Christmas Day at Hope, Jerseyville
“Jesus, God and Man”
Sermon Text: John 1:1-14
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
About a month or so ago, there was an interesting statistic making its way around Facebook put out by “The State of Theology” who takes a theological survey of Christians every two year. This survey revealed that 78% of Evangelical Christians (which doesn’t include the LCMS, but nevertheless) agree that “Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God.” This was up by 7% from the last time they took the survey just two years ago. 78% is nearly four out of five. That means that out of 75 people, about 15 believe that Jesus was not created, while 60 think He was created. Which leaves us with two questions. One, who is right: the huge majority who say Jesus was created, or the slim minority who believe Jesus was not created? And, two, what in the world does this have to do with Christmas?
Both of these questions are answered in our Gospel reading this morning, the reading for Christmas Day, which is only part of what this has to do with Christmas. John is very clear about whether or not Jesus was created. He begins his Gospel with “in the beginning…” the same way Genesis and the account of creation began, and says that then at the beginning of creation, the Word, Jesus, was there. At the beginning of creation, Christ was with God and was God. Jesus is God. And God is not made nor created. “He was in the beginning with God.”
And if that isn’t enough, John goes another step further to say that, “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” Everything that was made, was made through Christ and without Christ there is nothing that was made. So how could He be created if through Him all things were created? Did He create Himself? No. Jesus is not made nor created, but begotten.
This heresy actually has ancient roots and in the theological world is called Arianism, because this was the theology of Arius. His false teaching was denied and condemned in 325 A.D., about 1700 years ago at the Council of Nicea, where our Nicene Creed was first drafted. It was at this Church Council, where, as legend has it, Arius was punched in the face by the original St. Nicholas as he literally fought for the divinity of the Son of God, which is the second minor connection to Christmas. Nevertheless, it is clear, the Bible and the Church have been consistent in teaching that Jesus was not made nor created, but begotten of the Father. Jesus, the Word, is fully God, and is the fullness of God and His grace and truth.
But what this really has to do with Christmas is that that very same Jesus, the Word, who is fully God and is the fullness of God, “became flesh and dwelt among us.” The Son of God who was not created, who existed before creation and for all eternity outside of time and space gave Himself a beginning inside of time and space. God became man, became an infant, entered into and made Himself part of creation even though He was never created. God marked a moment in time and history, in space in Bethlehem to be born, that every year we might celebrate His birth, His becoming man, His bridging the gap between God and man by God coming to man.
Which is great. It is a true wonder and mystery that Jesus can be both completely and entirely God, uncreated and unmade, and also completely and entirely man, a part of that creation. It is more than a magical time of year, it is a time of year where we see one of the greatest works of God to come to us in a way that He had never been with His people before. It is worthy of a feast and celebration and the exchanging of gifts that God would come to man in such a way, but the fullness of this miracle and work, the really amazing thing about God visiting and dwelling with His people in this way is not just that He came to us, but that He did it in order to bring us to Him.
The Word becomes flesh and dwells with us that in our flesh we might dwell with God for all eternity. He became born of a woman, born of flesh and blood that we would be born of the will of God. That is the glory of God, that the infant, the God-child, that comes to us laying in the manger that we celebrate today, is the same God-man who hangs upon the cross to bring us to Him in heaven.
He dies upon on the cross to eliminate everything that separates you from God. He dies on the cross to forgive you of all of your sins and imperfections. He dies on the cross to return you to the image and likeness of God that was lost to sin. He dies on the cross to make you holy and righteous, like the Father and the Son are holy and righteous. He dies on the cross to bring you peace and unite you with God.
And He rises again from His grave, overcomes even death itself that tries to separate us from God and proves again, without a doubt, that Jesus is God; the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, not made, who for us men and for our salvation was made a man, was crucified, and rose again for you, to give you the right to become children of God by water, Word, and faith. And He rose to show you that He would raise you up on the Last Day, and you and all those justified by faith in Him would have eternal life with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who lives and reign to all eternity. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.