Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day John 1:1-14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was toward God, and God was the Word. This One was in the beginning toward 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 mankind; and the Light in the darkness shines and the darkness did not overtake it.   There came to be a human, sent on a mission from 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 that He might witness concerning the Light. The Light, the genuine one, which enlightens all mankind 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 authority to become God's children, to those who believe into His Name. Ones, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of a man, but out 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.
My very first day of confirmation class in 1978, Pastor Ginter wrote these words on the chalkboard. As a good student, I copied them down into my notebook, but I didn't have the foggiest notion what they meant. "In the beginning was the Word..." OK. But what word? Was it a single word or a whole sentence?  It must be a special word, since everything that exists came to be through this amazing word. And how exactly  was the word "light"? Was it on one of those newfangled computer screens? I was clueless.
It wasn't until the very end of the class, and hour and a half later that it finally began to click for me. The word became flesh and was with us on the earth. Folks saw this word's glory, begotten from His Father. I started to "get it". This mysterious Word was actually the Son of God–Jesus! Ever since that day, I haven't read the word "word" in the scriptures the same way. Now I see "Word" and always think "Jesus".
If you look on the front cover of your bulletin for today, the Greek "O Logos" is printed there. It means "The Word". Jesus is this word made flesh. He is God "incarnate". This incarnation is not about Americans driving down the interstate, but it is about the Word becoming flesh. Like meat-eaters are called "carnivores", Jesus is in-carn-ate, meaning to have meat on His bones–flesh. The Word by Whom God created everything, like when He said "Let there be light", had come down to the earth, in the flesh.
Now I know this is a bit of a challenge. Many of us hear "Word of God" and instantly think "The bible". While the bible is the book of God's words plural, the singular Word of God is always Jesus the Christ.  The words of God in scripture can only enlighten you because they are about the Word of God–Jesus. The words of holy writ can only bestow you life eternal because Jesus, the Word is your life!
The only reason that you recognize Jesus as the Word of life for you is because He has enlightened you to believe it. Many in the world remain in darkness, by their own choice. The temptations abound to think that you don't need Jesus, because you feel like you are already pretty good on your own. You have earthly parents, so why would you need a heavenly Father too? You've already been born into this world, so why should you want to be born another time to a heavenly life in the world to come?
People who think that they are already pretty enlightened folks are deceiving themselves. There is only one true, genuine light that can actually enlighten you. That light is Jesus! No matter how smart you think you are, no matter how high your IQ, no matter how much you have learned, no matter how well read you consider yourself to be, you remain in utter darkness without Jesus. But those who believe, receive Him and come to know Him as He is. The Word of God Who enlightens and gives life to all mankind!
You have been reborn, of water and the Word, Who is Jesus! Born anew in your baptism, you are raised up to new life in Jesus' Own resurrection. By this gift of God, He has given you special authority as children of your heavenly Father. Because of the Son of God–Jesus, Who died for you on the cross, you become a son of God. You believe in His name, the name into which you have been baptized!
But not only has the Word of God–Jesus, come to you to bring you into His heavenly Father's family through your baptism, but He also comes to you incarnate this day–in the flesh. Yes, the flesh and blood Jesus comes to you this Christmas morn to feed you from His feeding trough manger. He gives you His incarnate body to eat, and His blood to drink in the Lord's Supper. His flesh tabernacles in you today!

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