Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sermon -- Christmas Day (December 25, 2012)

JOHN 1:1-14

In the name + of Jesus.

     God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:31)  The highest point of God’s creation was the people he had formed.  Everything in the world was formed for man and woman to enjoy—from the shrubbery to the stars.  God had blessed them with both abundance and variety.  God poured out his love upon them.  They, in turn, knew the Lord, and they were able to respond with grateful service and loving obedience.
     But man was not content to be what God had made him to be.  Though the devil laid the trap, man willingly walked right into it.  Satan had promised that there would be great benefits to defying God’s command and eating from the forbidden tree.  “You will not surely die,” he hissed.  “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5) 
     Ah!  The chance to be like God!  It was the first temptation.  It has been recycled for generations.  And it has worked repeatedly.  On everyone, in fact.  Like Adam and Eve, you are not content to be what God has made you to be, either.  You do not want to be a remarkable creation under God, following his decrees and submitting to his will.  Oh, sure, there are some sensible things in God’s will.  And if everyone else would follow them, the world would be a better place.  But when defying God’s will is more convenient and more beneficial for you, then you no longer want to be under God.  You would switch places.  You want to have God be under you.  You want God to submit to your will.  You want God to apologize for calling you wicked for gratifying your carnal desires.  From Adam and Eve until this very day, all people are idolaters.  All want to be God in their own little universe.  And therefore, all are rightly cast out of Paradise and into the darkness.  All are justly marked for death and for weeping and gnashing of teeth. 
     But into this world of darkness, Light has dawned.  Into this world of sin, a holy man has come.  Into this world of death came one who is not merely alive, but is Life itself.  Into this world which is ruled by time came one who is timeless.  He was with God in the beginning because he has always existed.  Indeed, he has no beginning. 
     Dear Christian folks, rejoice!  Jesus Christ is born.  He is the Word, the Logos.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:14)  More than that, God has become like one of us.  Or to be even more specific, God has become one of us.  He was not banished from Paradise, but willingly left his heavenly glory to walk and dwell with sinners.  The true light, which enlightens everyone, (has come) into the world.  He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. (John 1:9-10) 
     He is Christ the Lord.  He is the one who has made Adam and Eve and who issued the Commandments.  He is the one who has created you and granted you every blessing you know—from eyesight to music to honey-baked ham to milk chocolate to family members.  And though you have sinned against him and should rightly be despised by him for your idolatry, he does not despise you.  He does not even disown you.  He does not come to smite you, but to save you.  For, you are still his creation.
     The Word has become flesh.  God has become one of us.  He makes himself part of his creation.  He subjects himself to divine Commandments and to Satanic temptations.  He submits himself to the aches and pains of a broken world, to the sorrows and frustrations of those living in darkness.  But this is not just so he can sympathize with us.  While sympathy is often appreciated, sympathy fixes nothing.  God has become like one of us not to sympathize, but to save. 
     Jesus Christ is born!  The Word has become flesh!  God has become like one of us so that he can take up our cause.  The first Adam rebelled against God’s commands, resulting in the curse that had rested upon us.  But the second Adam, Jesus Christ, lived willingly under God’s Commandments and won the approval of the Father in heaven.  The first Adam brought sin upon all mankind, but the second Adam brings righteousness to all mankind.  The first Adam brought death upon all mankind, but the second Adam brings life to all mankind.  God had made himself like you to take up your cause.  He took up your sin.  He took up your curse.  He took up your death.  And so, in Jesus Christ, we have a man who has kept God’s Commandments and we have God who has died for all mankind.
     Rejoice, dear Christians!  Jesus Christ is born.  The Word has become flesh.  God has become like you to redeem you.  To you who have received 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. (John 1:12-13)  You are the Lord’s creation, but now he has made you a new creation.  Jesus has made you children of the heavenly Father.  You were born again of water and the Spirit, baptized into Jesus’ name and adopted into God’s family.  Therefore you are heirs of heaven.  You have the keys to his house.  You wear the family name and have been given all the blessings that come with it.  No longer are you banished.  Paradise is open.  The Tree of Life is yours. 
     These blessings do not begin when you die and are taken to heaven.  The fruit which hangs from the Tree of Life is Jesus Christ, and he invites you to the feast now.  The flesh and blood Savior gives you his body and blood for your salvation.  The blessings are yours.  You have the joy and the peace now.  You enjoy the mercy and the comfort here.  The Light now shines in your heart.  The Life already dwells within you.  And so, you get to be content and to enjoy what God has made you to be.
     You are God’s children who receive all good things from the Lord who loves you and blesses you.  You get to enjoy the blessings he pours out upon you.  You have nothing to fear.  You don’t have to wonder if you are good enough; for Jesus has answered for you.  You don’t have to be seduced by Satan’s lie that there is something better and greater waiting for you if you would only give in to temptation.  For, you are God’s blessed creation.  You are children of the Most High God.  You are heirs of eternal glory.  How could you be better than that?
     Rejoice, dear Christians!  God has become like one of us.  The Son of God became the Son of Man so that we would be sons of God.  God has become flesh so that, like him, our flesh will rise from the grave and overcome all death.  Heaven has come to earth to make sure that we will receive heaven.  Rejoice, dear Christians!  Jesus is our Immanuel, “God with us.”  And he will forever be our Immanuel, for we will dwell with God eternally. 

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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