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“God’s Gift of Grace upon Grace”
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
Lord Jesus, open our minds and hearts to Your truth, through the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God. Amen.
With the kids I used my Remote Control to rewind and fast-forward life a little. With all y’all I want to rewind a bit. Since Christmas landed on a Sunday this year, and we usually do our Christmas Cantata on the Fourth Sunday of Advent (one week earlier), that meant my last pre-Christmas sermon was two weeks before Christmas! I feel a little short-changed.
So, as we enter into this season between Christmas and Lent, I am using today (and maybe next week) to segue into that new Sermon Series on Promises of Grace. That means a little more Christmas. But … very little….
Let’s start with a short, one-question Pop Quiz. Of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), which one has no Christmas story in it? [Quick review:
- Luke tells the story about the angel coming to Mary and then to Joseph, and the shepherds in the fields and the no room in the inn.
- Matthew tells the story about the magi from the east, and about how King Herod tried to Grinch the first Christmas away from all the Whos in Bethlehem-ville.
- John has what we’re about to read in a minute.
- Mark’s Gospel starts off with the 30-year old Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist.]
Listen with me as the Apostle John tells his version of the Christmas story – note the lack of shepherds, wisemen, mangers, and angels. But listen for God’s gift of Grace upon Grace: John 1:1-18 ….—-
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. 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. [Notice what other Bible story that sounds like? Genesis 1? “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…” – What is John saying about Jesus?]
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. [Interrupt the Creation story and jump way ahead to John the Baptist, Jesus’ relative through Mary’s cousin Elizabeth.] 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. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. [Did you see that the “light of life”, the “Word which was with God and was God” is now called “Him”? It’s personal.] 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. [Are you ready? Here it is!] 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. [What happened in Bethlehem? Whom did the angels tell the shepherds they would find lying in a manger? Whom did the magi expect to discover when they arrived with their frankincense, gold and myrrh? Who was Isaiah and Micah and Abraham and Moses talking about for all those thousands of years? “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us!”]
15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. [Here it comes again! Listen:] 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
In Matthew’s Gospel we find him emphasizing Jesus as the King of kings – Jesus v King Herod, magi come for the King of the Jews, the genealogy leads through King David to Moses to Abraham….
Mark’s Gospel emphasizes Jesus as Isaiah’s suffering servant, therefore no birth narrative or genealogy included….
Luke emphasizes something about Jesus being Savior of all mankind – shepherds, genealogy goes all the way to Adam (the father of all mankind) and ultimately to God.
What are some of the distinctive themes found in John’s telling of Christmas, and of Jesus? [Jesus’ divinity – Son of God – Creator – incarnation (in the flesh) – salvation, hope, peace, joy, grace comes only through faith, through believing in Him, through receiving Jesus, through the personal relationship with God Almighty by means of His Son (“no one comes to the Father except through me”, “to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God”)!
We’re going to close this message together. I have prompted no one in advance – so whatever we get (utter silence or people jumping in their seats) is what we get – How have you experienced God’s gift of Grace upon Grace?
(And a little bonus grace is that we finished a little early today.) Let’s “skip” ahead to present day … and let’s live like we believe what we say we believe.
Gracious God, Grace-filled God, Grace-giving God, as we begin another new year – after experiencing losses, after being hurt, after knowing pain, after feeling fears – boy do we need Your Grace upon Grace, Your Grace after Grace. Fill our lives again with Your Holy Spirit. We, today, receive You; we, today, believe in You. We, today, want to know Your power and Your love as our heavenly Father. We want to become children of God. Fill us with Your amazing Grace, in Jesus’ name. Amen.