Text: John 1:1-14 & 1 John 1:1-4
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Back in 1995, Joan Osborne released a song called, “One of Us.” “What if God was one of us?” she sings, “Just a slob like one of us, just a stranger on the bus, tryin’ to make his way home?” Isn’t that an interesting thought? What if God were an average height, average weight, average skin color guy who looked just like a million other people? What if God were one of us—who burped and farted, snored and woke up with morning breath, got sleepy and grumpy, and didn’t always make his bed.
God Became a Man
John begins both his Gospel and his first letter by making an incredible claim. John is saying that he has heard God with his ears, saw God with his eyes, and touched God with his hands. That’s a big claim! How does someone meet God? We wouldn’t think that God is something one can see, touch, or hear. Unless… God is one of us. And that’s exactly the point John is making. God, is a being, a person whom John calls the Word, and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.
This Word of Life was there before creation, the beginning of all things. In fact, the Word had a special relationship with God. John says that the Word and God shared a common life together as Father and Son. So, before there was anything, the Son of God was already in existence with the Father. John’s carries us a step further. The Son who existed from all eternity in perfect fellowship with the Father, has been made known to John.
The Word of Life, became a flesh and blood man named Jesus. John is saying that Jesus is the eternal Son. Jesus is God. Along with being true God, he is also a flesh and blood man who could be seen and touched and heard. God has revealed himself; made himself known as a human male. God isn’t just some abstract concept. God is a true and physical man named Jesus. God is one of us. And John has seen him, heard him and touched him. In fact, they were friends.
If you want to know what God looks like, what he acts like, what he thinks like, then look no further than Jesus. Everything you need to know about God is in him. If you have other questions, don’t bother asking them. He’s the only answer you’re going to get. God is a man. God is human. God was born of a woman. God ate and drank, slept and awoke, prayed and worked, taught and shared. What if God were one of us? Well, he is. Emmanuel, God-with-us.
Our God is a man whom we couldn’t have picked out of the crowd. The eternal God has entered time. The all-powerful maker of all decided to dwell among us as a tiny, helpless, pooping, gurgling newborn swaddled against the cold of night and nestled hungrily at a virgin mother’s breast. When you grasp this, you have grasped the breath-taking thrill of Christmas.
Why God Became Man
John is writing to tell us why the Son of God, the Word of Life, became a real flesh-and-blood man. Why would the Creator God himself want to become a hairy-legged, smelly, pooping, burping, man? The reason can be summarized in one word: fellowship. What do we mean by “fellowship”? Fellowship means to share in a common thing, and that thing in this passage is life. We share in a common life.
Born of Adam we do not have fellowship with God. Instead, we have cut ourselves off from him. In him is life and light and we have embraced darkness and death. God is the source of life, and our sin separates us from Him. And the thing is, we all go along with this rebellion. And deep down we love the darkness rather than the light. We enjoy it. We do it. We can’t wait to do sin again. We don’t want to listen to God or his messengers, we’d rather go it on our own. We replace the Lord God with gods of our own invention – God’s like sex, money, and power.
That is why the Word becoming flesh is a gift from God, the greatest Christmas present you will ever receive. For he comes not to search you out and terrorize you or condemn you. No, he comes to seek and to save you! To give you life in place of death. Not to give you despair or doom or condemnation. But hope and joy and consolation.
You’ll find the present under the tree–actually, on the tree, on the tree of the cross. For that is where this baby is headed: that baby lying in a lowly manger is going to hang on a cruel cross, and to lie lifeless in a cold tomb. God is one of us so that his flesh could be torn off his body by a whip. God is one of us so that nails could be driven through his hands into a rough piece of wood. God is one of us so that he could endure the slow, suffocating death of crucifixion. That is why he came in the flesh, to do all that for you. It is your sins for which he died. It is your death he suffered. But by doing so, the holy Son of God paid what you owe – he paid your fine, setting you free from all that bound you, forgiving your sins, winning your salvation. No greater Christmas present will you ever receive, for this gift has it all: forgiveness, life, and eternal salvation, resurrection life that conquers the grave and lasts forever.
The Benefits of God Becoming Man for You
So, because God is one of us we have fellowship with the Father and the Son. You do not have your own, personal Jesus. Rather, together we share in something that is common: Jesus Christ and life in him. Through faith we come to participate and share in God’s own life. We are granted Eternal Life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” We are made part of God’s family and He shares all good things with us because we are his children!
Secondly, because God is one of us we have fellowship with one another. Fellowship involves all of “life,” not just the “fellowship hour” after worship or the activities that take place in the “fellowship hall.” When you come to faith in Christ, you are brought into the common life of the church. This is God’s family, God’s household. There is no such thing asbeing a Christian apart from the common life of the church. There are no lone wolf Christians. The Church is not supposed to be the place you go to for an hour on Sunday. It is your family, your community, where you share a common life together with your brothers and sisters, with all the saints in heaven!
The Mystery of Christmas is that God comes down to us. God became one of us. God is one of us! God still comes to us in the Word that rings in our ears, in the Holy Supper on our tongues, in the baptismal water. There is no need for you to go to Bethlehem, except maybe as a tourist. You will not find the flesh of Christ there. You are not sent to a manger and an infant. He is mangered for you in Word and Sacrament, swaddled in water and Word, bread and wine. That’s where you must seek Him, and there He will find you. Here is where we meet the Word made Flesh, here our sins are forgiven, here we have fellowship with God and one another. The Word became flesh means that we don’t go reaching up for God in heaven (as if we could even do that!) but that He comes down to us, yes, even today, to dwell with us.
Long after the gifts are opened, the decorations are gone and packed away, and the holiday joy gives way to the new week of work we are left with only one thing: God is with us in this Child Jesus born of Mary. He dwells among us that we too might behold His glory, now hidden, soon revealed.
Christ, by highest heaven adored
Christ, the everlasting Lord
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see.
Hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as Man with men to dwell.
Jesus our Immanuel.
And may the peace of God, which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ our Lord.