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Summary: We cannot separate the true meaning of Christmas from a personal experience with the Living God.

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Experiencing Christmas

Text: John 1:1,14-18

Introduction

1. Illustration: Typical of last minute Christmas shoppers, a mother was running furiously from store to store. Suddenly she became aware that the pudgy little hand of her three year old son was no longer clutched in hers. In a panic she retraced her steps and found him standing with his little nose pressed flatly against a frosty window. He was gazing at a manger scene. Hearing his mother’s near hysterical call, he turned and shouted with innocent glee: "look mommy! it’s Jesus - baby Jesus in the hay". With obvious indifference to his joy and wonder, she impatiently jerked him away saying, "we don’t have time for that!"

2. Now this mother has either never experienced the real meaning of Christmas or she has forgotten it.

3. When we experience Christmas we experience...

a. The vastness of God's love

b. The vastness of God's grace

c. The vastness of God character

4. Read John 1:1, 14-18

Proposition: We cannot separate the true meaning of Christmas from a personal experience with the Living God.

Transition: The first thing we experience at Christmas is...

I. The Vastness of God's Love (1, 14).

A. The Word Became Human

1. To understand the true meaning of Christmas we have to understand the true nature of Jesus.

2. John tells us, "In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God."

a. John proclaims the true nature of Jesus by referring to him as the Word, in the Greek he uses the term logos.

b. In Greek thought, the logos was the rational principle guiding the universe and making life coherent.

c. For Jewish people, the logos was the word of the Lord, an expression of God's wisdom and creative power.

d. By Jesus' time, the logos was viewed as coming from God and having his personality (NLT Study Bible).

e. However, John is going to take it a step further. He not only refers to Jesus as the Word of God, but he draws a direct connection between the Word and God himself.

f. John is making an absolute affirmation about the eternal existence of the Word.

g. It did not come into being nor was there ever a time when "the Word was not."

h. Whatever we can say about God, we can and must say about the Word (Burge, NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: John, 54-55).

3. In beginning his Gospel with this understanding John is telling us something highly significant about the nature of Jesus.

a. He is telling us that Jesus was not created, but that he always is, always was, and always shall be.

b. He is telling us that Jesus wasn't like God, but that he is God.

c. He is telling us that Jesus has always been with and fellowshipped with God since before time began.

d. Jesus is the Word and heaven is his only home.

4. The significance that this has with Christmas and why it shows the vastness of God's love is "So the Word became human..."

a. The idea that the Word became human (literally became flesh) stunned both Greeks and Jews.

b. Greeks separated the sphere of God from the mundane world of humanity, which they called flesh (Greek sarx).

c. The whole idea of God becoming like on of us was totally incomprehensible.

d. It's kind of like saying, "I'm moving to Michigan!"

e. John wrote that God himself became flesh in Christ.

f. Jesus' humanity and divinity were complete, not partial. The two ideas—Jesus as 100-percent divine and 100-percent human—form the bedrock of a Christian understanding of Christ (NLT Study Bible).

5. Not only does John say that he became like one of us, but he also "made his home among us."

a. The verb translated "lived" means "to pitch a tent, to dwell temporarily" (BAG, p. 762).

b. He left his usual place and accepted the conditions of human life and environment, with the attendant temporal limitations that all humans experience (Tenney, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Pradis CD-ROM).

c. He not only became like one of us, but he also submitted himself to all the same garbage that we do.

6. However, the significance goes even deeper.

a. This Greek word is related to the word used for the OT Tabernacle (Greek skēnē, "tent, tabernacle"), the tent in the wilderness where the Lord's glory resided and where Israel came to worship.

b. The Father's glory in the Tabernacle was now present in Jesus Christ.

c. This experience of glory is concrete. It is not a mystical vision and an inward illumination. The glory of God took up tangible form and was touched.

d. Another aspect is that this glory was not merely a display of power.

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