Pastor Terry Inman
My wife likes to read books from the end of the story back to the beggining. She gets bored easily. She wants to make sure it’s going to be good. Star Wars started out in the middle then we went back to the beginning. Maybe the next trilogy will be the end? Only Yoda knows! That's kind of like the Christmas Tale.
Earth’s birth of heaven's child, in a Palestinian animal shelter was complete with angels, shepherds and wizards. It is an epic tale but the arrival of Jesus Christ is really only the middle of a never-ending story.
Today we will take a fresh look at the real begginning of the Christmas Tale. The gospel recorded by John begins like this. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1.1 (NIV)
“The Word”, John’s enigmatic title for the Son of God has actually been around for a very long time. The bible calls this reality eternity. Eternity is actually a begginingless and endless existance. It's really not about time at all.
Our one God in His three identies the Father, the Son and the Spirit co-exist in a timless, placeless spiritual dimension. So with God Christmas is all the time. It always was and always will be. In the back of God’s book “The Revelation” the Lord Jesus Christ is “the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end the one who is, and who was, and who is to come” Rev. 1.8 (NIV)
So don't be ashamed if you like to do your Christmas shopping before Halloween! The Christ of Christmas has been around for a long, long time!
When the bible first talks about "The Beginning" it describes God's initiation of creation. Star Wars says, "a long long time ago in a far away galaxy". The Christmas Tale could be eons ago or right now or in the infinite future because it is an endless unfolding story. The Chrsitmas Tale actually begins with the creation of the heavens, the earth and its teeming plant, animal and human life.
There are a lot of theories about the origion of the universe, our plantet and the people on it. Christmas on earth actually has its real roots in the creation story.
The book of Genesis presents a progressive creation conceptualized by a week. There is a lot of speculation about what these seven days may mean.
It's entirely possible that it all happened with a bang in one week as we know it or that it happened in some sort of divinely orchestrated evolution over millions of earth years. We may not be dogmatic about the time factor but no thinking person can deny an intelgent design. There is a God and He is the creator.
Genesis 1.1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” He spoke things into existence. He spoke and there was light: night and day. He spoke and separated water from land and sky. The earth was landscaped by His word. Time was created, days, months, seasons, and years. He spoke the sun and moon into place. His word gave life to all species of fish, foul, reptilles and animals. Then God spoke again in Genesis 1.26 (MSG) “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature”. This is a conversation.
Notice God says "let us". God is plural. God is “we”. God the father, the son and the Spirit, the three are one. In Genesis 1.2 the Spirit (ruah: breath or wind) is hovering over the waters of the unformed earth.
In chapter two the spirit of God “breathes” dust into life and calls it man. “the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Gen. 2.7 (NIV)
The Son of God was present and particpating in creation. In His final prayer just before His betrayal and crusifixion Jesus says, "And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendor, the very splendor I had in your presence before there was a world." John 17.5 (NIV)
Three of the four gospel writers, Matthew Mark and Luke begin thier stories with the people and scenes of the Christmas event. Joseph names the Christ child “Jesus” which means salvation. John opens His story of Jesus Christ from the beginning with the familar Greek expression (logos) "the Word".
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” John 1.1-2 (NIV) An easier way of traslating this may be right at the start, “The Word” was already there.
For the ancient Greeks (logos) "the word" described more than written or spoken sounds and letters. It was an expression of personality. It was more than the message it was the messenger. Jesus Christ is the word of God personified.
The writter of the book of Hebrews says, “God has spoken to us directly through his Son. By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end.” Heb. 1.1- 2 (MSG)
“The Word” is the pre-existant or pre-christmas personal expression of God. John says, He was there with God and He was God all along. He was pre-existant and co-existant with God. He was always with God, and he was always God.
Now this may be a bit mind-boggling but the Son of God gave birth to earth before earth gave birth to Him. John says, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” John 1.3 (NIV)
This is confirmed by the Old and New Testament scriptures, Psa. 33:6 says, “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” Col. 1.16 says, For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
John also describes, "The Word", as the true source of life and light. “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” John 1.4 (NIV)
The ancient Greek word (Zoe) "life" was both biological and spiritual life. In this case John in highlighting the spiritual. Thirty six times in his gospel John uses the term "eternal life" to decribe the spiritual existance we have through Christ. (John 17.3) says, "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."
Jesus was involved in the origin of life. He also gives us an incredible Christmas present new "spiritual life". He is the life! In (John 14.6) Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
In the first of his three short letters John says, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.
The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.”
1John 1.1-2 (NIV) Jesus came to give us His eternal life!
Eternal life is not just an extended quanity of life it is a spiritual quality of life. It is God's life! Jesus said, “I have come that you might have an abundant or life!”
John says this life is the "light of mankind". Everybody loves light. That's what Christmas is all about. We just got home from a wonderful visit to India. We arrived on the Hindu holiday called Diwal (Divali) "It's a Festival of Lights".
You think we have a lot of Christmas lights. In addition to bright lamps, and colorful lanterns they do fireworks everyday for a week. It's a sound and light show like you've never seen. They light lamps to symbolize good over evil and shoot off fireworks to drive away evil spirits. It kept me awake a few nights.
When Jesus was born the dark night sky lit up with the blinding and blazing glory of angelic armies. Jesus' life brings light to our darkness. John 1.5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Light and dark were symbols then as they are today of good and evil. Jesus was there in the beggining when God said, "let there be light". Jesus is here now. When we invite him give to us His life he overcomes our darkness with His light. Christmas is a wonderful time to turn on His light in our life.
John also mentions one the characters in the Christmas Tale who was a forerunner to the light. John the Baptist whose miracle birth to childless parents predceed and predicted the birth and life of Jesus Christ.
There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. John 1.6-10 (NIV)
Unfortunatley not everyone is ready for the life and light of the Lord Jesus Christ. He does not force His way and His will on us. We must recieve him. We have to give him an invitation to live in us.
John says, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…
…Children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1.11-13 (NIV)
We make it far to complex with religion, rules and traditions but it's really very simple. Simply receive Him, believe in Him, believe in who He is and what He has done for us and He will give us a new spiritual birth.
“The Word”, who was there before the beginning giving birth to our world, was born into our world so we could be born into His world. He lived here and died here. He took our darkness on His cross. He gives us life and light!
John sumarizes it all this way, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1.14 NIV)
We call this the incarnation. The Word became flesh. That first Christmas Jesus became the embodiment of God’s word. The ancient prophet Isaiah predicted the coming of Christ with the Hebrew name Immanuel. (God with us) Isaiah 7.14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
So the Chrsitmas Tale is not a long long time ago in a far away distant place. It is now. It is here. It is real! It is never ending. Today can be a new begininning of life in Jesus Christ.
“THE WORD” was there to give birth to the earth, the earth gave birth to Jesus. Jesus gives new birth to us. Jesus gives us the gift of eternal life!
Let me repeat what John said "all who recieve him all who belive in his name, he gives the the right to become the children of God.” I want to invite you to pray with me as we receive the gift of life in Jesus Christ.