Summary: As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ we celebrate his enlightening presence among us; we celebrate the coming of the one who brought the whole creation into being; we celebrate our new found status as children of God, we celebrate the fact that God h
Did you notice the common theme that comes through in the two Bible Readings we just heard? Not just the theme that God has sent his Son in the form of this child Jesus. No, I’m thinking of the fact that God has sent him to communicate with us. God has spoken to us by a son, Hebrews tells us. Jesus comes as God’s word, is how John puts it. What’s more, this word is the creative voice of God, the one who speaks and the universe comes into existence; the one who speaks and order is brought out of chaos. It’s no wonder we continue to celebrate the birth of Jesus year after year, is it? Well lets spend a few minutes thinking about what we have to celebrate in this amazing event. I’m sure you could think of more than this, but I just want to focus on five different things we discover in this passage from John 1 that we’re here to celebrate today?
1 The light which enlightens everyone v9
Jesus Christ, "9the true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world."
Enlightenment is one of those concepts that’s very popular these days. I’m not sure anyone really understands what they mean by it, but it’s talked about fairly freely in certain circles. In eastern religions, enlightenment has to do with being raised to a state of experience of the divine transcending normal life. It’s a state that brings the person to ultimate fulfilment, that gives them an understanding of the world that goes beyond normal experience, that gives them a special kind of wisdom. This sort of enlightenment is achieved by a particularly holy lifestyle or rigorous self discipline. e.g. Forrest Gump - people followed him around as he ran back and forth across America, hanging on his every word as though he was going to tell them the meaning of life. He seemed to offer them enlightenment.
Now that may well be the sort of idea that many think of when they talk about spiritual enlightenment, but it’s not what John means here.
For John, enlightenment entails recognising the one who is the light. That is, it entails recognising that this child, born of Mary is the only begotten Son of God.
To truly see the light means that we see that Jesus is the one to whom the whole world belongs. It means recognising that he has a right to expect our allegiance.
And that means that seeing the light means recognising that we need the salvation that he brings.
2 The one through whom the whole world was made v10
Jesus Christ was born 2000 years ago, but he existed as the only Son of God long before that. Hebrews 1 expresses it like this: "through whom he also created the worlds." Here’s the mystery of the incarnation: the word that brought the creation into being has now appeared in human form. God the creator has become one of us. He’s lowered himself to become part of the creation. And he’s done it so he can restore that creation to the way it was meant to be. Which leads us to the third thing we’re celebrating today:
3 The power to become children of God v12
"To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God. 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God."
When he first brought the creation into being God made men and women in his own image. But that image was destroyed by their rebellion against his rule.
But now Jesus Christ has come to make it possible for us to again become God’s children. How? Not by being born physically into his family. Not just by human desire or strength of will. But by the power of God.
You know, there are people who strive their whole lives to be good enough for God. There are people who work and work at being good people, being people who’ll be acceptable to God. And those same people often struggle with the fear that they haven’t measured up. Mind you, there are also lots of people who think they’re good enough for God but have got it wrong. And all these people need to hear this message. They can become children of God: not by working for it; not by rigorous self-discipline; not by reforming their lives. If they need to reform their lives then it’s already too late to do it by themselves. No, they can become children of God simply by believing in Jesus’ name. That is, by believing that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God and receiving him as that; receiving him as their Lord and God.