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Christmas Day

John 1:1–18

James T. Batchelor

Christmas Day
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church  
Hoopeston, IL

view DOC file

Fri, Dec 25, 2015 

What a joy it is to once again hear the opening verses to the Gospel according to John.  John has such a marvelous style.  Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, John used simple vocabulary and simple grammar.  Never the less, he used these simple tools of language to expresses teachings that transcend our mortal minds.

Johns Gospel account begins with something that is very much like an overture beginning a musical drama.  If you have attended or participated in an opera or a musical, you may have noticed that the orchestra or band plays a medley of introductory musical themes from the entire production.  It is a sort of sampler of the music you will hear during the rest of the performance.

The Holy Spirit inspired John to begin his Gospel account with this sort of an introduction.  Within the first dozen or so verses, John touches on the themes that he will develop as we make our way through his Gospel account.

The major theme that John brings out throughout the Gospel account is very much related to todays celebration of the birth of the Christ child.  This theme emphasizes the fact that the little baby whose birth we celebrate on this day the little baby lying in the manger is God in the flesh.  The little human baby who looks like any other human baby is in fact the Lord through whom all things were created.

Johns Gospel account begins in the exact same way that the First Book of Moses begins In the beginning. (John 1:1, ESV) These words take us back to creation.  In the beginning was the Word. (John 1:1, ESV) These words proclaim that at the beginning when God created everything, this Word already existed.  This Word is not a created thing and must, therefore, be one in essence with God independent of time.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God (John 1:1, ESV) The little word with, teaches us that there is a distinction between this Word and God.  At the same time, the word with, connects this Word to God.  If God and the Word had human form, we could say they were in agreement eye to eye, nose to nose, and mouth to mouth.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1, ESV) As we continue through the verse, we learn that, not only was this Word there at the beginning before anything was created not only was this Word there with God, but we now learn that this Word already was God at the beginning.  There is nothing in the divine nature which is not also in this Word.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. (John 1:12, ESV) Here we see a second time that this Word was with God in the beginning before anything was created.  Here we already see the preparation for the teaching of three persons in one God that this Word is one person who is with the other persons of the God who is three persons in one God.  IF we were to fill out this passage with the information that we find later in this Gospel account, it would read, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God the Father, and the Word was God the Son. He was in the beginning with God the Holy Spirit.

Then the text tells us how this Word was involved in creating all things.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3, ESV) Here we learn that whatever God did to create everything, He did through this Word.  In fact, John emphasized this by stating it in two different ways.  This Word was fully involved in creation.  God created the world and all creatures by this Word, and not only created, but also by him he has from the beginning, governed and upheld it.  For if all things were not upheld in their being by this Word, they would not long remain created.

John continues again and again to show that this Word has characteristics that only God has.  This Word is life.  It is the Light of men.  This Word is indeed a person of the Holy Trinity.

After the introduction makes it very clear that this Word is God and the life and light of all people, we read, The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. (John 1:9, ESV) Here we learn that this Gospel account will tell us that this Word who is God and the life and light of man entered history in order to dwell with His people.

Now we come to the introduction of the great conflict in this Gospel account.  He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. (John 1:1011, ESV) What a sad description this is of the sorry state of this world after the fall into sin.  This Word, the worlds God, creator, life, and light will enter into the history of the world and the world will reject Him.  How much evil, pain, suffering, and death result from this one sad fact the world does not know its creator?  All the evil, the pain, the sufferings, and the tragedies that befall us in this world can be gathered together under this one sin.  By nature, we are idolaters who do not know the creator.

For this great conflict there is a great resolution.  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:1213, ESV) With these great words of introduction we learn that this Gospel account will tell us what this Word has done in order to give us the right to call ourselves children of God.  The Gospel will not reveal something that we can do by our own blood, or flesh, or will, but it is God the Word who must accomplish this great rescue for us.

John has now introduced the great themes of his Gospel account.  The overture is almost over.  There is one last thing it must do.  It must prepare us for the opening of Act one; scene one of this great Gospel account.  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. (John 1:14, ESV)

The account of the true history of our salvation is ready to begin.  This Word who is God the Son, the creator, the life and light of all mankind is now a man Himself.  He has entered history to work salvation for us.  Christ has assumed human nature, which is mortal, and exposed to the terrible wrath and judgment of God.  He has taken up all our weaknesses.  Never the less, He does so without sin.

God the Son has taken up our earthly flesh and set His foot on the path that leads to the cross.  His own people will truly reject Him and arrange for Him to decorate a cross with His bloody body.  In this way, God will give us the right to call ourselves children of God not by our blood or will, but by His blood and will.

The path that leads to the cross also leads through the cross through death, and then to an empty tomb.  The empty tomb proclaims the resurrection of Jesus and it is the guarantee that we shall also rise from the dead to new, perfect, eternal life.  Today, we celebrate one step that our Lord took on that road that freed us from our sin.  We celebrate His birth as a man who will save all people.  Amen



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