Text: John 1:1-14
On this most blessed day of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, there is no reading of His birth, no baby lying sweetly in a manger. Today, there is no mention of presents under the tree or family Christmas traditions. Instead, it’s all about the Word, the Logos, Jesus.
Instead, you hear who Jesus is: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” You have no mention of Jesus by name, but you hear what He has done: “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” He is the Creator of all things, because He is God. With God from the beginning, He made everything. What was the purpose of the Word? “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” The Word came into creation, a creation He had made, with a singular purpose – to redeem it.
God has pitched His tent with you so that you behold His grace. Today we rejoice, for the Word has become flesh so that He dwells among us. It is just the thing to hear today. The Word—that is, the eternal, divine Son of God—has become flesh. He has taken on a human nature, flesh and blood, in the womb of Mary and has been born in the flesh. That is why we celebrate today. But there is more to this verse, more reason to celebrate, that is revealed by a more precise translation. “The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.”
In the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, God tabernacles among us. The tabernacle was a tent designed by God Himself so that He would have a place to dwell among His people. That design was given to Moses shortly after the exodus from Egypt. The tabernacle would serve for nearly five hundred years before it would be replaced by the temple, which had the exact same design but was a permanent structure rather than a tent.
The tabernacle was a place of awe. It was apparent that God was present in the tabernacle, because there you beheld His glory. And now that awe is bound up in Jesus. He is born and appears as any other child. There is nothing in His appearance to make Him more glorious than any other fellow. Yet you can still marvel at Him. In this man, the eternal God dwells. This child lying in His mother’s arms is the one who created the whole universe and even the motherly arms in which He lies. Marvel at the majesty of that. How great is your God that He can humble Himself to be born of Mary yet remain the source of all things.
For the same reason that the tabernacle inspired awe, it also produced fear. That same fear ought to be ours as the Word tabernacles among us. It is no small thing to be in the presence of God. Don’t be fooled by Christ’s humility as He comes as a baby. He is the holy God. He is the Creator of all things. An honest assessment of my sin leaves me shuddering in fear when I think of approaching the One in whom we behold of the glory of God.
God desires to dwell with His people. But He also knows that they are sinners who cannot live to tell the tale if they behold His unfettered holiness. So He puts on a mask that He might truly be present with His people, and they would yet live. That is grace. That is the tabernacle.
And it is all bound up in Jesus. Here in the child born of Mary is God dwelling among His people with grace. He will not be apart from you, so He puts on human flesh as a mask. That is grace. All of that grace is in Jesus, and it explains why He took a human nature. Grace comes at a price, one that you and I cannot pay. So Jesus pays the price in His flesh. The glory of God will be revealed in its fullness at the cross. The night that He is betrayed, Jesus prays, “The hour has come; glorify Your Son.” At other times, Jesus says it is not yet His time. His time is at the cross; that is the time of glory, glory that abounds in grace.
Jesus became flesh. In doing so, He dignified your flesh. Should you suffer from sickness or chronic pain, you might well begin to view your body as a prison from which you desire release, a source of sadness as you feel deterioration. But it is not so. God does not consider your body a throwaway: just like your soul and mind, it is a part of you in need of redemption—and a part of you redeemed. Christ has taken on flesh to redeem your flesh: His victory over sin, death and devil is complete. He surrenders nothing to them. Healing and deliverance are coming for you, because Jesus became flesh like yours to make it so.
Today we rejoice, for the Savior, which is Christ the Lord, is born. He is the Savior, which is Christ the Lord every day of the year and not just on Christmas Day. He was born for our sin and takes away our sin ever day of the year. Because you and I were born in sin, He is born to save us from sin. Because you and I are made of mortal flesh and blood, He becomes flesh and blood to raise us up to immortality. Because you and I face death, He is born to di and rise again to give us new life. He is our Savior, Christ the Lord, and He is born for you and has forgiven us all of our sins. Let this be our focus at Christmas: the Word made flesh in the form of an infant, so that one day, He may die for our sins and open the gates of heaven for us sinners. Let us rejoice in the Gift of all gifts which has been given to us, Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God with us, amen.