The Gospel of John takes a different approach than the traditional way the Christmas story is told in the other Gospels. He begins his book by saying this: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Instead of putting the story of Christmas with the shepherds and angels at the forefront of his message about Jesus’ birth, John chooses to interweave the story of Christmas and the significance of Christmas all throughout his entire gospel.
In the first verse of his Gospel, John speaks of “The Word.”
“The Word” is one of the ways that John refers to Jesus. John’s nickname for Jesus is more clearly understood when you skip down to the 14th verse where he says, “14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, [that’s Jesus] and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Clearly “The Word” is Jesus.
At the end of verse 1, John says that not only is “The Word” with God at the beginning, but He adds that the “Word was God.” Those two verses tell us that the eternal Word of God took on human flesh. The Christmas accounts in the other Gospels tell us that the Word came in our world as a baby. This reality in itself is truly mind-boggling.
The Word is the divine Son of God. Being eternal in nature, He had no beginning and no origin. He has always existed. He had been with God for all of eternity past. Not only was He with God, but it says that he was of the same essence as God. “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This eternal, divine Being willingly chose to enter our world for a brief period of time as a man.
In the coming of Jesus, we are able to behold an utterly unique perspective of God’s glory. Remember that whenever God puts His attributes on display, we behold His glory. John 1:14 says, “14 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.” In the person of Jesus, we are able to see a glimpse of God’s grace alongside God’s truth.
In John’s gospel, he defines Christmas as God revealing himself in the person of Jesus in a way He had never revealed Himself before. In the revealing of the person of Jesus, we see the attribute of God’s grace accentuated time and time again. God’s plan was to offer His people grace upon grace upon grace in a measure far beyond what they could ever hope to earn or possess.
God’s grace through the person of Jesus is revealed in utter clarity throughout John’s Gospel. Let’s go over to chapter 3 to the most famous verse in the Bible. (Don’t let your familiarity with this verse keep you from feeling the impact of it.) In John 3:16, it says:
“16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Here we see the Christmas story and Good Friday wrapped into one. Jesus, the eternal, divine, Son of God, came as a baby in the manger so that one day He might grow up into a perfect man and give His life for us so that we might be able to have Peace with God for all of eternity. What a picture of God’s grace!
But… the verse doesn’t stop there. John 3:17 says, “17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Christmas and the coming of Jesus is by no means about condemnation. It is all about salvation! Christmas means that you and I can know God’s grace on an endless measure!
If we skip to the end of John, we see another aspect of the significance of Christmas in chapter 18. At the end of his life on earth, Jesus was standing before Pontius Pilate. The picture at the side of the screen is a 19th Century Painting called “Christ Before Pilate.”
Pilate was a high-ranking military man who governed the province of Judea from AD 26-36. In John 18:37a, Pilate says to Jesus, “So, you are a king?” Listen to how Jesus responds. In His response you’ll hear the reason for His birth and for His earthly ministry explained. In John 18:37b, Jesus says, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
Jesus came as “the Word.” He was a spokesman for God’s truth. God’s truth has a profound effect on people when they encounter it. Consider Jesus’ words in John 8:31-32. He said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
So, the meaning of Christmas could be summed up in this way: The eternal, Holy Son of God entered the world to bear witness to the truth in a way that never been so clearly and effectively represented before.
He is truth in the flesh. In John 14:6, John says that Jesus is the “the way, and the truth, and the life,” and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. In other words, being right with God, having peace with God, and knowing freedom from sin all begin with Jesus.
Jesus came as the embodiment of truth. The truth He spoke of is the truth that makes us free. What kind of freedom do we experience through Jesus? The Bible explains that:
· He gives us freedom from the power, the bondage, and the guilt of sin.
· He set’s us free from the deadness, the consequences, the spiritual blindness, and the eternal judgement that sin causes.
· He sets us free to have a new life dedicated to the Father’s work and the pursuit of righteousness with all its rewards and blessings.
Here is how Jesus says that freedom happens: From the beginning, Jesus knew that He had entered into this world in order to offer Himself as the payment for our sins. In John 6:51, Jesus says, “51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
“The Word became flesh” and dwelt here for a season among men, so that He could bear in His flesh that which we could not bear ourselves. Jesus became flesh so that He could give Himself for the life of the world. A sinner, who receive His sacrifice for sins, is given grace beyond measure. Jesus came in order to die for me and for you so that we could have peace with God and eternal life. Christmas was the first step in Jesus’ ministry that led us to Good Friday.
For that reason, it seems fitting for us to remember Jesus’ death on the same day we remember his birth.
· The Word became flesh.
· He revealed a part of God’s glory we had never seen before.
· He was born and died, both in accordance with God’s plan.
Because of His death, He is bread for us – meaning that He is the source of forgiveness, righteousness, and life for all who receive Him as Savior and Lord. The great meaning behind Christmas is that ultimately Jesus came to give Himself for His disciples. It is fitting to celebrate His birthday with presents and to remember His purpose in coming by taking communion.
 By Mihály Munkácsy, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=230979