Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day

Christmas Day
December 25, 2010
Text: John 1:1-14

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us (John 1:14). God is a man. He is a man for you. Jesus bridges the great divide between us who are poor, miserable sinners, and our righteous and holy God. There is one mediator between God and men, the Man, Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5). We cannot come into the presence of the naked God and live to tell the story. His holiness would consume us. And that is why it is so crucial that God has clothed Himself in flesh. God is a man. It is an unthinkable mystery, were it not revealed to us by God Himself. He has clothed Himself in our nature, our weakness, our limitation, our misery. He humbled Himself to become one of us. He is like unto us in every way, only without sin (Heb. 4:15). And now, because God has mercifully approached us in this way, in human flesh, we can abide in His holy presence and live. In fact, we can live eternally, in the joy of God.

Christmas is not just about the birth of a baby. The birth of a baby is always special, but this birth is not just any birth. It is the birth of God, born of a woman. Of a virgin. The promised Messiah, come to save His people from their sins. The virgin birth and the two natures of Christ are not theories posited by theologians. They are the sum and substance of Christmas. They are vital to our salvation. They make all the difference between this birth that we celebrate at Christmas and every other birth of every other baby. No other baby has been born of a virgin. No other baby is God in human flesh, Immanuel, God with us. The Savior had to be born of a virgin, because God promised it long ago through the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Is. 7:14; ESV). The Savior had to be born of a virgin, because when it comes to procreation, two sinners always make a sinner. Jesus had to be sinless, if He was to be our Savior from sin. The Savior had to be born of a virgin, because He had to be the Son of God. And that leads us to the two natures in Christ.

Jesus is God, and Jesus is man. Yet He is only one person, one Jesus. There are not two Jesuses, one divine and one human, glued together in one body. Nor are Jesus’ two natures, the divine and the human, mixed together in such a way that something entirely new is created, some new substance. There is one Jesus. He is God. He is man. The Infinite clothes Himself with the finite. Wherever He is, there He is both God and Man. Before the incarnation, the enfleshment of God the Son in the womb of the Virgin Mary, He was only God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the eternally begotten Son of the Father. But since the angel appeared to Mary and the Holy Spirit came upon her through the spoken Word, the Son has also been man, Jesus of Nazareth. Joseph, of course, is not His father, thus the virgin birth. Joseph is Jesus’ legal guardian. But Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. He is God and man, and He has to be both. It cannot be any other way. He must be God in order to be perfect, sinless, and in order that His sin-atoning work can count for all men of all times and all places. But He has to be man in order to suffer and die, to stand in our place, as our substitute, to be one with us. He has to be man so that He can come among us without killing us. He has to be man so that God may be clothed in human flesh.

If Jesus is just another baby, just another man, even if He is a very good man, but only a man, then His death does us no good. He can only die His own death. But since the man, Jesus, is also God, He can die in the place of every sinner, of every one of us. Because Jesus is both God and man, we can say things about Jesus that we cannot otherwise say about God. God is born. God is wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. God wets His pants. God hungers and thirsts. God gets tired and sleepy. God gets dirty. God suffers. God bleeds. God dies. And because Jesus is both God and man, we can say things about Jesus that we cannot otherwise say about any other man. The man, Jesus, heals diseases, gives sight to the blind, restores hearing to the deaf, casts out demons, and raises the dead to life. The man, Jesus, speaks only the truth, for He is the Truth. The man, Jesus, is the maker of heaven and earth. The man, Jesus, rules the universe. The man, Jesus, is Himself risen from the dead, the first-fruits of them that sleep. In the man, Jesus, is life, and that life is the light of men. The man, Jesus, is present everywhere. The man, Jesus, speaks to us in the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures. The man, Jesus, gives us His true body and blood to eat and to drink for the forgiveness of our sins. He is present bodily at every altar where His Word is joined to bread and wine. And we worship and praise the man, Jesus. For this man is God. God is a man. Immanuel, God with us.

And it matters. Because if we meet God in His naked majesty, we perish eternally. But now we meet Him in the flesh of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, our Lord. He comes to us as a baby. He comes to us as our brother. He comes to us as one of us. Now we can see Him, and eat with Him, and drink with Him, and live eternally. The Word through whom all things were created, the Word that was with God in the beginning, the Word that is God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, became flesh and has made His dwelling among us. He dwells with us! God is a man, your man, your Savior. Merry Christmas! In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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