The Christmas Story: “GOD in Christ Made Man”

    Sermon Preached at Grace Community Church (EPC)      Sun City Grand, Surprise, AZ

Sunday, December 24, 2017  by the Reverend Cooper McWhirter

 The Christmas Story: “GOD in Christ Made Man”

John 1:1-5;14

To capture the true meaning of Christmas, one must look beyond the glitz and glitter of commercialism.  This is NOT a holiday.  It is…a holy day!  A religious observance unlike any other.  If one is not careful, you can be blinded by the ground clutter of the season and fail to catch a glimpse of the “reason for the season”!

For on this day, Christians commemorate the birth of the Christ Child.  But, like any other day, it’s over before you know it.  Poof!  It’s gone until this same time next year when Andy Williams will again remind us, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”  Ah, ’tis true!  It’s the “season for giving, but I suspect not in the way the Christ Child intended.

What is it about Christmas where people wink or nod, but few will ever ask about?  The answer centers around the nativity scene.  An ornamental display, which atheists decry, but cannot deny.  A defining moment in redemptive history echoed by the words of the apostle John: “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him” [John 1:11].

To bear witness of Christ, you must apprehend all that took place on that first Christmas morn.  An epic event when God came to us…as One of us!  A Child who came into our world, neither as a noble prince of royalty, nor as a mighty conqueror.  He never had a home to call His own.  He never led an army. Leastwise, not of this world.

Christ went off script by coming to us as a fragile Child.  Pure and innocent as fresh, fallen snow.  Even more remarkable, Jesus remained unblemished, untainted by sin, throughout His life.

In these few verses, John reveals all we’ll need to know about the creation of the world.  The apostle bypasses all other recorded history until the arrival of the “way-shower”, John the Baptist, who bore witness of Christ’s first Advent.  A time when God, without forfeiting His deity, acquired our frail humanity.  An event so inconceivable that the ancient Hebrews failed to

comprehend it.  Just as people, today, steadfastly refuse to believe what the eye cannot see!

John begins by explaining what the “WORD” means.  To the ancient Greeks, “logos” meant not only the spoken word, but the unspoken word with respect to the governing principles of the universe bound by logic and reasoning.  The Jews, however, associated the Word with their Creator.

So, John incorporated their diverse views so that both Jew and Gentile could now fully grasp its meaning.  He did this by taking us back to the first words in the Book of Genesis where it says: “In the beginning…God.”  He then enjoins both “God” and “Word” in his gospel narrative by writing: “In the beginning was the Word.”  Not “a” word, but “the” Word.  To eliminate any confusion, “Word” is capitalized.  Emphasizing that Word and God are synonymous and are used interchangeably.

But John took it a step further.  For not only was God the Word, but he says, “the Word was with God.”  Thus, he unmistakably insists there is another divine entity; One who is separate but equal to God the Father.  One who was with the Father from the beginning.  And that by and through the Word, all things were created.  And that apart from Him, nothing came into being that was to come into being.  Put simply, God spoke!  And all of creation appeared!

But, in addition to unveiling the WORD, John then unmasks the meaning of: LIGHT.

The apostle testifies that both “Life” and “Light” are qualities associated with the Word.  They are inseparable, but distinguishable.  Furthermore, both Life and Light are not only characteristics of God, but are to be enjoyed by those who believe in His Word.

This truth comes to light in verses 4 and 5, where John writes: In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it…”  John uses the word “life” more times (thirty-six) than in any other New Testament writing.  And he applies it not only to our physical and temporal life, but our spiritual and eternal life, which can be found only in Christ Jesus.

Conversely, “darkness” corresponds to those who deny Christ.  As with all truth, the Light shines in the darkness.  It penetrates the darkness of unbelief and overwhelms it.  As commentator explained: “Just as a single candle can light up a room filled with darkness, so are the powers of darkness which cannot overcome the light of the Person and work of the Son of God.” [1]        

Thus far, John has laid the foundation of truth about the Godhead.  For although God is One.  He reveals Himself in three distinct entities: God the Father, God the Son, and that of the Light of Life, the Holy Spirit.  Three in One.  Think of God in terms of a mathematical equation.  God is not: One + One + One = Three.  But rather, God is: One x One x One = One.

But John was not through with His discourse.  For although God is not confined by time and distance as we are; nevertheless, He continues to be pro-active in all things created; particularly in the affairs of mankind.

Scripture tells us that: “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” [John 4:24].  And yet, without forfeiting His deity, Christ took upon Himself our mortal FLESH.  Christ alone became the God-Man; two natures in One Person forever!

In verse 14, John says unequivocally that: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

And John, the Baptist, bore witness as to this truth.  Just as the heavenly hosts who heralded the Good News of Christ’s birth to the shepherds.  And the magi who came from afar.

But perhaps the most insightful witness was Simeon.  A just and devout man whom God had promised that he would not see death until he had gazed upon the ‘Consolation of Israel’.  For on the eighth day, when the infant Jesus was circumcised and dedicated at the temple, Simeon praised God in the highest, saying: “Now Lord, You can release Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, ‘A Light of Revelation to the Gentiles,’ and the glory of Your people Israel” [Luke 2:29-32].

This Christmas, perhaps unlike any other Christmas’s, you’ll take time to pause and ponder about the Christ Child.  A babe wrapped in swaddling clothes; laying in a manger.  A Child destined to change the course of redemptive history.  And, as you gaze upon the Child, you might catch a glimpse of something lurking in the dark shadows of an otherwise starry, starry night.  Something quite sinister and foreboding.  A shadowy figure of a cross; one that would Christ Jesus all the days of His life.  Yes, Christ came to us as one of us.  He came so as to die; so that you might have life.  I wonder as I wander.

Let us pray…

[1]     Dr. John MacArthur,  The MacArthur Study Bible  (Nashville: Word Bibles,  1997)  pg. 1573.

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