Dec 20 2020 - Advent through John - God With Us - Our Ultimate Hope
20th December 2020
You are God, and You have forgiven us of our sin. We ask, as we look at Your word, reveal to us Your love – and the deeper meaning of Advent – Your coming has changed everything forever – and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ – who died for our sins, that we might have life.
This is THE Advent verse
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.
John 3:16 is probably the key verse and most familiar verse in the Bible.
Coming in second – is John 1:14 – without John 1:14, there is no John 3:16. The word had to become human – word became flesh – incarnation – in-fleshing of God.
So the Word became human and …
God became one of us.
Jesus is God with a face – as one writer put it.
made his home (dwelt – tabernacled) among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father's one and only Son.
Israel was wandering in the desert – before they went into the land – they took this tent – the tabernacle, where God would appear to them. That is what He is saying here. In Jesus, God comes down – He is the tabernacle where God dwells on earth.
He dwells among us. He bought a house in the neighborhood – according to The Message. Others say He pitched a tent.
The Incarnation is the inevitable conclusion to creation – Richard Rohr
For all eternity, it has always been God’s desire to dwell with us, as one of us.
That was always His ultimate plan.
In Revelation, God comes down to earth and lives here with us. And Jesus will still be one of us.
This theme of God coming down – started in the Garden of Eden.
Genesis – God is walking in the garden in the cool of the evening.
At the flood, God comes down and sees that the violence of humanity has ruined and destroyed the earth.
Then the Tower of Babel
Then with Abraham, God calls Abraham to be part of His family.
8 And have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them. 9 In accordance with all that I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.
This is what John is pulling from – where God dwells – in this tabernacle.
Their tabernacle was temporary – and the only people who could go into it were Moses and Aaron – they basically had a fence around it – and if people got too close, they died!
We have a dwelling now… that which we knew, touched, and handled, John wrote in his epistle. People actually hugged God. Shook His hand. Patted Him on the back. So different from the situation Israel found themselves in.
Then back in John 1:14 and we have seen his glory (doxa – where we get doxology), glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father's one and only Son.
What does God’s glory look like? We think of brilliant light, like the sun. But God’s glory, John tells us, is Jesus. We think of Jesus – and we have this view. In the Old Testament, there was a different view of God.
Here is a different vision of God:
18 Then Moses said, "I pray You, show me Your glory!" 19 And He said, "I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion."
He uses three words to describe His glory: Goodness, gracious, compassion. And those three words describe Jesus.
When God chose to reveal Himself, these are the three words He chooses to use.
When we think of God, what words would we choose? Would we think of him as disappointed? Angry, Demanding, Judgmental, condemning?
Here is how we ought to think – Goodness, gracious, compassionate. Those are the three words God wants us to think about – summing up the word Chesed – this merciful gracious love.
John 1:4 – the Word is God – Jesus is God – we are told He is fully God.
John 1:14-18 tell us that Jesus is fully God.
John is basically saying – Just look at Jesus – and then you will know who God is.
Full of grace and truth.
The glory of God – becoming human – is full of grace and truth.
What we sometimes do with this – we make a mistake – and look at the word truth – and see it as a way of ‘balancing off’ grace – as if grace needs a counterbalance. That would be a mistake of what truth means. Truth EXPANDS on the word grace. God is TRUE to His character of being goodness, gracious, and compassionate. He will always be that way and will never NOT be that way. He will always be faithful to His promises – full of truth – faithfulness to who He is and what He has promised.
God’s gracious, merciful love never needs a counterbalance. When we sin, grace abounds all the more – Romans 6 – shall we sin that grace may increase? Can we take advantage of it? May it never be, Paul says. When we understand God’s grace, our natural inclination will be to love God. The only way we can love God and follow Him is by understanding His grace. The only way to get victory over sin is to understand grace. When we understand grace, only then do we have the power to get victory. Feeling judged and condemned will never change us. We think it does, but it has the opposite effect. It is only love and grace that can change anything in us. And to the level and extent that we understand grace will we have the power to become what God wants us to become.
16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
Grace OVERBOARD! Radical grace! Multiplied to us in Jesus!
He is not content with what Moses saw – he multiplies it!
17 The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ
It was veiled, partial, and hard to comprehend and grasp, but in Jesus, it comes complete – a complete understanding of who God is.
. 18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known.
2020 is almost over. A year of conflict, turmoil, loss, division, emotional issues – lots of stuff has gone on. With the pandemic, election, racial tensions – and the normal problems that are added on to all of that! Our other problems did not go away! Sometimes those problems grow because of those other problems.
This year has, in many ways, been a year of great need – revealing our deepest needs – and shown us how much we truly lack. As a result – be it economic, socially, health – as a result of lacking that stuff – this time of great need has caused people to begin to trust and hope in things other than God. You would think it would naturally turn our attention to God –
Here is what is tough about that – other good things – important and necessary things – that maybe the ultimate hope and trust – which should be in God, has been neglected through all of this.
Medical science – is a good thing – I turned on the tv this morning - all the cameras on a lady walking with a box – 200 yards to a truck – and scanners went on – and it was Moderna’s first box of vaccine to go out – live on national television. And that is something to rejoice about – but it is not our ultimate hope!
We had a really important election this year. A really contentious and divisive election this year – but it is not our hope or trust. If you hope in that – either side, you will be disappointed.
Last night they came to a stimulus agreement – will vote on it today – a necessary and good thing – but no way is it our ultimate hope and trust.
Good and necessary things should never be where we put our trust, because they cannot meet our greatest need.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Back to Exodus – back to John 1
The thing we need most in this time of need is God’s mercy and God’s grace. That is what humanity needs – that is what The Church needs – that is what our country needs! Beyond everything else -all those good and important things, we need to experience God’s grace and mercy in our lives – and God expands on this – to show us a broader picture of God. God is not the great bully in the sky. Not like Bruce Almighty – the mighty smiter! God can sympathize with our weakness. He understands pandemics. He lived here. He probably experienced one – He experienced all this world has to throw at us. He knows what we are going through. He has gone through it before us and with us. We also see that He is approachable.
Let us with confidence draw near!
If you had to visit with the President – would you go with confidence? You would hope you don’t do something crazy – say the wrong thing – but God says – don’t be afraid to come to Me! Not that you have earned your place, but confidence to RECEIVE His mercy and grace for our FAILURES. This is a radical approachability – think of Job’s conversations with God? Would you have the confidence to talk to God that way? If you have not read it – go back and read it! You surely wouldn’t talk to your boss that way – you would be fired. Read the Psalms and how they talked to God.
Abraham had a bargaining time with God at Sodom – what if there are 50, 40, 10 people? Will you still destroy the city?
Peter rebuked Jesus! That takes some nerve!
God is radically approachable.
All the stuff we hope in will ultimately fail us and disappoint us. Only God is full of grace and truth – only God will be faithful fully and completely – and that grace is sufficient.
I went to Costco this week.
Remember when the pandemic started and certain shelves were empty? I went to pick up a couple things – and I went to the back wall – where the toilet paper is – and it was full of TP – and they had a section with gallons of hand sanitizer. They are not going to run out – they have learned their lesson.
We don’t have to worry about that with God’s grace – there is an endless supply – no matter what need we have – the supply is endless.
Thank You, Lord, that we can draw upon this great supply that You have granted to us. It is there we come with confidence – You want to give it to us – help us to receive Your grace – in our deepest need – in Your Name we Pray –
Have a merry Christmas – whether you can be with people or not.
If you are struggling – you can contact me – contact somebody -