Summary: The Christmas story, in John’s Gospel.
TITLE: Jesus: God In Human Flesh (Sermon # 1)
SERIES: The Apostle John’s Christmas Story
TEXT: John 1:1–18
DATE PREACHED: December 13, 2009
COPYRIGHT © JOE LA RUE, 2009
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
A. When we think of the Christmas story, we tend to think of the accounts in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. We remember the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night, and the angel chorus that announced our Savior’s birth. We recall the star that shone in the east and the wise men who followed it to Jerusalem in search of the baby king. We reflect on the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These are the Christmas stories in Matthew and Luke.
B. The apostle John’s account of Christmas is a little different. He doesn’t mention the wise men, or the star, or the shepherds, or the chorus of angels. While Matthew and Luke tell us about the historical circumstances of our Savior’s birth, John tells us about the theological significance of the birth. And so, twice—once in his Gospel, and once in Revelation—John explains Christmas from the perspective of what the birth of Christ means for us.
C. This Sunday and next, we will study John’s account of Christmas. Next week, we’ll consider John’s picture in Revelation of the birth of Jesus Christ as an occurrence of cosmic significance, an event that ushered in the defeat of Satan and the triumph of the kingdom of God. But today, let’s look at the story of Christmas in John’s Gospel. Open your Bibles to John, chapter one, verses one through eighteen. Follow along as I read from the English Standard Version of the Bible. The Word of God says:
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15(John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
(John 1:1-18, English Standard Version)
D. “The Word became flesh” — that’s the incarnation. That’s the Christmas story—God entered our world as a little baby, born to a virgin in Bethlehem, and was laid in a manger in a stable, because there was no room for his family in the inn.
I. THE IDENTITY OF THE BABY: GOD, CLOTHED IN HUMAN FLESH.
A. There can be no doubt that Jesus is God, clothed in human flesh, when we take the first verse with the fourteenth: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. . . . 14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
1. This expression, “the Word,” is the translation of the Greek word logos (λόγος). It was used by the various Greek and Roman philosophical schools to denote “reason.” (F. F. Bruce, The Gospel of John at 29 (Grand Rapids: Eerdman’s, 1983); George R. Beasley-Murray, John at 24 (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1989)). And, the pagan peoples of the ancient Near East, while not using the Greek word, had nonetheless associated the expression “word of god” or “word of the gods” with “wisdom.” (Beasley-Murray, John, at 23).
2. But the true backdrop for John’s use of the word logos to describe Jesus is not the Greek philosophical schools, nor the ancient Near Eastern peoples. Rather, the true background is found in the Old Testament, where ‘the word of God’ denotes ‘God in action.’ And, there are three primary activities that this ‘action’ tends to center around—creation, revelation, and deliverance. (Bruce, The Gospel of John, at 29).