"Does the World know Jesus?" Sermon / John 1:1–18 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Wednesday December 25th 2019 / Season Of Advent Christmas – Christmas Day / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Wednesday December 25th 2019: Season of Christmas – Christmas Day / John 1:1–18 "Does the World know Jesus?"
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through Him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 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. 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.
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 bore witness about Him, and cried out, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because He was before me.’”) For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, He has made Him known.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Merry Christmas. This Christmas day passage from the Gospel of St. John includes a curious phrase, “the world did not know Him,” you hear that this morning and you might think … well yes when Jesus was born that first Christmas only a very small handful of people knew what had happened, so yes at that time “the world did not know Him,” what if I told you that there are many in the World right now who do not know who this baby is. Again you might say well yes there are many Muslims and Buddhists and Hindu people who don’t know who Jesus is … they may have heard bits and pieces about Him and those bits and pieces might be all wrong or only partially correct this is why we have missionaries in far flung places in the world so sure in that way even now there a places where “the world [doesn’t] know Him.” But what if I told you that in places like Great Briton and Canada and the United States there are who even now at Christmas do not know who this baby is? In the last couple weeks reports of survey results from a company called onepoll in the UK suggest that 2 in 5 British people between the ages of 22-37 don't know that Jesus is the baby in the Christmas Nativity displays and apparently they also don't know who Joseph and Mary are either. Now I haven’t been able to verify all the details about this poll which is purported to have been conducted for a company called Hotel.com but it did get me thinking. Our reading from the Gospel of John this Christmas morning concludes by saying that “[God the Father] has made Him known,” to the World, that is was God the Father who initially made Jesus known to the World.
In a World that would not know this Christ Child on its own how is it that you know who Jesus is? How is it that you heard that this Jesus is the long promised Messiah in the flesh born to be the Saviour of the World, the one who came to “save His people from their sins[?]” Was it your parents or some other family member who first told you, a co-worker, or a friend? From their lips to your ears, and in those Words the Holy Spirit in action, though you didn’t know it at that time, working His way down into your heart changing what He found and there bringing the Light of God, Christ Jesus the Lord to reside in His implanted Word. Was it in a sermon or in a conversation with a pastor when suddenly the lights turned on and you were no longer sitting in darkness? Maybe you were being taught who this Jesus so far back in your life that it pre-dates your memories of being told and as far as you can tell you have always know who Jesus is, who this baby in the manger at Christmas is, the only begotten Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, your Lord and your God. Many of you likely fit in somewhere in that list. But not everyone in the World does. The World and many people in it have always needed to hear about this Jesus, first the promise, His birth and then that He was living and dying for them, and then that He was God not just some vitreous man and teacher of morals and forgiveness. In every age and at every time following Jesus’ Easter morning Resurrection there have been people who needed to know that the baby in the manger of Christmas is the one who grew to be the adult Jesus who died and three days later was risen from the dead “by the glory of [God] the Father” that He is the one who then ascended into heaven and that He will come again and that in Baptism and in His Holy Super this Jesus comes to us with life, love and forgiveness.
The idea that people would need to have the dots connected between This baby in the manger and the one who would one day gather disciples to Himself and become Jesus is perhaps hard to believe, but just remember Jesus Himself would give these disciples the work of telling all people, of baptizing them and caring for them. And from the Day of Pentecost 10 days after Jesus ascension into heaven Christians have been doing just that, teaching, preaching, spreading the news of promised birth, life, death and resurrection and ascension of Jesus and how He is even now with them, with us.
However this was not the case at first: When Christ was born, and Joseph His earthly adoptive father and His Mother the Virgin Mary first looked down at His little face on that first Christmas John the baptizer who would prepare the way for this Jesus was himself just an infant, there was no Prophet in the land so at that time God the Father sent His message of the coming birth and then the actual birth to the World by angels. To the virgin Marry, to Joseph, in advance of the birth He sent angels and to Shepherds watching their fields by night He sent angels, He sent a star to guide the astronomer Wise Men of the east, and God the Father had already by the workings of the Holy Spirit given and preserved the texts of Scripture as a confirmation of what had happened in the past and was about to happen in the birth of His only begotten Son Jesus. In the Old Testament times this work of telling fell to the Prophets as Hebrews chapter 1 says, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the World.” Today God the Father doesn’t use stars and angels to spread the message of His Son Jesus who is the Word made flesh, now he uses pastors and people like you. Christ Jesus calls His pastors, we preach to you, we read you God’s Holy Word, we teach you and you in turn go out and teach you families, tell your friends and point people to Jesus. For some you are the one who connects the dots between the Baby in the Manger who is Immanuel God with us in the flesh and man on the cross in His crucifixion who is Immanuel God with us in the flesh. For others it will be men like Pr. Albrecht and I who will connect those dots and fill in the details of Jesus’ life. One way or another someone needs to explain what is happening to the new generations and to those who are part of a World that doesn’t know Him.
In recent years many schools helped teach about Jesus, there was a time when Jesus’ prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, was commonly taught and prayed in School, in the very recent couple decades this has almost completely vanished from schools. It happened for a lot of reasons but one recent story said it was being done to accommodate non-Christians so they could participate in a school Christmas concert without having their non-Christian beliefs offended. Apparently at East London's Whitehall Primary School the words to Away in the Manger where changes for the kids to go like this, “Away in a manger, no crib for His bed The little [baby] Jesus laid down His sweet head The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay The little [baby] Jesus asleep on the hay.” While it is most certainly true that the eternal Word of God, the only begotten Son of the Father, wrote Himself into our earthly story as a baby, born the way you and I were born only with a plot twist in that He - because of His conception by the Holy Spirit to the Virgin Mary - was to be born without sin; it is also most certainly true that this baby Jesus was no plain baby, the Word of God was this baby, this Baby was the Word of God, and He was “Lord at His Birth.” Jesus was Lord before His birth, He was Lord before there was a before and this is what John is getting at in the first chapter of His Gospel. We don’t simply celebrate a birth of a boy named Jesus; we celebrate the one who came to save us from the World, from a World that didn’t know Him even though He made it in the beginning, He came to save us from that World and from our sin, from our self.
We had here in Canada a time when House and Home, School and Church, government and community all in some fashion or another spread the Word of who Jesus was because those institutions had Christians living and working within them. Those days were not all glorious, every generation has its tragedies, failures and sins. Not everyone who has been tasked with teaching about Jesus has been trustworthy. Such horrible things happen sadly also in families and in other settings so some grow cold to the idea that institutions could embrace the teaching of Jesus. If however because some have been evil everyone then sets aside the task of faithfully teaching about Jesus how will people learn of Him, how will they learn that this Baby in the manger in Jesus the Lord? You see even years ago when it was common to teach of Jesus in almost every setting even then there were people who did not care to hear about Jesus or people who had yet to hear of Jesus. Every generation needs to hear about the Birth of Christ Jesus for them. They also need to be taught about Jesus in a respectful way not through imposition but in love and kindness.
In these days then who will do it? We do it here at Mount Olive? Are you about this work? For all the times you in your life as a Christian have failed to speak God’s Word, to tell of Jesus, when the opportunity arose in your Home, in your work, in the public square with those you love, even with those you dislike or who hate you remember there is forgiveness. Remember also that Jesus remains the one who made all things. Yes all things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was and is and ever shall be life, and the life was and is and ever shall be the light of men,” John in his Gospel has been teaching this for centuries, and it is Jesus’ disciple John who would also record how Jesus said of Himself, “I am the Light of the Word” and it is this Jesus who is the Light that shines in the darkness, and while there are times when the World feels very dark, or at least like the kind of place where the darkness is growing by the moment “the darkness” St. John tells us “has not overcome it.” The darkness has not overcome The Light, the very Word of God born into a dark night that first Christmas.
Skip forward from that night to Good Friday and even there as Jesus hung dead on the cross, even there as He was raised from the tomb three days later alive the World at large “did not know Him.” He came to His own [as was promised from of old], and His own people [the Jewish people of that day] did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him [that rabble of fishermen like St. John, and the rest of the disciples], [Yes to all] who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. This is you. That Baby in the Manger, the Little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay became a baby joining in the flesh and blood life of men so that you through His body and blood, given and shed for you, at the cross could become the children of God.
A couple last thoughts for you today: It’s hard to tell the story if you do not know the story, you will better know the story by hearing it read to you at church, by reading it from your Bible, by studying it, by studying it with friends and in Bible Studies. God the Father gives you what you need in His Word and in the Church His Son instituted. If you are away from His Word it may slowly fade away so stay in His Word and remember it is God the Father who makes Jesus known, you may think that you brought yourself here this morning to know more and more and more about Jesus, to hear the story yet again and be made firm in it, ultimately it is not you and your convictions that brought you hear for this ultimately it is God the Father who does this, He is the one who has made Jesus known to a world did not know Him. You are the fruits of this labour. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Who’s that baby in the crib?
 Matthew 1:21
 Romans 6:4
 Hebrews 1:1–2
 'Lord' is removed from 'Away in a Manger' lyrics at school nativity
 Some took advantage of this Nobel desire and did wicked things using the name of Jesus to hide their deeds, which is a breaking of the Second Commandment misusing the name of Jesus deceiving by His name, the hurt and pain of this we see in the tragic stories of the residential school system in Canada.
 John 9:5
 Luke 2:15–18