The Night the Curtain Went Up 12/5/99

John 1:1 and 14

JESUS CHRIST is the play. The world is His stage. The drama of scene one occurred in Bethlehem. The purpose is to dramatically reveal the love of God for His universal audience. Simply stated the purpose of what we call Christmas was an expressive effort on behalf of God to demonstrate to you His great love for you. Within that love He offers the way of life, the potential of peace, the release from guilt, the strategy for stability, the hope of happiness and the means for managing your life constructively.

He put a window in the tiny dark dungeon of our ego in which we wallow, letting in light, providing a vista, and offered release from the slavery of our flesh and the fury of our self-will into what one who experienced it, the Apostle Paul, called “the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).

If you suffer from servitude to the flesh and tyranny of self-will, I have good news for you.

To all lonely souls who seek a hand to hold, even if all others have been withdrawn, the birth of Christ is special – for you.

Parents make it a point to teach your children the true meaning of Christmas. If you don’t have a nativity in your home make such a priority. If you are a parent and get a lovely valuable one be sure to get another with which the children can play. Use the figures to teach the true Christmas story.

A little girl was helping her mother unpack the nativity set and set it up. As each piece was taken out the mother told who or what it was. The child in excitement reached into the box and pulled out Jesus in the little manger and exclaimed, “and here’s the baby Jesus in His car seat.”

Tell the story like it is!

To more fully understand who it is that loves you and how He wants to relate to you, note John 1:1 and 14.

In John 1, verses 2 through 13, form a parenthesis. Verses 1 and 14 tie together. Each is divided into three sections. Each links with another in the other verse.

John chose the Greek word, LOGOS, to help us understand Who was born in Bethlehem. LOGOS is translated “Word”. A word is an expression of ones self, a revelation made, it gives meaning.

This usage is better understood when it is remembered John’s opening passage closely parallels Genesis 1. Each new phase there begins with “and God said.” Each statement was a fuller revelation of God.

To understand the meaning of a word it helps to see how it was used and what it meant at the time of its usage.

Around the time the New Testament was written a philosopher named Philo used the word “Logos” to mean all that is known or knowable about God. Jesus is all that is known and knowable about God.

A word is a concept and an expression of that concept. As the Word Jesus was the very concept of God and by living among us He was the expression of that concept.

In the Orient there is a relatively small church with a high vaulted ceiling. The dimensions are such that to look up and see the magnificent art in the dome depicting the life of Christ one has to strain the neck and look almost straight up. To make it easier for viewers a large circular mirror has been placed on the floor in the center of the rotunda. Visitors can simply walk up to the rail around the mirror and look down into it to see what is above.

That is what God did. We, even by straining, couldn’t see what He was truly like. Therefore, God sent His Son, that we might better see what He is like. In Him we see all that is known or knowable about God.

The use of LOGOS indicates Jesus was the outward revelation of God.

He was the God/man. It is as much of a miracle to see Jesus as God and man as it is to see Mary as virgin and mother.

As man alone, Jesus could not have saved us.
As God alone, He would not save us.
As the incarnate God/man He came to save us.

In Bethlehem God began to spell out the meaning of His nature and love using an alphabet we can understand…
In Him I see all that I should be.
In Him I see all that God is.

“In the beginning…” literally, “Before time began to begin…Jesus was.” We are told there will be a time when time shall be no more. Time was a part of creation.

The Word became flesh. He was in eternity spirit but in time became flesh. To visit the place of His birth in Bethlehem one can pause and realize “Here, right here, the Word became flesh.” That is, to sense God has been in the room. That is where help begins.

I have difficulty comprehending the great God of eternity but I can relate to Him as a baby who became a man who died for me.

She was five, sure of the facts, and recited them with slow solemnity convinced every word was revelation.

She said they were so poor they had only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to eat and they went a long way from home without getting lost. The lady rode a donkey, the man walked, and the baby was inside the lady. They had to stay in a stable with an ox and an ass (hee-hee) but the Three Rich Men found them because a star lited the roof. Shepherds came and you could pet the sheep but not feed them. Then the baby was borned. And do you know who he was? Her quarter eyes inflated to silver dollars. The baby was God.

And she jumped in the air whirled round, dove into the sofa and buried her head under the cushion which is the only proper response to the Good News of the Incarnation.

There is a literal translation of this portion of Vs. 14 which states: “and came and pitched His tent among us…” or “He tabernacled among us.”

To understand this go again to the Old Testament. The tabernacle in the Old Testament is referred to as “the Tabernacle of witness”, that is, testimony: and “the tabernacle (tent) of the congregation,” that is, “the tabernacle (tent) of meeting.”

The first expression related to the place where God gave testimony. The second refers to the place where God and man met. Thus, Jesus is the place where God and man meet, where God gives testimony.

WITH translates a Greek word signifying equality. Literally, “the word was face to face with God,” or the Word was eye to eye with God, as thought they looked upon each other as equals.

In the Greek text “God” is in the emphatic position. Thus, it read “God and was the Word.” In English we would gain the same meaning by saying, “And the Word (Jesus) was God Himself.” WAS once again stresses His eternality. A legitimate question is posed by the statements: “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” How could He be God and be with God. One, “with”, stresses His position. The other “was” emphasizing His character or essence.

He was God. His essence was God. That was His character. His very being was that of a divine nature.

He was “with” God the Father and God the Holy Spirit positionally.

Full of Grace and Truth.
Grace = gentleness, tenderness, pity, beauty.
Truth = having lips that could pronounce a blessing but also a “woe”. Truth has muscles when acting against tyranny, selfishness, all sin.

In appealing to you to make a public commitment to Christ I want to share with you something of the way He made Himself vulnerable in His commitment to you.

Christ’s coming to earth in infant form meant He was entrusting Himself to the response of two rural teenagers named Mary and Joseph.

That involved Joseph enduring the hot shame of his betrothed being ridiculed for being pregnant out of wedlock. The law required him to put her to death. Love compelled him to believe her story about an angel messenger and the infant being miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit.

That involved Mary exposing herself to the ridicule and whisper campaigns regarding her changing anatomy. Knowing of her potential execution she faced the hostile crowd. She did so with confidence. The first thing she did was go visit her cousin Elizabeth who was married to the high priest. He was the very one who would command her execution. She was so committed and so confident of God’s protection she walked right into the jaws of potential death to tell her story.

At the time the angel announced to Mary that she was to give birth to the Messiah she sang praise to the Lord which is recorded in Scripture and called the Magnificat. What do you suppose she thought of her militant Magnificat when isolated and insulted in Nazareth? She believed in her soon to be born child so fully no price was to great to be committed to Him publicly.

Jesus submitted Himself to unimaginable ridicule. When the Son of God became a human being He played by the rules, the harsh rules. Folks in small towns like Nazareth did not treat kindly young boys who grew up with questionable parents. From His infancy and lasting all of His life He exposed Himself to ridicule, derision, sarcasm, and mocking in order to rescue us from sin.

Now won’t you, at whatever expense it might be to you, make public your commitment to Him?

There is a series of new books called “personalized books.” You can have yourself written into the story. The Christmas story is a personalized one. You actually make your own ending to the story depending upon your response to Christ. As nativities are often boxed and stored much of the year you can keep Him boxed in between Thanksgiving and New Year in His cradle forever. Or you can let the story develop to include His life, death, resurrection, and second coming. Include in this drama of life your response to Him as your personalized ending to the story.