December 24, 2020
Pastor John Hering
John 1:1-5, 14
John 1:1-5, 14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him everything was made, and without him not one thing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 5 The light is shining in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
14 The Word became flesh and dwelled among us. We have seen his glory, the glory he has as the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Christmas account is an easy story to tell. A young woman give birth to a baby. In our world 4 babies are born every second. A poor young woman gives birth to a baby. In the USA the census reports over 16 million children living in poverty. A poor young woman is married to a man who isn’t the father of her child. The latest statistics tell us 14% of married women today have had an affair. The poor young woman wraps her baby in clothes and lays him in something less than a crib. Not every baby born comes home to a nursery prepped and painted for their arrival. You see, this is an easy story to tell and there’s nothing here that really amazes us. Not really. Luke records a simple story of the Christmas Gospel, so simple even little children can easily tell it.
But, what’s happening behind the scenes isn’t so simple at all. When we listen to the story of a child we want to know what comes next. In the case of this child’s birth we learn what came before? Luke was inspired to pick up the story about 9 months before the child was born. The account from John begins before the beginning of the world! The story Luke tells is simple. The story John tells is anything but simple—it’s the opposite of simple! “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Yes, John is talking about Jesus before he was given the name “Jesus,” as the son of Mary. John calls the 2nd person of the Trinity, “The Word.” You see, before Jesus was Jesus he was God. His life didn’t begin at conception. As the Word, he existed before the beginning began. There was never a time when the Word wasn’t. He was hard at work long before Bethlehem happened. “2 He was with God in the beginning. Through him everything was made, and without him not one thing was made that has been made.” Before he ever took his first breath in the stable or cried in his manger bed, he was the voice of God. He was the SAID in the Bible’s words, “And God said.” There, have you got it now?
It is no coincidence that John’s gospel account begins the same way Genesis begins; “In the beginning.” John is reminding us that while this earth had a beginning, God did not. “In the beginning God” (Gen 1:1). That’s because before the beginning God was there. Then it happened. God spoke and SAID, “Let there be light” (Gen 1:3). The eternal Word spoke and the universe began. The Word is the creating voice of God. His was the first voice that brought light to the darkness. Yes, John was inspired by the Holy Spirit to tell his story so you can
See The Light In the Night
For the world
The world has come a long way from being “formless and empty” (Gen 1:2). We can look into the sky and see a little speck of what’s really out there. We can look down the street and see people, but just 1/8 billionth of the people that are really out there. We can look everywhere to see divine creations and human inventions and imagine that things are pretty well under control. Or not? Look at the world in which we live and it can feel just as confusing and chaotic as it was when the world was “formless and empty.” We can’t know the future, can’t predict the economy, or even see the storms that are forming in the skies thousands of miles away. We see society producing alternate lifestyles, we don’t understand the affects of global warming because no one knows what “normal” is supposed to be. We work hard to keep the world from being dark with electric lights at night, but I would argue at night from an airplane when you see those areas of saturated lights marking the locations of cities, there is more sinful darkness in those places than in the dark places in the expanse in between. Comparably speaking, the world in which we live seems very dark, almost as dark as it was before the beginning of time. Yes, our world is in desperate need to see the Light in the Night!
John comes to the world with that Light. The divine Word is still the Light in the Night. That same voice that called creation into order is still at work keeping creation in order. The sun still blazes, but doesn’t burn up. The planets are heated, but never melt down. Every action is still met with a reaction. Sometimes the elevator goes up, and sometimes the elevator goes down. We may not hear a tree fall and create sound in the woods, but the Word does. We may not see the shape of every snowflake, but the Word does. Even after the Word takes on the human name Jesus, the wind and the waves still obey his Word. Yes, For the World it may seem like things are chaotic, but the divine Word that took on flesh some 2000 years ago is still the Light in the Night controlling all things.
Come with me and kneel besides the manger. Brush back the straw that lines the manger and pull back the swaddling clothes and you will see the “14 The Word became flesh and [dwelling] among us.” Jesus has seen it all. He was there to form Adam from the dust of the earth and give him life. He was there enjoying perfect fellowship with his highest creation. He was there when Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan. He was there and witnessed the bite of the fruit that brought on the horror of sin that ruined their image and destroyed their likeness and plunged the world into darkness. We call this darkness, “death.” Everyone in the world was separated from God and destined for eternal death in hell. The Lights went out. The Darkness of sin prevailed just as God has warned. The World was in desperate need of the Light in the Darkness to be revealed. And tonight the Light In The Night is revealed for the world and
That’s what makes this day so special. Through all of this horror of darkness, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit did not change. While the world was dealing with death, the “Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning…. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind.” Jesus is the life that is in perfect fellowship with God the Father (true God). Nothing came between the divine Word and God the Father, not the conception in Mary’s womb, not a birth in a stable, not a life of serving and helping others, nothing. The Word was, is and will always be God. Yet, he became fully human. He placed himself under God’s law, allowed himself to be arrested, tortured, beaten and crucified for you. There on the cross the Word, the God-Man, Jesus gave up his holy precious life to pay the penalty of all your sins and all my sins. “4 In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 5 The light is shining in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” There on the cross the Light overcame the darkness of sin, death and hell so that all mankind could be reunited with God forever!
This is the central truth of the Christmas story! All other teachings depend on this central teaching. When Jesus died on the cross and offered his life to God, God then declared the whole world forgiven for Jesus’ sake. God no longer counts sin against you—no matter what you’ve done, said or even thought. God forgives the world, yes God forgives you for Jesus sake—the Light shining in the Night! This Good News was proclaimed to the shepherds who believed their message and went to look for the child. Their faith received what God had to offer—The Light in the Night. This is the Good News that Mary pondered in her heart. She believed the angel and as she laid Jesus in the manger her faith received what God had to offer—the Light in the Night. This is why Simeon and Anna rejoiced, why Wise Men came to worship him. They believed and their faith received what God had to offer—The Light in the Night. This is the Good News John the Baptist preached in the desert and the people heard and believed so that their faith received what God had to offer—the Light in the Night. This is the Good News we have gathered to hear again today so that your faith receives what God has to offer—the Light in the Night.
The Christmas account is so easy to tell on the surface. But, at some time in your life, either through your baptism as an infant or through the proclamation of the gospel, the Holy Spirit created the spark of faith in your heart. He opened your eyes to see more than a simple story about a baby being born. You heard the Gospel and believed so that your faith receives what God has to offer—the Light in the Night. Jesus has destroyed your darkness. Jesus has lifted your eyes of faith into the Light. Yes, the Christmas story is easy to tell on the surface, but in that manger is a profound message. “14 The Word became flesh and dwelled among us. We have seen his glory, the glory he has as the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” We See the Light in the Night. The Light—Jesus Christ—has brought hope to a world of chaos, light to the black hole of sin, light to hearts of doubt and sorrow, light to you. This Christmas you are blessed because you see Jesus—the Light in the Night for the world, yes, for you. Amen!