God with a Human Face

Fifth in a series: Faces Near the Manger,
Delivered Christmas Eve, December 24, 2003 by Rev. John Schmidt.

Theme: In Jesus we see the glory of God. But what is that glory? Humility. We see someone that was willing to put aside all the trappings of what it means to be God in order to reach out to us, and this is glorious.

Sermon Text:
John 1:1-18

I would like to read now just one verse from the gospel of John. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Let’s pray. Heavenly Father we thank you for this your word. We thank you for this night that we celebrate. Open our hearts, open our minds, speak to us whatever we need to hear, for we ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

It’s Christmas Eve. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. We celebrate the fact that God has become a human, that God took on flesh. He became a person, but it’s not just that he became a person; it’s the kind of person he became. Think about it. He is born in a town that’s marginal. I mean, you know nothing much about it to grab our attention. He was born in a country that we wouldn’t know much about if it wasn’t for the fact that he was born there. In fact, it is not even his family’s hometown. He is born in a place where they don’t have the contacts they need. They don’t have a place to stay and ultimately he is born in a shed, in a stable, in a garage. That’s humble even by human standards. You know, when God became a human he could have come, he could have put on airs; he could have come with all the trappings of royalty. He could have come with money, with all the security that brings and the power. He could have come and made friends by having money, had a fan club. But that isn’t what happened. Instead, when he comes, he comes in a way that just is very normal.

Max Lucado talks about it this way.

“I think it’s noteworthy that the Almighty didn’t act high and mighty. The Holy One wasn’t holier than thou. The one who knew it all, wasn’t a know it all. The one who made the stars didn’t keep his head in them. The one who owns all the stuff of earth never strutted it. Never. He could have. Oh, how he could have. He could have been a name-dropper. Hey, did I ever tell you of a time when Moses and I went up on the mountain. He could have been a showoff. Want me to beam you into the 20th century? He could have been a smart alec. I know what you are thinking, want me to prove it? He could have been highbrow and uppity. I’ve got some property on Jupiter. Jesus could have been all of these things, but he wasn’t. His purpose was not to show off, but to show up.”

In Jesus, God shows up. The One who made it all, the One who holds it all together, the One that we call the Creator shows up and he shows up looking no different than the guy down the street. It means that there is something awfully wonderful about being human. There is something amazing about being created in the image of God, being created to be in a relationship with God, to be someone that God values. God values us so much that in Jesus Christ he pitched his tent for a while among us. And what I find so surprising is when he did that; he didn’t do it to remind us just how bad we’ve blown it. He didn’t do it to Lord it over us. Jesus came because God loves us. He came because he was on a rescue mission, to do something for us that we could never do for ourselves, which is to reestablish a right relationship with God. Jesus Christ came out of love. So are we something special to God? The birth of Jesus, the life of Jesus, the death of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus tell us again and again, yes we are something special to God.

In this verse we read that we have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father full of grace and truth. In Jesus Christ we see the glory of God. Now when we think of glory, we usually think of light. We usually think of power, of earthquakes, of thunder, of lightning, of smoke, of flame, but is that what we see in Jesus? In Jesus we see the glory of the one and only. We see glory. But what is that glory? We see humility. We see someone that was willing to put aside all the trappings of what it means to be God in order to reach out to us and this is glorious. We see someone who even though it all belongs to him has a serpent’s heart. In him, we see someone who because of love is willing to sacrifice even his life for those who are still his enemies. And so what we see, what God wants to brag about, what he wants us to really hold on to and understand is that he loves us. That’s what God glories in. It’s an amazing thing. It’s unexpected. It’s unexpected that to see humility, to see a love that is willing to sacrifice all to reach out and save those whom he loves, is to see the glory of God. And that kind of glory is best seen in a human face.

Let’s pray. Gracious God, we thank you for what we see about who you really are in Jesus Christ. God we thank you for what you have done in Him and we pray now that we might be able to make a proper response to you. For we ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.