Those of you who read the newsletter may remember that I had planned to do a Christmas sermon series based on some of the minor characters in the Christmas story. As I’ve thought about it, though, it seems like that might be a better thing to do in the context of the Christmas Eve service. So instead, we’re going to take a different tack. What we’re going to do is look at how the different gospels treated the coming of Jesus. And we’re going to start with the gospel of John. And when we look at how John deals with this, and really think about what John says, I think it’s some of the most incredible stuff there could possibly be.
First, as you noticed from what we read, John does not deal with Jesus in the context of the birth story. John starts before the birth of Jesus. In fact, John starts at the very beginning of time. John refers to Jesus as “the Word” and tells us that “the Word” was with God from the beginning. In fact, “The Word” was God, from the beginning.
But why does John refer to Jesus that way? Why does John call Jesus “the Word”? I mean, we know the Bible is the word of God, but why is Jesus “the Word”? What does that mean, to say Jesus is “the Word”?
Well, if you look in the Old Testament, that phrase “the word of God” shows up a lot. When you look at the books of prophecy, many of which we just looked at in our sermon series on the Minor Prophets, it’s always described as “the word of God came to” whatever prophet we’re talking about. Psalm twenty-nine talks about how powerful the word of God is. God, just by speaking, breaks the cedars, twists the oaks, shakes the desert, strips the forest bare.
The word of God is powerful. The word of God is strong. “The Word” is how God acts. In fact, John goes on to say exactly that. It’s through “the Word” that all things were made.
So when John refers to Jesus as “the Word”, John is telling us something about Jesus. He’s telling us that Jesus is powerful. He’s telling us that Jesus is strong. He’s telling us that God is about to act, and God is going to act through Jesus. And Jesus is going to come to earth: “The Word” became flesh, and made his dwelling among us.
But Jesus was more than that. Not that this would not be enough, but Jesus was more than that. Listen to this: “in him was life, and that life was the light of all people.”
Think about that. Life is in Jesus. And that life is the light of all people. In other words, there is something of Jesus, something of God, in each person. There is something of Jesus in you. There is something of Jesus in me. There is something of Jesus in everyone: our friends, our enemies, people we know, people we don’t know. Everyone has something of Jesus in them, because life is in Jesus and that life is the light of all people.
And listen to what John says about this light. He says, “the true light that gives light to everyone…was in the world, and… the world 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 of God.”
If you and I believe in the name of Jesus, we have the right to become children of God. Think about what that really means. We refer to Jesus as the Son of God. If we are children of God, that means we, too, are sons and daughters of God. That means that, in the eyes of God the Father, you and I are just as important and just as loved as Jesus himself. The Apostle Paul says something similar in Romans, Chapter Eight: “we are God’s children [and] if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.”
Is that not awesome? I sure think it is! You and I are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. To God the Father, you and I are the equal of Jesus Christ himself. We don’t have the powers of Jesus, obviously, but God the Father sees us the same way that God the Father sees Jesus. If we believe in Jesus, you and I are just as special, just as important, just as cared about, and just as loved, as Jesus himself is.
That just strikes me as incredible. We talked last week about how, when we start to get an idea of who God really is, we cannot help but feel reverence for God. But now, we see that this same God, this God who is greater and more powerful and more holy and more righteous and more everything than we can ever imagine, looks at us, as weak and as puny and as flawed and as sinful as we are, and considers us just as valuable and as significant and as precious as Jesus himself, and loves us just as much as Jesus himself. That thought just blows me away, really.
And yet, there’s something else in this passage that’s at least as important, if not more important. Remember how life is in Jesus and that life is the light of all people? Well, listen to this: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
The darkness has not overcome the light. The darkness will not overcome the light. The darkness cannot overcome the light. The life that is in Jesus, the life that is the light of all people, the life that is that light that shines in you and me and every other person who believes in Jesus Christ will not and cannot be overcome. The darkness will not win. Jesus will win. And if we believe in Jesus, you and I will win, too.
Do you believe that? Do you really believe it?
It can be hard sometimes. It really can. Because when we look at the world, sometimes it seems like it’s getting darker and darker. There’s a lot of bad stuff going on in the world. You don’t need me to go through the list of it. All you need to do is turn on the news. And if you don’t want to turn on the news, just go online. There’s a long list of bad stuff that’s going on in the world. And some of it’s really serious. And it can seem like the darkness is going to win.
It can seem like that in our own lives, too, of course. We’ve talked about that before, but that feeling of darkness is a very present reality for some people. Maybe some people sitting out here today. And if you’re going through that, you don’t need me to go through a list of it, either. And in fact, sometimes this time of year, around Thanksgiving and Christmas, can make things seem even darker, because it seems like everyone else is celebrating and you’re not. Things can feel really dark in our lives. And it can seem like the darkness is going to win.
But it’s not. Because no matter how dark it seems like it’s getting, the light is still shining. The light of life, the light of Jesus, is still shining. It shines in every person who believes in Jesus. It shines it you. It shines in me. It shines in millions and millions of people, all over the world. And it will keep shining. And the darkness will not overcome it. That’s a pretty awesome thought. That thought just blows me away, too.
This is the first Sunday of Advent. We’re starting to get ready for Christmas, for the birth of the Savior. Christmas is a lot of things, but one of the things Christmas is, is the fulfillment of a promise. It’s a promise that was made in the beginning, because Jesus Christ, “the Word” was there in the beginning. It’s a promise that those of us who believe will be children of God, will be just as cherished and valued by God the Father as Jesus himself is. It’s a promise that the light of life, the light of Jesus, will always be there. And it’s a promise that Jesus’ light will shine in us, too, if we believe.
So as the Christmas season approaches, and as we get busier and busier, and as life gets more and more hectic, and as we hear about more and more bad news—because that’s what the news is, all the bad stuff—and as we start to get more and more worried that everything is falling apart, remember the awesome promises of God. Remember the awesome promises of Christmas. Remember that you are a child of God. Remember that if you believe in Jesus Christ, then the light of life, the light of Jesus, is in you. And the darkness can never overcome that light.