The Christmas story celebrates the most amazing birth in the history of the human race… but it may not be the one you are thinking.
This Christmas I have been reading the Christmas story from the gospel of John. It is the story of the Creator:
John 1:1-3 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 received being through him, and without him not one [thing] received being which has received being.
The Word of God, as eternal as God, was the One who created all things in existence. That is a good thing to remember at a time of year when we – if we can afford it – end up buying all sorts of things. Yes, we do it out of love; but those gifts are not the measure of love. In fact, we know they can never take the place of love. And John immediately reminds us of that: Because even though this Creator brought into existence an entire universe, the greatest treasure of all, the treasure He brought to us, was not any created thing: It was Life… the Life that was inside Him all along:
John 1:4-5 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light appears in darkness, and the darkness apprehended it not.
It is that Life from inside Him that brings Light into our inner world, just like the physical light He created brings light to the world outside. There is no other Light like that. And that Light chose to enter our darkness. And to make sure no one would miss it, God sent the Herald:
John 1:6-9 There was a man sent from God, his name John. He came for witness, that he might witness concerning the light, that all might believe through him. *He* was not the light, but that he might witness concerning the light. The true light was that which, coming into the world, lightens every man.
That Light came into our world on that first Christmas.
And just as only a few understood what they witnessed that day, only a few understood what they witnessed when that baby grew up into a man:
John 1:10-11 He was in the world, and the world had [its] being through him, and the world knew him not. He came to his own, and his own received him not;
And just as those who understood it at His birth (the shepherds and the Magi) got to see His glory, those who responded to the Man got to receive of that glory:
John 1:12-13 but as many as received him, to them gave he [the] right to be children of God, to those that believe on his name; who have been born, not of blood, nor of flesh’s will, nor of man’s will, but of God.
That is the gift He brought us, that is the treasure:
That we, though born children of this word, could be Born Again into the family of God.
That second birth, made possible by His Life, is the most amazing birth in the history of the human race.
Every other human life is born only once and then eventually comes to death. But not those who choose to believe on Him:
This is why He came to us that first Christmas.
John 1:14a And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us… That is what Christmas is about. If He hadn’t done that, where would I be?
Think about the distance between our world “down here” and the eternity in which the Word dwelt in that first verse of John 1. It is an unimaginably vast distance… not only physically (how do you measure from our finite three dimensions into the infinity of infinities beyond time and space?) but also spiritually (how do you measure from this fallible, petty, so easily broken human heart all the way to the source of all Good and all Truth and all Love?)
It is a chasm beyond all human power to bridge. Moses understood that. Even as he gave his people God’s commandments, he addressed this paradox: that what God in eternity requires is nevertheless within our reach down here in this world. How can that be? Can any man be good enough, wise enough, strong enough to bridge that gap? No…
Deuteronomy 30:11-14 For this commandment which I command thee this day is not too wonderful for thee, neither is it far off. It is not in the heavens, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to the heavens, and bring it to us, that we should hear it and do it? And it is not beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, that we should hear it and do it? For the Word is very near to thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
The only way we can keep those commandments is by turning to that Word… who instead of remaining in Eternity chose to come and be born among us, and dwell among us, right next to us. And all it takes to turn to Him is to choose to believe on Him: the moment we do, we recognize His glory: we know that we know that we know, the Father sent Him:
John 1:14b (and we have contemplated his glory, a glory as of an only-begotten with a father),
And what is that glory? It is Grace and Truth:
John 1: 14c-17 full of grace and truth; (John bears witness of him, and he has cried, saying, This was he of whom I said, He that comes after me is preferred before me, for he was before me;) for of his fulness we all have received, and grace upon grace. For the law was given by Moses: grace and truth subsists through Jesus Christ.
That is the bottom line: Grace and Truth came to be in our world and now remain available to all (that is the meaning of that word subsists) because He, Jesus the Messiah brought them to us.
The Truth about God is undeniable, irrefutable, because Jesus brought it to us by God’s Grace. We didn’t deserve it. We couldn’t earn it. We could not comprehend it. But God in His infinite Love chose to have Mercy on us and poured His Grace on us: giving us new Life, a new heart capable of Loving with His Love, and eyes opened beyond the power of darkness to blind.
That Grace is inexhaustible… in our lives and beyond, for we can pass it on. And that is our job; for, remember, we are now children of the family of God.
And so, John’s Christmas story ends this way:
John 1:18 No one has seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, *he* hath declared [him].
And this is what we find when we read the rest of his gospel. Each of the Truths John brings out in this Introduction to his gospel, he understood because he heard them from the lips of Jesus:
John 5:26 For even as the Father has life in himself, so he has given to the Son also to have life in himself,
John 8:12 Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, I am the light of the world; he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes on me, though he have died, shall live; and every one who lives and believes on me shall never die. Believest thou this?
John 6:45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every one that has heard from the Father [himself], and has learned [of him], comes to me;
John 14:6 Jesus says to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father unless by me.
John 14:9 Jesus says to him, Am I so long a time with you, and thou hast not known me, Philip? He that has seen me has seen the Father…
I wish you all Joy, Light, and Truth… and most of all Love, this Christmas.