December 26, 2021
God’s Christmas Presence to You
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man 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. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (NIV1984)
Dear fellow worshipers of the Christ-Child,
So, what did you get for Christmas? Did you get the computer game or that toy that you wanted? Did you get the earrings or that necklace that you have been admiring for so long? How about that tool that you don’t exactly need but it is sure nice to have? What did you get for Christmas? I don’t know about you but my personal perspective on Christmas presents has changed dramatically over the course of the years. When I was a child getting a pair of socks for Christmas did not always make it to my top ten list of all-time favorite Christmas presents. Nowadays I have learned to value the practicality of a Christmas gift. A gift that is useful— whether it be cookies or clothes— is oftentimes the gift that brings the most happiness.
When it comes to practicality, my friends, when it comes to usefulness, when it comes to a Christmas present that we all truly need nothing even begins to compare to the Christmas gift which God has given to us in His Son. Today as we study these very familiar words of John chapter one I would like to use a little play on words. On a day when many people are talking about the Christmas P-R-E-S-E-N-T-S which they have received I would like to focus our attention on God’s Christmas P-R-E-S-E-N-C-E to us. To help us appreciate the beauty and the practicality of God’s Christmas presence to us we are going to use an acronym as we study our text this morning. Our acronym is: G-L-A-D.
When it comes to God’s Christmas presence to us the first thing we want to remember is that G stands for God. John chapter one is among the clearest portions of Scripture we have when it comes to establishing the godhead or the divinity of the little Baby born in Bethlehem so many years ago. Gazing back into eternity before time even existed John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” I personally do not believe that I can even begin to comprehend what it was like for the virgin Mary as the Son of God grew inside of her. What went through her mind when the baby Jesus kicked for the very first time? How did Mary feel after the baby Jesus was born and He gazed up into her eyes as she was nursing Him? Mary held in her arms the One who had created the heavens and the earth! Mary sang lullabies to the eternal Jehovah— the great “I AM” who spoke to Moses in a burning bush and descended on Mt. Sinai with thunder and lightening, with a thick cloud and a very loud trumpet blast. What a unique awesome blessing was given to Mary as she held God’s Christmas presence in her arms!
Mary, of course, knew from the messianic promises given to her ancestors that for this Child of hers to be this world’s only Savior from sin He had to be true God, begotten of the Father from all of eternity. Mary knew from looking back on her own life and from looking back on the history of just her own people that there was not enough gold and silver in all the world to pay the ransom price for just one sin much less all the sins of the entire human race. Only the holy precious blood of God Himself, only the holy precious blood of the little baby whom Mary now held in her arms was sufficient to wash away our sins.
As you and I travel back to Bethlehem this morning, my friends, we cannot lose sight of that tremendous truth! If we want our Christmas celebration to be more than just a warm fuzzy time of the year when we sing songs and drink eggnog and exchange presents with our family and friends we need to keep our eyes focused on God’s Christmas presence to us— the presence of His only begotten Son born in a manger in Bethlehem. Only by recognizing that Child as our God will we ever understand and appreciate the true meaning of Christmas. So when it comes to being glad at Christmas remember: G stands for God.
The second letter in our acronym is L. L stands for both Life and Light. John writes in our text, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it…the true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” When we understand this Life and Light on a spiritual level we can see why they are inseparable in John’s mind. The Christ-Child is our only source of inexhaustible Light. The Christ-Child is our only source of eternal Life. Without the Christ-Child there can be no Light. Without the Christ-Child there can be no Life. Why? Stop to think of what is at the opposite end of that spiritual spectrum, my friends. The opposite of Light and Life is darkness and death. Now picture in your mind the image that John is painting for us here. You can bring the smallest of lights into the darkest of rooms and what happens? The darkness has no choice but to recede. Darkness cannot overcome light. Light always dispels darkness. Into our world, a world shrouded by the darkness of sin and death, came God’s Christmas presence to you— Light and Life. Through the power of the Holy Spirit that Light has shone into our hearts and given to us true life! With the Child of Bethlehem by our side the path that leads through the darkness of this world to the eternal life of heaven is clearly illuminated before us. Even though we are still surrounded by the darkness of sin and death the Light of God’s Christmas presence enables us to see and to avoid Satan’s snares so that we might live in a way which reflects the Light of God’s presence to those around us. So when it comes to being glad at Christmas remember: L stands for Light and for Life.
Moving on in our acronym we come to the letter A. A stands for adoption. John writes, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” When you and I look back on the historical accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry it is heart-breaking to see how many of God’s chosen people rejected the Messiah for whom they had waited so very long. Many of the Jews felt that by simply belonging to the nation of Israel, by simply having the blood of Abraham coursing through their veins that they were in an acceptable relationship with the Lord. What they lost sight of is that the right to be called children of God is not based on “natural descent,” or “human decision,” or even “a husband’s will.” The only way that we or anyone else can become the dearly beloved children of God is through adoption.
Does this mean that at one time we were not the beloved children of God? Absolutely. By virtue of the fact that we have inherited a sinful nature from Adam and Eve we were born children of darkness and not children of God. But the promise that God gave to Adam and Eve, the promise that God illuminated to Abraham, to King David and to the prophet Isaiah, that very same promise has been given to you and to me. That promise, my friends, is embodied in the Christ-Child— our only Savior from sin. Through faith in the Christ-Child you have been adopted by God. Through faith in the Christ-Child you have been given all the blessings and all the privileges that come with being the beloved children of the Creator of heaven and earth: new life here on this earth, eternal life in heaven, freedom from guilt, the fruit of the Spirit, power for godly living, the privilege of prayer, the fellowship of your brothers and sisters in the faith, and the assurance of God’s boundless love for you. All this is yours because God’s Christmas presence to you assures you of the adoption of sons. So when it comes to being glad at Christmas remember: A stands for Adoption.
That leaves us with just one letter in our acronym. It is the letter D. D stands for dwelling. John writes in our text, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Have you ever thought about what it would have been like to have lived during the days that God’s Son visibly dwelled here on this earth? Have you ever wished that you could have gone to Bethlehem to see what the shepherds saw? Did you ever wish that you could have been one of the disciples so that you could say with John, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only”? You can, my friends! Purely by the grace of God you can! God’s Christmas presence to you today— and every day— is that He has graciously made His dwelling with you. Not only has the Child of Bethlehem made your heart His home, not only does the eternal God personally come to you every time you read and study His holy Word or receive His holy Sacrament, but the same Child which Mary held in her arms on that first Christmas morning so many years ago now holds you in His arms every single day. The Christ-Child promised to come into this world to save us from our sins— and He did. (Pointing to the cross) The Christ-Child promised to come back to take us to His eternal heavenly home— and He will. The Christ-Child promised to be with you always, to the very end of the age— and He is. Yes, my friends, God’s Christmas presence to you assures you that He is dwelling in you and dwelling with you to this very day. So when it comes to being glad at Christmas remember: D stands for dwelling.
So, what did you get for Christmas? The presents you received from your family and friends may indeed include games and jewelry and toys and tools and maybe even socks. But God’s Christmas presence to you is wrapped up in the Child of Bethlehem. So be glad at this joyous time of the year. Be glad because this Child is your God. Be glad because this Child is your source of Life and Light. Be glad because this Child assures you of your adoption as the children of God. And be glad because this Child dwells with you and in you both now and forever.
In light of God’s Christmas presence to you may you have a truly blessed Christmas!
To God be the glory!