Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Sermon -- Christmas Day (December 25, 2019)

o logos is the Greek for "the Word," which refers
to God the Son, the 2nd person of the Trinity
JOHN 1:1-14


In the name + of Jesus.

     The Christmas account that is most familiar and most picturesque comes from the Gospel according to St. Luke.  It tells of angels and shepherds and Bethlehem and the manger.  The Christmas account from St. John's Gospel has none of that.  John does not even mention Joseph and Mary.  John writes about the cosmic battle that takes place between light and darkness, life and death, good and evil, Jesus and Satan.  It is a battle for your body, soul, and life.  It is much easier for artists to depict the solemn scene at the manger than it is to depict the infant Jesus releasing us from the death grip that Satan has on the world.  After all, babies don't look like warriors.  But Jesus was born into the world to rescue the world from Satan's reign.  On Christmas, the little Lord Jesus begins the counter attack against the devil—a battle that will be waged for 33 years until Jesus finally laid down his life as the ransom price for you.
     While it is true that Jesus has come to snatch you away from the devil's grasp, Jesus did not come to steal what was not his.  St. John reminds us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)  God the Father created all things by his almighty Word.  All things were made by means of that Word, the Logos, which is God the Son.  And so, when Jesus enters the world, he comes to his own creation.  He comes to that which is his own. 
     St. John wrote, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.  He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” (John 1:9-11)  Jesus entered his own creation, but that does not mean he has been welcome in it.  To this day, the devil teaches us to fight against God's word.  To this day, the devil wants us to believe that glory and happiness are found by turning away from God's commandments.  Sinners boast of their sins.  We laugh as we tell stories of personal victories about how we used our fellow man, cheated him, and shamed him.  Yet, we still want to believe that we are good people.  This is the darkness of the sinful heart; that we have been deceived and that we deceive ourselves.  We believe the devil's lies and regard God as the problem.  The devil's lies have produced in us shame and regret and fear and death and damnation.  This is the end pay-off for trying to find happiness in our sins.  There is no glory, no peace, and no heaven for those who turn away from God's word.  Repent.
     St. John said, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)  The light is Jesus.  The world does not welcome him because Jesus shows us for what we are—sinners.  Rather than be exposed, sinners flee from Jesus and continue to hide in the shadows.  This does not save you.  This is how you continue to deceive yourself.  You can live in the shadows and in the darkness of rebellion if you like, but that does not extinguish the light.  That light still shines.
     St. John, however, assures you that there is hope for sinners.  That hope is not found in you—not in better behavior, or Christmas spirit, or New Year's resolutions.  This hope is not had by claiming that you are a good person or by your loved ones telling you that you are.  It is found only in Jesus.  St. John wrote, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” (John 1:9)  
     The battle of light and darkness was engaged by Jesus who fought and labored to save sinners from darkened hearts and minds.  Jesus enlightens you to see that God's word is not wicked.  It is not an opinion, nor is it optional.  It is truth and life and light.  God's word tells you what is good and right.  Even the Golden Rule is enough to show you that:  “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” (Matthew 7:12)  We all have expectations for how we are to be treated, but we do not live up to those expectations in the way we treat others.  Our Lord enlightens us to see that we do not live up to the good even we expect.  God's word is good, but it exposes that we are not.
     But the light does not shine just to expose sinners; the light shines to reveal salvation.  The light shines to show us God's glory.  St. John reminds us what happened at Christmas.  “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.” (John 1:14)  The glory of God is not that he exalts himself at our expense.  The glory of God is that he lowers himself at his own expense in order that we might be exalted.  The light shines to reveal salvation.  Jesus is the Light of the world which shines in the darkness to show the world that God loves what he has created, that he does not discard it or despise it, but he mobilizes himself to reclaim and to restore it.  So Jesus came, full of grace and truth to proclaim God's truth that he is gracious to sinners.
     “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)  The battle was engaged, and the devil was not going to give up easily what he had stolen.  Jesus did not steal it back.  Instead, he purchased it.  The Son of God gave himself up as the only true casualty in the battle—exchanging himself for you in order to buy you back from Satan's reign.  That is why Jesus came as a man.  As a man, Jesus could allow himself to take all the blows, to suffer and die for mankind.  He became flesh and blood so that his flesh could be flogged, punched, and pierced to a cross and so that his blood could be shed as the payment for sinners.  The darkness tried to consume Jesus by death, but the darkness has not overcome it.  Instead, Jesus has overcome death so that his light still shines today to reveal salvation.  Jesus has overcome the devil so that he cannot have you or harass you.  Jesus has overcome the grave with his flesh and blood so that your flesh and blood will rise from the dead to live forever.  And Jesus still gives you his body and blood in the holy supper.  It may not look like much to the world, but Jesus enlightens you to know that here he gives you what was paid to redeem you.  Here he bestows the forgiveness of your sins and his blessed salvation. 
     The light shines to reveal salvation.  The light shines to show you God's grace and God's glory.  The light shines to expose the devil's lies and deliver you out of his reign.  St. John wrote, “To all who did receive 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)  No longer are you under the reign of Satan.  Now you have been enlightened to know that the Lord's word is true and that the Lord is gracious.  Therefore, you are free from guilt, from death, from shame, and from damnation.  And by faith in the Son of God, you are all children of God.  You have been born again by water and the Spirit into the kingdom of God.  You have been given new birth into a living hope that cannot spoil, perish, or fade.  You are born again into the family of saints on earth and hosts of heaven.  And since you are the children of God, you receive all the gifts of God—full pardon for all sins, total access to God's ear in prayer, divine compassion in your weaknesses and trials, and everlasting glory in the heavenly kingdom.
     Behold!  The true light, which gives light to everyone, (has come) into the world. (John 1:9)  The light has shone into the darkness, and has brought you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  The light has revealed your salvation to you, and has made you children of light who now recognize that the word of the Lord is good and right in all things.  Therefore, we live as children of light—honoring God with lives that reflect his purity and glorifying God with words that praise him for his goodness.  The world will continue to be a gloomy place, but we have the light of Christ.  We have joy that a guilt-ridden world cannot grasp.  We have hope that not even death can destroy. 
     Our prayer is that the light that is reflected in our lives will enlighten others to know the truth and grace of God.  The light shines to reveal our salvation.  The cosmic battle has been won.  Jesus Christ is born.  Jesus Christ lives and reigns.  Jesus Christ has saved us.  Peace on earth, and glory in the highest!

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

Due to recurring spam, all comments will now be moderated. Please be patient.