Sermon for Jericho Road Church on December 23rd, 2018. Notes below:
Advent is a time of expectant longing, reflecting on the birth of Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah. This month we’ve been meditating on and digging into John 1, beholding the Word, that was in the beginning, who was with God and was God, who made everything that was made, who is light shining in the darkness, who wasn’t received by his own people.
This Word became flesh. God became man while still being God, wrapped in swaddling cloths, laid in a manger because there was no other place for him. As God often does, what the world would call ridiculous God called a display of his glory. We call this the incarnation, and it is without a doubt one of the most amazing events in all of history.
Two days from now we’ll be celebrating with friends and family, opening gifts and singing carols, enjoying lights and decorations and eating far too much good food. Before we do that, let’s read John 1 one last time. Let’s ask God to open our eyes and our hearts to behold the glory of this Word become flesh, this long expected Jesus, this dawning of indestructible joy:
 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.  He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.  He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,  who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
 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.
As we wrap up this Advent series, we want to zoom into one verse in particular, verse 14. We’ll take it in two parts, first looking at what it means that we have seen his glory. Second, we’ll look at what it means that his glory is full of grace and truth. In closing, we’ll look at this Word become flesh one last time, reflecting on what this means for Christmas.
We have seen his glory
 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory…
What is God’s glory? What would it look like to see it? Moses knew firsthand. Remember Exodus 33-34, where he said to God, “Please show me your glory.” God responded by putting Moses in the cleft of a rock. He then covered Moses with his hand as he passed by so that all Moses saw was his back, lest Moses see his face and die. And as God passed by, he declared:
“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
What is God’s glory? It’s his mercy and grace, his steadfast love and faithfulness, his eagerness to forgive. It’s his character. It’s his name. It’s his beauty and majesty, worthy of all honor and praise. God reveals his glory to his people, and we get to reflect that glory back to him in worship. That’s what Moses did. He “quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped.”
God’s glory was so great that Moses couldn’t help but reflect it back. When he came down from talking with God on Mount Sinai, the skin of his face shone such that he needed to wear a veil to cover it. John saw this glory as well. Remember Luke 9:28-35, where Jesus was transfigured before his eyes:
 [Jesus] took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray.  And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white.  And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah,  who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.  Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.  And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”-not knowing what he said.  As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.  And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”
John had seen a taste of Jesus in his glory. His face was altered. His clothing had become dazzling white. Moses and Elijah were there with him, talking of his impending sacrificial death and departure back to the Father. Confirming what their eyes were seeing, the Father’s voice boomed out, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”
We have seen God’s glory because we have seen Jesus. Jesus’ birth and life and death and resurrection are the most vivid pictures of God’s mercy and grace, steadfast love and faithfulness, beauty and majesty, worthy of all honor and praise. He is so full of glory that he overflows into the lives of his people.
Full of grace and truth
 …glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
When God overflows out of his immense glory, he overflows out of a fullness of grace and truth. What does that look like in the lives of his people? What does God’s grace look like? Moses again knew this firsthand. Remember Numbers 6:22-27, where God tells us that grace involves his blessing, protection, love, and peace:
 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,
 The LORD bless you and keep you;
 the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
 the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
 “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”
This should remind us of Exodus 33-34 and Luke 9. This is God’s display of his glory to his people through his grace. What is God’s grace? Grace is God’s unmerited favor that brings blessing and joy. Israel didn’t do anything to merit this blessing. And we’ve done nothing to merit the grace of God’s Son. Remember Ephesians 2:8-9, where Paul says:
 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
God displays his glory through the showering of his grace upon undeserving sinners. He shows his steadfast love and faithfulness in the sending of his Son. The Word became flesh, and the heavenly host proclaimed this reality to shepherds tending their flock. Remember Jesus’ birth in Luke 2:8-14, where it says:
 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
This is what John is declaring. “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.” God became man while still being God, wrapped in swaddling cloths, laid in a manger because there was no other place for him. And this was the greatest display of God’s glory, full of grace and truth.
Our hope in Jesus
What does all of this have to do with Christmas? If you’re like me, you can become all too familiar with the story of Jesus’ birth. Shepherds and wise men, a star, a baby in a manger, angels singing, gifts being given. We’ve heard and read this story countless times. It’s so easy to become distracted by everything else vying for our attention this season.
We might do well to pause in the midst of all this busyness. Find time to go to scripture. Read these passages one more time. Ask the Holy Spirit to help us see the remarkable reality of what we’re celebrating. See why the Word became flesh. See that the Word, Jesus Christ, came to display God’s glory. Jesus told us why he came. At the end of Jesus’ life, John 12:27-30 says:
 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”  The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”  Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine.”
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us to display his immense glory to all people, overflowing in grace and truth to all who would believe. Jesus came to be born as a man so that he would suffer and die for our sake. This is what Christmas is about. Christmas is about God’s passion for his glory. This was John’s message in all his writings. 1 John 1:1-4 says:
 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-  the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us-  that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.  And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
This Christmas, by all means, have fun celebrating with friends and family, opening gifts and singing carols, enjoying lights and decorations and eating far too much good food. These are all good and precious gifts. But don’t forget to take time to pause in the midst of it all. Read these passages one more time. Join God in his passion for his glory in sending his Son.
A benediction, based on 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, says:
 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,  comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.