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December 25, 2015 A+D
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Luke’s Gospel gives us the Nativity scene. John’s Gospel gives us a cosmic battle. There is no mention of the key characters. Neither Mary, nor Joseph are named. We don’t hear a thing about angels or shepherds or mangers. We aren’t even told about Bethlehem. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
So it would have remained, but because of our great danger, our desperate sin, our filthy lies, it didn’t. The Eternal Word of the Father which was in the beginning, which was with God, which was God became that which He was not in the beginning: He became Flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen His glory.
There was war in heaven. This is not a war between God and men. It is war between God and Satan. The creation been corrupted and perverted by our cooperation with Satan’s seduction. The Word made the world for life, we chose death. He had called the world forth in light, we made shadows and then hid in them and we loved darkness.
This is what caused the Incarnation, the Word who was in the beginning, who was with God, and who is God became Flesh, joined Himself to this mortal plane to rejoin us to the immortal plane, to take us back from Satan, to give us the right to become the children of God. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. The light shined in the garden and set Enmity between Eve and Satan. The light shined in Goshen and led the people through the Red Sea out of slavery. The light shined in the Tabernacle and the Temple in the place of God’s promised and gracious presence.
Still darkness and death did not give up. So a man was sent from God. We know him as John the Baptist. He came to bear witness to what Moses had preached, what David had sung, and what Malachi had foretold. The Word, through whom all things were made, had made humanity special. Humanity was forged in His image, given dominion over all of creation. We, more than anything else in all the universe, were made for God. In that making He gave Himself to us. From the beginning, before the fall or the curse or a stupid proud angel that thought that he could steal from God God’s prized possession and most loved creature, before that, from the foundation of the world, God made men for Himself and He gave Himself to them. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
That which was dark in the darkness was the denial of God’s goodness, a turning away from God’s self-giving. The darkness was unbelief, a rejection of the Creator, and squeezing tight of the eyes against life and insisting on darkness and death.
Thus came John, sent by God to bear witness to the Light that men might once again believe in God’s mercy, that they might taste and see His inexhaustible will to be gracious to men. Thus came John. He came to rekindle and reestablish fellowship between God and men, to pronounce the reconciliation that was from the beginning, to make straight that which was bent. He was not the Light, but he bore witness to the Light, and that Light was the Life of men.
Ushered in by John, the Word, the Light, the Life, God came unto His own. They may have denied and been ashamed of Him, they may have disobeyed and lied about Him, they may have hid in the wrong fear of Him, but He remained steadfast and faithful to them. He came unto His own as He came unto Adam in the garden shaking in the delusion that God might not be good. They were His. They were His own. Always, whether they knew it or not, even if they would not acknowledge that they were or that He was theirs, they were His own. He came unto His own. He endured their hatred and their murder. He never flinched from what had to be done to save them because they were His from the beginning and He would not give them up.
And to all who did receive Him, who did believe in His Name, that is to all that believed that Yahweh the Lord saves, for that is what Jesus means, to them He gave the right to become the children of God.
We have become the children of God because He became a child of woman. He became the child of woman, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. The Holy Spirit overshadowed the virgin. She conceived a child without sin and without genealogy, a Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. He did not abandon His Godhead or Divinity – that which He was from the beginning. He was not changed into a Man: He became a Man. He added it to what He already was. He took up the life of man as His own in order to live and die as a Man for men that He might have men as His own again. The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen His glory and that which He was not from the beginning He now is and evermore shall be: God and Man in one Christ, the life and light of men.
That glory is grace and truth. It is the glory of God’s self-giving on the cross, perfectly consistent with the entire history of our race, the inevitable end of the tragedy that we began, the victory of light over darkness, faith and knowledge over unbelief and scoffing, life over death, the bruised heel over the serpent, love over hate, and good over evil. This is a cosmic battle that the devil cannot win. For in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God and that Word became Flesh and dwelt among us, lived as one of us, lived for us, died as one of us, died for us, in our stead. But He, the Word, is the God of the living, so the Man Jesus rose again as one of us, for us, for our justification. He is the light and life of men. God and Man: united in one Christ, our Mediator, our Advocate, our Redeemer.
The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us becoming our Life and our Salvation, speaking us clean, forgiven, His own. Thus have we become the children of God, baptized into the glory of His cross, joined to the mystery of the Eternal Word of the Father become Flesh, feasting upon that Flesh in the Sacrament of the Incarnation wherein He joins us to Himself and overcomes the darkness in us.
This cosmic battle for the bodies and souls of men didn’t begin in Bethlehem. It didn’t begin in the garden either. In the beginning was the Word and the Word as with God and the Word was God. Bethlehem was the first strike of the last battle. This struggle, watched eagerly and aided by the holy angels, is a strange battle. It is not fought between armies struggling to see who is mightier or more powerful, which strategy will prevail. It is a battle between suitors, a battle for the hearts of men. One suitor seeks to take us to the stockyard and feast upon our flesh and the other Suitor, that which was from the beginning, seeks take us to His chamber and make us His Bride, with the right to become the children of God.
That is the grace and truth that the Son reveals of the Father to those who receive Him and believe in His Name. From His fullness we have received, grace after grace, grace upon grace, grace for grace, through Jesus Christ, the Word become Flesh, that which was from the beginning dwelling among us to this very day.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.