The Word Became Flesh
The Word became Flesh. That’s the mystery of Christmas. You can’t see my words this morning. There is nothing visible about speech. It would be nice if there was – especially if you’re hard of hearing like me. But with God you can see His Word.
The Word became flesh. That baby in the manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes is God. There and there alone, in Jesus of Nazareth, you are to look and listen for what God has to say to you. Saint Paul wrote to the Romans that when they seek God’s favor, (Read Romans 10:6-9). You do not need somehow to ascend into heavenly meditation to grasp God’s thoughts. Nor do you need to resurrect Christ in your hearts to have something good before God. Look to Jesus and in looking to Jesus, the baby boy born to Mary, you will hear God speak.
The Word became flesh. God became a baby boy – a human just like you. He had a body and blood and bones. He had a mind that thought and a heart that loved and a gut that had instincts and feelings. Joseph could have played “This little piggie” on Jesus’ toes, but he probably didn’t because pork was a no-no, until Jesus later said we could eat bacon.
Martin Chemnitz, who is called the second Martin of the Lutheran Reformation (Martin Luther being the first Martin) described how the Christmas tree is a sermon about Christ. We bring into our homes a naked, unadorned tree. It’s nothing to look at. But then you take that tree and adorn it with beauty. You put on it priceless ornaments and shining lights and gold and silver tinsel. You might string it with popcorn and cranberries or hang candy canes on its branches.
In the eyes of the world a baby is nothing. Parents might find a baby lovely, but the world despises infants. Half of our U.S. Politicians won’t even call them humans. Your bare-naked Christmas tree is Jesus, the plain little boy of Mary, conceived by the Holy Spirit. God the Father adorned Jesus with all the beautiful and priceless attributes of God. The fullness of the deity dwells in human flesh.
Jesus the man could walk on water. He could speak a word and heal blindness, touch a dead person, and bring her to life. He was the sinless Son of God and yet He could bleed. – which is why there is red and white in the candy cane and likely why popcorn and cranberries are strung on some Christmas tree. He could make Himself shine like the sun on the Mount of transfiguration – perhaps why you put lights on your tree and a star on its top.
This branch of Jesse, which is what Jesus is called in the Old Testament, isn’t much to look at, but adorned with the fullness of God He is the glorious and splendid tree of life. You don’t have a Christmas tree in your house – you have a Christ tree in your house. Your tree is a confession of the Word made flesh, true God and true man, Jesus of Nazareth.
The Word became flesh and remains flesh so that we can see Jesus and hear God and be saved. You are not what God created you to be. Humans were created to receive God’s gifts, to enjoy holy conversation with their creator, to love their Father in heaven and love their neighbor. They were created for joy and peace and life. Sin, your sin, has undone your humanity. You cannot blame your faults, your fears, or your failing health on being human. An honest confession is what we confess every Lord’s day, “I deserve this because I am a sinner.”
The Word is made flesh to do what your flesh cannot do. Jesus never sinned. He was boy and tempted to boy sins. He was a son and tempted to son sins. He was a man and tempted to man sins. And He never sinned. As your human brother He did that for you.
The Word is made flesh to take what you could not take, what God doesn’t want you to take. Jesus took your hell – all of hell, the full abandonment of God for sin. Jesus took your death. His soul was separated from His body when He died on the cross, just as your soul will leave your body at death. But now, because Jesus, true God and true man, has suffered and died for you you can expect exactly what happened to Jesus. On Easter morning His soul returned to His body and His body was reawakened never to die again. The incarnation is why we bury bodies in coffins that look like plush bed and lay them in cemeteries (which means resting place).
Children get Christmas. They aren’t bothered by the mystery. Tey look at Jesus in the nativity and they don’t ask how He could be God in the flesh of a man? They just marvel and love Jesus. A pastor reminded me this week that one of the common children’s bedtime prayers beautifully speaks of the incarnation and what it means for us.
“Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.
And this I ask for Jesus’ sake.”
Bedtime is scary for children, but not with Jesus. Death is scary for grownups, but not with Jesus. You can approach death as the child who prays that prayer. Your body is going to sleep – as Jesus body slept. Because He was a human, His soul went to be with His Father for a brief time – then His soul came back to His body and He awakened and walked out of the tomb. The Word became flesh. God became a man for man. If you believe that mystery, then you’re truly human again and as it goes for Jesus it goes for you. You’ll sleep for a little while in death and then be awakened and you will see God as He truly is, in the flesh and in the name of Jesus. Amen.