Sermon by Daniel L. Sonnenberg | December 24, 2013
Audio file not available.
12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 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.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The last three verses of this passage tell us
Jesus was born a man, living among us, that we might be born of God and dwell with him.
Jesus was born of a woman through the grace of God.
V 14 “The word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory…full of grace and truth.”
The Word – Jesus – who was in the beginning with God, was God, and who created man, became man himself. It would be like a person who builds robots or toy soldiers or Barbie dolls becoming a baby robot or baby toy soldier or baby Barbie doll himself, so he could grow up and be an adult robot, toy soldier or Barbie to talk with them and walk with them to help them understand their creator.
Illustration: Soren Kierkegaard – Prince who became a peasant
Soren Kierkegaard the great Danish theologian of the 18th century, tells the story of a prince who was running an errand for his father one day in the local village. As he did so, he passed through a very poor section of the town. Looking through the window of his carriage, he saw a beautiful young peasant girl walking along the street. He could not get her off his mind. He continued to come to the town, day after day, just to see her and to feel as though he was near her. His heart yearned for her, but there was a problem. How could he develop a relationship with her? He could order her to marry him. It was in his power to do so. But he wanted this girl to love him from the heart, willingly. He could put on his royal garments and impress her with his regal entourage, and drive up to her front door with soldiers and a carriage drawn by six horses. But if he did this he would never be certain that the girl loved him or was simply overwhelmed with his power, position and wealth. The prince came up with another solution. As you may have guessed, he gave up his kingly robe and symbols of power and privilege. He moved into the village dressed only as a peasant. He lived among the people, shared their interests and concerns, and talked their language. In time, the young peasant girl grew to know him, and then to love him. This is what Jesus has done for us. The Word became flesh. The King of heaven put aside his heavenly robes and divine prerogatives. He came to us as one of us. He lived among us; ate with us; drank with us; felt with us — all to win our love. He could have forced us. He could have overwhelmed us, but he chose to romance us.
Man is born of God through faith in Jesus.
Vv 12-13. “To all who receive him – who believe in him…they are born of God.”
To continue the metaphor, if the robots or toy soldiers or Barbies received the man who created them, if they believed him, they could take on human qualities so that when he returned to being human they could continue to talk with him and live in his world as he had lived in their world.
Jesus was born a man so that man could be born of God.
Jesus was born into the world he created as a man – because of sin – to give his life in man’s place, so that if men believed in him, they could be born of God. Jesus became a child of man so that we could become children of God.
S. Lewis wrote, “The Son of God became man to enable men to become the sons of God.” (Mere Christianity).
James Boice wrote, Jesus [experienced] a human birth to give us a new spiritual birth…He had an earthly mother so we might have a heavenly father…he left his glory to give us glory… the great paradox of the Christmas story…is what makes it [so] attractive. It is the great reversal of roles at God’s cost for our benefit.”
Paul Harvey told a modern parable he called “The Christmas Storm”
“This is about a modern man, one of us, he was not a scrooge, he was a kind, decent, mostly good man, generous to his family, upright in his dealings with others. But he did not believe in all that incarnation stuff that the Churches proclaim at Christmas time. It just didn’t make sense to him and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just could not swallow the Jesus story about God coming to earth as man. I’m truly sorry to distress you, he told his wife, but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas Eve. He said he’d feel like a hypocrite. That he would much rather stay home, but that he would wait up for them. He stayed, they went.
Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier, then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. Then another and another. At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window.
Well, when he went to the front door, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the storm and in a desperate search for shelter they had tried to fly through his large landscape window. Well, he couldn’t let the poor creatures lie there and freeze. He remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter — if he could direct the birds to it. He quickly put on his coat and galoshes, trampled through the deepening snow to the barn, opened the door wide, and turned on a light. But the birds did not come in.
He figured food would entice them in and he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow making a trail to the yellow lighted wide open doorway of the stable, but to his dismay the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them, he tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms — instead they scattered in every direction except into the warm lighted barn.
Then he realized they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature, if only I could think of some way to let them know they can trust me. That I’m not trying to hurt them, but to help them. How? Any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him. If only I could be a bird myself he thought. If only I could be a bird and mingle with them and speak their language, and tell them not to be afraid, and show them the way to the safe, warm barn. But I’d have to be one of them, so they could see and hear and understand.
At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sound of the wind. He stood there listening to the bells. Adeste Fidelis [the tune for O Come All Ye Faitful]. Listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow. SOURCE: Paul Harvey Contributed by Jeff Strite, Church of Christ at Logansport, IN. On this Christmas Eve, let’s give thanks that the one who created us was willing to stoop down to enter into our world so that we might one day be raised up to enter into his world through faith in him.