Of the four gospels, only two contain information about his birth (Matthew and Luke). Both Mark and John start the biography of Jesus as an adult. John begins his biography with what seems to be a philosophical introduction – but one that is packed with rich theology. The series is titled after Eugene Peterson’s translation of John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” Christmas is about Jesus downsizing (from heaven to earth) and becoming our neighbor. In a very real sense, he practiced downward mobility. The series concludes with John 1:14 and an appeal to know Jesus not just as a neighbor but as Savior and Lord.
December 5 – From the Beginning
Contrary to what we might think, the Christmas story did not begin in Bethlehem or even when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary. The Christmas story – God coming from heaven to earth – has existed in the heart of God since the very beginning. This message kicks off our Christmas series by reminding us that Jesus (the Word) was “with God in the beginning” – and his arrival was not a spur-of-the-moment decision by God to save his people. The Christmas story is part of a larger story – the overarching story of God’s redemptive plan. To truly understand the importance of Christmas, we must place it within this larger story.
Main Point: God has loved you from the very beginning.
John 1:1-2 … 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.
December 12 – No One Else Like Jesus
In all of human history, there has never been – nor will there ever be – anyone like Jesus. In these opening verses, John is introducing us to Jesus by highlighting his unique nature. The Christmas story testifies to the unique nature of Jesus in terms of creation (through him all things were made) as well as his ability to free people from spiritual darkness (the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it). This message celebrates how Jesus stands out as the only true light that can give light to everyone.
John 1:3-9 … 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
Main Point: Jesus is the only light that can overcome the darkness.
December 19 – Responding to Jesus
As hard as it might to be imagine, Jesus was not recognized during his lifetime for who he really was – the Son of God. This was true of the world at large as well as his Jewish neighbors. In many respects, that is still true today and not just among non-Christians. Many Christians misunderstand Jesus, too. What does it mean to recognize Jesus? To receive him? To believe in him? The answers to these questions are fundamental to what it means to follow Jesus. To those who did recognize him, who received and believed in him, he granted the right to become children of God. This message will explore those three questions – recognition, receive, and believe – in greater detail.
Main Point: It matters how you respond to Jesus.
John 1:10-13 … 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
December 24 – Have You Met the New Neighbor?
At Christmas time, we hear two words that speak to the unique nature of Jesus. One is Emmanuel: God with us. The other is Incarnation: God in flesh. It is the unique nature of Jesus that sets Christianity apart from other world religions. It was no ordinary baby who was born in Bethlehem. When Jesus spoke in the Gospels, people were hearing the voice of God. Finally, when Jesus died on the cross, he wasn’t just another execution carried out by the Roman government – he was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). While Jesus did become flesh and move into our neighborhood, your heart is really the place he wants to live.
Main Point: Jesus doesn’t just want to live among you; he wants to live in you.
John 1:14 … 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.