Text: John 1:1-14 (15-18)
“In the beginning was the Word,” St. John wrote. “And the Word was with God, and the Word was God…All things were made through Him…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…full of grace and truth.” Today we celebrate a holiday unlike any other. The eternal Word of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds and by whom all things exist, has been born in our human flesh. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and is now born of the Virgin Mary. For His bed, they placed Him in a manger – whose wood foreshadows the wood of the cross. Today, the Word of God – Jesus – is come in the flesh to bring us grace and truth.
When St. John began his gospel with those words, “In the beginning,” he was very intentionally bringing our minds back to the beginning of the Scriptures. Genesis 1 begins with those same words, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” St. John brings back to our attention that God, our God, created all that exists in heaven and earth, things both visible and invisible. There is nothing that exists that did not come into being through His wonderful activity. St. John brings up Genesis 1 to show that just as God the Father and God the Spirit were present at Creation, so also was the Word of God – the Son of God. And not only was the Word of God present at the creation of all things, it was by Him that all things were made. The psalmist sings in Psalm 33, “By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made.”
So, also, St. John continues. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” The exalted Word of God John writes of is Jesus. Jesus is the one who was present with the Father and Spirit before the creation of the world. Jesus is the Word by whom all things were made. And, today, we confess, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…full of grace and truth.”
The Eternal Word of God, by whom all things were made, has now come to us in the flesh. He has been born, just as every one of us has been. He is born just like us in every way. How this has come to be is a mystery to us, a great and wonderful one. We confess in the creeds of the Church that He has not changed from God into man, but has united the human and divine natures in Himself. He is and remains fully God, yet fully man. But, why? Why has such a great and awesome thing come to pass?
As Christians, we gladly confess God as the author and source of all life. We believe that He has made all things and that after He created man in His own image, He pronounced that His creation was very good. It was very good, perfect, without sin. God blessed Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden, to work and keep it, to be fruitful and multiply. Yet, the one thing God commanded them not to do – that, they did do. Adam and Eve were created with complete free will and with the ability to obey God fully; but they used their free will to disobey. By their disobedience, all creation was plunged into the depths of sin. That includes us.
By our birth of flesh and blood, we are included in the Fall. Adam and Eve’s disobedience and the tendency to disobey God continues on in us and in all mankind. This is why all the world is wracked with death and despair, evil, sickness, murder and war. That we are part of this is proved by our own bodies. They continually grow weaker, and, eventually we die. God said death would come from disobeying Him. And, so, it comes to us, too. St. Paul phrased it in this way, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” The only one to whom that has not spread is Jesus Christ.
He, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, was born without the corruption of original sin. And, though He did not inherit the effects of the Fall, He was still capable of sinning – but He didn’t. He resisted temptation, He kept God’s Law fully. Though He alone was not worthy of death, He did die. He died on the cross to bring us His grace and forgiveness. By His death, He won for us forgiveness of sins. He who was the author of creation became united with His creation by taking upon Himself our human flesh. He came and died, so that in Him we might truly live.
By His birth, He brought light back into the world. The hope and faith of all God’s people is now come to fruition. What the prophets spoke of and longed to see, did come to pass in that simple manger stall. God has come to us, to be us. He is united with His creation, with us, in death, so that He might also unite us to Himself in life. By faith in Him – in His life, death, and resurrection – He gives us the right to be children of God. And so, we are. Today, we celebrate and confess that Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God, is now come in the flesh to bring us His grace and truth.