This is the sermon I delivered at Journey last Sunday. I’m sharing the entire transcript because I feel it’s an important teaching as we head into Christmas.
Are you ready for Christmas? Do you have all of your gifts already?
If not, maybe this will help.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 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 bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
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.
I don’t know if you know it or not, but I just read about the best Christmas gift ever.
Let me explain why, but first let me point out a couple of crucially important points.
The birth of Jesus as a baby human was a nuclear collision between Heaven and Earth.
Between now and Christmas we’re going to look deeper into this collision, but let me just make the point today that the birth of Jesus as a baby was the collision of all collisions.
Of this collision, the prophet Isaiah wrote:
Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
Talk about a collision. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be despised, rejected, acquainted with grief, pierced and crushed for our sins.
Jesus is the Word of God.
Words typically become more powerful when they become flesh.
When “I’ll call you” picks up the phone and actually calls you, it is powerful.
When “I’ll help you” shows up at your house with gloves and a moving dolly, it is powerful.
When “If you need anything let me know” shows up at the front door with a casserole, it is powerful.
When “I’ll be praying” grabs your hand and kneels down with you, it is powerful.
When “ I love you” takes a knee and puts a ring on your left hand, it is powerful.
And, when “I love you” puts a baby in a manger and himself on a cross, it is more powerful.
The Greek word used here is “logos” which was common in both Greek philosophy and Jewish thought in that day.
In the Old Testament, this terminology (the “word of God”) is a personification representing the execution of God’s will (Ps. 33:6; 107:20; 119:89; 147:15-18).
In Greek philosophy, the term “logos” was used to describe the bridge between a deity and this world.
So, John is introducing Jesus to the Jews as the living will of God and to the Gentiles as the living bridge between God and this world.
Jesus is God.
Regardless of what Jehovah’s Witnesses say, this passage does not say the “Word was ‘a’ God.”
The New World Translation of the Bible by the Watchtower Society is false and error-laden book and not God’s word. It should be rejected as of no value unless you are repapering a birdcage.
John affirms that Jesus was and is God.
Jesus also affirms this when He says
“I and the Father are one.”
Jesus was with God in the beginning.
He was not created; He’s always been.
His existence did not begin in that manger.
That manger was just the beginning of the next stage of God’s redemptive plan for humankind: the incarnation—God in the flesh.
Jesus created all things.
I believe this.
I believe that this world was created by God and is not the result of a Big Bang, alien experiment, or String theory.
I believe that Adam and Eve were created by Jesus out of the dust of the ground and were made in the image of God and infused with the warm breath of our Lord.
And, for the record, if you believe in the theory of evolution and that Adam and Eve are fictional characters made up by the Jews to make sense of their existence, then I need you to explain to me at some other time why Adam is mentioned by Luke in the genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3:38), Jude (Jude 1:14), and the Apostle Paul on six occasions (Romans 5:12, 14; I Corinthians 15:22,45; I Timothy 2:13,14).
In referring to how this world began, Paul wrote:
I Timothy 2:13
For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
Why would Paul refer to them as real people if they never existed?
And you’ll need to explain this verse to me:
I Corinthians 15:22
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
If you reject the biblical account of creation and view Adam as a mythical character, then this verse should concern you, because Paul is clearly teaching that there are two facts when considering our salvation: 1) All of us are lost because of Adam’s sin and 2) All who put their faith in Christ are made alive.
If Adam is mythical, then you’re left with a mythical salvation…and I say “you’re left with a mythical salvation” because I choose to believe that both Adam and Jesus are real.
Jesus is God in the Flesh.
This truth is why Jesus is the greatest gift of all time, so I want to spend the rest of our time together “fleshing” this teaching out.
Let me remind you of what John wrote in John 1:
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.
Ok, so now let me tell you a couple of reasons why this is the greatest gift of all time.
Because Jesus came in the flesh…
He felt what we feel.
We have a God who has felt what we feel.
Jesus had diaper rash, skinned his knees, got splinters, and bled when he cut his finger.
He felt hunger and thirst. He fasted for 40 days in the wilderness.
He felt disappointment. His disciples couldn’t stay awake to pray for him in the garden the night he was arrested.
He felt rejection. The Jews in Jerusalem hollered, “Crucify him!”
He felt abandoned. On the cross he cried out to his Father, “Why have you forsaken me?”
He felt grief. He wept when Lazarus died.
He felt pain. He bled while on the cross.
He felt temptation, but he didn’t give in.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
He even felt what we should feel.
He felt compassion for hurting people.
He felt joy when lost people were found.
Why is this such a great gift?
Because Jesus came to this world in the flesh, he understands what we’re going through.
This is also such a great gift because…
Jesus experienced what we are going to experience and what we can experience.
Jesus physically died on the cross like we’re all going to physically die—if Jesus doesn’t return in our lifetime.
This is so important, the Apostle Paul includes this in what the Christians called “the kerygma”—the “center” or “core” of the Gospel.
I Corinthians 15:1-6
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.
Jesus had a body and that body died on the cross and then that body rose again from the dead.
This is crucially important.
Let me give you some background.
Greek pagans promoted a teaching called Gnosticism, which taught that flesh is evil and that our spirits are good and that we are only truly saved through knowledge. The Greeks believed that our spirits are like birds trapped in a cage—the “cage” being our evil bodies.
Since Gnostics believed that all flesh was evil, they rejected the belief that Christ had a real physical body. When Gnosticism came into the Church it began to be called Docetism. The word “Docetism” comes from the word “docetai” which means “illusionsts.” Docetics believed that Jesus only appeared to be human—it was only an illusion.
Docetics believed that Jesus didn’t have a real body so he never really died and he never physically rose from the dead. It was all an illusion.
Docetism was a major controversy in the early church, so much so that Paul devotes a lot of time in combating it.
Let me give you a few examples:
I Corinthians 15:12-22
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
Docetism was a huge issue in the City of Colossae, so Paul wrote:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him
And in Colossians 2, Paul writes
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,
And, the Apostle John deals with Docetism too when he writes
I John 4:2,3
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.
Jesus, coming to Earth as a human baby in the flesh, is the greatest gift ever because it means that—if we put our faith in him—when we die we will be physically raised again.
Our flesh is saved because his flesh was saved.
One of the best summations of what John is teaching here comes from Philippians
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
If you call yourself a Christian but don’t believe that Jesus came in the flesh you are a heretic who is embracing Greek paganism and rejecting the word of God himself as expressed through the Apostles John and Paul.
If you are not a Christian and you don’t believe that Jesus is God in the flesh, then you are an unbeliever and I want you to open you heart to the possibility that this baby in the manger is the greatest gift you could ever receive.
I pray that this Christmas you’ll open your heart and receive the greatest gift ever: Jesus.
A little girl had been tucked in bed one night after the family prayers. It was a stormy night, the lightning flashed across the sky and thunder shook the house. The youngster endured this as long as possible. Then, she scurried to the living room and threw herself into her mother’s arms exclaiming, “I am afraid.”
The mother quieted the child as she put her back to bed saying, “Remember, honey, God loves you and He will keep you safe.”
But, no sooner had the mother returned to the front room and seated herself comfortably, than the child appeared in the doorway crying, “Mommy, I’m still afraid.”
Mother put the child back to bed telling her, “Honey, you must stay in bed, you are perfectly safe, I told you that God loves you and He will take care of you.”
The little girl replied, “I know God loves me mommy but, when it is thundering and lightning, I want someone with skin on to love me.”
As my mind turns more and more to Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus, I find myself profoundly grateful for the gift of Jesus.
I’m so grateful that God loved us so much that He put skin on and came into this world as a baby to save us from our sins.
With all we must face in this life, I want someone with skin on to love me.
What an amazing gift.