Pastor Peter Walther
Christmas Day / December 25, 2015
John 1:1-14 / The Word became Flesh
In verse 18, John gets to the heart of the matter that we are dealing with today. He says, “No one has ever seen God.” We can tell that he exists from the things he has created, the order he has set in all of creation, and the conscience that gives us some sense of right or wrong. But other than that, I’ve never seen him. Even when I pray, it seems like I pray to the wall, or the ceiling, or that I’m simply talking to myself. God doesn't audibly respond. And, It’s not like I end with a prayer requesting a sign. Lord, if the answer to my prayer is a yes, flicker the lights. If it’s a no, ring the door bell. Our senses give us the knowledge of existence. However, I can’t see God. I can’t hear him or smell him or touch him. If God’s existence seems questionable, how can I believe in a God? If there really is a God, where is God as I deal with all the problems in my life? Where was he when all of the disasters hit the different parts of the world? When we see nothing, nor hear anything, we carry on with our lives, with the thought that maybe God isn’t there or that he doesn’t care. And when it seems like the existence of God is simply irrelevant, our existence becomes confusing, life’s purpose becomes empty, and our day to day dealings become cosmically and universally irrelevant and unimportant.
This past weekend while I was sick, I had the sad opportunity to watch several episodes of the Dog Whisperer on TV. I’ll be honest, I learned a lot about dogs and training dogs, even though I don’t have a dog. Pretty much every episode came down to three things, dogs need exercise every day, they need limitations and discipline, and that many dogs need a sense of purpose because they were bred to do work. When those things don’t happen, dogs get out of hand.
I’m not saying we are like dogs, but in some respects, we need that sense of purpose. Why do you think people throw their time and effort into their family or their job? They like to feel a sense of purpose. But even then, when their life is over, what was it all for? When I look to the stars for God to give me the answers to these questions, I surf through a wide array of emotions because I feel like I don’t get the answers I want or any for that matter. I feel powerless and overwhelmed.
Often people try their hand at Eastern religious mantras, which is simply a sound repeated. Supposedly with the repeating of these sounds, things will make sense cosmically as thoughts and worries vanish, leaving you with ultimate reality. As Christians, we see the shallow and inadequate nature of such a task. When begin our journey in searching for God, we have already failed because our sin blinds us. It would be like us going into Festival foods with all the lights off and trying to find some gluten free cookies with a green label. We would be feeling around in the air, feeling, walls, floors, and anything to get there. It would be impossible. Simply put, we make it harder than it really is. Our attempts at knowing what God wants always fail. Rather, God comes to us and in such simple ways.
For families, Christmas gift giving begins to get expensive as the children get older, as families get bigger, and as personalities become pickier. Classrooms with a decent amount of children also do some sort of gift giving. It gets tricky to get every child a gift. But a wonderful remedy to these situations is picking a random person out of a hat, not telling them, and simply giving that one person a gift instead of everyone getting a gift. Some may call it Secret Satan. Oh, did I say that wrong? Secret Santa. Nevertheless, the individual picks their gift, wondering the whole time who this gift giver just might be. The person can maybe take a few guesses based on gift wrapping, or the penmanship of the gift giver, or the actual gift inside. “Where is this Secret Santa? Who are they?” And when I’m playing this game, I never pick up on the signals, so the person comes to me to tell me, “I gave you that gift.”
It’s amazing how simple communication is. Without those simple words, I wouldn't have known who gave me that gift. Words help me to communicate with you. Words serve two distinct purposes. Words give expression to the inner thoughts of a person. There are only a certain amount of emojis that can express emotion in a phone text. Eventually, words need to be used. Words help us tell the difference between things like empty and abandoned, or between interested and inquisitive. Words help us express what is happening in our heart and mind. Words also help us to reveal those thoughts to other people. Whether it is English, Spanish, or even sign language, a conversation is always between at least two people as information goes back and forth. Even a system of eye blinks could convey information to another person.
Unlike eastern mantras that make some unintelligible sound to find meaning or clarity, God uses words and simple ones for that matter. God wants to reveal himself to you. He wants to talk with you with simple communication. He is literally coming to you. We don’t have to search for God in the far corners of the galaxy or even in the far corners of our mind. God comes to us in his Word. In his Word, we see just how awesome and powerful our God is. We see that our God is a just God and a God of order. In his word we have immediate gratification because we begin to see what our purpose is in this life. God has given to us His law to follow and obey. However, these laws aren’t easy! Have you read the ten commandments? I can’t even keep the first one every day, let alone the other ones.
What the apostle John brings to our attention today is how God reveals himself as a God of love not only a God of laws. His Word not only voices his love to us, but his Word expressed and demonstrated that love. His Word became flesh. God became one of us. Jesus became fully human. In his life, we see him cry. We see him sleep. We see him eat. We see him in pain. And ultimately, we see him die. He is both fully God and fully man, though our reason cannot comprehend that.
Literally, Jesus “tented and tabernacled among us.” It’s kind of neat to hear that terminology because the Tabernacle, just like the Temple in Jerusalem, would all have been connected to worship life. They would have associated all these places with the presence of God, and specifically, where the glory of God was revealed. In those times that was a very fearful thing, but we are told that in Jesus, both the presence and the glory of God were revealed among us, reaching out in love and offering free salvation.
In Revelation, John pictures for us what heaven will be like. The essence of heaven is God living with people. Revelation 21 says, And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”” Jesus’ presence on this earth was a foretaste of heaven!
Isn't that amazing that God doesn’t let us sit in the dark, but he comes to us. He turns the light on the whole case and he calls to us in his Word.
The benefits of his work are for everyone in the world. No one is excluded. Just like light does not discriminate on whom it shines; it does not pick and choose. Where it is present, it is for everyone. The only way people can avoid light in such a circumstance is by willfully avoiding it, by closing your eyes, or by blindfolding yourself. Light reveals what is right and true, whereas darkness conceals it. Jesus is light, who speaks the truth and brings spiritual understanding to those who were in the darkness.
Darkness cannot overcome light; wherever there is light, darkness flees. Jesus cannot be overcome by the forces of darkness; he and his Word are more powerful than they. It is the unbeliever’s own fault if he rejects the free salvation offered to him. A plant thrives with lots of light; however, take away that light and the plant dies. A Christian thrives when consistently exposed to God’s Word; separated from that, the faith of that Christian will suffer and likely die as well. But when we are in that light, when we are in God’s Word, we grow in the wonderful knowledge that our God became like one of us, because he loved us. You are no longer a slave to the darkness. You are not irrelevant and unimportant, but you are a dearly loved child of the light. Continue to live in that light. Kick to the curb the troubling doubts and insecurities about life and death because we have all the answers right here with Jesus. In God’s Word, we see the demonstration of love. In God’s word, we see Jesus: our one and only answer. Amen.