THE CHRISTMAS GOSPEL

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John 1:1-14

Matthew and Luke, as they related the story of Jesus’ birth capture what Joseph and Mary, the shepherds and the wise men saw – the child born of a woman. John, however, as he begins his majestic gospel captures the one whom God saw as He was conceived, born and enclosed in His virgin mother’s tender arms. No story of the nativity can ever relate the truth about Jesus. We may act out the baby and mother, the stables and the manger but only words, inspired words, can truly relate the identity of the child.

Are there any words in the English language quite like these? They are unparalleled for their wonder and glory.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

The child wrapped in swaddling clothes was the Word, the eternal and everlasting expression of God, the revealer of God to the universe and humanity, one who is co-equal with God – the creator of all things. The life of Christ from the manger to the cross and onward to the empty tomb can only be understood when viewed through the prism of His deity:

Some of our most popular and timeless Christmas carols capture this truth so eloquently.

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.
Though true God of true God,
Light of Light eternal,
The womb of a virgin He hath not abhorred,
Son of the Father,
Begotten, not created:

John in the prologue to his Gospel, however, examines the reason why the Word, the only begotten Son of God, would become incarnate in human flesh. John takes us back to Isaiah and even to Abraham – with the concept of hope through light:

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

Indeed, we might well argue that John began where the Bible commenced. As the Spirit of God moved in a physically dark entity calling light out of darkness at the beginning of time so God moved again in a spiritually dark humanity bringing new light through the arrival of His Son.

The light that shines through Christ is the new life that begins in the heart and soul when a person is born again:

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Tragically, John as he reviewed the life of our Lord commented that there were those who remained in darkness, who refused the light, even our Lord’s very own people.

How utterly typical of humanity in every age! This season is characterised by so much activity – yet so many take little time for Jesus, who remains the reason for the season. Christmases come and go yet Christ is forgotten. Yet He alone is our only hope in the darkness and uncertainty of life.

For some this Christmas will be the last. For us all – we will pass through a final Christmas and few of us will ever know this to be the case. Then we will meet the King of Glory, not as a child in a stable or a man upon a cross but as the judge of all the earth.

Then the question will be ‘What did you do with Jesus which is called Christ?’

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