The Word Became Flesh

December 25, 2016

Pastor Bernt P. Tweit

Old Testament Lesson; Isaiah 52:7-10

Gospel Lesson; John 1:1-14

Epistle Lesson; Hebrews 1:1-9

Sermon Text; John 1:1-14

I am going to share the Christmas Story with you today. But, I am not going to talk about Joseph, or Mary. I am not going to talk about Bethlehem. I am not going to talk about the stable, or the manger. I am not going to talk about the angels, or the shepherds. I am not going to talk about the star, or The Wise Men. And, I am not going to talk about the baby!

But, today I am going to share with you the Christmas Story, using John's Gospel, which was our Gospel Lesson for today. If you look at our Gospel Lesson for today, the two verses I am going to focus on are: verse one, and verse fourteen. Here is what John says in those two verses.

“In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God.”

Now, go to verse fourteen.

“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.”

When John wrote his gospel, he wrote it a number of years after the other three gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John is assuming you know the Christmas Story that happened in Bethlehem. So, John comes at Christmas just slightly differently.

Here is what John focuses on.

       -He focuses on Jesus is true God. He is true God for you.        -He focuses on Jesus is true Man. And, He is true Man for you.

I am going to touch base on those two things, and then I am going to conclude by talking about The Christmas Goose.

In John's day, the fact that Jesus was God was under attack. That is why John stresses the divinity of Jesus. The words we are looking at for today actually come from The Prologue of John, that means, 'the introduction to his gospel'.

But, in John's Epilogue, which is 'the conclusion' at the very end of the Gospel of John, he says this. It is the theme verse from his gospel.

“These are written that you may believe

Jesus is the Christ,

the Son of God,

and that by believing you may have life in His name.”

And so, that is why John begins his gospel by emphasizing the divinity of Christ. Notice what John says in chapter one, verse one.

“In the beginning was the Word,”.

Now, when you hear that phrase, “In the beginning”, what does it remind you of? Hopefully, it reminds you of Genesis. Hopefully, it reminds you of creation.

Now, when John wrote these words, he wrote them about four thousand years, after the world was created. (Today, we are about six thousand years after the world was created.) But, John was saying Jesus was there, in the beginning. Jesus is eternal. He is God. The word John uses to refer to Jesus is, “the Word”. The Greek word is, 'logos'. That would have been a significant word, not only for Jews, but also for Gentiles. Jesus is the Word. He was there in the beginning.

He is God.

Well, John goes on to say,

“...the Word was with God,”.

There John is telling us Jesus is the second person of the Trinity. We have God the Father, and now we have Jesus, who is God the Son. (He also talks about God the Holy Spirit, but we are focusing on Christmas today.) “...the Word was with God,”. And now, finally, “...the Word was God.”

Jesus is God.

Now, the divinity of Jesus has been under attack since He was born. Already in John's day there was a man by the name of Cerinthus. He said God came to the Man Jesus at His baptism. And left the Man Jesus at His crucifixion. In one way, he was denying the divinity of Jesus.

Throughout the history of the world, there have been other groups who have denied Jesus is true God. The Mormons do that. The Jehovah Witnesses do that. The Unitarians do that. Denying in one way, shape, or form, the divinity of Jesus.

As a matter of a fact, when the Mormons translate John 1:1, they translate it this way. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” In one way, shape, or form, they are denying the divinity of Jesus, saying He is just one of maybe possibly many gods.

Two hundred years after John wrote his Gospel, the Nicene Creed was written. If you ever compare the Apostle's Creed with the Nicene Creed, you will see the portion talking about Jesus is much, much longer. Do you want to know why? The Nicene Creed emphasizes the divinity of Jesus. It emphasizes the fact that Jesus is true God.

Jesus is true God for you, and for me.

That is why, in our catechism, we ask the question:

Why was it necessary for Jesus to be true God?

It is answered this way.

“It was necessary for Jesus to be true God so that He could fulfill the Law for us, and suffer and die in our place, and that it would be sufficient.”

The word 'sufficient' means, 'plenty, or satisfactory'.

Jesus, as God, fulfilled the Law for you and me. And as God, Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins.

Jesus is true God

for you, and for me.

But today, too, John is also emphasizing Jesus is true Man for you, and for me. This is what he says about Jesus being true Man,

“...the Word became flesh.”

I want you to do this. Pinch yourself. Find some flesh. Just pinch yourself wherever you find some flesh. Pinch it. Feel that? You have flesh. Well, Jesus came in the flesh, too. He is not just God, but He is also Man.

Jesus is true Man.

As Jesus came in the flesh, as our text for today tells us, He “dwelt among us”.

Maybe you learned it this way.

       -He made His “dwelling among us”.

Or, maybe you learned it this way.

       -Jesus came, and “tabernacled among us”.

Actually, that verb means, 'tabernacled', or 'tented'.

A number of you like to go camping, and if you go tent camping, you know it is temporary. You know you are only going to live in that tent for a temporary period of time, because your home is your permanent place where you lay your head.

Well, when Jesus came in the flesh, when He came and 'dwelt', or made His dwelling among us”, He tented among us”. For the thirty three years of His life, here on earth, Jesus was on earth, temporarily.

But, it was necessary for Jesus to come in the flesh. And, why was it necessary? We ask that question in our catechism, as well.

“Why was it necessary for Jesus to be true Man?”

“It was necessary for Jesus to be true Man so that He would fulfill the Law for us, and suffer and die in our place.”

Jesus is perfect.

He is Man.

He fulfilled The Law for you and me, which we could not do on our own. We sin against God's Commands, in The Ten Commandments in thought, word, and deed.

Jesus fulfilled The Law for us,

as true Man.

As our substitute, Jesus went to the cross. God's wrath was taken out on His Son, Jesus, so that His wrath would not be taken out on us.

But, that picture of Jesus 'tenting among us', or 'tabernacling among us', would have been one the Jews would have really clung to. It would have reminded them of God coming to them in the wilderness, for those forty years of wandering between Egypt and The Promised Land, up until the temple was built in Jerusalem. God would come to them in the tabernacle. The tabernacle would be set up, and they would worship God, there. The tabernacle would be taken down, moved, and set up again. That is where they would worship God, until the temple was built in Jerusalem - a temporary structure, until they had their permanent home.

I can't help but think about where we are worshiping. We are in between our permanent home on Milwaukee Street, and our permanent sanctuary here at Holy Cross Way. Where are we worshiping? We are worshiping in a gymnasium, a temporary worship structure. But, here is where God is coming to us.

John says about Jesus,

“We have seen His glory”.

John, Peter, and James were three of the disciples who were closest to Jesus. They saw something the other disciples didn't see. They saw Jesus, as a Man, in all of His glory, as God, on the mountain of Transfiguration. They saw Jesus' face shown like the sun. Here a Man, and yet they got a glimpse of Him being God.

Today, on this Christmas Morning of a child:

       -this child who was born, and yet He has existed for all eternity,

       -a child who was dependent upon His mother, and yet He is the creator of the world,

       -a child who came in lowly, and humble conditions, and yet is the Lord of lord, and the King of kings,

       -why did Jesus, who is true God and true Man in one person, why did He come?

He came to give you God's grace.

He came to give you God's truth.

God's grace is His charity for you. God's grace is His undeserved love for us, who are sinners. And, Jesus is bringing that to you, once again today.

He is also bringing you His truth. God's truth is revealed to us in His Word.

Jesus is the way,

the truth,

and the life.

No one comes to the Father

except through Him,

except through Jesus.

Which gets me to conclude today with the account of the Christmas Goose. There once was a young family that lived in a farming community. The wife believed in God, and she believed in Jesus, as her Savior, but her husband did not. He would oftentimes say to her, “That is foolishness. That is ridiculous. I can't believe God would lower Himself to become one of us.”

She raised her children to believe in God, and believe in Jesus, as their Savior.

It was Christmas Eve, and she was getting her children ready for worship, at the local church. She asked her husband to go with them.

He said, “No, I cannot believe in that foolishness. That is ridiculous that God would lower Himself to become one of us.”

And so, off the wife and children went to church.

While they were gone, a snowstorm started to pop up. It started to snow pretty heavily. The wind began to blow.

He sat down in a chair, near the fireplace in the living room, when he heard a thump at the window. He went to investigate what it was. But, because of the snow coming down, he couldn't see. So, he went back, and sat down.

He heard another thump at the window. And, this time the snow had let up a little bit. So, he went outside. He saw in his yard, and the local farm field, a flock of geese that had landed, because of the snowstorm. They had been flying south, but got caught in the snowstorm, and were lost. They were blinded, and you might say, they were perishing.

He had a barn, and wanted them to get inside so they could be safe. So, he opened the barn doors, thinking they would go into the barn by themselves. But, they didn't.

Then he tried to shoo them into the barn, but they scattered, whenever he tried to shoo them.

He went inside, and got a loaf of bread. He led a trail of bread crumbs to the barn, but they didn't follow that.

He was getting frustrated. He was trying to help that flock of geese, but they didn't want to have anything to do with it.

That is when he went into his barn, got one of his own geese, grabbed it in his arms, and walked outside, behind the flock of geese. He let his goose go, and it flew right into the safety of the barn. Then, the flock of geese followed right behind his goose, into the barn, where they were safe.

He thought about what he had told his wife, earlier. “That is foolishness. That is ridiculous that God would become one of us.” But then, he thought about what had just happened. It took a goose to save that flock of geese.

He thought about what his wife and children were doing. They were celebrating that God became one of us. Why did God become one of us? We were the ones who were lost, blind, and perishing, (just like that flock of geese) because of our sin. But, God in His grace and truth, for you and for me, sent His Son (like the farmer’s goose). God became one of us, true God and true Man in one person, so that we would be follow him, belief in him, be saved, and so that we would have everlasting life with Him, in Heaven.

Merry Christmas to you, and to your families, as we celebrate Jesus is true God, and He is true Man. He came to save us so that we would have everlasting life with Him, in Heaven!