Among the Gospels, John tells the Christmas story the most succinctly. Matthew and Luke tell it with lengthy narratives about censuses, angels, shepherds, and Wise Men. Mark doesn’t tell the story at all. While John sums it up in one sentence: “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth (John 1:14, NRSV).”
Amazingly, in this one sentence, John captures the true essence of Christmas. Jesus, the frail baby in whom the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, came to show us the truth of God’s grace. The child in the manger who was the eternal Word in creation did not come to us because we deserved him. Nor can we earn his grace by obediently serving him.
There had been other great teachers before Jesus who taught the people the truth of God’s word and there had been no shortage of prophets to teach God’s ways, but there had never been, nor will there ever be, another one like Jesus. If we spend all our years studying him, we will never come to fully understand him. If we spend all our days following him, we still fall infinitely short of his holiness.
This baby, full of grace and truth, came to set us right with God in a way the wisest teacher and bravest prophet never could. He came to give his life to us and to live within us so that we might live now and forever in God’s kingdom. If this seems to you to be impossible for anyone to accomplish. It is. In fact, that’s the exact point of Christmas: what Jesus gives us is entirely impossible for anyone to give us. Anyone, except the One.
Prayer: Jesus, when I look upon your life my life seems so petty and shallow in the light of your love. Yet, the longer I look upon you the more I feel your love enveloping me and shining through me. Send me from this moment of worship to love others with the strength I find in being loved by you.