The Nativity of our Lord
Christmas Day, 2015
The Epistle. Hebrews 1:1-12
The Gospel. St. John 1:1-14
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.
Last night’s Gospel lesson was from Luke chapter 2. In it Luke gives us a straightforward account as to the things that he diligently looked into and recorded.
He wrote details about who was in power at the time of the birth of Christ. Caesar Augustus had decreed there be a census.
Joseph and Mary (who was pregnant with Jesus) went up to Bethlehem.
Later on we heard of angels appearing to shepherds in the fields. They were told by the angels that they would find in the City of David a baby lying in a manger…wrapped in swaddling clothes.
The scene is set for our imaginations to envision this Nativity of the Lord Jesus. We have millions of combinations of this scene that have been generated on Christmas cards, on canvas, in our homes and in our front yards.
The baby Jesus being held by Mary. Joseph looking on. The shepherds looking on. The animals lying there.
What a contrast to our lessons this morning!
Last night there was more of the earthly. Today, we have the divine and heavenly.
The same Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, lying in a manger amongst animals is today portrayed in completely different terms.
Today we have the other side, if you will, of the person of Christ.
Divinity. Eternality. Royalty. Greater than angels. Light. Creator.
The prologue of John and the first chapter of Hebrews fill our minds with things about Christ that are just as important for us to know if we desire to have a fuller sense of just who this Jesus person is.
Even with both of these examples, there have been some who have wanted to emphasize one over the other. Some have done it unintentionally.
How can God become man? How can God leave His Heavenly throne? How can God be born or die on a cross?
Some reason from this that there must be more humanity there than divinity…or this divinity is in some way less than God’s divninity.
Others reason from the same texts that this person, Jesus has to be more divine than human. He was a spiritual being who disguised Himself to only look human.
Both of these heresies have been tried in Church history and of course, both are wrong and the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, has found balance. Not that the God/Man, Jesus Christ is any easier to understand and fathom.
But it has been settled that Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man. The human mind, after that has a difficult time defining and fully understanding all of it.
Anything less or tipped one way or the other throws off the whole balance and nature of Christ.
So last night, the man is emphasized, with some pointers to His divinity. Today, divinity is definitely emphasized, but with some humanity in there as well.
The Epistle comes from the letter to the Hebrews. Said by some to be on par with the Letter to the Romans as the two most compelling books of the New Testament.
All are inspired by God and are profitable.
None is necessarily better regarding their source. However Hebrews is one of those books that is so overly chock-full of wondrous theology on the person of Christ.
And of course we should remind ourselves again that these texts have been chosen for us as Christmas texts.
This is the birthday of Christ, but who Christ is, gets clarified a hundred-fold with these two lessons today.
With Scripture readings like these, it is best to go through them and dwell on certain parts and let the wonder of who Christ is, penetrate our hearts and minds through the words we read.
Perhaps we can go back and forth weaving both texts together to paint the picture.
In the beginning was the Word.
We hear this read most Sundays at the end of the 10:00 service.
In the beginning was the Word. The Word, most easily translated and helpful to keep in mind simply can be translated as Jesus.
It is not that simple, but it does help us to keep in mind who the term Word is referring to.
The Word is the second person of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Word became flesh.
So the Word, the second person of the Trinity, who is the Son, became flesh.
In the beginning was the
The Word was with God.
The Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
So Jesus, before the manger eternally existed with the Father and the Spirit.
In the beginning means before creation,
at the time of creation,
and in all eternity…before time even came into being.
His throne is forever. His years have no end.
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of [God’s] nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
All things were made through Him.
Nothing that has been created was created without Him.
He “laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
and the heavens are the work of [His] hands…”
So already, we have incomprehensible things to think about and again, this is Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary…born in a manger.
In Him was life. And the Life was the light of men. In other words, Christ is the source of all life. He enlightens every man that is born into the world.
Christ is our life. He is the life of those who do not know Him and even those who reject Him. He gives life to all men.
Then we see these texts shift to the coming of the Word, the coming of Christ to earth.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
His mission was to make purification for sins. This He did by living the life of perfect service to His Father in Heaven…..
…by being crucified, paying the debt of our sins… dead and buried…and on the third day rising again. All in accordance with what the Scriptures said would happen….all in accordance with what they predicted.
Yet even when on earth, Jesus does not lose any of his worth. He is still praiseworthy. He is to be worshiped….but what happened?
“He was in the world, and [even though] the world was made through him…. the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
When He was finished. When His mission of saving His people, covering our sins and reconciling us to the Father was completed…
… “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.”
The cycle of redemption was finished. The cycle was complete. And now we await His coming again.
We await the time when we will behold the Word…the Son of God….both man, born of a virgin and God, eternally begotten of the Father.
He has returned to the Father and is now sitting down on His throne ruling the world at His right hand.
Hebrews 1 and John 1 are two of the most stunning passages in the Scriptures when it comes to the person of Christ.
So at Christmas let us always consider not just the humanity of Christ, but His divinity as well.
For in seeing Him more fully, we might appreciate Him more fully.
In seeing the Christ child as also God in the flesh, the eternal creator of all things….may we be ever in awe of what lengths God has gone for us.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.