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And Was Made Man (St. John 1.1-14)

Nativity of Our Lord, Christmas Day

“And Was Made Man”
Rev. Jacob Sutton, Pastor

St. John 1.1-14

25 December 2019

 

+ In the Name of Jesus +

The ancient pagans told myths of the gods taking human form in order to dwell among mankind, (sometimes for nefarious purposes). But they would have never said that a god would become flesh.

And 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)

Yet that is exactly what the true God has done. Our Lord Jesus “became flesh” and “pitched His tent” – established a dwelling among us, He once took on and still bears our human flesh. Just like that old Testament tent that God dwelt in to make His Old Testament Israel holy and point them forward to the promised Savior, so God in Christ now dwells with man as man in order to save His people from their sins. He has taken up our cause and identifies with us in every way.

What no other religion has ever dreamed is the very basis of the Christian faith, namely that God does not have you come to Him. He comes to you! This is such a holy thing, such an important thing, the true meaning of Christmas that roles into Good Friday and Easter. So important a tenet of our Christian faith, we confess it every Divine Service: “And [He] was made man.”

Let us pray:

Lord Jesus, Word made flesh, in Your flesh You destroyed my sin at the cross. Reign now in my heart by Your risen and ascended body. In Your name we pray: Amen.

The message of Christmas is that the Word who was with God, this Word who was God, this Word through whom all things were made, has become one of us. St. John writes: “The Word became flesh.” He became a human being. He became our brother. As the hymnist says:

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,

Hail th’incarnate Deity!

Pleased as Man with man to dwell;

Jesus, our Immanuel!

Can it be true? Immanuel, the “with-us-God”? How can it be true? How can the God whom the whole universe cannot contain become a little baby? How can he through whom all things were made join his own creation, taking on himself flesh and blood? How can the Almighty become a little infant dependent upon his mother for his very life? How? God does not say. We cannot understand. But we can know. Yes, we can know that it is so.

St. John writes:

And 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)

This is the message and true meaning of Christmas. Billions of dollars invested in everything from light displays to Santa Claus visits to good-hearted attempts at charitable works, to political debates about public manger displays, and the sounds of bells, and the sound of a lot of bad pop Christmas music, to cars driving down congested streets bumper to bumper in the frantic effort to get it all done before we run out of time: these are but distractions.

The true message of Christmas is that God has joined the human race. We honor that by being here most of all, to receive Him as Savior and Lord in Word and Sacrament, and to confess it in our Creed every service and even to bow our head or bend our knee in humble adoration at such a wondrous act of God’s mercy, glory, grace, and truth.

He came to do for us what we failed to do for Him. It was our duty to obey His Word. We know it.  We can hardly blame the troubles of life on everyone else. If there is hatred out there what do I find within my own heart? If there is envy and covetousness in this world, what is it that my own eyes see that I want more than desiring to help my neighbor? If there is betrayal, have I broken my promises?  Consider all the evil we bemoan, everything that would keep us from feeling full of grace and goodwill. Must we not acknowledge our own responsibility for it?

But here is God. He doesn’t come to give you what your sins deserve. The Apollo 11 moon landing left the plaque on the moon that says, “We came in peace for all mankind.” But Jesus comes to earth in divine, heavenly, eternal peace. He is not so far away that you cannot see him or know him or have him as your own. He is in a manger. He is a helpless little baby. But He is the almighty God come to set you free. He is the pure and innocent babe of Bethlehem. But He will face your sins. He will bear their guilt. He will offer his holy life up on Calvary for sinners like you and me. Here is God in the flesh. Here is divine glory. Here is grace and truth.

Grace and truth go together. Christmas is about grace and truth. Only when God is gracious to us for Christ’s sake can the truth be our friend. The truth is that apart from Christ we are lost and powerless to find our way back to God.

But grace and truth go together in this Word made flesh, the Savior, who is Christ, the Lord, the one wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid in the manger. The one wrapped in death’s strong bands for our offenses given. The one who now at God’s right hand He stands, and brings us life from heaven in Word preached, Baptism, Supper, and Absolution delivered. The truth is that God joined Himself to the human race to bring us grace. God’s grace in Jesus Christ overflows, a fullness which is inexhaustible. It is mercy. It is kindness. It is the forgiveness of all our sins. It is new life. It is comfort within. It is peace. All of this is given to us in the God who for us men and our salvation pitched His tent among us, and became a baby, a boy, a man, our brother, our Savior.

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit +

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