This last week I had the privilege of holding a newborn child in my arms. The first son of my friends Emily and Saadat: Ezekiel Hasan Jesper Mir. Less than a week old. Beautiful little lad. I held him and he cried a few tears. And you know how it is the parents anxiously try and work out why he’s crying: is he hungry? it is wind? has he filled his nappy? is it just Giles’s face? Why’s he weeping?
And it reminded me of part of a Christmas poem written by William Blake to a newborn child entitled ‘A song.’ It goes like this:
Sweet babe, in thy face
Holy Image I can trace;
Sweet babe, once like thee
Thy Maker lay, and wept for me:
Wept for me, for thee, for all,
When He was an infant small.
why’s he weeping? For us!
Christmas is a wonderful time isn’t it? The comforts of family, festivities and food. ‘We believe in Christmas’ is the seasonal slogan of one chain of pizza restaurants.
But you know really we are too quickly satisfied by Christmas.
We don’t apply its blessings deeply enough to our lives.
Christmas is not about providing a temporary distraction from our fears and insecurities - a bit of light to take the edge off the darkest days of the year for a few weeks. No, Christmas is about providing the permanent removal of our fears and insecurities.
God wipes away our tears because Jesus wept for me and thee and all.
V14 in our reading. Here is the message of Christmas:
The Word became flesh …and made his dwelling among us
At a certain time: some 2000 years ago.
In a certain place: the womb of a Jewish teenage girl; a stable in Bethlehem of Judea..
The Word - the eternal God; The One who stands outside of the Universe; Who is (vv3 and 4) the source of all being and life -
… became flesh
… became a human being
… became one of us
wept for me and thee and all.
Think in your mind of someone with great authority, stature and influence. HM The Queen; Melania Trump or Boris Johnson. Imagine that person is visiting Shacklewell Primary School. They stay the whole day. They’re there at assembly - they’re given and wear their own school jumper; they eat school dinners and they sit down in the lessons alongside the children in those tiny chairs you can never get up from. They come down and they come alongside and by so doing they bestow value and they instill a future..
The Word became flesh,
and not just for a day; and not even for 30 years. The Word became flesh and remains flesh.
Jesus died a human was raised a human and now sits on the throne of the universe a human being. A member of God the Trinity has permamently entered the human race.
There is a human being in the life of the triune God!
What is man? What is the point or future for humanity? Our world, our children, ourselves beyond the grave?
Well here is God’s stamp of approval on flesh.
This is his eternal bestowal of value and significance. His commitment to the future of this physical world. God has guaranteed it.
But can it be true?
Was this really God in the flesh?
John - the gospel writer, Jesus’ best friend, implores us v14 ‘We have seen his glory. The Glory of the One and only who came from the Father, Full of grace and truth.’
Glory is usually associated with power and victory, grandeur and achievement. But John here seems to link glory with this description of Jesus as being ‘full of grace and truth.’
I wonder if you’ve ever met someone who could be described as full of grace?
I don’t mean a graceful poise. But grace as in undeserved kindness. full of mercy towards the unloveable; towards those who have offended; towards enemies. Full of unconditional generosity. Can you picture someone like that?
Perhaps more likely is that we know people who are full of truth. Who speak bluntly, who ‘tell it like it is.’ They’re probably not English, unless they’re from Yorkshire!
But rarely, if ever do you find both grace AND truth in One person.
Well John says that Jesus was full of grace AND full of truth. Pick up John’s gospel and you’ll see this twin reality in Jesus over and over. So in Chapter 4 Jesus painfully uncovers the sins of a serial adulteress (full of truth) but he does so so that he can he offer her the living waters of forgiveness and renewal (full of grace). Or in Chapter 13 Jesus confronts his friends about their imminent desertion and betrayal of him (truth) and yet he does it while he’s stooping to wash their feet!
And in the ultimate show of grace and truth Jesus went to the cross.
There he told the truth about the human race because Jesus was dying the death that we collectively deserve for our selfish rebellious lives.
But as he died he showed the most remarkable grace because he was dying for us! taking our darkness upon himself. the hell that we deserve so that we might be forgiven.
he wept for me and thee and all
Grace and truth.
A king who sits exalted on his throne has one kind of glory!
But the King who leaves his throne - who stoops, who comes, who suffers, who bleeds, who dies, who loves with all his heart and soul. That is another kind of glory entirely.
Final thing to say -Why does he do it?
The Word became flesh… we’ve seen his glory.. But why? Why did he come?
The answer is there in verse 12
To all who received him, to those who believed in his name he gave the right to become children of God
what is this?
The son of God became human ..so that humans could become children of God.
Here’s the purpose of Christmas.
The word became flesh..
Jesus once and for all time entered our humanity inorder to transform it
To redeem humanity Jesus became human
entered our darkness
to weep for us,
to live for us
to die for us,
to plunge our loved humanity into the hell that it deserves
and then to raise it up in his resurrection to life and light and love.
so that he could say to us
- you in the darkness receive my light,
- you in dislocation receive my love,
- you in death receive my life.
Thy maker lay and wept for me, for thee for all..
And to all who receive him to those who believe in his name he GIVES the right to become children of God. Reborn into a new family, a new humanity.
This is Christmas
he entered our family inorder to take us into his family.
He became what we are so that we could become what he is.
It’s Free and it’s forever.
God has given us his Son that we might become his children.