The Word Became Flesh and Dwelt Among Us
CHRISTMAS DAY, THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD [a] December 25, 2016
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And 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. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
IN THE NAME OF JESUS.
The Word, who in the beginning created all things, the Word who so lovingly formed up Adam and Eve to be his image on Earth, that they would be the vessels to receive every good gift from his Father through him, and be the instruments by which he would bring his gifts to all creation; the Word who is the eternal Son of God who proceeds from the Father and who sends forth the Holy Spirit—the Word has become flesh and has dwelt among us.
And, says John, he is full of grace and truth.
He now dwells among us.
In order to dwell among us, he became human like us, starting out as a child in the arms of Mary; a little baby who needed to be fed, to be given milk, to be held on cold nights—he became flesh, and that includes everything that comes along with being human.
He became flesh so that we could behold him, we could look at him and hear his voice.
He was formed up in the womb with body and bones, so that when he later walked into a home, people saw him standing there. When he went to the home of Zacchaeus, he was able to drink wine and have joy and laugh along with everyone else. When he was at the home of Mary and Martha, he was able to eat food. When he was at the well with the Samaritan woman, he was thirsty, and would be able to drink water. When with Peter and the others, he would be hungry, and was able to be filled by eating grilled fish. He was just as human as you and I are, in every way, except one. He was God the Son, holy and clean, without sin.
But, to be unholy and unclean, to be with sin, this is not part of our humanity anyway. It is foreign to us—sin is an intrusion into our humanity. We were not created with sin, we were not created for sin, we were not created to be capable of sin. This is all foreign to who we are according to our creation.
In the beginning, the Word created us, and he created us clean and holy; he created us to receive gifts from him and to give gifts to one another; he created us to love one another, to love his creation, and to rejoice in taking care of it and in taking care of each other.
The sin, the envy of gifts given to our neighbor, the selfishness of looking out for ourselves, the readiness to condemn others and to withhold gifts, the glee in retribution toward neighbor—this is all foreign to our creation, it is foreign to who the Word is and to who he created us to be, it is not of our humanity, it is, rather, an intrusion into our humanity, an intrusion that we made part of us when our parents Adam and Eve brought it into our bloodstream by their rebellion.
So when the Word became flesh, God the Son became fully human, with every gift intended for humanity in our creation, but without the sin we, ourselves, brought in to our flesh.
And he dwelt among us sinners, full of grace and truth.
He dwelt among us not to bring retribution, for we already had that in the death that belonged to us due to our sin. He dwelt among us not to speak condemnation, for we already had that in the word of Law which daily stings the conscience of every sinner. He dwelt among us not to show us how to live better or with more purpose, for we already know that simply by reading the Ten Commandments.
But he dwelt among us full of grace and truth.
The grace of bringing to us the mercy of God his Father; the grace of going to the home of Zacchaeus, who was despised by all, and eating and drinking with him as his friend and Savior; of looking at faithless Peter as he denied him three times and forgiving him; of touching the lepers, of healing the blind; the grace of taking on flesh, becoming a man, and placing himself right here among us, in the midst of the worst sickness, doubt, despair, and malice; the grace of doing this so that he could name us as us his brothers and sisters, take upon himself our sins, shed his blood to redeem us from death and reconcile us to his Father, and to speak to us not retribution and shame, but grace and truth.
He now dwells among us. He who dwelt bodily among the sinners in Galilee, who let himself be bodily crucified under Pontius Pilate, who was resurrected and dwelt with his disciples before ascending to Heaven, he now dwells among us.
He binds himself to us in Baptism, so that we are one with him, united to his crucifixion and resurrection. He binds himself to us at his Altar, where he bodily comes to our bodies in his Supper.
And he daily binds himself to us in his Word. For he is the Word made flesh. And he who is now eternally true God and true man, who will never be known apart from his human Name Jesus, he now comes to us in his Word.
He is the Word, and where the Father sends forth his Word, there is life. His Word of life to us, his dwelling among us, is his Gospel. The Law, the retribution, the sin we hold against one another, we already had all that. We don’t need Jesus for that. We can have that just by reading the Ten Commandments given through Moses.
But now in his Word we behold him. And we see him, full of grace and truth. The grace is the mercy of God and the gift of life. The truth is that we belong not to our sin and the Law, but to Christ’s righteousness and the Gospel. From him, in his Word, we receive grace upon grace. He now dwells among us.
He gathers us to his Name. He gives to us his Sacrament. He binds us to himself and to one another. And, in hearing his Gospel, in holding onto his promise of all sins-forgiven, we become children of God, being given birth as his children not by our own decision, not by the will of our flesh or the will of man, but by the gift of God.
And in this Word of Gospel, we behold his glory, glory as of the only-begotten Son from the Father.
IN THE NAME OF JESUS.