John in his gospel summed up the Christmas story in one verse, John 1:14 — one short verse, but packed full of truth.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have
seen his glory, gory as of the only Son from the Father, full of
grace and truth.”
In the fullness of time — God’s perfect timing — the eternal, creator Word became incarnate.The amazing, hard to fully grasp truth is that the eternal, creator Word stepped out of the invisible world into our visible world, taking on the bodily form of a helpless infant, so that he could dwell among his own creation. His name was not chosen on earth, but in eternity past, and an angel instructed Joseph, his earthly “father,” that the baby was to be called “Jesus” for he would save his people from their sins, being the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.
The apostle Paul expands those truths in Philippians 2:5b-10a:
“…who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow….”
God’s GRACE on display — in all its glory! John finishes his account of the Word becoming flesh by stating:
“…and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
In John’s daily and close association with Jesus, not only was his glory as the Son of the Father evident but also two distinctive qualities and characteristic. Jesus was “full of grace and truth.” Jesus was the embodiment of grace and it flowed out in demonstrable ways as he interacted with people – seeing their needs and responding with compassion and provision.
But it wasn’t just the people of Jesus’ day who benefited from the grace that flowed from Jesus. Verse sixteen assures us that “from his fullness, we have all received, grace upon grace.” That same grace that characterized Jesus’ life is available to us…we have received grace upon grace.
Christmas time is a vivid reminder of God’s grace that is available to all who will receive it. John 1:12 declares clearly:
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children o God.” Our minds can hardly grasp the enormity of this: God’s grace and our believing in Jesus and intentionally receiving him as Lord and Savior, gives us forgiveness for our sins, clothes us with the righteousness of Christ and brings us into the family of the mighty, powerful Creator God… He becomes our “Daddy.” Now that’s GRACE!
The message proclaimed to the shepherds of “good news and great joy” is desperately needed in our world and in our lives today. The grace available in Jesus is not limited to providing salvation for a needy people, although for that alone we would be forever in his debt, but as we shared in a previous blog, God continues to pour out his sustaining and enabling grace for every need in our lives.
Even though Christmas is a time of great joy, it can also be a time of great sorrow and pain for some as they walk through their first Christmas without a loved one, or Christmas may bring back memories of painful events in the past.
For me, Christmas is a reminder of God’s faithful provision of his grace at a time of great loss. The day after Christmas, 1992, my older son, Nat, (short for Nathan) was killed in a motorcycle accident, a loss compounded because it followed so close to my husband’s unexpected death, only three and a half years earlier. As I returned home from the hospital that fatal day, trying to wrap my mind around what had just transpired, I sought the quietness of my bedroom, needing time alone with my Father before facing people I knew would soon fill my home. I dropped to my knees beside my bed, and without consciously formulating what I would pray, I began to pray a very short prayer:
“Lord, this all seems so unreal; I can’t believe Nat is really gone; but, somehow, in all of this, I ask that your name will be glorified.”
I rose to my feet and sat still on the side of the bed. In the quietness of the moment, God spoke quietly to my spirit:
“You are in a very vulnerable place. You must guard your heart against self-pity and bitterness.”
And immediately Hebrews 12:15 came into my mind: “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God, that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”
I knew what the Lord was saying. In the days ahead it would be extremely easy for me to be filled with self-pity, or to become bitter toward God for the loss of my oldest son, who was so much like his father. It was like losing the rest of Jerry.It would be easy to become bitter about my “lot in life” but a root of bitterness would not only be destructive in my life, it would “cause trouble” for others who were watching me — my younger son, my older son’s girl friend, the people in our fellowship. God’s grace WAS available to guard my heart from bitterness, if I would just reach out and receive it from him each time the self-pity or bitterness threatened to move in.
The days and years that followed confirmed that availability of God’s grace, and the faithfulness of God to apply his enabling and healing grace to my heart. When the waves of self-pity threatened to roll in, my Father would remind me … His grace was available and sufficient. If bitterness tried to capture my thoughts, he reminded me of his love, goodness and faithfulness.
For anyone reading this Christmas blog, I pray that you may know and experience the awesome grace of God in all areas of your life. God truly is a God of grace, and Christmas truly is a dramatic demonstration and reminder of his rich grace
I close with the same words the apostle Paul used to close so many of his letters to the early churches:
“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.”