The Word Became Flesh

The Gospel for Christmas Day is John 1:1–14. It ends, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

It’s one of those texts that is so simple (grammatically), but could hardly be more profound and deep. One of my professors from college once remarked that sometimes a
preacher might be tempted to just read the text and, because he
couldn’t possibly add anything to the text, simply tell the
congregation, "Just sit there for 20 minutes and think about that." What it’s describing is a miracle and a mystery that we will never fully grasp this side of heaven. This mystery is the message of Christmas Day. God became a true human being in the flesh in order to save us.

What really got me this year was the privilege we had to confess our faith in this truth and receive the benefits of it when we celebrated the Lord’s Supper on Christmas morning. At Christmas, God stoops down into real, earthly life with real flesh and blood. When the shepherds came to see the Savior, there they saw a real baby that they could touch and see. Jesus really suffered in his body and really shed his blood. And Jesus really gives that same body and blood in the Supper.

So I’m not sure which truth assures us of which. Maybe the incarnation assures us of Jesus’ real presence in the Sacrament (for if he did not take on flesh, how could his body be there?). Or maybe his promise to be really present in the Sacrament assures us that Jesus really did take on our flesh and blood. Maybe both. But either way, you can see that these two naturally belong together.

Many churches do not celebrate the Sacrament on high festivals like Christmas and Easter. I suspect that the two most common reasons are because of the large number of visitors who come on those days and because of the length it adds to the service. But I think another (unstated) reason is simply that sometimes we miss the deep connection between the truths of these  festivals and the truth of the Sacrament. In a way, the supper is like God’s ultimate visual aid and illustration and application of the truths preached in the sermon. It’s like God’s way of saying, "Now, see, the things you just heard in the sermon are really true. It’s so real you can taste and see the proof of it. And I’ve given it for you. It’s true for everyone, but I want to make sure that you know that I did it for you."

I counted it as the highest privilege to receive and administer this greatest of gifts on this highest of days.

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