Sunday, December 28, 2014

First Sunday after Christmas Year B 2014

 Fr. Dale Matson

Jesus Christ Son Of God And Son Of Mary

[Today is also the feast day of the Holy Innocents commemorating the massacre of the children by King Herod in his attempt to kill the infant Jesus]  

The readings for this year, year B, are appointed for the first Sunday after Christmas for years A and C as well. That is how important these readings are that they are used for the entire 3-year lectionary cycle on the first Sunday after Christmas. The Prologue to the Gospel of John is not just an Anthem. It serves as core doctrine in the Christian faith. The Prologue describes both the human and divine natures of Christ. The doctrine of the two natures of Christ in one person is as important as the doctrine of the Trinity. What the Athanasian Creed is to the doctrine of the Trinity, the Council of Chalcedon is to the divine and human natures of Christ. Let’s take a closer look at the Prologue.

Let me unpack the Prologue further
Verses 1-3 tell of the Deity and Eternity of Jesus Christ.  The Gospel of John begins the same as the book of Genesis begins.
“In the beginning”
From the very beginning Jesus Christ the Word of God was with the Father and the Holy Spirit.  Jesus Christ is the Word of God and is God.  He is not just a god He is God.   He is the Word of God meaning; He is God’s expression of Himself.  To the Greeks He is the logos; the rational principle that governs all things in the universe.  To the Jews He is the logos that comes from God to fulfill his purpose in and for the world.  The logos was the word God used to create and govern the universe. God spoke the universe into existence.  (And God said…)

Although Christ is primarily seen as redeemer and savior of humankind, He also participated in the work of the Father as a co-creator.  Christ can offer life because He is life.  He is perfect life and He offered that life as a ransom for many including you and me.  For the Jews of the Old Testament the law of God, the word of God and life are essentially the same thing.

Verses 4-13 tell us Jesus Christ is the light of the world.

He is the spiritual illumination for a world in darkness.  Darkness cannot overcome the light.  He reveals God’s plan of salvation, the meaning of human existence and the destiny of humankind. He reveals the truth and it makes us free.  He reveals our own heart to us so that we may know ourselves as we are known by Him.  He is the light at the end of the tunnel.  He is our hope.  We cling to his precious name for ultimately that is the only name and the only hope we have.

John the Baptist was sent ahead by God to prepare the way of Salvation.  He was a prophet and he was a light.  We were to believe in Jesus Christ through the witness of John but John was not the light of the world. He was a light in the world.  We too like John the Baptist can be a light in the world.
Christ came into the world that He had made and His creation did not recognize its own creator.  He came to His own people and they rejected Him.  He comes to us and like Peter, we also at times deny Him.  Forgive us Lord.

We who believe in his name are born both of water and from above.  We are given eternal life in Him.  To say that we believe in his name is to say that Jesus the Christ is who he says he is.  He is the Son of man and the only begotten Son of God.  He is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world, and the Alpha and Omega.  He is the eternal “I AM” and we have given ourselves completely to Him.  He is all and in all. Praise God, we are His!

Verses 14-18 tell us He is the Incarnation.

14The 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.  This verse expresses the mystery and the fact that Jesus Christ was both God and man.  He was God in the flesh. 

The biggest mystery in Christianity is the Incarnation. How and why did God become a man? How could Christ be fully God and fully human? To be fully human, the genetic material that made up Jesus had to come from Mary also. Mary was chosen by God not just to contain and deliver Jesus into this world, but also to contribute genetically and behaviorally to who Jesus would become. Jesus would be the Son of God but He would also be his mother’s Son. And, I would say to know the human nature of Jesus better, look at Mary’s attributes. I believe that God chose her not only because she was a virgin but it would also mean both a miraculous birth and one that was prophesied in the Old Testament. She also had the disposition and characteristics that would help Jesus, as he developed into a man.  Only Mary had the ‘right stuff’ as we would say today. Son of God and Son of Mary. Jesus Christ is not ‘like’ God He is God. Jesus Christ is not ‘like’ humans He is human. In fact, while Eve was our biological mother, Mary is our spiritual mother. Mary would become the new Eve. Eve was the mother of all humans after the flesh but Mary is the spiritual mother of all those who are in Christ. Revelations, states, “Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.” (12:17). Christ was a human without sin. He was a perfect human. 

We say in the Nicene Creed,

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.”
Much of the Christology that we confess in the creed came from John’s Gospel.

John the Baptist said that Christ ranked ahead of him because he existed before him.  Indeed Jesus Himself claimed he existed even before Abraham.  “The Jews therefore said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple. (John 8:57-59).

The Jews knew that Jesus was saying that he was God.
"Christ was so full of Grace that we have received one blessing piled upon another.  Although Moses gave us the Law, Christ the new Moses gave us grace and truth."

Here John is saying that the Law told us what we must do to measure up to God’s standards.  This was a task that was impossible for any and all humans.  Christ through grace by faith has satisfied the Law for us and put us right with God.
Although no one has seen God, Christ, through his life, death and resurrection has shown us the Father.  Jesus said to Phillip, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. If you had known me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" (John 14:6-9).  In Christ, God has revealed Himself to the world.

In Genesis (2:7) it states, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

 In John’s Gospel (20: 21-22) it states, “Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." 22And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.

St. John tells us later on in his gospel why he recorded the events.  “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life (Zoe) in his name.” ((20:31-32).

The nations shall see your vindication,
And all the kings your glory;
And you shall be called by a new name
That the mouth of the LORD will give. (Isaiah 61)
In the Book of Acts it states, “Then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.' Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by whom we must be saved." (Acts 4:10-12). 

So why is it so important that Christ be both God and man. We could not trust in the glorious promises of Christ the man that He would come and live with us and that we would live forever with Him in eternity if He were not God. We could not identify with and model our lives after a God who was not also a man? He suffered, died and was buried and we shall all experience this too. He arose from the grave ascended to the Father in Heaven and this is our hope as we live by faith in Him.  Amen

1 comment:

Pageantmaster said...

Happy Christmas Father Dale and thank you for your thoughtful and articles. This one is very encouraging.