The Nativity of Our Lord 2017

December 25, 2017

Bible Text: John 1:1-18 |

Series:

The evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke describe the birth of our Lord as though they were walking with the Lord on the earth. John, however, seems as if he is flying in heaven with the Lord. He says very little about our Lord's deeds, focusing instead on the eternal power of Christ's divinity. While everyone else is rejoicing that a baby has been born, John reminds you that this little Child in Bethlehem is God in the flesh. While others capture your emotions with the gruesomeness of Christ's suffering and death, John will not let you forget that they are killing God: that your God bleeds, suffers, dies, descends to hell, and rises from the dead.

Why? Precisely for this reason: your salvation is no salvation if your Savior is nothing more than a super hero—a man who outdoes all men in words and deeds, in life and death. But if He is also completely God—your God living in flesh like yours—then, and only then, can He truly do all these things for your benefit, and for your salvation. Yes, an ordinary man might die in your place. But only God in the flesh can bear your infirmities, fight your demons, suffer your sufferings, endure your hell, and die your death. And when this God in the flesh rises from the dead, then you also arise; when He ascends into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father, then you also ascend and sit with your Maker and Redeemer.

It is no exaggeration to say that this is what matters most is your relationship with God. The money you accumulate and spend, the things you desire, the food you crave, even the people you love or abuse—all of that will do you no good as you head to the grave. But where you are with the God who made you—that matters most. And what is most important is not that you've learned facts about God. What's most important is a right relationship, an intimacy, a bond, not just of the heart or mind but of your whole being—and God being reconciled with you.

That intimacy and bond is called communion—a holy union between God and you, one that is foreign now but was designed by the Lord to be common when He first made man and woman. We were created to grow and mature forever in our love for God, our life in Him. And for this reason, Christ Jesus would have been born even if there had been no sin and death. His birth in our flesh would have cemented our communion in God. But sin and death simply added to the reason for our Lord's birth. Now, God from the beginning had to become man so that He could free you from your death sentence and rescue you from your false belief in devilish lies, and deliver you from your sinful desires. And then, by accomplishing all that in His suffering and death, God in the flesh would also be able to restore the original intimacy and reinstate you into communion in God.

The other evangelists point to this purpose for Our Lord's birth and life and death. But St John makes it clearest of all when he says that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. For the Lord's time here on earth was not sticking a toe in to test the waters. He put in His time here so that everything that was made through Him might also be re-created by Him, and returned to Him. And John reminds us that this happens to as many as receive Him by faith and, consequently, in the Sacraments. Those who do are the children of God. They believe in His name. And they are given a second and higher birth—not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. This is the glory and the miracle of our Lord's birth from the blessed Virgin Mary. It is not just the arrival of the world's best man. This is the Son of God. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

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