Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Word has Come in the Flesh
(…for the writer of our Gospel tells us…) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 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.
This is the highest of all the Gospel readings, yet it is not obscure or difficult. For here the high article of the deity of Christ is established most clearly, which all Christians should know and which they can certainly understand.
The writer of our Gospel goes back to the Old Testament, to Genesis in fact, when he says, “In the beginning was the Word.” Genesis 1 starts, “In the beginning, God….” God already existed “In the beginning.” He has no origin or beginning. He was already there, and also in the beginning was the Word. It, too, was already there.
And the Word was with God. There was God, and there was the Word. God had a Word. The speaker is different from the Word that is spoken. Hence, there are two distinct persons and they were with one another.
Yet, there is but one God. Two persons yet one God, for our Gospel writer says, “And the Word was God.” The Word was God and was with God. Whoever has the Word of God has God in his entirety. For the Word is God. You must learn to grasp hold of this and believe it firmly, for if He were not God, he would be of no help to us at all. For no man can die for the sins of another. No human flesh is of any help at all. Do not trust or put your faith in any man or king or ruler. Nor in the flesh of men, nor in the wisdom of men. For no flesh can take away your sins, no flesh can give you life everlasting. No flesh can raise you from the dead. No flesh can conquer sin and death.
But the Word is true God; God in his entirety. And that Word you can cling to and possess with all that he is and does. With all his gifts and possessions he has made himself yours when he came to dwell with mankind as a babe in a manger. For he was given to us and the prophet says, “Unto you a Son is given.”
God has a word and that Word created all things. “For all things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made.” For in the beginning, in Genesis 1, God said, “Let there be light” and there was light. God spoke. God had a Word and by that Word he created all things. Without him nothing was made that was made. It follows that if nothing was made without him, that he himself was neither made nor created. If he made all things, much less is he himself made.
Hence, the Word is God and the real creator of all created things, since without him nothing was made that ever was made. Thus, God decisively expresses and wants us to firmly know and believe that the Word is true God. Whoever has the Word has God in all his entirety; and all his gifts and kingdom and all that he is become yours. You are no longer left alone in this world. You have not been forgotten or left to fend for yourself. He who has the Word of God, has God himself and all his grace and mercy belong to you.
Next, the writer of our Gospel tells us, “In the Word was life and the life was the light of men.” Scripture does not speak this way of any created being. Created beings are known, chosen, and even ready and living in the sight of God, as though creation had already taken place. But here it is written in the sense that all things live in Him. Created things are said to be alive, to have life in them, but the Word is life. Apart from Him there is no life. These words say in a most simple way that He is the fountain and origin of life. That all things which live, live from him and through him and in him, and outside of Him there is no life. For he says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14). Unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins (John 8). Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word he will never see death (John 8). I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. (John 11). All who have the Word and believe this have life and that life shall not be taken away.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory as of the only Son of God from the Father, full of grace and truth. We have seen his glory as he lay there in a manger. The Word that was with God, that is God and that through him all things were made. That Word came to dwell among us in the flesh, the flesh of a baby boy, lying in a manger. By the word flesh we are to understand the whole human nature, body and soul.
But Jesus himself said that “the flesh is no help at all.” How is it that the flesh is of no help at all, but his flesh is the only true food? Because it is His flesh, not simply the flesh of man, but of God’s Son. “My flesh,” says Jesus, “is good not because it is flesh, but because it is MY flesh.” Whoever believes that I am man and have flesh and blood like other men and am the Son of God and God, he properly feeds on me and will live. For whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood I will raise on the last day and give to him eternal life. But whoever believes that I am only a man, to him the flesh is of no help at all, for to him it is not my flesh nor God’s flesh.
But what of those who deny that Christ is God in the flesh? Many would not hear his name pronounced. This divine truth and faith is no longer acknowledged among men in the world today. To them it is unnecessary that Christ be God and man. It would be sufficient to preach God alone, as our world today does, the gods of the Hindus, or the god Allah. Any generic god will do today, so long as the name of Christ is not mentioned. Thus, Christ and scripture are not at all necessary to them.
Let us, therefore, be wise in this wicked, anti-Christian time and cling to the gospel. For the Christ we have is God, the fullness of God. Therefore, if we have Christ, we have God, all of God. There is nothing lacking to us for he has come to us and we have God who entered into us in our baptism. We have Christ who is the life of the world, therefore we have life, for he is the life of all men, he is eternal life. He is the resurrection and the life, and he who believes this has eternal life, and though he die, yet shall he live.
And on this day when the word of God became flesh and took on our sin and died for us on the cross and rose from the grave, he is now ours. He came to dwell among us on Christmas. He came to dwell in us at baptism. He comes to give us his flesh to eat and his blood to drink as the true, life giving flesh in Holy Communion. Grasp hold of him in the Sacrament for he is true God and He who has this Word has God.
Firmly believe that it is true that Christ is the life and light of men, for without him is darkness and death. He came that he might become our light and our life forever, that by His death in the flesh, He might crucify our sins and that by his resurrection in the flesh he might give us life through his own body and blood.
This Gospel for Christmas morning is the important point on which is founded the article of faith that Christ is true God and man, and that nature, free will, and works are without grace. These are but lies, sin, error and heresy. But the Word is true God and man and his light has shined in our lives and he gives us life. And we have beheld his glory full of grace and truth. This is the highest article of faith.
We, who have beheld that baby by faith, have beheld his glory as the only Son of God who dwells among us in grace and truth. Amen.