhead known in these last days. At the end of his Gospel, John will tell us that his purpose for writing is so that we may believe in the Word and have eternal life in His Name. The Word takes flesh and dwells among us to rescue us from sin, death, and every evil.
We must not think of the Word simply as the voice of the Father as though the Word had no thought or will of His own, and indeed no existence except when the Father speaks. But whenever God does speak it is through His Word that was with Him in the beginning and is of one substance with Him even now. Christ is not simply God’s voice, but He is not to be separated from God’s Word. God’s Word speaks law and Gospel. It condemns and justifies. That tells us that when we speak of Christ coming as judge, we do not mean a pretend judge. The benefits He will bring are real, but so are the punishments. A real division will take place among the sheep and the goats—a division that will be made by God’s Word.
Now we must remember that God only deals with us by His by His Word. By His Word we are created and we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from God. It is only in time that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, but the Word was always there. There were great periods of time when God did not send prophets to His people, no word was heard, but the Word has always remained. Even before God spoke creation into existence and while He rested on the seventh day, the Word, though unheard, remained.
God continues to deal with us by His Word even as He reveals Himself through His Word. As the writer of Hebrews reminds us, “In many and various ways God spoke to His people of old by the prophets, but now in these last days He has spoken to us through His Son.” Now in these last days the Word has become flesh and has spoken to man face to face, just as God once spoke to Man in the Garden.
Whenever God speaks, it is the Word that is heard. The Son is present wherever God speaks. Thus in creation the Word was at work as the Father spoke and the Spirit brooded over the waters. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. But that is not the only time God spoke. When the devil beguiles man into eating of the fruit of the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil, and introduces Him to sin, guilt, worry, fear and death, God speaks again. When God speaks to the serpent: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen 3:15; ESV); He again employs His Word for your good. By speaking, the Father places Christ between you and your accuser. The Eternal Word stands as an eternal guard between you and your enemy. Immediately hope is given.
Adam will then give his wife the name “Eve,” which means life, because she will be the mother of all the living. But she is not the mother of all the living because all men will descend from her, but because the One who brings life into a fallen world will come from her. Her offspring will make alive. Your first birth can be traced to Eve, but so can your second birth, your birth that is accomplished not by the power of the flesh, or by the will of man, but Your birth that comes from God alone. This comes through Eve, because through her offspring, the Word became flesh.
In those primal hours when God dealt with Man’s Fall and cursed the serpent, He placed His Word as a guard around you to keep your accuser and tempter at bay. Then in the fullness of time that same Word took on flesh and in your flesh conquered your ancient enemy. That is what we celebrate today. For your salvation was planned by God from the beginning and has been brought forth through every God-breathed syllable from that first promise spoken in the garden to the words, “It is finished”.
He who created light in the darkness has come into the darkness of our sin and His light shines on everyone. Some do not know him. Some refuse to recognize the Creator in the manger, the glory in the swaddling cloths. But on those who believe the Word of Promise and find it fulfilled in the Word incarnate, the Light of the World shines in the radiant beams of God’s holy love that would not let you remain in darkness.
There is no other salvation. John makes this clear as he illustrates the high art of distinguishing Law and Gospel. The Word came to His own—those who belonged to the Word because they lived under the Law of Moses—but they received Him not. For the Law’s commands do not have the power to give what they demand. But the Word took on flesh to pour out grace upon grace. No one has seen God, but Jesus has made Him known. He who is at the Father’s side from eternity has stood among us as one of us. That is the profound mystery that causes our rejoicing today.
And know this, that He who has stood by Your side, in your flesh, still resides at the bosom of the Father. Therefore He who is forever your guard and protector from the serpent’s accusations is also forever Your connection to God. This is He who gives His flesh to you today.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Soli Deo Gloria