December 25, 2021 Christmas Day THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD
He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Greetings on this most holy day in the life of the Church, this most significant day in the history of our world. Without question, Christmas is the single-most important event that has ever happened. God became one of us. Jesus took on our human flesh. In so doing, He made it clear that our lives are of eternal value to Him. As a result, people throughout the world are remembering and celebrating the birth of Christ. There is more activity on this one day, tied to the work and actions of God in Christ, than perhaps any other day in the entire year. And yet, in spite of the many celebrations of Christmas, the things we do to remember and give thanks for the birth of Jesus — as appropriate as they are — today is a day centered, not in the activities of our lives and the things we do to remember Him, but in the actions He took and the things He did in remembering us.
The passage assigned for this Christmas Day is one that comes at the close of the ministry of John the Baptist. John was the forerunner of Jesus. His calling was to prepare the way for Christ. He baptized. He taught. He called people to repent of their sin. Ultimately, his ministry was to lead people to Jesus. The verse prior to the ones we read offers a good summary of what was taking place in John’s ministry and how he understood his ministry in relation to Christ. He said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” He must become greater, as I (as his forerunner) take on a less prominent role. And so, it happened. From that moment on, Jesus took center stage. And from that moment on, the entire biblical witness, as it had been throughout all of salvation history, was centered and focused in Christ.
John pulls no punches in stating the essential difference between his own ministry and that of Jesus. “ He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all… For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.” In other words, this world belongs to God. God has been in control from the beginning of time. And from the beginning of time, God had planned and purposed that He would save the world in Jesus.
And so He did, by sending His Son to become one of us. When the Christ-child was born in Bethlehem, there left no doubt that our lives matter to God. Not for the moment. Not for a given and limited time. But for eternity.
Everything in your life matters to God. Everything in your life is known by God. All of your mistakes. All of your misdeeds. Everything in your life that would have separated you from Him. God knows it all. God knows everything you have done. And He still loves. He still cares for you. And He always will.
In recalling the many ways in which God had spoken to His people in the past, the writer to the Hebrews makes it clear that God has spoken even more clearly in Jesus. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1:1-3)
The apostle Paul says the same thing, in his letter to the Galatians, making it clear that God has a saving purpose for us in sending His Son. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
As a result, our Lord’s birth into our world has immediate and eternal implications for our lives. His action on our behalf, in becoming one of us, leads us with no better choice than to respond to Him in lives of faith. All of history revolves around the birth of Jesus. Everything in life finds its ultimate meaning and purpose in what God has done for us in His Son. That includes your life and mine, and how, through our lives, we respond in faith to Him.
Much of our world does not know or understand the significance of this day. Many people in our world are not unaware of what this day is all about. Let it not be so with us. Let it not be so with you. God came into this world for you. He has loved you from the beginning of time, from before the time when you were born, and He always will. If ever there were any doubt about how deep and how real His love for this world is, that was all erased and washed away in the sending and the birth of Jesus. May God bless you on this most holy day, and may the blessings of God, revealed to us most clearly in the person of Jesus, continue to give you strength and encouragement to live for Him.
Father, we thank You for this day and for the saving work You accomplished for us in Jesus. Help us to trust in Him, not only on this day when we celebrate His birth, but each day until You call us home eternally to live with You. In His name we pray. Amen.
Your Christmas Action
Be sure to include a prayer of thanks to God as you celebrate this day. Include that prayer with your family or friends, or simply as one between you and God. On that first Christmas, He came into this world for you. And now, on this Christmas, He is inviting you to trust in him