Christmas Day - 2016
In the Name of Christ Jesus, our Newborn King +
In the Name of Christ Jesus, our Newborn King +
Christmas morning is here, and from the manger shines forth Christ Jesus, whose birth we have been anticipating for weeks now. And it’s here – the day has dawned, the presents have been opened, and now, we are gathered at Church, and we pause, and we behold this Christ – so let us now ask the Lutheran question – what does this mean? Peel back all the hoopla, the lights, the torn and tossed away wrapping paper and behold Christ Jesus, lying in a manger. What does this mean?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. Behold the Word of God, now in flesh appearing. The joy and wonder of Christmas day isn’t just the joy of a new life being brought into this world – it isn’t just the joy parents have when they first hold their child in their arms. No, this child is God. This child is the Word, the Son, the 2nd person of the Trinity, God Himself. When you behold Christ Jesus lying in the manger – you see your Creator. You see the Word of God which called all of this, that spoke this entire world into being. That Child is the Creator of all things – as we just confessed in the Nicene Creed “by whom all things were made.” And of all the things this God could choose to do, of all the ways that an Almighty God might appear – there He is. Not as some 10 foot tall powerful giant. Not as the strongest of the strong. A child, an infant. God, unable to speak. Do you see that – the Word of God, unable to speak. God Himself, whom gives us all our daily bread, unable to feed or clothe Himself. God coming not just as a Man, but as a Man at His weakest, at His lowliest.
What do we see when we behold the manger? We see God taking up Human flesh and becoming one of us. But this becoming man, it’s not just a matter of our God becoming some sort of idealized figure, strong and buff where everyone sees Him and their eyes get big and they say, “Boy howdy, that’s the sort of god that a fella could worship – why, he’s even tougher than Zeus or Mithras!” No – when He comes as one of us, He comes as one of us. Born, just like all of us were born. Weak, where even opening His eyes is tiresome and difficult. This is an experience you and God have in common now, because that is how He chose to come. God comes down to your level, to be with you. And why?
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John drives right to the heart of the matter with these words. Christ has life. We didn’t. Not since Adam, not since Eve. We didn't have life - Death was what we sinful men had. Our days on earth were just a brief flickering, a spark that flared up and then was snuffed out – grass that withers and fades away. We didn't have life – we grew old and died. The life that was mankind’s we lost by sin, and we were thus stuck in death, in darkness. And that’s where all us sinners would have stayed, except for one thing.
The Light of Light Eternal comes into the world of darkness, the world full of sin, He comes into our world of death in order to bring with Himself life. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. When you see that Child in the manger, you are seeing that even though you should die, you will live again. When you see Christ Jesus held in His mother’s arms, you see and know that God the Father has not forgotten you, and that He will do whatever is necessary to hold you again as His own, do whatever is necessary to pull you out of the darkness which you have stumbled into, do whatever is necessary to have you restored to Him, and not just for a day, but forever, for all eternity.
And so, the Son comes down from heaven, Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. He comes bringing life with Him. When you see Christ Jesus, you see one who is truly Man, who is like us in every way except one – He is without sin. He has no darkness of His own, He has no death in Him. When He comes, He comes bringing life, His life to contend against our death. He comes to be mankind’s champion against the tyranny of death – this is the combat He wages throughout His ministry, this is the combat He fights most fiercely upon the cross – this is the combat He wins resoundingly on Easter day when He strides forth from the tomb alive, for in Him is life.
This Child that you see shall grow in wisdom and stature, and He shall go to the Cross, because until He goes there – Satan had a string tied to you. Until this newborn King goes to the Cross, He was not yet your King. He had not yet won you for His own. But see, He comes, and even when He cannot yet walk, He is striding towards Golgotha, ready to fight for your life, ready to win you salvation. This One lain in the manger in the One who will lay down His life so that He will share His life with you for all eternity. God will save you – that is what this Child means. He will fight even sin and death and Satan for you.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. But this Child who comes to save you, to give you life, He is not distant. He is not standoffish, He will not brow beat you with how wonderful He is and how poor you are. No, He comes as lowly as you are, not so that He can save you and then dump you off on the side of the road, as though He’s just a nice fellow picking up a hitchhiker for a few miles – no, He comes to dwell with you and to have you dwell with Him.
When you see the Christ Child, know that your life is different, different from what it would have been. Your life is now a life shared with God. That is the present reality of your life even now. When we speak of our life with God, it is true, we are speaking of life everlasting, life where we will be raised to Bodies like His incorruptible body, and bask in His presence and Glory – but we aren’t simply speaking of a being with God at some point down the road. No – there is more than just that – it is a present reality.
Christ is with us now, and what we need to remember is that this is more than just some sentimental feel good statement – it is reality and truth. The Word who became flesh is present with us in His Word. Christ has said that He is present in our midst whenever 2 or 3 are gathered in His Name for worship. Christ is present in us, for He has claimed us as His own in Baptism, and we are now His temple. Christ is even present for us in a way more mind boggling than these. There is a reason the day is called Christmas – Christ Mass – because it is in the Supper that we behold the very same thing which Mary and Joseph and the Shepherds beheld that first Christmas – God present for us, God in flesh appearing. What is this Supper – it is the true Body and Blood of Christ Jesus our Lord, given for you. What is the special focus of Christmas – that Christ Jesus took on Body and Blood to win you life and salvation. This is what we receive, what we participate in whenever we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. This is the reality that we participate in. The truth and wonder of Christmas is not a once a year occurrence –not something we only drag out in December, but it shines forth from this altar every time our Lord gathers us together around His Body and Blood.
Christ Jesus, True God, has come as a True Man to be with us sinful men, to win us life and salvation, and to be present with us, be it now in time or forever in eternity. This is the wonder and joy of Christmas, this is the reason our voices are joined together this day, this is what this celebration means. Our God has come to us to be with us – and thus our lives are changed. We have life and salvation – because Jesus brings with Him life and salvation. His victory is our victory, and so we remember Christmas – when Christ begins His march towards winning our Victory. Thus we come and adore Him, thus we welcome Him, thus we sing and rejoice. God is our Savior, and He is here with us. Merry Christmas to all! In the Name of Christ Jesus, our Newborn King + Amen.