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12.21.2008 Christmas from Genesis and John

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12.21.2008 Grace Summit Sermon - Christmas from Genesis and John from Grace Summit on Vimeo.


12.21.2008 Grace Summit Worship from Grace Summit on Vimeo.

Welcome – with Christmas on Thursday, we’re kinda’ splitting it with our Sundays.

Father, thank You for this day – we come to You as we prepare for Your coming. These carols are inspiring – the words speak to so much. Lord, as we prepare, may our focus be on Christ. It is cliché, but easy to turn away from. Give us a new sense of who You are that we might love You more intimately and deeply. Help us to enjoy the people You’ve placed in our lives. As we look at Your word, give us encouragement and challenge where needed.

Today, we will take a bit more of a theological approach, and then Christmas Eve we will take a more traditional reading of the Christmas story.

Today, we will look at John.
Matthew and Luke give the more traditional Christmas story. John – what he does – instead of giving the view of Christmas from earth, he gives it from heaven – a God’s eye view. Matthew and Luke were written 50-60 years after it happened – and because John is giving God’s perspective – it is a bit more theological – so you might say the true Christmas story is found in John 1.

John was written somewhere between 75 and 90 AD.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…

You’ve probably heard someone explain this – the Word is Jesus – but if this is your first time hearing this – you would ask – what is this talking about? However – John is writing to two specific groups of people – Jewish Christians and Gentile/Greek Christians. He is trying to find a common ground – theologically, they had very little and were trying to make sense of it all.

So John is looking for common ground – What the word WORD means - Logos – the complete expression of all that God is. The Greeks would have seen it as a word for the Divine. They were all agreed. Yes, in the beginning was the Word.

John throws a twist at them. He is setting them up – as they are reading it, they are all nodding – he is about to bring a new truth to both Greeks and Jews.

The Word – Logos – was eternal. It always was.
John is going back to the roots –
Gen. 1:1 – In the beginning –
Exact same words.

In the beginning was the Word
In the beginning, God…

I am going to reveal what you have learned – much deeper.

John 1: John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

God/The Word – is the Creator of all things.

John – 1:4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Creation – New Creation

Life/Light – used again and again.

In Gen. 1 – the words - Life/Light – used again and again.
Gen 1: . 2 And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

I think – v. 2 of Gen 1 – has about as many meaning – you could write books about what it means. I don’t think there is enough evidence to say this for sure - - I’ll give you my opinion -
I don’t think that Eve eating the apple was a surprise to God and that he had to come up with a new plan. The reason God created everything was that Christ might come and die for our sins – that He might demonstrate His love for us.

Gen 1 – is written in light of John 1. I know that John was written long after Genesis – but not in God’s mind. He lays this out. Formless and void – uninhabitable and chaos. Darkness was over the surface of the deep. Evil. Deep = trouble. Spirit of God was moving – God said, let there be light and there was light.

What God does – He understands that Man will reject Him – without His light, it is uninhabitable.

Light – True light – when that breaks forth – true LIFE springs forth.

John 1: 6 There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but [came] that he might bear witness of the light.

He takes us back to the beginning – and now to current events. They knew the story of John the Baptist and Christ – because they were there. What God started at the beginning has been moving along. This light and life have been given – and Man keeps rejecting it. Whether at the very beginning or the time of Noah, David, or whenever, Man rejects the light and loves darkness.

9 There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.

He is getting to Jesus. Everything at Christmastime is finished. The True Light has come. Now there can be no excuse for people because God is about to reveal Himself to Mankind in every way.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.

God has done everything possible but they are still rejecting Him.

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, [even] to those who believe in His name,

There are those who are receiving.

John is working up to this point – because this is a new point that they might not have previously understood:
14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
This WORD is Christ. The second person of the Trinity. He is God. The word became flesh. Became – temporary. Flesh – very graphic. He doesn’t say “the Word became Man – He doesn’t say ‘Human’ – but FLESH. God became man with all of his warts. Born with all the slime that babies are born with! Attached to a placenta. It was disgusting! John is making it clear – except he had no sin – he was just like us - he stunk like us! Like in the Matrix – “I hate your stink” –
God comes down – from this eternal state – and becomes Man in everything Man is except sin. He left a perfect existence to become this beaten down …human. The thought of it would be repulsive - because of His love for us.

Dwelt among us – pitching his tent or tabernacle.

In the time of Moses – God would come in glory while Moses was in the tent – and no one could come close or they would be killed.

Once they built the temple – in the Holy of Holies, the priest would offer a sacrifice – they would tie a rope to him in case he died and no one could go in to get him because they would die. This same God of glory was living now. For these guys, they were there. We ate with him!

… We beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

We have these two views –
The Old Testament God – the Holy Smiter of Things. A God of Wrath!
The New Testament God – Jesus – Love - we like this God.
But this is not correct thinking. Glory as only begotten of the Father – this glory -
Full of Grace and truth.

Exodus – 33: 18 Then Moses said, "I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!"
19 And He said, "I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you,
-His Glory is His goodness – that is what you should think of-
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." 20 But He said, "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!"
So there is this awesome holiness of God. Glory – Good, Grace –compassion – full abounding, overlowing with grace, favor, compassion, mercy.

21 Then the Lord said, "Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand [there] on the rock; 22 and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. 23 "Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen."


Yes, there is this awesomeness to God that is untouchable to us. But when God expresses Himself in Scripture, He is full of glory – goodness, truth.

John 1: 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John ^bore witness of Him, and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'" 16 For of His fulness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

Grace upon Grace.

Realized – understood – came to completion.

18 No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained [Him.]

The point is this – God is filled with grace. He wants to favor, forgive, show mercy, show compassion – to us. That God is understood in the LIFE OF CHRIST. He has understood – completely made Him known. If you want to know God – you need to do one thing – read the Gospels. He didn’t show just a little bit of God – but all that He is.

He demonstrates a God that is full of grace and truth. And truth – speaking of God’s faithfulness and integrity. Truth points to the word grace. Grace is primary – truth points to grace.

I’ll go through this briefly – some things in the book of John that give us a handle on grace:
John 1: 35 Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked upon Jesus as He walked, and ^said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!"

John the Baptist – Lamb of God – takes away the sin of the world. Every Passover, the Jews would take their lambs – innocent, cute, helpless little lambs – and they would sacrifice them. This little Lamb is God. You thought you were sacrificing a little lamb – it was God himself being slain, sacrificed, and brutalized.

36 and he looked upon Jesus as He walked, and ^said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" 37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

John Piper – I was listening on my iPod – to really understand grace – “Nobody has ever followed Jesus heroically – Nobody has ever followed Jesus nobly – we follow Jesus because He has taken away our sins.”

Grace puts us on a level playing field – we are all forgiven. That is why we follow. That is why we celebrate Christmas. In God’s sight – none are righteous. We are unworthy of His forgiveness because He loves you.

John 2 – the changing of water into wine. It is not about a big party – Jesus gave them 160 gallons of wine! They ran out of wine – it would have been a complete disgrace in their community – Christ takes away shame. He takes away disgrace. We all have shame. If we are honest, there is shame and God’s grace pulls it away.

John 4 – the woman at the well. She has two things going against her – first, in their day, women were looked at as second class citizens – then, she was a Samaritan, which made her a fourth class citizen. And Jesus meets her where she is and takes away her sin and brings her into her community. There is no one too far for Christ to take in. There is no one out there that Christ can’t welcome. This woman had been divorced five times – full of shame – and an outcast – and Jesus takes her in.

John 8 – the woman caught in adultery – the Law says to stone her to death! What do YOU say?! And Jesus says – GOOD IDEAR (Well, he probably didn’t say it that way because he wasn’t from Connecticut) – But – let the one without sin cast the first stone. God’s grace takes away his judgment and condemnation from our lives.

John 11 – Lazarus – A good friend of Jesus who dies – He is in the grave and Jesus calls him out of the grave. And Lazarus comes forth.
Grace removes our sin, shame, condemnation, judgment –therefore, it removes the power of sin and death from our lives.

If you have come to Christ in your life, you do not have to be afraid of what will happen the moment you die because the power of death has been removed – we can have assurance – our sins are forgiven and death is just a gateway to a better world.

Lord, thank You that You are full of grace. You forgive the deepest of sin. As we celebrate Christmas, I pray that we would focus our attention on that. In Your name we pray. Amen.


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