As we continue to celebrate the Advent tradition, the fourth and last Sunday of Advent season is upon us. This Sunday is the end of the second half of the Advent season is coming to a close and the birth of the Savior is here.
On the three previous Sundays we have celebrated each one with the lighting of candle. We have introduced the Candle of Hope, the Candle of Faith, and the Candle of Joy The candle we will light tomorrow will be the Candle of Peace also known as the Angel’s Candle. It symbolizes the peace that the angels announced to the shepherds when they sang that Jesus came to bring peace, to bring people close to God, and to each other. This part of the Christmas story is also found in the Gospel of Luke. However, this evening we are going to look at another version of the Christmas Story that we find in the gospel of John. Similar to Mark’s gospel there is no narrative concerning the details of the birth of Jesus but we still find the coming of God Incarnate in the first chapter of John.
John was one of the twelve, the son of Zebedee. He, his brother James, and Peter were the inner circle of the disciples. Sometimes he is known as “the apostle Jesus loved” and Jesus commended his mother Mary to John while He was on the cross. John wrote the letters that bear his name and the Revelation.
John’s gospel is a summary of God’s relationship to man and he immediately declares the Deity of Christ Jesus at the very beginning of the gospel. The purpose of John’s gospel as he himself writes, “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. The Gospel of John is the only one of the gospels that we find the great “I am” declarations of Christ.
The Deity of Jesus ( John 1:1-2). Jesus was in the beginning, the same beginning that we find in Genesis 1. Jesus was with God and Jesus was God. The Greek word that is used to refer to Jesus is logos which we translate as Word. In the Aramaic translation of the Old Testament it is used as a designation of God. The word means a thought or concept and the expression of the same. So in Jesus the very thought of God and all the treasures of divine wisdom are embodied. In other words, Jesus, in His incarnation the expression of God and the thought of God is found. In the Being, Person and work of Christ, Deity is expressed. In summary Jesus is God, has always been God, and will always be God.
Incarnate Work of Jesus (John 1:3-5). Jesus created everything and nothing was created the Jesus the Word didn’t create himself. In Him was life which was and is the Light of men. The Light is so bright that there is no possibility that darkness can overcome or over power it. In other passages in John’s gospel Jesus refers to Himself as the light or the “light of the world”.
The Witness of the Light (John 1:6-8). John the Baptist was sent from God to testify of the Light so that man would believe. John was not the Light but only gave testimony to the light.
The True Light (John 1:9-13). When the true Light came into the world every man was enlightened and had the opportunity to receive that Light. Jesus was and is the true Light and when He was in the world that He had created that same world did not recognize who He was and rejected Him. He came to His own domain but He was not received by his own creation. However there were some that did receive Him and he gave them right to be children of God for those who believed in His name. These were not born of blood or the will of the flesh or the will of man but were born of God.
Jesus the Word Became Flesh (John 1:14). This is the Christmas Story according to John. The birth of Jesus was God Incarnate come to earth. Jesus was born and then dwelt among men in a manner such as a man himself. This allowed man and us to see His glory as the only begotten son of the Father. He was grace and truth although He was man. He was 100% God and 100% man.
Jesus is the Mirror of God. (John 1:18). John the Baptist reveals to us that although no one has ever seen God, Jesus in His time on earth was what gave us the eyes to see God.
The question arises many times as to why the Incarnation was necessary. As John states in 1:18 as we have just read, no one has ever seen God. But God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made God known. That is why He would be called Emmanuel, God with us. And the fact is, that when He ascended He sent the third Person of the Trinity to abide in us. And as a result of that, God is still with us in a spiritual but real sense. And the other fact is that one day we will be with Him.
Next week we will close our study by considering more of a modern-day Christmas Story by referring to one of Paul’s letters that we don’t study very often. Our text will be Titus 2:11-13.