December 25, 2016 — Christmas Morning
Sermon Text — John 1:1-18
Sermon Audio —
Come back later for the audio of this sermon.
Back to the Beginning
In the Name ✞ of Jesus. AMEN!
Beloved in the Lord,
Back to the Beginning
The way of the Lord is not the way of men. The way of men is backwards. Aspiring to be like God our forefather Adam ate the fruit and brought sin and death to all people. In sin and death man goes about his days in darkness groping for a way back to the light, to the life that is the ever-living God. In darkness we wander and in darkness we further our path from the Lord. We see but as through a veil. We hear but lean on our own understanding. We work our hands and our heart to exercise dominion over each other. We love but always selfishly hoping to earn favor. Confusing the pleasures of the flesh with happiness we indulge in unrighteousness trusting the impulses of a deceitfully sick heart. The way of men is not the way of the Lord. The way of men, women, and children is the way of darkness. We are lost in the darkness and we cannot get ourselves home.
When lost you should go back to the beginning. John takes us back to the beginning. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Going back to the beginning takes us back to the Word. The Word was with God, the Word was God. Going back to the beginning John is taking us back to being with God. Going back to the beginning John is taking us home.
But the ways of the Lord are not the ways of men and the ways of men are lost. And man is not good at admitting he’s lost. We’re an independent bunch. We want to do it ourselves, make our own way, do it our own way. We want to be God. We want to be our own God. If we’re to go back to the beginning, if we’re go make it home from the darkness and into His marvelous light, we must first confess. We must repent.
His Own Did not Receive Him
Thus the testimony of John the Baptist. The Word that was in the beginning sent a forerunner to prepare the way. John was not the light but gave witness to the light. Through the preaching of the Word you and I are called to repent and believe the gospel. Going home begins with admitting you’re lost, confessing your sins and following the One whose sandals John is not worthy to stoop down and loosen. John is not the Christ but gives testimony to the Christ. This goes against the ways of men.
Men love action. Words are idle – so we think. Actions are potent. Works get things done. You can see the results. You can feel the difference. Jesus came unto His own but His own did not receive Him. It’s too easy for us to hear these words as a condemnation of the Jews, but are we not the fruit of His handiwork? Are we not all descendants of Adam? Who here is not a part of creation? We belong to the One who brought us into being. We belong to the Lord. It is only in our rebellion and stubborn unbelief that we deny the Lord’s claim on us. Why would we do that? Because the ways of the Lord are not the ways of men and we wrongly believe that the ways of men are right and the ways of God are wrong. We who are sinful from conception are bound to our sin. We are bound to the will of man and the will of man is in opposition to the Lord. Adam willed to be like God and ate the wrong fruit. Eve willed to be like God and ate the wrong fruit. We have inherited their sin and thus we bear their curse. We have followed in their footsteps and willfully chosen slavery to sin. Like Israel wandering the wilderness longed for the days under Pharaoh, we too wander about seeking to serve our bellies and appease our selfish desires. We’ve grown fond of the darkness. It’s what we know and sadly for too many, despite our discontent, it’s what we love. Jesus came unto His own and both Jew and Gentile do not receive Him because the way of the Lord is not the way of men.
God Sends a Word
The way of the Lord is the way of His Word, the Word that was with God in the beginning, the Word that is God. God’s Word is not idle or impotent but mighty and powerful. Through the Word creation came into being and apart from the Word nothing was made that was made, including you and me. To bring you home God gives a Word, His Word, the Divine Logos, the eternal Son from heaven. God’s Word doesn’t just appear out of nowhere but He is born. The Word becomes flesh to join with you, dwell amongst you, be Emmanuel for you. In Him is life and He is the light of the world, the light that scatters the darkness and does away with your sin.
Man in his wisdom expects a mighty deliverer, a prince, a king, a man of valor and might! But man’s wisdom is folly to God. God’s folly sends a baby. Man expects a soldier. God sends a servant. Man wants to a do it himself. God desires to suffer it in your place. To take away sin there must be the shedding of blood. Man is willing to offer his own, even die for himself. But man’s ways are not God’s ways. God says NO! There is no going back to God, there is no going home on your own, or even with help. God’s ways are not man’s ways and though there must be the shedding of blood, God doesn’t desire your blood. God gives His Son. The Word becomes flesh to shed His own blood for you. The Savior is born to live the righteous life and die the sinner’s death. The manger is exchanged for the cross. Your sins are exchanged for His righteousness. The stable gives way to the tomb, and not even the grave can lay claim to God’s Son. The crucified One is risen not for Himself but for you. Man’s way is frought with uncertainties. God’s way, the way of His Son is sure and certain.
Born of God
Beloved, you cannot bring yourself to God. But God will gladly bring Himself to you. This is the message of Christmas! God has come down to save you, come down as a child born of a virgin, born for you to die for you. If you would be saved you must go to this child, trust this baby, believe on His name. There is no other name given among men by which we are saved from our sins. Only the child of Mary, only the Son of God, only Jesus. He will save His people from their sins. He will save you.
But again, God’s ways are not like the ways of men. God saves through His Word. Just as you cannot decide to be born neither can you decide to be born again. God saves through His Word and His Word is poured over sinners in the waters of Baptism. Unless you are born again through water and the word you cannot enter the kingdom of God. The water is but plain water unless God’s Word is added to it. With the Word that water is holy Water. The Word does the work because God’s Word is neither idle nor impotent but does what it says and gives what it promises. The Word gives Jesus, the One who died and rose in your place. The great exchange happens beneath those waters and continues to pour forth in the preaching of the Word. Every day lived by faith in the Word is a day lived in your baptism. Thus by the power of His Word we Christians draw our life from the eternal Word made flesh. Eyes once covered with a veil are given to see. Ears once stopped up with unbelief are opened to hear. Mouth’s once bound to the glories of man now are loosed to sing the new song of salvation. He who is born of God delights to be in God’s house where God’s Word is preached. It only the unbeliever who stays home and dwells in the darkness of this world. The faithful gather for more because our God delights to give us more, more of His Word, and therefore more of Himself and His life, His eternal life. We have no life if we have not the Lord Jesus. We have nothing if we don’t have His Word.
Back to God
Beloved in the Lord, if we’re get back to God we must go back to the beginning. In other words, we must return to the Word made flesh. Repent! Believe the gospel! Cast aside your “reasonable” ways. Lift up your heads and look to the way of God. He is born this day for you. The Word is made flesh to be with you, to be Emmanuel for you, to save you. Lean not on your own understanding but bow before the wisdom of God incarnate. This baby is your deliverance. This child is your salvation. This Word is your life. Be hearing the Word, today, tomorrow, and forever. Follow the Word through life, death, and into the resurrection. Where He is there is the light and the life. Where His Word is proclaimed, be it from a stable, a cross, or a pulpit there is God speaking your way home. God’s Word is given to carry you along by faith, to forgive your sins by grace, to raise you from the dead on the last day. No earthly gift can match such heavenly splendor. No human wisdom can fathom the depths of such love. No prince, king, or politician can offer or promise such enduring grace and favor. Here, here is the Word for you. Here is the way of God for you. Here is the babe of Bethlehem, in these waters, under the bread and wine, given you through the Word, given as a gift from your God this Christmas morning. AMEN! Merry Christmas.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!