I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Psalm 122:1

The Light Which Enlightens Everyone

Christmas Day – Pr. Anderson sermon
St. John 1:1-14 “The Light Which Enlightens Everyone”
December 25, 2023 | Christ Lutheran Church

In Nomine Iesu
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The Exordium
Merry Christmas! Those are the joyous words of the holiday season. The world is trying so hard to eliminate those simple words, but it is these simple words that have so much meaning. This is a day for the history books. A day that was decided based on the death of a man who was innocent, yet put to death like a criminal. Now this man had a very humble beginning. His parents did not have much money. His father was a carpenter by trade. Only looking at these facts and this man that a whole holiday is dedicated to does not look like much. We are here today for so much more.

As the world continues its mission this holiday season to strip these two words, we are here today not out of spite against the world. The world will actively fight against the message of Scripture. What they don’t realize is that the day they are trying to delete comes with a blessing that is for them. We are not here today celebrating for ourselves. This is a joyous gift as the Angel told the shepherds, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10). And then it only gets better. As the world has nowhere to turn in this fallen state, the Angel continues, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). This is the hope we have in these dark days. Our Savior Jesus Christ came down from heaven and took on flesh for our Salvation. What joy we have that as we celebrate His wonderful birth today, we will get to see the light face to face when He calls us home. As we wait for that glorious day, please rise as we sing stanza four and five of Hymn # 139. Once in Royal David’s City.

4. And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that Child, so dear and gentle,
Is our Lord in heav’n above;
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.

5. Not in that poor lowly stable
With the oxen standing by
We shall see Him, but in heaven,
Set at God’s right hand on high;
Where, like stars, His children crowned,
All in white shall wait around.

The sermon text for today is taken from the 1st chapter of the Gospel according to St. John. We read the verses once more in Jesus’ name:

The true Light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

We Pray: LORD God, gracious Father, who in the fullness of time sent Your Son to assume our flesh and become our Brother, we thank You for Your truth and fatherly goodness in giving us this Savior, by whose birth we are delivered from sin, death, Satan, and hell; and we humbly ask You, keep us until the end in true knowledge of our Redeemer, that, with all the holy angels, we may rejoice at His nativity and behold Him, together with You and the Holy Spirit, in glory and majesty, now and forever. Amen. (The Lutheran Liturgy, companion altar book for The Lutheran Hymnal, p. 57)

While Jesus taught the masses on earth, there were many who had a hard time hearing what He had to say. Most would simply not believe it. We can admit that those struggles that they had with Jesus’ teachings, we have probably had ourselves. How can we be born again? Why on earth would we want to eat the flesh of a man? Now this section of Scripture, the beginning of John’s Gospel would have caused problems. You’re telling me that the Word is God? This section of Scripture can be tough. It is deep theology. Once you dive into the text, you see something special. You get to see and hear how your Savior is with you.

As our Savior is with us now, John tells us that He has always been with us. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” We see the intricacies of the Son of God. He is the very Word that brought the world into existence. We see the life of men. The wisdom and knowledge that man has comes from God. They hear his law that points out what God demands. They have life in hearing God’s promises. This beautiful Word of God, these promises of God, they are the light in the fallen world. No matter how dark it gets, there is always a light.

John tells us how bright this light can shine and the sad reality that comes with it. “The true Light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.” On this Christmas Day the light came into the world. The angels sang and proclaimed His birth. What joy that God would redeem His people. And “He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.” God had picked the Israelites to be His possession. The sons of Jacob were given the promise that the scepter would come from Judah. While time moves on, the promise of God is forgotten, and as Jesus comes into the world, His own people do everything they can to get rid of Him. He lights up the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises, but for most, He was not the king and liberator they wanted.

We can’t even attempt to point fingers at those who failed to go after the light. How often do we see the light, and message that the light brings, but cling to our sins? As John teaches that the light is for everyone, the majority would rather reject it. It’s in our DNA. St. Paul writes, “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). The devil will tell one of his half-truths and make us believe that the world is the only darkness we must face. Our own sinful flesh is full of darkness. It sees the laws of God and despises being told what to do. We are told to walk as children of light, which the Holy Spirit tells us that is what we should do. As temptations entice us with all that the world has to offer, we try to walk as children of light on our own. When we ignore the warnings and calls from the light to turn to it, the light will cease to exist in our lives. The devil wants it snuffed out.

Scripture teaches us that Satan threw all he could muster at the light that was now made manifest in the world. He tried to kill the light when He was young. He tried to tempt the light with his domain over the earth. He looked as though He would succeed, but the darkness was no match for the light. Jesus told His disciples that “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out” (John 12:31). The ruler of the darkness was deposed from his throne. This beautiful light came down from heaven, though He had human flesh, this baby is the very Son of God! Scripture reveals that even when it looks like many will reject the light on their own accord, there is a remnant. Jesus tells us “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness” (John 12:46).

The light of the precious Christ child did not just come to fall on deaf ears. The light came and opened your ears. “But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” We become children of God and are born again through our baptism. The darkness will be destroyed for good. It is destroyed by the light. The light not only went after the prince of darkness, but it went after the darkness that exists in you. The darkness was driven out as the light of the world would grow up and give His life and die, taking away the darkness of your sins. This is the great gift of the Christmas season. This little baby, who is humble and small in the manger is the true light and you are born in Him.

It feels like it is so long ago since the true light came in the manger. How can we be sure that the true light is still here today? The world often asks this question. It will say that there is no proof. Why believe in something that you can’t see? John puts an emphasis on how important this light is, revealing the light in the Word. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” While the world wants to think that the baby in a manger was so long ago, we rejoice in the Word made flesh. The Word made flesh still dwells among us. He continues to come to us and He lights up our way. When we gather on Sunday we hear the Word read to us. When we come up to the altar today, we receive Jesus’ body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins. Christmas is not just a time for us to remember once a year. We celebrate Christmas when the light of the world continues to come to us in the service of Word and Sacraments. The light is present with us right now just as He was present in the manger on that starry night.

The darkness of night can seem pressed on us. The trials of life and the temptation of sin look as though there will be no light. What a beautiful light that shone on Christmas. A small, heavenly child was born into the world. The hope of Christmas was found so small in the manger. The Word made flesh. The light in the darkness and the true light enlightens everyone. He was with God in the beginning, and He was God. He sees the problems of sin and our failings. The light knows of the doubts we have when we think that He is not in our heart. You can’t put Him there. It is God the Holy Spirit who brings the light of Christmas into your heart. He tells you in His Holy Word that your sins are forgiven by the baby in the manger that grew up to be nailed to a cross. He comes to you at the altar. “Take, eat, take, drink, this is my body and blood for the forgiveness of all of your sins.” Searching for the light of Christmas? Christ dwells here and He dwells in you. Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.
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