St. Stephen’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School | Beaver Dam, WI | 920.885.3309

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Sunday: 7:30 a.m. • 9:00 a.m. • 10:30 a.m.
Thursday: 6:30 p.m.

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Glory, Grace and Truth

Glory, Grace and Truth

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Sermon on John 1:14 for Christmas Day December 25, 2018

  1. Today we’re going to look at the last verse of the Gospel lesson:

The Word became flesh and dwelled among us. We have seen his glory, the glory he has as the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John the disciple calls Jesus “The Word.” It is his way of saying that Jesus is the way God communicates to us. How do you know that God loves you? He sent Jesus to be your Savior. How do you know that God forgives you? You have Jesus who took the guilt for your sin and took the punishment you deserved on the cross. How do you know that there is something more for you after this life? You have Jesus who says “I am the resurrection and the life,” who raises the dead and raises himself, and he gives you the promise, “I go to prepare a place for you, … and where I am, you will be also” (John 14). With all that he says and all that he does, Jesus communicates that will and love of God to you.

  1. “The Word became flesh and dwelled among us.” Luke tells us about the birth of Christ mostly from Mary’s point of view. There we see the trip to Bethlehem, the manger, and the angels message to the shepherds. John tells us the spiritual reality of what was happening. “The Word” that was with God in the beginning, who is God himself, through whom all things were made, “became flesh and dwelled among us.” God, whom the highest heavens cannot contain now weighs six or seven pounds and is wrapped in swaddling cloths and is making his bed in a donkey’s feeding trough. In love, God does this for you. He becomes one of us to talk to us. He becomes one of us to become the fulfillment of the law for us and redeem us.
  2. Then John says “We have seen his glory, the glory he has as the only-begotten from the Father…” We’ve heard this word “glory” before, in Luke’s account. “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them” (Luke 2:8-9). Here glory means “something spectacular and amazing.” In the Old Testament, the phrase “the glory of the Lord” was the name for the pillar of cloud and fire that led Israel through the wilderness. When I read “the glory of the Lord shone round about them,” I imagine the pillar of fire appearing and surrounding the shepherds like a fiery donut. That’s why they were “sore afraid,” not because they didn’t know what it was, but because they did. Then the angels say the word again, “Glory to God in the highest.” There, glory means to give praise to God because he is spectacular and amazing. Here John the disciple says, “We have seen his glory.” John says it again in chapter 2, after Jesus changes water into wine at the wedding of Cana, John says, “He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.” The miracles were spectacular and amazing. John uses the word glory near the end of his gospel. Palm Sunday afternoon, Jesus prayed, “Father, glorify your name.” and his Father answered, “I have glorified my name, and I will glorify it again” (John 12:28). And he prayed the same thing in the upper room on Thursday night. The depth of Jesus’ suffering was also his glory. “Though despised and gory,” he was showing the glory of his love by laying down his life for a world of lost sinners.
  3. “Full of grace and truth.” We all learned the meaning of “grace” as “undeserved love.” Right after we read John 3:16, in the verses that follow, we see more about the world that God so loved. “The light has come into the world, yet people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). That’s the inclination of the human heart (Genesis 6:5, 8:21). But it doesn’t stop God or his love. That is his grace. He still sends his Son to this world for this purpose: “When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son to be born of a woman, so that he would be born under the law in order to redeem those under the law, so that we would be adopted as sons” (Galatians 4:3-5). That’s the glory of God’s spectacular and amazing love. Nothing can stop it. It can be rejected—“whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). But on God’s part, he reaches out to the lost… to you and me when we were lost, and to you and me when we stray. Like the father of the prodigal, he is still there, waiting and ready to receive us. We see the glory of the Father’s love in the face of Jesus—Jesus who said, “Come to me and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28). Who said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore” (John 8:11). Who said to a repentant thief, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). This is the Father’s love, flowing through his Son.
  4. John said, “We have seen his glory, the glory he has as the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” We hear the word “truth” elsewhere in John’s gospel. “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). “Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). And Pontius Pilate on Good Friday, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). The truth of Jesus is in what he says about the world, about sin, and about his solution for it. John the Baptist spoke in pictures when he said “You offspring of vipers.” When speaking about sin, Jesus did not use pictures. Because he could read hearts, he shouted, “You hypocrites!” (Matthew 15:7, 22:18). “Evil, adulterous and sinful generation!” (Matthew 12:39, Matthew 16:4, Mark 8:38). That was the truth. And he also said, “Take heart, son! Your sins are forgiven” (Matthew 9:2). “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). “Those who believe in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). That is also the truth of God—that Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, and that in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we are reconciled to our God. “Peace on earth and mercy mild. God and sinners reconciled.”
  5. This is the glory, the grace and truth of God that are revealed to us in this baby in the manger, the Word that became flesh and made his dwelling among us. This is how God so loved the world. He gave his Son to live, die, rise, and reveal his love to us.

Amen.

John 1:14

The Word became flesh and dwelled among us. We have seen his glory, the glory he has as the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.