Summary: We celebrate Jesus’ enlightening presence among us; the coming of the one who brought the whole creation into being; our new found status as children of God, the fact that God has lowered himself to human form and dwelt among us; and we celebrate the glor
What are we here to celebrate today?
1 The light which enlightens everyone v9
Jesus Christ, who will bring them true enlightenment. What is enlightenment?
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 that transcends normal life. It’s a state which 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. 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.
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. There are even 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 his name. That is, by believing that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God and receiving him as that; that is by receiving him as their Lord.
I’m not sure which is more amazing, that God could take on human form, or that we could be remade in the image of God, with all our imperfections removed. I mean, that’s a miracle beyond imagining!
4 The word of God, God’s only Son, has taken human flesh and dwelt among us - v14
This really is the greatest miracle isn’t it? This is the thing that we celebrate above all. God has taken on human flesh. That in itself is remarkable. But then he’s come to dwell among us. That’s even more remarkable. Human beings since the fall have been excluded from God’s presence. If we were to appear before God in our current state we’d be destroyed the way impurities are removed from metal by the refiners fire. But now God has come down to our level and dwelt among us. He’s come into our presence. And he’s done that so we can in turn come into his presence, if we put our faith and trust in him.
The fact that Jesus has dwelt among us as one of us, means that he understands what our life is like. He knows, when we pray to him, what we’re going through. Hebrews 4 puts it like this: "Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb 4:14-16 NRSV) Jesus has taken human flesh and dwelt among us. He knows what our weak human nature is like. So when we fail and call to him for forgiveness he understands. He sympathises with us.