At The Bottom, To Be With You

Text: John 1:1-14

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

Last night we heard the Christmas Story told by St. Luke in his Gospel.  It is a most beloved telling of the Christmas Story, especially when we listen to it read in that old King James translation.  We hear of there being no room at the inn.  We hear of the child born and laid in a manger.  We hear of the angels and the shepherds.   

Today, though, we hear this Christmas Story from a different author – the Apostle John in his Gospel.  The telling of the Christmas Story by John, though, does not have that magical Christmas feeling that we get from Luke, but instead, John’s telling of the Christmas story has a somewhat philosophical feel to it. You see, John says that the “WORD” became flesh and dwelt among us.  Yes, this does sound very theological, heady, and philosophical – the “WORD” became flesh and dwelt among us.

But what on earth does John mean by the term “WORD”? 

A lot of ink has spilled over paper due to this question of what is meant by the Word.  Simply stated, though, the “WORD” is the speech of God.  The Word is the will and desires of God.  So, when we hear the creation of the world in Genesis chapter 1, it is the Word that is speaking and creating the entire world.  What this means is that where you find the Word you find events – things being created, people being healed, and mighty actions taking place.  God does not work apart from speaking His Word.  But this still does not make a lot of sense to us yet.

Well, let’s try saying it this way: this eternal spoken Word is Jesus.  Yes, the Word is Jesus; Jesus is the Word. 

Now, it is beginning to make sense.  John is saying to us that the eternal Word – Jesus Christ – put on flesh and lived among us in that Christmas Story long ago.  Yes, in the Christmas Story, God the Son came to earth to live among us.  The Word puts on flesh and acts like a human being.  This, my friends, is no small point.  This is huge! 

There was an old professor that once wrote today’s Gospel reading on an old dusty blackboard.  And he underlined the phrase, “The Word became flesh.”   But then he paused and said, “That isn’t right.”  So he erased the words from the blackboard and then proceeded to get on his hands and knees.  He then took the chalk and wrote, “The Word became flesh,” on the floor.  Yes, he wrote, “The Word became flesh,” on the floor, then got up and said, “That is much better.”  Turning to the students while pointing at the floor, the professor said,

“The Word [Jesus] became what’s sitting in your chair [ - He became a man].  Jesus came all the way down to where you are [- He was born].  No distance for you to go to get to him.  No ladders for you to travel up.  He's at the bottom with you.”

Dear friends, this is what John means when he says, “The Word became flesh.”  This is what Christmas is all about, Jesus coming to the bottom to be with you and me. [1]

Frankly stated, the Son of God became a man.  The one who spoke all things into existence became a helpless infant.  The one who feeds all the creatures of the earth is Himself fed at Mary’s side.  The one who sustains and carries the worlds is carried about by a poor mother and laid in a manger.  The Word became flesh.  The Son of God became a man. [2]

But more specifically, why did Jesus become a man? What is the significance of this for us?   Two reasons. 

First, He became man so that He could share our humanity.  That is to say; understand our pain, live in this vale of tears, and fulfill the obligations of the Law in our place. 

Second, He became man so that he could be nailed to a tree for our sins.  You see, if He was not true man, He could not truly die.  And if He was not true God, He could not truly defeat sin, death, and the devil.  But as fully God and fully man (the God-Man), Jesus carried your sin and died your death and freed you from the hell that your sin has deserved.  Adam  - a man – let sin into this world at the very beginning and Jesus – a man – would be the one who would put sin out.  Therefore, in the midst of the Christmas Story, we must never lose sight of the cross and nails of Calvary.  Jesus was born to die – for you and me too. 

There is another aspect of this that we must not overlook.  And that is this, after Jesus birth and death on the cross, He rose bodily.  Jesus did not abandon the body.  He did not put off His human body as if it was yesterday’s dirty laundry.  No, after the crucifixion, Jesus rose bodily. The body that He assumed from the womb of Mary is the flesh that He had after His resurrection.  And get this, it is the same flesh and body that He still has right now at the right hand of the Father.  Far too many Christians imagine that Jesus is some floaty spirit in heaven without a body- that He somehow left his body in the tomb before going to heaven.  No!  This is misguided.  Jesus body was changed, no longer carrying the suffering of the cross for sure, but Jesus is in heaven right now with a body.  It is a real body with flesh and blood and bone.  It is an everlasting body. 

And why is this so important?  It is important because it shows us that our human bodies matter to God.  It shows us that Jesus is indeed alive – that sin, death, and the devil are not victorious.  It shows us that we too will have resurrected bodies someday, just like Jesus – bodies without sin, decay, pain, or struggle. 
Dear Baptized Saints, the Lord Jesus Christ – the Word – became flesh so that He might be a brother to you.  He is not only your Creator and Redeemer but a brother to you – like you in flesh and blood. 

And so we, this Christmas we give thanks that the Word – Jesus – became flesh and dwelt among us.  What a gift!  What relief!  What comfort that He came to us!  Yes, we give thanks that Jesus was born to become our brother.  We give thanks and pray that the Lord would provide us with confidence and boldness in this life, and the grace to live and die within His loving care.  We give thanks that Jesus was born, died, and lives today for you and me, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 


[1] This story is about Norman Nagel.  It is indebted to William Weedon’s sermon on John 1:1-14. 

[2] This paragraph is highly indebted to William Weedon’s sermon on John 1:1-14.

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