Summary: A sermon for Christmas.
The Word Became Flesh
A couple took their son and daughter to Carlsbad Cavern National Park.
Carlsbad Cavern is a huge limestone cave in a fossil reef in Carlsbad, New Mexico.
The tour of this amazing place includes a really dramatic moment when you get to the cavern’s lowest point.
What happens is that the tour guide turns off the lights, to show just how dark darkness can be.
Surrounded by complete darkness the couple’s little boy started to cry.
And then immediately his sister said to him in a quiet voice: “Don’t cry. Someone here knows how to turn on the lights.”
Verse 5 of our Gospel Lesson on this Christmas morning is our assurance that there truly is Someone Who knows how to turn on the lights.
As a matter of fact, our faith is grounded in the fact that “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
The beginning of the Gospel of John should remind us a bit of the beginning of the first Book of the Bible—Genesis.
Back in Genesis we are told that “When God began to create the heavens and the earth…God said [by the Word of His mouth], ‘Let there be light.’
And so light appeared.”
This was before the creation itself had any baggage.
“In the beginning was the Word,” and this Word brought into being the world and all that exists.
But something happened to God’s creation.
Darkness crept into God’s world, polluting the goodness, the order, the purpose.
Darkness is John’s word here for the evil in God’s creation.
Those of us who love dark chocolate know that darkness is not always evil.
It is used in John to make a contrast with the light that Jesus Christ brings into the world.
The darkness represents brokenness, and the twisting of what was originally meant for good into instruments of evil.
Do you recognize this darkness?
In the rest of John’s Gospel we see it played out.
When Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night, the darkness represents doubt struggling to find faith.
Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus leads Jesus to say in John Chapter 3: “Here is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light…”
Our Gospel Lesson from John Chapter 1 tells us that “The true light that gives light to every human being was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”
How can that be?
This is the terrible tragedy that plagues our world today.
Jesus came into this world and the world has told Him to “get lost!”
The world hung up on Him, slammed doors on Him, turned their backs to Him.
People plotted against Him, Judas betrayed Him, three disciples fell asleep on Him, witnesses lied about Him, and Peter denied Him.
Pilate flogged Him, and soldiers mocked Him.
Then, when the soldiers got tired of kneeling in front of Jesus and belting Him in the face, they led Him out to crucify Him.
This is what happened to the true light coming into the world.
To say that this is immeasurably heartbreaking is a breathtaking understatement!!!
The world “did not know him”; “his own people did not accept him.”
The very people Jesus created came to resent Him.
The True Light is an object of scorn to us in our worldliness, because His light is such a contrast to our darkness.
In the presence of God’s glory and light our brokenness is revealed; our selfishness is revealed; our sinfulness.
Think about it, a police officer who shines a flashlight into a pulled-over car is pretty likely going to be resented.
The darkness resents the light.
If real glory exposes my inglorious self, I will resent it.
I will lie about it.
And then I will kill it!!!
Is that what John is saying to us this morning?
We see the evil which has crept into creation in things that happen naturally.
Tsunamis kill thousands.
Millions die from drought and famine.
Tiny babies battle cruel cancer.
Alzheimer’s eats away at a person’s mind until only a shell is left.
Surely these things are part of the darkness.
We find darkness in our society and politics.
We come across the darkness when we see the drug war which is fueled by human weakness, greed and the callous indifference to human life.
The darkness becomes nearly pitch black when we talk about terrorism, genocide, and human trafficking.