The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day
December 25, 2017
Text: John 1:1-18
The good news of Christmas is that you don’t have to work your way up to God. He comes down to you in the flesh. He comes as a Baby, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. He is God. He is Man. He is one with your flesh. He comes to make His dwelling with you. He comes to be present with you, and to be present for you. Now, this is incredibly good news, because if you had to climb some sort of ladder up to God, you would never stop climbing. No matter how high you got climbing the ladder of the Law, you would never reach the level of our holy and righteous God. And every sin you commit, every impure thought, every lustful glance, every twinge of bitterness or hatred or greed, would knock you off the ladder. And there would be no second chances. There is no getting on the ladder again. Sin disqualifies you. Which means you are sunk from the beginning, because even before you’ve committed an actual sin, you have inherited the guilt of Adam. You are born in sin, and in sin did your mother conceive you (Ps. 51:5). That is the predicament of all humanity. You are not worthy. You are not good enough. You cannot ascend to God by keeping His Law. You will never reach Him that way. So God comes to you in the humility of His only-begotten Son, wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger, because there is no room for Him in the inn (Luke 2:7).
“In the beginning…” (John 1:1; ESV). In our Holy Gospel, St. John takes us back to Genesis. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1, 3). It is this Word of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the eternal Son of God, who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (v. 14). The Creator has come into His creation. The Creator has come to make His dwelling in the midst of His creation, in the midst of His people, to tabernacle among them, to be one with them, to be one with you. The Creator has come into your flesh to redeem you. Because you could not ascend to Him, He has come down to you. The Word, the Son of God, has come down to the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, to be a Son of Adam, to undo all that Adam did and all that you have done, and make Adam and you sons of God once again.
And He comes right into the midst of your broken mess of a life. He doesn’t wait for you to be good enough or clean enough. He doesn’t wait for you to polish up your life so that you and He can live in the delusion that everything is just fine without Him. He knows just how screwed up everything is, just how screwed up you are. He knows about your unfaithfulness, the things you do and say and think in secret. He knows your selfishness, your pride, your loose tongue, your wandering eye. You can hide those sins from yourself, but you can’t hide them from Jesus. The good news of Christmas is that He comes to you, not even in spite of those things, but because of them, to deal with them, to take them away from you, to take them upon Himself and bear them to the cross. That is why He had to be born as a real Man, fully Man, really born of a woman, real flesh and blood. So that He could stand in for you and take the corruption of your flesh upon Himself, and so that He, even though He is God, could die. For you. So that you, being man, can live. In Him.
You see, He comes into your mess of a life as Life in the midst of death, as Light in the midst of darkness. All life has its source in the speaking of God. The Word that became flesh and dwelt among us, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (v. 4). And the thing about this Life from Jesus Christ, which is the Light of men, is that “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (v. 5). Your darkness, your sin, your sadness, your suffering, your death, cannot overcome the Light and Life that Jesus brings. Christ Jesus is risen from the dead. And He will raise you. You have eternal life. What happens when Jesus comes to you is that His Life dispels your death, takes over, encompasses you. His Light dispels your darkness, shines into every corner of your body and soul, your heart and your mind, and completely envelopes you. In Christ, all your sin is gone. In Christ, your death is done. In Christ, all that is wrong is right. In Christ, you are a child of the heavenly Father. You are not worthy, but He is. He is your worthiness. You are not good, but He is. He is your goodness. He is your righteousness. He is your holiness. In Him, you stand before God as a son, to inherit the Kingdom with Christ. All of this is yours, not by works, but by faith. By believing in Him. By receiving Him, receiving your Christmas gift from God, your heavenly Father. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (v. 12).
You receive Him on your head and in your ears and in your mouth. Water, Word, bread and wine, the Body and Blood born of the Virgin Mary. He comes to you still in the humility of the Means of Grace. He comes to you still right in the midst of your broken mess of a life. He comes for the broken. He comes for sinners. How many of our members stay away from Church, stay away from the Body and Blood of Jesus, because they think their lives are just too broken and messy for Him? Dear brothers and sisters, this should not be. If your life is broken and messy and you know it, come. This Supper is for you. It is not the healthy who need a physician, but the sick (Luke 5:31). Christmas is for broken people. The Church is a hospital for sinners. Christ comes to you here in the midst of your sickness and darkness and death. To make you whole by His Life and Light. That under these humble vessels you see His glory, “glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). That from His fullness you receive grace upon grace (v. 16).
And so we feast. The Creator has come to rescue His creation. He has come in the flesh to redeem our flesh. Christ is our Immanuel, God with us. And He is our Light and our Life. Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Now sing we, now rejoice, with heart and soul and voice, with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, over what our God has done. God is a Man. And in Him we are all made sons of God. Merry Christmas! In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.