Merry Christmas, reader!
I hope your holiday is full of yuletide carols and hymns of joy, a few presents and a couple hugs from your family and friends. Today’s post is about this very season – Christmas. I’m hoping it gives you a new, refreshing perspective to the Christmas story. There are three accounts of the actual birth of Jesus in the Bible: Matthew’s, Luke’s, and John’s. In the first two accounts of Matthew and Luke we see this story told from the perspective of man. Matthew takes on a religious perspective, showing the validity and weight of the things that happened through the words of the prophets. Luke takes on an academic perspective, proving the things that happened through eyewitness accounts and research. John, however, tells the story told in a slightly different way. John speaks faithfully about the eternal perspective of Christ’s birth – it is John’s account I’ll focus on most throughout this post.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
This “Word” John writes about is Jesus Christ. Now, in ancient times, a reader would have known the significance of this “Word.” Through the accounts of Matthew and Luke we already know that Jesus is supposed to be a great ruler, a King promised by the prophets. If God is the king, they also knew that like any other king, His commands will be accomplished. He gives the order, and it is done. Unlike an earthly king though, God never misuses a word, nor does He speak without complete intentionality. While an earthly king may make a misjudgment or bad decision, God never has, never does, and never will. By John referring to Christ as the “Word” of God, he means that Christ was not only planned from the beginning of time and exists with God and is God, but that Christ is completely true and intentional in everything He says and does. That is the character of the Word of God. God speaks a lot of lower-case words throughout the bible, but this upper-case “Word” seems to be more important than any of them. It’s almost as if all these lower-case words in the laws, prophesies, stories, et cetera are pointing toward this ultimate, upper-case “Word” John writes about – Jesus Christ.
Jesus is also referred to as the “light” by John in this passage. Not only that, but he is a light that darkness cannot overcome. This too is significantly more important than we often see at first glance. For hundreds of years, darkness overcame light. When the high priests and Pharisees would interact with sick, diseased, or possessed people they could not touch them for fear that their righteousness would be compromised by the dirtiness or brokenness of the other person. In essence, for hundreds of years brokenness corrupted wholeness, sinfulness infected righteousness, and darkness overcame light. Yet, John writes of a light that overcomes the darkness. We see Jesus enter the world and touch the lepers and the bleeding people and rather than be infected himself, the people are immediately healed. His wholeness cures their brokenness; his righteousness overwhelms their sinfulness.
Then John says something absolutely mind-blowing: this “light” and this “Word” entered the world He made. Christ, as God, came to live in the middle of the world He created as the world rejected Him once in Eden and then every twist and turn from that moment on. In a few short words, John shows us mankind’s utter rejection of Christ – mankind which Christ created.
John doesn’t stop there though. No, John continues writing. Yet, rather than focus this story on the cosmic beginning or end of all things as he has this far, John brings it back to what should have been an insignificant moment in human history – the birth of Jesus Christ. A young couple, a teenage girl and a carpenter; a baby in a feeding trough, no clothes, just rags; no place to stay, dung, and animals. John focuses this cosmic account of the gospel around the seemingly insignificant birth of Christ. Because of this, we have to assume that such a moment when placed in a narrative of such a large scale must also carry more significance than one would assume at first glance. So what is the significance? Why does this birth matter?
Jesus was born as a child of God’s will, conceived by the Holy Spirit. Jesus was born of no natural, human decision, but by the supernatural cause of God knowing a virgin named Mary. Jesus has kinship with God that cannot be taken away because it is why he exists, how he exists, and what brought him into existence. Even further, John claims that if we choose to accept Christ as who He says He is – the Word of God, the light of mankind – we too are welcomed into the same kinship with God that Christ has. We no longer say He is a moral teacher; a philosopher; a heretic; a political leader; a lunatic; someone we talk about twice a year in church. No, we say He is Savior; the light that overcomes all of our darkness; the true, whole, intentionality of God in man. When we believe these things, we too become sons and daughters of God. We are given kinship with God that cannot be taken away because we are born of His will, not by human or natural decisions, but through an encounter with Him.
Friend, that is significant and worth turning our attention and praises toward.
For so long I’ve celebrated Christmas as a rejoicing that Jesus came – which is not a bad thing at all. Recently, however, I’ve been refreshed by a new understanding of this story. The significance that this means that Christ came as the one and only son of God, in perfect relationship with God, and in a relationship with the Father that could never be taken away from Him. Not only that, but He invites all of us into that same relationship with God. Often I remember that Christ welcomes me into His death which I deserved for my sin and that He welcomes me into His resurrection which brings me life I don’t deserve. Yet, I often forget that Christmas and the birth of Christ are the similar to each of these former invitations. Christ welcomes us into His birth when we accept Him – a birth which means we are born into the family of God just as Christ was born into an irrevocable sonship with the Father. A sonship that is marked by blood and love, a daughterhood that is unshakable by anything we ever do. This is what the birth of Christ – Christmas – welcomes us into.
Let’s rejoice that we are sons and daughters of the one true King today and every day to come. Let’s rejoice in our brotherhood and sisterhood with Christ who came for us. Let’s rejoice that we have a God that loves us enough to send His one and only son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but will have eternal life and will become His very own son or daughter forever.
Merry Christmas, reader,