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Christmas Day

On Christmas Day, we focus on the Gospel text with a devotional reading from Concordia Commentary: John 1:1–7:1.

Scripture Readings

Isaiah 52:7–10
Psalm 2
Hebrews 1:1–12
John 1:1–18

Read the propers for today on lutherancalendar.org.

Introduction

The light of the world has come to us in the form of the babe in the manger! Praise be to God, who shines the light on our sin, not to condemn us, but to redeem us and give us eternal life.

Devotional Reading

The mission of the Light in the world was confronted by a hostile darkness that in the end brought the Light to the cross. . . . The basic meaning of κόσμος, “world,” in Greek philosophy, Philo, and the Wisdom texts of the LXX is “order,” and it denotes a totality characterized by the beauty and perfection of order and unity. In Jewish contexts and especially in the NT, κόσμος indicates not only that which is transient but also that which is at enmity with God (1 Cor 1:21; 2:12; Gal 6:14; James 4:4; 2 Pet 2:20). . . . Hermann Sasse has rightly emphasized this agonistic aspect of κόσμος in the Johannine writings: “When Jn. says of the κόσμος that it does not know the Son of God, that it does not know God, that it does not believe, that it hates, the κόσμος is in some sense personified as the great opponent of the Redeemer in salvation history.”

Yet, the Gospel proclaims that the Son was sent precisely into such a world of sin and estrangement from God. The sending of Jesus then involves him in that very arena of sin, hostility toward God, and spiritual blindness, which is the reality of humankind. . . . Yet, although the coming of the Light brings forth judgment, it was not for that reason that the Light was sent into the world. The sending of the Light was to give light to man, to take away his sin, and to give him eternal life (Jn 1:29; 3:17–21; 6:40, 52–58; 11:23–27). In assuming to himself the hatred of the world, the Son assumes also to himself the destiny of sin, namely, death. But in the crucified Son lies that peace which the world cannot give and eternal life (Jn 3:14–15). The death of the Son is the manifestation of the love of the Father (Jn 3:16).

Therefore, despite the opinion of Westcott that “it is impossible to refer these words [‘he was in the world,’ Jn 1:10] simply to the historical Presence of the Word in Jesus as witnessed to by the Baptist,” the immediate context and the narrative content of the Gospel suggest that the ministry of Jesus is primarily in view. This is true even of the clause “the world had come to be through him” (ὁ κόσμος δι᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, Jn 1:10). The “world” here cannot mean merely the created universe. It includes the world of unbelief that is uncomprehending (Jn 1:10c). . . . In view of the following clause, “and yet the world did not acknowledge him” (Jn 1:10c), I am inclined to the opinion that in Jn 1:10b “the world” refers to the human race (represented in the Gospel by the Jews). Humankind does not recognize its own Creator and Redeemer. The world that does not comprehend, however, is not a world alien to the Logos Incarnate. It is a world made alien by the alien reality of sin and by the alien lordship of the devil.

Devotional reading is from Concordia Commentary: John 1:1–7:1, pages 150–52 © 2015 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Psalm 65:1–4

Praise is due to You, O God, in Zion,
    and to You shall vows be performed.
O You who hear prayer,
    to You shall all flesh come.
When iniquities prevail against me,
    You atone for our transgressions.
Blessed is the one You choose and bring near,
    to dwell in Your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,
    the holiness of Your temple!

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Written by

Anna Johnson

Deaconess Anna Johnson is a marketing manager at Concordia Publishing House. After graduating from the deaconess program at Concordia University Chicago, she continued her studies at the University of Colorado—Denver in education and human development. She has worked as a church youth director and served a variety of other nonprofit organizations, such as the Lutheran Mission Society of Maryland. Anna loves playing video games and drinking a hot cup of tea almost as much as she loves her cat and her husband.

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