"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known."
John 1:1-5, 14-18 (ESV)
What are you full of? Not in the insulting way (“full of yourself”) but what is your head and heart full of? What occupies your thoughts? It is whatever you have made room for. If we consume a lot of news media we can become filled with fears. At Christmas we can be full of food and family and the stress of organising it all. But what we fill ourselves with is a conscious choice and we need to ask ourselves whether we have made room for God? Have we got mental space for Jesus?
Jesus is the number one voice, The Word. Before people were created, before sin entered the world, before the age of empires, before the internet, The Word was. The Word was always there, always creating; God communicating. The Word was with God and The Word was God, both separate entities and perfectly united in the trinity. This is what God wants us to have too.
Just as our words can create environments and fantastical worlds & communicate our meaning, at an eternally different level the Word has been with the Father from the beginning perfectly revealing, ordering, and creating the Father’s divine purpose. Keeping in mind his audiences, one of them being Jewish, John reveals that this was a reality all the way back “in the beginning.” The Son was not a backup plan to a failed project but in His infinite wisdom the Father, the Son and the Spirit have been at work together, creating all things, sustaining all things, and together they act to redeem all things.
Like a set of furniture parts without instructions, life doesn’t make sense until you know the Maker. We live in an age of so much confusion about our identity and design. But as a church we can help people to see who Jesus is so they can know who they are - their reason for existence. Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was and when Peter identified Him as the Son of God, Jesus told Peter who He was and His purpose (Matthew 16:13-19). If you believe that you came from nothing and are going back to nothing, then nothing you do in life matters. But to get rid of darkness, we turn on the light: Jesus (verse 5). God will not force His way in, we need to make room for Jesus.
The Word is grace and truth. We cannot just talk about sin, or just about forgiveness, we must speak about both. Consider the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8:2-11. The woman was condemned under the law which God had given His people to lead them in living a good life. But the Pharisees were using it to trap Jesus. He used the truth, that none of us is without sin to unsettle them and challenge their traditions. Jesus’ truth should unsettle and challenge our traditions today.
He is truth and grace in full measure. He was the only one who was sinless and could judge the woman, but He chose not to. We only have a relationship with God because of Jesus’ grace. It isn’t how great our church services are that saves people, it is always God’s grace alone. Jesus told the woman to ‘go and leave your life of sin’. He gave her grace but also the truth, not watered down - that she needed a new way of life. Grace is like soil and truth is like seed. When we create in our churches an environment of love and care for people (grace) then we can sow the good seed of God’s truth and watch people grow and flourish.
The question is not whether you deserve it or are you worthy of God but will you make room for God? Wherever you make room He can make it glorious -just like that stable in Bethlehem.
SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT
- Have you had an experience where both grace and truth was needed to move forward?
- Consider some of Jesus’ titles/attributes that we commonly use at Christmas. How do they speak to your own identity in Christ?
- As we head towards Christmas, we are asking God for a fresh revelation about Himself. How can we make room in our week to hear the answer?
- How can we reach out with kindness to people this Christmas? Who can we invite to the celebrations at church?