Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Text: John 1:14
Theme: Salvation Comes to the World
Preached virtually on the 24th of December 2020 in the last Morning Watch of Tuguegarao UMC
Good morning and Merry Christmas. I am PasDoc Neki Soriano and I bring you greetings in behalf of my family. I am thankful for the opportunity to share with you the good news this Morning Watch. In this time of pandemic, I usually bring the bad news to people telling them that they are sick, but I am happy that for a change, I can share with you the good news of the birth our savior Jesus Christ.
We celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus. But that birth is not just a simple birth. It is very complicated that we may never truly comprehend. It has many implications to the world and in our lives.
But for many non-believers, Christmas is non-sense. They even think Christianity is a belief on something very simple, ordinary and foolish just like believing in Jesus who was born on Christmas day. The birth of Jesus may not have meaning to us especially at this time of pandemic. We do not see how God can save us through Christmas, some may not even see God at all because of the situation we experience and this weakens our faith.
But the birth of Jesus is a very complicated matter that might need more than our ordinary minds to be stretched. The birth of Jesus is something that is not as simple as we often think and we might never understand fully. That is okay because our ways are not God’s way and our mind may not fully grasp the mystery of God. Yet, we must be able to appreciate the importance of Christmas when we recognize the complicated meaning of the Gospel verse we have read today. Only if we recognize the complicated birth of Jesus can we make sense how salvation comes to the world.
Our text comes from the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John usually focuses on the common theme about the relationship between humans to God through the person of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel of John is a unique Gospel that focuses on the message that Jesus is divine. The word was in Jesus and this Word became flesh and blood in Jesus.
I read in one article by Rev. Kevin De Young, he believes that the verse should look closely on the meaning of the words “only” and “dwells” to emphasize the message of the writers of John.
Why was this the message during that time?
There are rumors during that time that Jesus is just human. As the early followers of Jesus, they also have confusion on what is the person of Jesus.
False teachings make people confuse and weakens our faith in God. A misunderstanding of Christian belief can lead to unfaithfulness and other harmful actions. So the Gospel writers have to describe the origins of Jesus. In John 1:1 he says, “in the Beginning was the word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…. Then in verse 14 it says, “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
Even among early Christians, just several years after the death of Jesus, there are rumors that God did not yet send the messiah. And that God did not come to the people in the flesh through Jesus. In verse 14, Jesus is described as having the glory of the one and only son. In the original Greek, the word “one and only” is a translation from the Greek word “monogenes.” This word was used 5 times all in the Gospel of John. The most popular verse where the Greek word “monogenes” was also used was in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave his “monogenes” son.” What does the word mean?
Even among early Christians, they try to understand what the birth of Jesus means. The Arian controversy is one of the significant concerns on false teachings about Jesus being born as the Son of God. The Arian controversy discusses the relationship God the Father to God the Son. Questions are asked:
o What kind of relationship do they have?
o Is Jesus just a common human being or is he divine like God?
o Are they similar or are they the same in substance?
o Was Jesus made out of nowhere or does he exist forever?
o Was Jesus just an adopted son of God or a real begotten son?
The Arian controversy lead us to the Nicene Creed. Most of written in the Nicene comes from the Gospel of John. That is in the Nicene Creed we emphasize the Trinity of God. We, United Methodists and other mainline Christians articulate our belief as written in the Nicene Creed. It is found in your United Methodist hymnal. We profess and declare that:
- We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God,
o There is no other Son of God. False teachers will claim that they are the Son of God.
- eternally begotten of the Father,
o They have a relationship of Father and Son. Jesus is called the Son because of his relationship with the Father.
- God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,
o Jesus is true God. Jesus is divine. Not like the other group who does not believe in the divinity of Jesus.
- begotten, not made,
o Begotten, not made. The origin of Jesus is therefore not temporal. There was not a time that there was no Jesus. Jesus is eternally begotten from the Father.
- of one Being with the Father;
o Jesus has the same being as the Father. As the Father is God and Holy, so is Jesus. The Logos is the same Logos in Jesus.
- through him all things were made.
o The Logos when spoken created the world. When God spoke, it was created through Christ. When God said, let there be light and there was light. It was created through Christ.
- For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human.
o If Jesus is not divine, then Jesus cannot save us from our sins. Our salvation will not happen.
o If Jesus is not divine, he is no longer with us is that God is distant and far from us.
We appreciate better the message of Christmas when we have a better recognition on the meaning of Jesus as the Word becoming flesh. Jesus became human to connect us to God. We hear this often every Christmas. But I wonder if we really appreciate the importance of this verse especially at this time of pandemic.
In the text, we read that “he dwells among us.” Now, “dwelling’ in the original Greek, “skene” means pitch a tent or tabernacle. God is pitching a tent among humans. Pitching a tent in this sense is not temporary, it means staying for a long time. Israel, when they pitched the tent, their intention was to be with the presence of God everytime. So when they were wandering, they pitched tent so they could house God and be with God everytime. Then it became a temple. So pitching tent means staying forever. Pitching a tent also means closeness with one another especially with daily activities. Also, pitching a tent is becoming one of them. He is not a stranger to us. He is one of us. God dwelling among us is a very important message at this time of pandemic.
What is the most common problem and dilemma asked today?
This pandemic makes us think that God has abandoned us. Just like the early Christians whose faith was weakened by false teachings, the pandemic can weaken our faith. Our circumstances make us doubt our faith.
Or you could be like me. When I became sick with Covid, and I was in the hospital bed with the oxygen and having difficulty breathing, I was having a spiritual crisis. I was not doubting the presence of God, in fact, I was actually leaving God out at this time of pandemic. I relied on science. I relied on medicines and the health workers. People were telling me na “magpalakas ka.” “Kaya mo yan.” And so I thought that I can do it “on my own.” I do not have to be connected with God.
This pandemic has made us disconnected with God in either way. Either we think that he abandoned us or we think that we do not need God. Either way, we do not recognize that God is with us. God is someone distant. God do not understand us. God is somebody different from us. We do not recognize God among us.
But the Good News my dear brothers and sisters: is that God became incarnate and became human born as a baby on Christmas day so that God can dwell among us humans. God wants to be in our ordinary lives, in our daily activities, in our everyday struggle, in the midst of all our busy lives, God is with us.
That is reason enough for all of us to be thankful even at this time of pandemic, suffering and chaos. That is enough reason for us to be grateful to God.
If we recognize the significance of the Word becoming flesh, of how a God that is divine will choose to become human in Jesus so that we can restore our broken relationship with God the Father as his children, we are able to appreciate and be thankful to God.
Is there something we can be thankful about at this time of pandemic? God became flesh and stayed home with us. That is something we should be grateful because we are not alone. God has lived and dwelled among the unholy and broken world.
Salvation came into this world on Christmas day when the Word became flesh. That is reason for us to celebrate, worship God and invite everyone to "come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant! O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem; Come and behold him, Born the King of Angels: O come, let us adore Him, (3×). Christ the Lord."