The Second Sunday of Christmas

January 5, 2020

John 1:14-18

The Word Became Flesh

 

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.  John testifies concerning him.  He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'”  From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.  (NIV1984)

 

 

Dear fellow worshipers of the Child of Bethlehem,

 

Are you familiar with a man by the name of Cerinthus?  Cerinthus appeared on the scene about 88 A.D. and is widely attributed with promoting a heresy called Docetism.  Docetism teaches that all matter is inherently evil and therefore Jesus did not and could not have had a physical body.  Cerinthus taught that Jesus’ body was a hallucination or a phantasm.  He taught that Jesus had a “spiritual” body— not a body made up of flesh and blood.

 

Are you familiar with a man by the name of Paul of Samosata?  Paul of Samosata lived in the mid to late 200’s and developed a heresy called Dynamic Monarchianism.  Dynamic Monarchianism teaches that there is an impersonal divine “power” that was granted to Moses, to the prophets of old and has now been granted in the highest degree to Jesus of Nazareth.  Paul of Samosata taught that over the course of time and by a proper use of this impersonal divine power Jesus of Nazareth was eventually “adopted” by the Father to be His Son.

 

Are you familiar with a man by the name of Arius?  Arius taught that Jesus was a “creation” of the Father and the reason the Father “created” Jesus was so that through Jesus He could then create the world.  The heresy of Arius was causing so much trouble in the church that in 325 A.D. the Christian church convened a Council in the city of Nicea.  At the Council of Nicea the church formally adopted the Nicene Creed that we confess to this very day— the creed which so beautifully emphasizes the divinity of Jesus Christ.

 

Are you familiar with a man by the name of Nestorious?  Nestorious was consecrated as the Bishop of Constantinople on April 10th, 428 A.D.  Nestorious maintained that Mary did not give birth to the Son of God.  Nestorious taught that Mary give birth to a man through whom the Son of God worked and in whom the Son of God dwelt as God might dwell in a temple.

 

These four men— and sadly many more just like them— have at least one thing in common.  Each and every one of them tries to “explain” the Incarnation of the Son of God in a way that makes logical sense to them.  In other words, their key problem— though not their only problem— lies in the fact that they strive to interpret the Bible instead of simply and faithfully proclaiming what the Bible says.

 

I am not here to “interpret” what I “think” the apostle John is trying to say to you here in our text for today.  Even though I do not completely understand the truths that John is teaching us here in our text, even though many of you could probably raise your hand and ask me a question about this text that would lead me to say “I don’t know” I will strive to the best of my ability to proclaim to you what John proclaims to us here in our text under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit.  That proclamation centers on the truth concerning the Incarnation of the Son of God.  That proclamation centers on the truth that:  The Word Became Flesh.

 

Today, my friends, as we study at these glorious words we will focus our attention on three things.  First, let’s see what the apostle John proclaims concerning the “Word” who “became flesh.”  Then let’s see what John the Baptist proclaims concerning the “Word” who “became flesh.”  And finally, let’s see what we are to proclaim concerning the “Word” who “became flesh.”

 

What is the apostle John proclaiming to us today?  Look at the opening verse of our text.  John writes, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (literally this says, ‘The Word became flesh and tented among us’). We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

 

If you are at all familiar with the Gospel of John then you know that this opening chapter of John’s Gospel is dedicated to proclaiming the truth that Jesus is the Incarnate “Word of God.”  And when we are willing to simply let Scripture speak for itself, when we are willing to put aside our own opinions, our own preconceived notions, our own limited logic there is no question, my friends, that when John talks about Jesus being the “Word” who “became flesh” he is proclaiming that Jesus is the true eternal Son of the one and only Living God— absolutely equal to both God the Father and God the Holy Spirit in every single way!

 

To help make that truth crystal clear all we have to do is look at John 1:1.  In the NIV it reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  A very literal translation of the Greek goes like this, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was beside God or in the presence of God and God was the Word.”  While I can not fully comprehend these words I can by faith understand what John is proclaiming here!  Now combine what John says in John 1:1 with what John says concerning the “Word” who “became flesh” in the first verse of our text, John 1:14.  He writes, “We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  Do you remember when John saw the “glory” of the “Word” who “became flesh”?  In Matthew 17 we are told that Jesus took Peter, James and John up onto a high mountain where Jesus was “transfigured before them.”  We are told that Jesus’ face “shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light” (Matthew 17:2).  On Easter Sunday when the “Word” who “became flesh” physically rose from the dead He appeared to His disciples in a locked room and said, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19).  John was there!  John was an eyewitness to the “glory” of the resurrected Christ!  Once again I may not completely comprehend what John is proclaiming but by the grace of God I believe it!  Very simply, my friends, the apostle John proclaims to us that the Child born in Bethlehem is indeed the “Word” of God who “became flesh” and “tented among us” for awhile.  He is the “One and Only.”  He is the “Only Begotten” Son who came “from the Father full of grace and truth.”

 

Now let’s look at what John the Baptist proclaims concerning the “Word” who “became flesh.”  Look at verse 15 of our text.  We read, “John testifies concerning him.  He cries out saying, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.”’”

 

At first glance the message that John the Baptist proclaims concerning the “Word” who “became flesh” may sound a bit confusing.  In reality, however, it is quite simple.  While John the Baptist was six months older than his cousin Jesus (See Luke 2:36) and while John the Baptist began his public ministry and gained a reputation for being a powerful preacher while Jesus was still working as a humble carpenter in a the little town of Nazareth John still proclaims concerning Jesus, “He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.”  John the Baptist realized and John the Baptist clearly proclaimed that his God-given role was to prepare people and to point people to Jesus the Christ, the eternal Son of God, the “Word” who “became flesh” to take away the sins of the world!

 

That leaves just one more question for us to address, my friends.  What are we to proclaim concerning the “Word” who “became flesh”?  Instead of trying to “interpret” what the apostle John proclaims, instead of trying to “interpret” what John the Baptist proclaims, instead of following in the false misleading footsteps of men such as Cerinthus or Paul of Samosata or Arius or Nestorious our goal is very simple.  We need to faithfully proclaim what Scripture reveals to us concerning Jesus— the “Word” who “became flesh.”  When that glorious proclamation is our focus then we will always have wonderful news to proclaim to the people around us!  If nothing else, my friends, look at what John gives to us to proclaim to others concerning Jesus in verses 16-18 of our text!  He says, “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.”

 

“From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.”  Think about what those words proclaim to us!  Through Jesus Christ, the “Word” who “became flesh,” we have all received the gift of saving faith— a “blessing” that we can now proclaim to others!  Through Jesus Christ, the “Word” who “became flesh,” we have all received the gift of the complete forgiveness of sins— a “blessing” that we can now proclaim to others.  Through Jesus Christ, the “Word” who “became flesh,” we have all received the gift of eternal life in heaven— a “blessing” that we can now proclaim to others!  Through Jesus Christ, the “Word” who “became flesh,” we have all experienced first hand the “grace and truth” of God— a “blessing” that we can now proclaim to others.  Through Jesus Christ, the “Word” who “became flesh,” we know the One and Only true God— who He is and what He has done to save us!  (Pointing to the cross)  Surely, that is a “blessing” that we will want to proclaim to as many people as we can!

 

All too often, my friends, people will listen to what you and I believe concerning the “Word” who “became flesh” and they will say— “Well, that’s just your interpretation.”  Do not allow them to get away with making that false remark!  We do not strive to “interpret” what the Bible Says.  History has proven that as soon as we mortal sinful human beings try to impose our “interpretation” on what God says in His holy Word we always end up teaching some kind of heresy.  My goal and your goal needs to be exactly the same.  Our goal is to faithfully proclaim what God has revealed on the pages of His holy Word.  Only by proclaiming the Truth of Scripture will we experience the wonder of the Truth that Scripture proclaims to us— including the Truth that:  “The Word became flesh” to save us from our sins!  (Pointing to the cross)

 

To God be the glory!

 

Amen