25 Dec. 2014
St. John 1:1-18
In the Name of the Father and of the X Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today we celebrate the birth of Life. For that is who Christ Jesus is. He’s not just a holy man, or even the holiest of all men. He’s definitely not an angel—for to which of the angels did God say, “sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool?” He’s not just a prophet—for John said, “I am not worthy to stoop down and untie his shoes.” John is very clear in his theological Gospel. Jesus is Life. As the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself. As such, Jesus is the Life of all living things. For all things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. This is the mystery of Christmas: The God of all life, creator of all that is, was born a man.
“Upon her lap content is He
Who keeps the earth and sky and sea.” (LSB 382 v. 3)
Christmas Day, amidst all of this world’s misunderstandings and misconstruings of it, might be the most philosophical and theological day of the Church Year. At the same time that two-year olds can point to a manger and say “Jesus”, the wisest, most mature theological mind is stumped at how the true God can become flesh.
This is what the Angels proclaim to the shepherds in the field and what Simeon sings in the temple. This what we sing in the Gloria Excelsis and Nunc Dimittis. When the pastor approaches you at the altar and says “The body of Christ, given for you.” “The blood of Christ, shed for you.” It is only because God came from heaven and took up real flesh and real blood.
Yet He is not only the Life of all the living. He is also the Life of all His people. For in Him is life. But even more, Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Life of all those who wish to live through death. For whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. If there is no Jesus, then there is no life. For most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. So Christianity above every other religion is true, because Jesus is true. Christianity alone, distinct from every other religion, has life, because Jesus is Life. Apart from Him and apart from the Church that He saved, there is no salvation.
Life, then is who and what is born of the Virgin Mary, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.
“Therefore, all Christendom, rejoice
And sing His praise with endless voice. Alleluia!” (LSB 382 v. 7)
Today is the celebration of Life. And as darkness scatters when light comes in a dark room, so death scatters at the presence of Life in this world. Death still lurks in the corners and stalk about for a time; it still seeks to scare you into sin and urge you to live for yourselves. But death cannot stand up to Life. For He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25).
No one comes to the Father except through the Christ, who was born. No amount of positive thinking, spiritual sentiment, or holiday spirit will give you eternal life, only the Christ who was born.
The Lord of Life was not born to cheat you out of anything. In fact, He comes that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly. To do this, He is not simply born. Life becomes flesh so that He might lay down His life. And greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends (John 15:13). Yet Jesus is born to be more than your friend, more than someone to turn to in crisis, more than someone to gripe to; more than someone to grant your every wish. He is your life. To be that, He is born in flesh like yours. Then He gives His life, so that He might take it up again, and give it into you.
“Our Lord Jesus Christ was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, yet His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Did you hear that? Another birth. Not just the birth of Life on Christmas Day, but your own birth-your new birth-through Life, by Life, in Life.
So today’s not just about Jesus. It’s about your life-your life which is hidden with Christ in God. Where is it hidden? In Christ. How? By this new birth, this being “born of God”-which takes place in the waters of Holy Baptism, being born from above. This is where He takes you to be His own and gives you what is His.
Listen carefully, then, to how Jesus describes your life in Him as He prays to the Father:
“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. ‘I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me’” (John 17:17-21).
So today we rejoice with the angels and give thanks to God the Father, through His Son, in the Holy Spirit. For in His great love for us, the true and only God has not left us in the darkness of this world, dead in our trespasses and sins. Instead, He has brought us to life in His son Christ Jesus. And that life began in the beginning when the Word was with God and the Word was God. It came to fulfillment when Life Himself became flesh and dwelt among us. And by His grace, through Baptism, we can behold His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, for life, grace, and truth came through Jesus Christ.
In Jesus’ X Name. Amen.