A Little Odd?
A Little Odd?
John 6:47-51 & John 1:1-5;9-13;16
I know it may seem a little odd… but today is actually the 12th (and final) day of Christmas! Did you know that? The calendar fell just right this year… and blessed us with two Sundays during the REAL Christmas season.
Of course, it’s also may seem a little odd that there’s no traditional Christmas story in John. As we heard, just moments ago, John’s Gospel begins: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Instead of putting the traditional Christmas story “front and center” – with angels & shepherds… or Wise Men and their star… John weaves the story of Christmas - and the purpose of Christmas all throughout his Gospel.
For example, after saying that the Word “was God,” John then tells us that “the Word (that was in fact God) 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… And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
So… in other words, the eternal Word of God, took on human flesh… and by doing so… the divine Son of God—who never had a beginning, and was never created into being, and was God, but was also with God—became human… a man; one of us. That’s a whole lot to unpack! But the point is – by doing all of this… God made himself visible in a whole new way… He made his glory, literally tangible. And His divine presence (or glory), that’s uniquely visible in the Jesus, was full of grace and truth. And from that fullness – you and I - are the benefactors… receiving grace upon grace.
That’s the meaning of Christmas in John’s Gospel. God the Son, who is God, and who is with God, came to reveal God in a way he had never been revealed before. And through that revelation, the dominant theme… the most profound note… is… grace. The reality of God’s Word becoming flesh… is that we have received grace upon grace.
That, my friends, is the Good News of the Gospel! For the God who created us… loved us so much… that he was willing to go to the most extreme of measures (humbling himself to become human), in order to bless us with his grace.
Of course, that grace is magnified in the most famous scripture of all (that most of us know by heart): John 3:16-17, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him, should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
Have you ever noticed how most of the time we try to make vs. 16 and 17 two separate statements? But that’s not the case at all. Verse 17 is a continuation of the Good News in verse 16. The word “for” is a conjunction, joining the two thoughts together into one cohesive statement. (Read John 3:16-17 again, as one thought). The message of Christmas… the message of the Incarnation; of Emmanuel, God with us… is salvation, not condemnation.
Of course, I know it seems odd… but to further understand how John weaves the message of Christmas into his Gospel, he tell us that before Jesus’ crucifixion… Jesus was standing before Pilate, and Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” And Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37).
It's in listening to Jesus’ voice that we hear the grace of God… Grace that’s always sufficient for our needs. Grace that exceeds our sin and our quilt (as the old hymn says!). For all our failures… and disappointments… and griefs… God’s grace is here… in Christ… grace upon grace.
And add to that (in addition to the sufficiency of God’s grace for us, personally) … the reality of God’s Grace in Christ is still tangible… still visible… in the faces of every single person. Every time we’re blessed… and every time God uses us to be a blessing to someone else… God’s Glory is visible. Grace upon grace.
Jesus even told us, according to John 8:31-32, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” So… the meaning of Christmas is this: The Son of God came into the world to bear witness to the truth in a way that it had never been witnessed to before.
He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). And the point of giving himself as the truth to the world (the goal) is for you and me to “know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” Free from the guilt and power of sin. Free from deadness and darkness and blindness… and even death.
The Incarnation of Christ, his birth… paved the way for our freedom. Again, John, weaving the story of Christmas throughout his Gospel… in Chapter Six (6:51) tells us, that Jesus himself said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, so that he could give his life for the life of the world. You and I receive grace upon grace from his fullness because he came to die for us. Christmas was from the beginning a preparation for Good Friday… and the ultimate joy of Easter.
It may seem, at times, to be a little odd. But the Word became flesh… revealing the glory of God as never before. Christ was revealed according to his own plan… and He died according to his own plan. And because of his death in our place, he is the source of eternal life. He is our forgiveness and righteousness and life.
Thanks be to God. Amen.