How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, saying to Zion, "Your God is King!".
Hark! Your sentinels raise a cry, together they shout for joy, for they see directly, before their eyes, the Lord restoring Zion. Break out together in song, O ruins of Jerusalem! For the Lord comforts His people, He redeems Jerusalem. The Lord has bared His holy arm in the sight of all the nations; all the ends of earth will behold the salvation of our God.(P) The word of the Lord.
Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wondrous deeds; His right hand has won victory for Him, His holy arm. (R)
The Lord has made His salvation known: in the sight of the nations He has revealed His justice. He has remembered His kindness and His faithfulness toward the house of Israel. (R)
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God. Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; break into song; sing praise. (R)
Sing praise to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and melodious song. With trumpets and the sound of the horn sing joyfully before the King, the Lord. (R)
Brothers and sisters: In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, He has spoken to us through the Son, whom He made heir of all things and through whom He created the universe, who is the refulgence of His glory, the very imprint of His being, and who sustains all things by His mighty word. When He had accomplished purification from sins, He took His seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high, as far superior to the angels as the name He has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
For to which of the angels did God ever say: You are my son; this day I have begotten you or again: I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me? And again, when He leads the firstborn into the world, He says: Let all the angels of God worship him.(P) The word of the Lord.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be. What came to be through Him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.
But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God. These are they who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man's decision but of God. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth. John testified to him and cried out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, the one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me." From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father's side, has revealed Him.(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
At the end of a busy day, a man and his wife were sitting at home on the veranda in the quiet twilight, broken only by the sounds of the gentle wind. They were enjoying a glass of wine together. As the sun slowly sank below the mountains, she broke the soothing silence saying, "I love you so much I don't know I could ever live without you." The husband, somewhat surprised, asked her, "Is that you or the wine talking?" She replied, "It's me talking to the wine."
The Bible tells us that God's love for us is such that He cannot withhold His love. He can't stop loving us. His love is eternal, Jeremiah (31:3). The opening chapter of the gospel of John, which we read today, is a wonderful expression of God's love, even though the word "love" does not appear in the text. God so loved us that He became human for us, John (3:16).
Among the gospel writers, Matthew and Luke give a well recorded historical detailed account of the birth of Jesus, with shepherds, angels, Mary, Joseph, the wise men, manger, child, Bethlehem and so on, whereas Mark says nothing about the birth of Jesus. However, John (1:1-18), presents the story of Christmas in a different light. He tells us about the child born in Bethlehem without ever mentioning the exact place, time or persons involved. He introduces the child born in Bethlehem to us as "The Word".
He writes, "In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without Him nothing came to be."
There are four things which we can learn in these two verses about the child who was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was born. First, John says that "the Word" or "the child Jesus" was in the beginning with God. John does not say that "the Word" had a beginning, but that He was already there "in the beginning." In other words, Jesus did not begin to exist when he was born in Bethlehem. Rather, He has existed in eternity in the presence of God before anything was created. Second, the Word was with God. That's to say, the Word was neither under God nor above God, but one with God. He was equal to God. Third, "the Word was God", meaning the Word was strictly and rightfully divine. It means that Jesus possesses the characteristics of God - such as God's Eternality, Goodness, Grace, Holiness, Mercy, Justice, Love, Righteousness, Sovereignty, Transcendence, and so on. Four, the Word was the Creator. All things were created through Him.
John then writes, "What came to be through Him was life; and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." It means that the Word is life. And "this life" since eternity is "the light of the human race" and continues to be so. The light came to brighten the darkness. Where is the darkness? Darkness is in the world of human beings. The light came into the world of darkness, of sin and death. John says that light came into the world but human beings loved darkness rather than light but even in their love of darkness, the darkness could not extinguish the light.
John further says, "A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe in Him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him."
John here refers to John the Baptist who was sent by God into the world to announce the coming of the promised Savior. He had no other purpose to exist, except for this. He came to bear witness, to give testimony to the light. Why did He come to bear witness? He came so that all people might believe in the Word through his testimony. However, John clarified that he himself was not the light. He said, "I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of Him", John (1:20, 3:28). John emphasized that Jesus is the true light that has ever entered the world. He came to enlighten everyone in the world but the world did not receive Him. But to those who did accept and believed in the Word, He was all that He had said He was and He did all He had promised. The best of all the gifts is, "He gave them the power to become the children of God."
And then the apostle John gives his personal testimony. He writes, "And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only son, full of grace and truth." John says when the Word finally was made flesh in Jesus, he and others saw the glory of God. They saw God in Jesus, in His words and actions, in his prayer and in everything that He was and did. He was "full of grace" meaning full of love, and "full of truth" meaning full of faithfulness. Because Love and Faithfulness are God's two main attributes, Exodus (34:6-7). These are the two qualities of God which the Psalmist repeats as a refrain throughout Psalm 89. Thus, John recognizes the fullness of Jesus' divinity, Colossians (2:9).
John then says, "From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." What is "grace"? "Grace" is God's unmerited love and favor toward people who do not deserve. It is something God does freely on His own initiative for our benefit just because He loves us. We will never lack God's supply of grace for God always bestows new graces in place of older graces, sometimes different graces, but other times the same graces once again. John calls this "grace in place of grace", or "grace upon grace".
John further observes concerning this grace. God's Law given to Israelites through Moses was a wonderful gift but bound with guilt and punishment. While dealing with Israelites' unfaithfulness to God, the prophets had foretold the time when there would be no need for a law engraved in stones or written in books, Jeremiah (31:31). Someday God would change people's hearts, Ezekiel (36:26), so that the broken relationship between God and humankind could be restored. John affirms that the promised time of grace and truth, the time of restoration, and the time of deliverance arrived through Jesus Christ. And then John sums it all up in verse 18, "No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God who is at the Father's side, has revealed Him." It basically means except the Lord Jesus Christ who has revealed God the Father, no man has at any time seen the essence of God with his eyes, nor ever had full knowledge of God.
What is the message for us?
John teaches us that the child born in Bethlehem, whose birth we commemorate today, was not an ordinary child but a special child; a divine child. He is the living God. He was the Word. He was with God and He was God. He was the Creator and Life. He was the Light. He became man and dwelt among us and He revealed God's glory in all things. He was full of grace and truth and He knew God. John's statement on the child surpasses our ability to understand it. The plan of God becoming human for our sake is a mystery, and it may remain a great mystery forever. However, John has testified as a witness of his personal experiences that God became a human being and dwelt among us "so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this we may have life through His name", John (20:31).
I wish you a Blessed and Joyous Christmas.(P) Amen.
God Bless You!