Summary: A pastor tells a story on himself that took place on Christmas Eve many years ago. The bishop was readying his family to go to a candlelight service over which he would preside. On the way to the church, the pastor’s son asked, “Dad, are you going to let
Opening Statement: A pastor tells a story on himself that took place on Christmas Eve many years ago. The bishop was readying his family to go to a candlelight service over which he would preside. On the way to the church, the pastor’s son asked, “Dad, are you going to let us enjoy Christmas this year or are you going to try to explain it to everybody?”
Transition: I want you to enjoy Christmas this year. I hope that my explanations of it don’t ruin the joy found within it. But there are a few texts that I find myself returning to each and every Christmas. These passages almost defy explanation.
Title: A Jesus We Can Grab On To
Key Word: My words will hang on two key passages today.
John 1:14 (New American Standard): And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory
John 1:14 (The Message): The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.
1 John 1:1-4 (The Message): 1From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in--we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. 2The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us. 3We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. 4Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!
Transition: Allow me to explain by using a simple story as I begin.
Illustration: Imagine two neighbors who have quarreled and parted company. Then one of the neighbors has second thoughts. He dashes off a note to his estranged friend, suggesting that they bury the hatchet. He receives no reply. So he tries again, penning a heartfelt note with these words, “Let us make peace and resume our former friendly relations.” Still no response. Then the neighbor decides the broken relationship requires a sacrifice – he will bundle up and undertake the long, cold journey to the other man’s house on foot. It is biting winter weather and the man arrives breathlessly, dusted with snow. The neighbor sees before him a suffering human being, one who undertook a great ordeal to get to him. His heart melts and he takes the invitation of appeasement seriously. Now he says “Yes. We will be reconciled.”
Explanation: Emil Brunner, the great Swiss theologian, wrote this little parable to help us understand Christmas. “The neighbor is God,” says Brunner. “He has written many letters to us and we have not answered him. Through the prophets, he has sent invitations to participate in his kingdom, but we have declined time and time again with excuses: ‘Too busy…not enough time…maybe later.’” And so God did the unimaginable. He is the one who bundled up in flesh and made a long journey to us to right a broken relationship. He himself came to us, dwelling as a poor man among men, as one who did not have a place to rest his head, and finally as one spiked to a cross because people refused to believe in his gracious invitation. Yet in that hour the eyes of some people were opened: such is the love of God toward us, so powerful is his sacrifice that we cannot now fail to say “Yes.”
Quotation: In his book The Life of God in the Soul of Man, Henry Scougal, the seventeenth-century Scottish minister, said, “God hath long contended with a stubborn world, and thrown down many a blessing upon them; and when all his other gifts could not prevail, he at last made a gift of himself.”
Exposition: Christmas is the arrival of a gift. As we have already noted, the Gospel of John puts it this way, “The Word [The "Word" (logos - revelation) is a metaphor that refers to Jesus who reveals God to people.] became flesh [Evidently, he was in some form other than flesh before he came to earth. “Flesh” is a strong, almost crude way of referring to human nature. He could have said "The Word became man…" or "The word took on human form or a body…" But he bluntly said "flesh." There’s no denying the reality of his bodily presence among us. It was not an illusion.] and made his dwelling among us.” [In the original Greek text, Christ literally encamped or tabernacled or tented in flesh among us — he pitched a tent in our front yard and waited for us to say “Yes” to God’s invitation.]