1 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. 6 There was a man, sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as an eyewitness to testify about the light so that everyone would believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but he came to testify about the light. 9 The real light that shines on everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to what was his own, yet his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who did receive him, to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They were born, not of blood, or of the desire of the flesh, or of a husband’s will, but born of God. 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. (EHV)
Dear Friends in Christ,
Christmas is a commemoration of an historical event. A man named Jesus was born in Bethlehem 2026 years ago. But Christmas is far more than that. It is a festival of faith in our Savior Jesus, born in Bethlehem. We have placed our trust in Him, because we know that He is our Victor in the fight against sin and death, and our Leader in the march to the promised land of heaven. “We have seen his glory,” John says. Herod knew that a baby was born in Bethlehem, but “We have seen his glory.” The Apostle John didn’t just look into the manger and see a little Baby, he saw who Jesus truly is by faith, and by faith so do we.
He is the Eternal Word of God
So, who is He, this little baby born in a stable in Bethlehem? He is the Eternal Word of God.
1 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. 14 We have seen his glory, the glory he has as the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The little baby born at Bethlehem is the eternal God, ‘eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, True God from true God, begotten, mot made, of one being with the Father….’
The little baby born at Bethlehem is the Creator. Through him everything was made, and without him not one thing was made that has been made. At the creation of the world, God spoke, and through the Word—through Christ-all things came to be. What an unfathomable mystery, that everything you see, everything in our world, you yourself were created by God, and God came and became part of His own creation! A little Baby, lying in a manger and clinging to His mother, is her creator and ours who not only witnessed the creation of the universe, but made it happen!
Who is the little baby born at Bethlehem? He is Life itself who brought life to the world he created. He breathed into Adam’s nostrils, and Adam became a living soul. In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. Jesus brought life to Adam, and through his sin, Adam brought death to himself and the world. God said, “If you eat of the tree…you shall surely die,” and he did, and we do. “Through the sin of the one man, the many have been made sinners.” Andsinners die. But “In him was life.” “For as in Adam, all die so in Christ, shall all be made alive“ St. Paul wrote by inspiration. Christ is Life. He turns walking death into a pilgrimage of life to life! “I am the resurrection and the Life,” He said. Our bodies may die but we never will. He has given us new life and and He has promised His own that even our bodies will rise again, glorified and alive forever, to live with Him in heaven.
Who is the little baby born at Bethlehem? He is Light. In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. Everything John has written, everything we have spoken about, everything you have ever learned about Christ defies worldly, human reason, because what the world calls reason, and enlightenment is pure darkness. There is no so-called “inner light” without Christ. True enlightenment can only come through Christ and faith in Him. Dark human reason has worked only to destroy faith and salvation. Through the millennia there have been many times where it’s happened. There were the Gnostics against whom the Apostle John wrote, who denied Jesus was true God. Their spiritual descendants were such as the great heretic Arius, against whom the Nicene Creed was written, and Arius’ modern-day descendants, the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have shrouded themselves and their followers in the darkness of human ideas so they cannot see the Light of Christ. Modern theologians in the name of “enlightenment” deny that Jesus is the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. They dismiss the truth of God’s own Word as a pious myth hiding some deeper truth which they think they are shedding light on. Instead, they are covering the light of Christ with a bushel.
Jesus, the Eternal Word, came as the True Light to teach us what we could never discern on our own. 5 The light is shining in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. This not only calls for faith, it gives faith. The darkness of unbelief cannot overcome the Truth of Jesus. Only Jesus, the eternal Word, can enlighten us. He came, because without Him there would be no Life, no Light, no grace and no truth. But He is full of grace and truth!
He Is Full of Grace and Truth
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.
He was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and became one of us. God Himself came to dwell among us as one of us. He is the Offspring of the woman, foretold already from the time of the first sin, when God said to Satan, “…I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will crush his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Just as God had said through Isaiah, [7:14] The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel, which means “God with us.”
The only-begotten from the Father became man to be our Substitute, the second Adam, in order to undo the eternal consequences of the utter failure of the first Adam. The Eternal Word became one of us, a fellow human brother, because only the God-Man could be our Savior. Only God could be perfect, without sin. Only God–made-man could die for us by shedding “Holy, precious blood”—precious enough to pay for the sins of the whole world and purchase our redemption. Only the Eternal Word-made-flesh could die, be buried, and rise again victorious over sin and death to sit at God’s right hand, rule the world, and return in glory as our Judge and Redeemer on the Last Day.
Christmas is far more than a celebration of history. It is a celebration of the Faith, once delivered to the saints by God Himself by the miracle of inspiration. Without faith in the Eternal Word, all that He has done to save us can’t help us, and sadly that is true for so many. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to what was his own, yet his own people did not accept him.
What a sad and vivid commentary on the natural human disposition against God, that Jesus was, just as Isaiah foretold, “despised and rejected by men, …well acquainted with suffering. Like someone whom people cannot bear to look at, he was despised, and we thought nothing of him” —not just by His own people, but of all of us by nature. By nature, we despised Him too! As Isaiah continued, “Surely he was taking up our weaknesses, and he was carrying our sufferings. We thought it was because of God that he was stricken, smitten, and afflicted, 5but it was because of our rebellion that he was pierced. He was crushed for the guilt our sins deserved. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6We all have gone astray like sheep. Each of us has turned to his own way, but the Lord has charged all our guilt to him” (Isaiah 53:3–6)
We were all like sheep gone astray, running toward a cliff, unwilling and unable to hear the Shepherd’s voice as He ran after us. It’s not enough simply that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. He needs to be born in us. Many who were alive when Christ was born, are suffering eternal death now, because they rejected and ran away from the One and only seeking to save them. And many today, surrounded by Churches, even neighbors who are Christians don’t know or even want the Saviour. They’re heading downhill without faith. We don’t want to be among them, and we don’t want our neighbors to be either. It’s a miracle we are here today. God Himself reached out with His staff and grabbed us. We know what Christmas means. May Jesus, who is full of grace and truth have mercy on many more and even use us as messengers of His grace to those who are without saving faith.
11 He came to what was his own, yet his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who did receive him, to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They were born, not of blood, or of the desire of the flesh, or of a husband’s will, but born of God.
He became one of us, so that you could be God’s child and heir—His brothers and sisters. Just when you couldn’t save yourself, when you were lost, when you were dead in trespasses and sins, the One who gave His life for you gave you new life. You were born again through water and the Spirit. The Holy Spirit gave you faith and God called you His own in baptism—born of God. Truly, “He came…full of grace.”
And He came full of truth too. This little Baby born in Bethlehem is the eternal truthful Word Himself. He came to truthfully reveal to us His Father, and the One true Way to His heavenly home. “No one has ever seen the Father, but God the only Son has made him known,” Jesus said. And later, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through me” (John 14:6).
But We have seen his glory, the glory he has as the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. He has made us the sons and daughters of God. He has taught us the truth, and He has given us the faith to see Him for who He really is.
Because of Christmas, because the Eternal Word became flesh—truly human—yet remains eternal God, we can be sure that we receive the divine‑human body and blood of Christ, born in Bethlehem, which earned us forgiveness in Jerusalem, at the Lord’s altar this morning. “We have seen his glory,” we can then say, and with Simeon, “Lord, now you let your servant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation” by faith. What unfathomable mysteries God has revealed to us in His Word! God be forever praised that He sent His Son—the Eternal Word into the flesh, for us and for our salvation, full of grace and truth and that He has made us children of God through faith. Amen.