Recognize God’s Gift
John 1:1-4, 10-18
“I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus,” said Charlie. “Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel. I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I’m still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed.”
“Charlie Brown,” replied Linus, “you are the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem. Maybe Lucy is right. Of all of the Charlie Browns in the world, you are the Charlie Brownest” (“A Charlie Brown Christmas,” 1965).
Our society is enthralled with Christmas. Singing, cooking, parties, eating and spending are hallmarks of this happy season. But why do so many people feel empty during Christmas? Even after we fill ourselves with cheer and Christmas pie, there is still a void needing to be filled. What is the gift of Christmas?
John began his Gospel by introducing the Word (vv. 1-4). The Word was present, in fellowship, and in union with God from the beginning. The Word was God – everything that God is, so is the Word. Everything that exists came into existence through the Word. The Word gave life to everything, and to humanity that life is the light that guides us.
Then John surprised his readers. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (v. 14). “Became” refers to a person or thing changing to something it was not before. It took on human weakness. While retaining all that God is, the Word took on everything that is human. The phrase “dwelt among us” literal means “pitched his tent.”
This intimate inhabitation revealed the full glory of God in human flesh – fully God, fully human – shown in the one-of-a-kind (“only”) Son. The fullness of grace reflects the covenant mercy of God (Exodus 34:6). The full truth reflects both the Hebrew meaning – “steadfastness” or “trustworthiness” – and the Greek, “that which really is.”
This coming of Jesus reveals the true gift of Christmas. To receive this gift, we must believe in his name, accept Jesus to the full extent of his revelation (v. 12). When we do that, then we have authority to become God’s children, to receive grace upon grace, live in grace and truth, and see the fullest revelation of God through Christ Jesus (vv. 12, 16-17).
If you don’t understand Christmas or feel the void within, receive Jesus, believe in his name and follow Him. Then your Christmas joy will be joy indeed!
- Lessons in the BSL series for the winter quarter are being written by Steve Scudder, former director of missions for Savannah River Association.