Saturday, December 27, 2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008 Christmas Day John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. This One was in the beginning with God. All things through Him came to be, and without Him came to be not one thing which came to be; In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men; and the Light in the darkness shines and the darkness did not overtake it.
There came to be a man, sent on a mission by God, whose name--John. This one came for a witness, in order that he might witness concerning the Light, that all might believe through him. That one was not the Light, but in order that He might witness concerning the Light. The Light, the true one, which enlightens all men was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world through Him, came to be, yet the world did not know Him. To His own He came, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as did receive Him, He gave to them the right to become God's children, to those who believe in His Name. Who, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of a man, but of God were born! And the Word came to be flesh and tabernacled in us, and we saw his glory, glory as the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

About once a year, one of my confirmands will pose the question, "When did God make Jesus?" Usually, they are a bit startled to find out that God didn't make Jesus, but that Jesus is the God Who made everything. Back in the beginning, when God the Father spoke the Word: "Let there be light", the Son was the very Word which brought all things into existence. The second Person has always been there, within the Triune God, eternally begotten of His Father, and from Whom the Spirit has always proceeded.

But then things changed. People failed miserably to be God's Own. Adam and Eve rebelled by eating the forbidden fruit, and the Israelites couldn't even keep the first of the commandments, worshiping a golden calf. God's Son had worked to create them, but they quickly disowned Him as their God. Their feelings and thoughts, their words and actions betrayed their unfaithfulness to their Creator. God was faithful toward them, but they were not in return. They now dwelt in the darkness of their own sins, unable to see.

So that is when God decided to let the second Person of the Trinity be more than just *begotten* of His Father. Now He would also be born of His mother in the incarnation. Like we are called carnivores, who like to eat the flesh of animals as meat, Jesus took upon Himself human flesh. He came into the darkness of this world, born not only as God, but also as a human being like you and me. He came to be seen by people as a Light in the darkness of their sinful state, to enlighten all mankind.

It is astounding how God chose to manifest Himself down on earth. He had come before in the scary summit of Sinai, causing the people to dread His presence. But here, He comes in a hidden fashion, God clothed in the never-scary body of a baby boy named Jesus. The shepherds who cowered in fear at the appearance of just one angel, had no fear at all before a God who is born in a manger. God came down in the guise of sinful flesh, so that He could live like us, and eventually die for us as well.

Jesus came down so that you could be what He was, born as a Son of God. He makes you children of your heavenly Father as well, when you are born again of water and the Spirit. In Holy Baptism, your dark sins are cleansed from you, so that you can be made children of the Light. For you have been born anew, born from above, not like when your parents wanted you to be their child, for now you are born a Son of God like Jesus. You too are born of God, and are His children forevermore!

Jesus also came down incarnate in human flesh so that He could be in you in a special way. He came down to earth to *tabernacle* in you. Just as God's glorious presence was in the holy of holies in the Tabernacle of Israel, so too is Jesus' glorious presence given to be present in you today. For He takes His body of flesh and gives it to you to eat in the bread of holy communion. In the Lord's Supper, the incarnate Christ tabernacles in you, bringing you His forgiving & saving presence.

The ever-living God takes upon Himself human life as well on this day. He does it so that He might be our life which we forfeited by sinning. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God in Christ Jesus is eternal life. In blessed exchange, He takes your sins upon His flesh at the cross of Calvary, and suffers death there in your place. So that what He earned by His glorious sin-free life might be yours–life eternal. For Jesus, the eternal God, has eternal life in Him, and shines that light of life upon you this day. You behold this glorious life, full of grace and truth, by the eyes of faith, trusting in Jesus–your incarnate Savior.

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