Posted by: St. Mark Lutheran Church | December 25, 2009

Sermon on John 1:10-13

Christ Isn’t the Only One Born at Christmas

In the Name of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

What a refrain, Hail the ever blessed morn; hail redemption’s happy dawn; sing through all Jerusalem, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!” It captures what’s so great about the “Christmas” section of the hymnal.  These beautiful hymns, beginning with the angels’ Gloria, stretching through the centuries, say so simply, so plainly, so purely, why we’re here today.  He who was with God in the beginning, He who is God, He through Whom all things were made, He in Whom is life and light, He has come.  The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. Grace and truth is here because Jesus is here!  God, who lives in unapproachable light, is made known by His Son, born in the dim light of a stable, the Son who is the exact representation of God’s being.  Hail the ever blessed morn!  Hail redemption’s happy dawn!  Sing through all Jerusalem, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Today we celebrate the birth of Christ.  We listen to angels proclaim peace on earth because God reconciles Himself with sinners.  We see flesh veil God!  He’s born that we no more may die, born to raise us from the earth, born to give us second birth. The birth of Christ in time brings forth praise today.  Yet it’s not the only birth we celebrate.  If it is, we really miss the point of Christmas.  Christ isn’t the only one born at Christmas.

Adult Jesus discussed this with Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader.  Nicodemus said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”  In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”  “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

People saw Jesus, but they weren’t really seeing Him.  John writes:  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Christ, who was before Abraham was, who created the world, walked it unrecognized.  Thousands of years of pagan idolatries proved it.  The degeneration of the Messianic promise into hope for a king and Israeli power proved it.  Gross sexual perversions proved it.  Rejection by the crowds and religious authorities of His day proved it.  His hands and feet nailed to a cross proved it.  He went unrecognized and unreceived.  The world refused Him.  As Isaiah said, He was despised and rejected by men….We esteemed Him not. The world He created, the Jews marked off as His people, the humanity He calls family, refused Him.  Murdered Him.  Though the angels sang it, though the shepherds and wise men proclaimed it, Jesus remained refused.

But Jesus went on to tell Nicodemus:  “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.  You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” The world into which Jesus was born was filled with people dead in their transgressions and sins.  And the dead see nothing.  They can’t recognize Jesus.  And it goes on throughout the ages – dead flesh gives birth to dead flesh.  Adam gave birth to a son in his image and likeness, and we’re in that lineage.  Though born, we are dead.  And we need only look at our lives to see the same proofs offered by those at Jesus’ time.  We’re surrounded by and wallowing in the same idolatries.  We’ve turned Jesus into a helpful do-gooder who says, “Do your best,” find me according to your understanding.  We’ve lowered the bar on sins to where almost nothing is really sinful anymore, just about anyone and anything is acceptable.  We’ve made Christmas one long commercial more about family, friends, peace, and presents, then about Jesus.  He’s here, He made us, but how much of Him do we really see?

Yet, Jesus speaks of rebirth, and so does John.  To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. If no one recognized or received Him, if no one can recognize or receive Him, how can it be said that some received Him?  This recognition has the same origin as His birth.  It comes from God.  No one here decided to bring Jesus into the world.  He was not born of a father and mother.  No human will was involved here.  Likewise, in the rebirth spoken of here.  We receive the right to wear the title “Children of God” from God Himself.  It is His decision, His work, His conception.  The Spirit gives birth to spirit. It is God who opens the doors to His kingdom, not us forcing our way through.  It is God announcing our birth into His family, not us deciding, “I’d like to join that family.”  And here’s the birth announcement, Today, in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you, He is Christ the Lord! Through this Word rebirth is effected!  Because this word says, God and man are reconciled because this man who is God became our sin, offered Himself as our sin, so that we can be called righteous children of God, because in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. This is rebirth.  Our rebirth.  It’s what Jesus was born to do – born to give us second birth. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, today isn’t just a day to celebrate Jesus’ birth in time, it’s the day to celebrate our rebirth through the Spirit.  And it’s more than just celebrating our rebirth in time; it’s celebrating our rebirth into life eternal, because the Resurrected One says: whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life! Amen.

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