John 1.1 thru 14 What Child is This
“What Child is This?”
Oh, Boy! It’s here! Christmas! How many of you have unwrapped all your presents already? Maybe you’ve opened a few and when you get home you’ll open the rest. Then there’s Grandma and Grandpa’s house. More presents there! What fun! I love that frenzy of ripping paper, bows flying through the air. Children smiling and giggling with glee. Are you one of those people who has to meticulously peel back the tape and carefully fold back the paper? You know, you can recycle it. Not me I’m one of those, tear it apart and get to the good stuff! Forget the wrapping paper!
Last week we stopped by our neighbors’ house. Our neighbor Brad answered the door and then came his wife Colleen with their 18 month old Amelia. Amelia’s such a cutie. We have a little thing going. Amelia had one of those wrapping paper rolls. You know the long tubes the paper comes on. Colleen said Amelia has having a great time playing with this tube. I suggested they just put some paper back on and give it to her for Christmas. You know how it is with little children. Especially you parents with little ones. You spend $20, $30, $50 bucks on a present and they’re more fascinated with the wrapping and the box that it came in.
However, I can’t blame them. Sometimes the packaging out does the gift inside. Some of you have taken wrapping presents to a new art form. You almost hate to open the thing and muss up the beautiful wrapping….almost.
Today each of our texts talked about a gift with special wrapping. It’s easy, especially at this time of year, with all the decorations, celebrations, symbols, etc, to focus on the “wrapping” instead of the gift. The wrapping wasn’t even that fancy. In fact, it was pretty tiny, a little noisy and wriggly, helpless and fragile. The wrapping was a newborn baby.
WHAT A PROFOUND MYSTERY!
Please turn in your Bible to John 1. The mystery of Jesus is found in these verses …that the Infant is Infinite. This is established in verses 1-2 (read). For many years I thought that Jesus got his start when He was born. The fact of the matter is that Jesus Christ has always existed. The word “word” is the Greek “logos,” which refers to Jesus Christ, the second member of the Trinity. In Greek culture, logos, was that which gave meaning to all things. The philosopher Philo saw the logos as a bridge between a transcendent God and the material universe. John is using a term that everyone would be familiar with and yet he expands and transcends its meaning. Since a word is an audible or visible expression of a thought, Jesus perfectly revealed what was going on in the mind of God. He is the bridge between God and us.
Yet He came to this earth as a human being made of flesh and blood! What a profound mystery!!
WHAT A UNIQUE TESTIMONY!
Look at verses 4-5: “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 story of the Bible begins with physical darkness in Genesis 1. To correct this darkness God said, “let there be light.” What a unique testimony! There is none other like it in all history!
This testimony is born through human beings…John the Baptist, Paul and John. Today God uses pastors…and YOU…Isaiah 52:7, the verse that was used for the Advent devotional for this day, tells us of our calling to “proclaim peace,” “good tidings,” “good news”…of “salvation.” This is what the world needed then and this world needs now! And this testimony is Jesus Christ, born as a baby into this world.
That is because spiritual darkness spilled into our world in Gen. 3…in the garden, and can only be removed by the Lord who is life and light. As the light, Jesus shines into the darkness, and those who have not yet received Him are still in the dark and cannot understand Him. Darkness cannot ultimately put out the light because light is more powerful than darkness.
Max Lucado tells the story about a tribe of people who lived in a dark, cold cave. The cave dwellers would huddle together and cry against the chill. Loud and long they wailed. It was all they did. It was all they knew to do. The sounds in the cave were mournful, but the people didn’t know it, for they had never known joy. The spirit in the cave was death, but the people didn’t know it, for they had never known life.
But one day they heard a different voice. “I have heard your cries,” it announced. “I have felt your chill and seen your darkness. I have come to help you.” The cave people grew quiet. They had never heard this voice. Hope sounded strange to their ears. “How can we know you have come to help?”
“Trust me,” he answered. “I have what you need.” The cave people peered through the darkness at the figure of the stranger. He was stacking something, then stooping and stacking more. “What are you doing?” one cried, nervously. The stranger didn’t answer. “What are you making?” another shouted even louder.
The visitor stood and spoke in the direction of the voices. “I have what you need.” With that, he turned to the pile at his feet and lit it. Wood ignited, flames erupted, and light filled the cavern. The people turned away in fear. “Put it out!” they cried. “It hurts to see it.” “Light always hurts before it helps,” he answered. “Step closer. The pain will soon pass.”
“Not I,” declared a voice. “Nor I,” agreed a second. “Only a fool would risk exposing his eyes to such light,” said another. The stranger stood next to the fire. “Would you prefer the darkness? Would you prefer the cold? Don’t consult your fears. Take a step of faith.” For a long time no one spoke. The people hovered in groups covering their eyes. The fire builder stood next to the fire. “It’s warm here,” he invited.
“He’s right,” one from behind him announced. “It is warmer.” The stranger turned to see a figure slowly stepping toward the fire. “I can open my eyes now,” she proclaimed. “I can see.” “Come closer,” invited the fire builder. She did. She stepped into the ring of light. “It’s so warm!” She extended her hands and sighed as her chill began to pass. “Come everyone! Feel the warmth,” she invited.
This is the reality of the gift of Jesus…this Child who we celebrate the birth of today…on Christmas Day!
WHAT A WONDERFUL GIFT!
Let’s take a look at the gift inside the wrapping paper we discussed earlier. The wondrous gift of Jesus Christ. What was wrapped in this package of a tiny, human baby? Our epistles tells us, “…the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being!” What a wonderful gift! The infinite creator…the light, here with us! In the past God spoke to the forefathers, the patriarchs, and through the prophets in various ways and at various times. Now He has sent the greatest gift! Himself!
The wrapping is special; it is part of the gift. The King of Kings came to be with man as a man. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” He wasn’t going to leave us to our sinful, destructive selves…to death. He told us He was coming through the prophets and He came. He subjugated Himself to mortal wrapping so that He could fulfill His plan of salvation and reconcile us to Himself. Don’t let the humble wrapping fool you. This gift is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe! The possessor of all wisdom, power and glory came in a tiny package. Wrapped in swaddling clothes.
And He is our gift today wrapped in His living Word. (Hold up Bible) Humbly wrapped in our language and grammar…God revealed! His gift of faith and His Spirit. Together, as we listen to His Word and worship together we unwrap the ever-giving gift of His Presence with us. Let us praise Him and be thankful for this gift of infinite love…Immanuel, God with us!
Now may His great gift live in your hearts and minds unto life everlasting.