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Flesh And Blood Jesus: Christmas Day - John 1:1-14

Posted in 2014 / Audio Sermons / Christmas / Pastor Ted Giese / Sermons / ^John

Flesh And Blood Jesus: Christmas Day - John 1:1-14

"Flesh And Blood Jesus" / Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Christmas Day 2014 / John 1:1-14

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.

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. The Gospel of St. John has been called a crown of pure gold and this, it's prologue (Christmas Day's Gospel reading), has been called the central jewel set in that crown. "This prologue sums up the contents of the entire Gospel ... John attests [to] the humanity of the Son [Jesus] as fully and as completely as [to] the divinity and godhead [of this same Jesus, the Christ]. The miracle of the ages is that the Word became flesh and dwelt among men."[1] This Christ Jesus is the reason why we Christians celebrate Christmas - that should probably go without saying but the other day I was driving around and heard a radio advertisement for Netflix were it said the "reason for the season" was to stop and spend time with family and friend ... and then of course when you do that you should ... you know, watch something on Netflix together to build up your bank of warm holiday family memories. So yes, a thousand times yes, Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ, He and He alone is the reason for the season - but remember His reason for the season is you - Jesus wasn't born for His own good,  He was born for you. The part of the celebration of Christmas where people get together with friends and Family is simply, and hopefully, a happy by-product of the celebration of Jesus' birth for you.

Dear sainted Dr. Luther while preaching on this text for John chapter 1 addressed the need to remain focused on Scripture and the Jesus that the Gospel of John teaches saying that we must, "discuss it and preach it as long as we are able, to the glory of our Lord Christ and to our own welfare, comfort and salvation, without worrying whether the world shows much interest in it." Luther continues to say, "Nonetheless, there will always be a few who will hear God's precious Word with delight; and for their sakes, too, we must preach it for since God provides people whom He orders to preach, He will surely also supply and send listeners who will take this instruction to heart."[2]

All our candles are lit, the count-down is complete, Silent Night has been sung, the clock strikes 'Jesus-O-Clock' and we now celebrate the miracle of the ages that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. This truly is the spectacular thing in the midst of everything we think of when we think of Christmas.

The virgin Mary looks down at her newborn son, the words of the Angel Gabriel echo in her ears, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Swaddled in her arms is a king, a king laid in a stone feeding trough, a manger with straw for his bed. This is not really the sweet and adorable scene we make it out to be, it is actually the beginning of Jesus' suffering for you. This king has left His eternal throne in heaven at His Father's right hand and is now wreathed in straw, His head uncrowned except for the kiss of his mother's lips.

Joseph and Mary look on unsure about the future, even with Jesus in their arms they have to be faithful and believe the promise, believe that, the promise - the Word of God - had taken on flesh, and as they contemplate that promise they had to faithfully believe as men, women and children believed God's promises all the way through the Old Testament from Adam and Eve to them that day. They don't know what the future of that promise will look like, what that future holds, they don't know what kind of crown their Jesus will wear or what it means exactly to have the throne of king David. Was he to replace king Herod? Was Jesus to kick out the Romans? Is that the crown He'd wear? How could they know that Jesus' crown would be a cruel crown of mockery, a twisted crown of thorns, that it would bloom with the precious blood of His sacrifice and become a trophy of love and grace, and that which wicked men meant for evil would become a thing of hope, something God meant for good.[3]

When they take Jesus' little hands in theirs and count his little fingers and toes they would not know what those hands would accomplish, where those feet would walk. How, Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, would for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and be in the end seated back at the right hand of the throne of God.[4] How Jesus would take the throne of David in His body and blood into heaven washed clean from every hurt, every suffering, every sin. How in His love for us Jesus would become the Way, not just for king David and the Old Testament people but for us also, so that we with them all would be able to be led on that way and finally be gathered around that same throne (The Throne of God the Father), that Jesus would make Himself the way for us to come to the Father in heaven. Joseph and Mary knew that this baby Jesus would grow up to save them but how and when this would happen exactly was still more than they could grasp even as they held this baby in their arms and rocked Him to sleep. They couldn't fathom that those little hands would grow to one day be nailed to a Roman cross.

As they feed their little Jesus to make His body strong could they imagine that this same Jesus would feed countless millions, billions, with His very Body and Blood for the forgiveness of their sins. That when Jesus' "had increased in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and man,"[5] that He would be the very fountain of grace, and mercy, and steadfast love to hard hearted, cruel and fickle men. That Jesus would be their only hope for life, that Jesus "was [in fact] life, and [that as the Life, Jesus was, is and ever shall be] the light of men." Saint John tells us that Jesus, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome [Him]." It doesn't matter how heard hearted, cruel or fickle the darkness may be it cannot overcome this Jesus. The grown Man Jesus, the Son of God, the Word of God made flesh cannot be stopped by whips, or harsh words, He can't be stopped by hate, or mocking crowns of thorns, He cannot be stopped by cold iron nails, or crucifixion, He can't be stopped by the Devil or Sin, Jesus can't be stopped by the World or by Death. He can't be stopped by me or my sin, He can't be stopped by any feeling I might have down in my heart or by any thought I might have up in my head. This precious bundle of Joy in the arms of the Virgin Mary and Joseph that Christmas morning is unstoppable, this impossible baby will grown and come forth mighty to Save and nothing will stop Him from saving you.

Jesus is "the true light, which gives light to everyone." He has come into the world: And to you, to each of us, who have received Him, "He gave the right to become children of God." It is God's will to use the birth of His son Jesus, the miraculous birth of Jesus, to provide a miraculous birth for you - that you would be reborn in Christ Jesus[6] and be made a new creation reconciled to God, that your former sins and troubles would pass away,[7] that on the last day they will pass away for good, forever. The will of men cannot stop this great and wonderful thing, Jesus says that we Christians are not to fear these wicked people for what can they do? The worst they can do is kill you,[8] but Jesus is your life and in love Jesus makes a promise to you saying this about Himself, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die,” and Jesus adds, "do you believe this?"[9] Jesus has taken a crown of thorns so you will be crowned in glory, He made His first home in a room for livestock so that He could go and prepare a place for you in His Father's House, a house with many rooms.[10] A place where presumably your bed will not be made of straw.

The love of God for you in Christ Jesus is active, your reception of it is passive. It comes to you without work on your part, Jesus is the one who works for you. As saint John says in 1 John, "This is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."[11] The atonement for our sin. And now, "We love because [God] first loved us."[12] Now the Christian life is not entirely a passive one, from the last part of the passage from 1 John you hear about the active nature of faith. Still be careful dear ones and remember that while, "Passive faith is nothing when it comes to serving your neighbour [and] active faith is everything when it comes to serving your neighbour," that it is a passive faith toward God that Saves and the active faith toward neighbour that serves.[13] In Christ you are called to be active toward your neighbour and receptive to God's gifts to you. Christ Jesus actively served you, His neighbour, from the cradle to the grave, to the right hand of God, His heavenly Father - you simply receive the gift and count it as yours, trusting the one who gives the gift to be trustworthy and true.

So then today, on Christmas, we recall, and remember, and trust that the Father loved us by sending His Son, Jesus loved us by living a life of straw so you might have an eternal life of gold; yes He lived a life of suffering and on the Last Day "He will wipe away every tear from [your] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”[14] This is the baby that the Virgin Mary and Joseph held in their arms on the day of Jesus' birth, a righteous baby without sin, Christ from eternity, who gives you the gift of righteousness and perfection that was His from the beginning for, "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God," and it is that Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. And while the angel Gabriel had helped the Virgin Mary and Joseph to expect His coming, they and the whole world couldn't expect just how wonderful Jesus would turn out to be after he'd arrived. St. John for his part, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has given to you a Gospel that lays out this wonderful saviour, this Word become flesh, your Jesus who loves you yesterday, today and always. Your Jesus who is your crown and glory, your light in a dark world. 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.


[1] Interpretation of St. John's Gospel, R.C.H. Lenski, The Lutheran Book Concerns, 1942, pg 25-26. 

[2] Luther's Works, Volume 22, Sermon's on the Gospel of St. John Chapters 1-4, Concordia Publishing House, 1957, pg 5.

[3] Genesis 50:20,  "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today."

[4] Hebrews 12:2,  "Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."

[5] Luke 2:52   

[6] John 3:3

[7] 2 Corinthians 5:17-19, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation."

[8] Matthew 10:26-28, “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell."

[9] John 11:25-26

[10] John 14:2   

[11] 1 John 4:10

[12] 1 John 4:19

[13] The Fire and the Staff, Lutheran Theology in Practice, Klemet I. Preus, Concordia Publishing House 2004, pgs 75-76.

[14] Revelation 21:4