Christmas Day 2014
What does the Bible say about Word made flesh? John deliberately began his gospel just like the first line of the Scriptures. “In the beginning…” He is hearkening to the work of creation when there was only God and God alone who would form the cosmos out of nothing. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Hence in what is one of the most theologically rich passages in the all of Scripture the Spirit led John to reveal something about the Godhead. This is a first glimpse into the Holy Trinity which John will later describe more as Jesus explain his relationship to the Father as the only begotten Son. Jesus will then give the promises of the Holy Spirit the Paraclete to convict the world regarding sin and righteousness.
This Word was with God in the beginning and “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing was made.” The Word was intentional about his act of creation. There was not a thing in the cosmos that was not made by him and by his will. Not a star or planet hung in the sky, not a single creature upon, below, or above the firmament, not an angel or man, was not made without the Word’s undivided and absolute intention.
This should give us pause. This means he intended each and every one of us. We belong to this creation and the Word has a reason and will for his creation. You are not a hapless bunch of atoms bouncing around in the void without direction or without trajectory. You are made by the Word who is God and therefore you have found your purpose when you know him.
Still the Word would just be a theological abstraction if we stopped here still inconceivable and distanced from our temporal human experience. So, the Spirit led John to share more. “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.” An entire book could be written about why John calls Jesus the Word, but what is most important is to know that on Christmas God came to his own, to the world he himself created. You belong to this world, so the Word Incarnate came for you.
God’s Word isn’t just empty phrases, it does not merely name things, or express ideas. It’s a creative Word, full of God’s power, of his Spirit and life. As in the beginning he spoke in the creation and the Word accomplished what God willed, so now the Word comes down in the flesh of Jesus to restore what was broken by our sin. The Word can give everything God can give. It’s the same way with the Word Incarnate, the Christ. All that God wills and does lives inside the flesh of Christ—the creator who spoke the world into being by his almighty power now lives as a creature of his own making. This is the great and profound mystery of Christmas.
You can no longer have any pious notions of the “big guy upstairs” and we down here or having to reach up to the Divine. What we cannot accomplish, God has done. He has come down to us in the Christ child in the manger. We cannot ascend to God, not by our thoughts, not by our prayers, dreams, works, faith, or our intellect. So, God has come down to us in a way that we can understand and at once find incomprehensible. Gone is all our seeking for God. God has sought us and found us in the Incarnate Word, in the flesh of his Son, born of Mary.
Luther said that he could conceive of no other God than the one who nursed at Mary’s breast and hung on the cross. This is the profound and troubling thing about the Word became flesh. John begins with these theological riches only to reveal that the Word who always was and created the heavens and the earth was born in human flesh to die a human death. This mystery is unmatched in any of the world’s religions. It is without comparison, God and man are One in Jesus.
Jesus came not just to be one man, but everyman. He is all men, all people, a child of Adam and Eve. His humanity is our humanity so that his poverty is our poverty; his weakness is our weakness; his life our life; his death our death; his resurrection is our resurrection. He is all that men are except without the blemish of sin. It was not until he was made our sin on the cross that it would touch him. He did not sin, but instead he obeyed the Father’s will and allowed him to put all sin on his account, even yours, and work out his righteous just judgment on his beloved Son.
This is why he was born. The Word became flesh to die. Jesus was born to hang. The cross weighs heavily over Christ in the manger. The Christ child’s destiny is to be the Lamb of God, the vicarious victim, for the sins of all mankind. And just as it’s a fact that we find purpose in that there is not a thing made that was not from his will, so we find purpose and meaning in that there is not a single one of us for whom it was not his will to die. He was born, he died, and he rose again for you! He came to die that we might live. He came to dwell among us that we might dwell with him and his Father and the Holy Spirit forever.
What glad tidings this brings each Christmas. The Word became flesh for you. To you is born this day in the city of David as Savior who is Christ the Lord. You have to take that personally, as St. Luke said this savior is born to you.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and so the Incarnate Word still comes to dwell among us enfleshed in our humanity as he is at that right hand of the Father. He still comes down and descends to us sinners, humble and lowly like his first appearing in Bethlehem. He comes to you in Baptismal water and in the Lord’s Supper and in simple words of forgiveness.
So, the Word made flesh is yours today. It is the best Christmas gift of all. This is the true Christmas, the Mass of Christ, where His Word is preached and heard, where his Body and Blood comes to you and is received, where the Word Incarnate comes to embrace poor sinners and give them life. For this the earth is glad and we rejoice with the angels in heaven as the whole church sings praises to God for his mercy in Jesus his son.
In the name of the Father, the + Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.