The Word Became Flesh and Dwelt Among Us
The Nativity of our Lord Sermon Text: John 1:1-14
Let us pray: let the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, Oh Lord, our strength and our Redeemer. Amen.
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
In the very first verse of John’s Gospel, The Evangelist, who by divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, cuts to the chase in revealing the identity of the Child who lay in the manger in Bethlehem. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. These words hearken us back to the account of creation. Jesus, the Christ, is the everlasting Son, who was with the Father from all eternity. This same Jesus is the Creator of all things, for: All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. Yes, the little Lord Jesus who law down his sweet head in the manger is, in fact, the Almighty God who fashioned and created the heavens and the earth. Not only has Jesus created the heavens and the earth and all things that are in them, he also is the sustainer of all things.
Behold, a man flees from the wrath of Pharaoh. He stays, resides, dwells in the land of Midian. Behold this man, a shepherd who leaves his flock for a time. He walks from the place where some are gathered and far too many are straying. It’s not that he doesn't care that he goes; it’s that he does care. Thus he must leave them for awhile. At the appointed time, the shepherd goes over to that one particular place, where a bush was burning, yet it was not consumed (Ex. 3:2b). God has come down from on high and the shepherd will be in the Presence of the Lord God Almighty. You see, this shepherd could not ascend to God’s glorious Paradise; therefore the Lord has come down in order that the shepherd might be in the very Presence of God.
Behold as the nation of Israel is lead from bondage towards the Promised Land. And the Lord’s anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the Lord was gone (Num. 32:13). Yet the Lord did not abandon them or forsake them. Indeed, for we read in Holy Scripture: Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door, and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door (Ex. 33:7-10).
While in the Tent of Meeting, Moses would hear God speak to him. In the Presence of the Lord, Moses heard the Word: “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Ex. 33:14). What a blessing for the children of God to be congregated in the Presence of the Lord and to be rested in His mercy and grace. The Lord was with them as they traveled in their exodus journey to the Promised Land, and the Word tented among them in the pillar of cloud, even as the people of God dwelt in their aging tents. They were called to wait in the Presence of the Lord; and in faith, the same. For one day, the time would come when one of their descendants would be moved by the Holy Spirit to write the Good News: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
The Tent of Meeting was a temporary place. Thus in the fullness of time when, behold the new has come and the old has passed away, thus the Lord moves from the one tent to the new and recently completed Tabernacle. Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys (Exodus 40:34-38).
With the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat covering the Law within ... with the basin filled with the Word's cleansing water and the bread of the Presence set at the Lord's Table ... with the Promise of God’s Word of Law and Gospel with them, the Church journeyed and abode in the Lord. So the Word remained and tabernacled among them.
Behold Solomon, the son of David is about to speak for all things are now ready. After a week of years for its construction, the Temple is ready. On the eighth year the priests: brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the Most Holy Place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. For the cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim overshadowed the ark and its poles (1 Kings 8:6-7). These angels spread their wings over the place of the Ark and overshadowed the Ark. It is as if these angels were announcing the coming Presence of the Lord. For: when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord (1 Kings 8:10-11).
Listen, for Solomon is standing before the altar of the Lord and in front of the congregation and he is praying. We listen in on his prayer via the Word: have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his plea, O Lord my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that your servant prays before you this day, that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place. And listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive (1 Kings 8:28-30).
Behold, the forgiving Word is the Truth and dwells among them.
The shepherds left their flocks and journeyed toward the House of Bread. As they hurried to Bethlehem, they had only the Word of the Christmas angel, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10-12). This is the Word of the Word. And what did they find? Dear Christian friends, they found the Word had become flesh and was among us. What Child is this? This is Immanuel, that is, this little baby boy is God with us. And the disciple, whom Jesus loved, would proclaim this Good News.
Behold, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
In a world of hurt the Word became flesh in order to suffer the agony and Divine wrath for all the sins of the world ... thought, word and deed ... past, present, future. He came to take upon Himself the penalty due the original sin of the old Adam and his heirs. The Incarnate Son of God atoned for the sins of Cain and Abel ... Saul and David ... Jezebel and Mary ... Judas and Peter ... and you. In a land of death the Word became flesh in order to die the death deserved by the world. In doing so Jesus gave Himself for the Life of the world. On the third day, behold, the Word that became flesh and tented among us rose from the dead. For forty days, Jesus tabernacled with His disciples and [spoke] about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). Then ascended into heaven and is at the right hand of the Father.
For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him (Hebrews 9:24-28).
And what of us? Does the Word become flesh now dwell among us? Yes, for that is His Promise and He has given us His Word on this. He Who, according to both His Divine and human natures, is in heaven, is also, according to both His Divine and human natures, is truly with us. We are in His Presence and this humble abode is where His Glory dwells. His glory is here but hidden, here not under the covering of a tent or in a cloud, but His glory is real - hidden and revealed in Word and Sacrament.
The Bread of the Real Presence of the Incarnate Christ is the Feast that is served at the Table in the Holy Place. Behold, here is the wine to gladden the heart of man (Psalm 104:15); that is, the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God (Hebrews 9:14a); and also it is the Blood of Christ which is poured out “for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28b). The font stands at the ready, waiting for the watery Word of Life to be poured out and proclaimed; that men, women, infants, aged are baptized and forgiven in the Name of the Father and of the (+) Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Dear Christian friends, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us saying: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 NASB). Amen.
The Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.