The Nativity of Our Lord St. John, Galveston 12/25/19
“The New Creation”
+ In Nomine Jesu +
Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
A former professor of mine, Dr. Bill Weinrich, begins his commentary on the Gospel of John with the following comments regarding these 18 verses we have before us this morning. “Few passages of the NT (he says) have received as intensive scrutiny as the Prologue of St. John’s Gospel. Even in its simplicity the language of John’s prologue is poetic and exalted, its thought is majestic and profound. Chrysostom (the much acclaimed and admired preacher of the early church) claimed that the evangelist was speaking from heaven: “He effects everything (says Chrysostom) by his speech alone, which is sweeter and produces a more beneficial sound than any harper or any music.” The Prologue is not a preface such as the beginning verses of Luke’s Gospel, which indicate the reason for the Gospel. (Rather, John’s prologue) functions more like an overture to an opera.”
The opera, we might say, is the New Creation, which is ushered in with the birth of Jesus Christ. With a theme of the New Creation in mind, it’s not by accident that John begins his gospel, his overture, if you will, with the phrase “In the beginning.” “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” The Hebrew Scriptures were often named according to the first words of the Book. Thus, the first Book of the Bible, which begins with the words “In the Beginning” is called, in Greek, “Genesis.”
As you well know, the first creation was tragically marred and corrupted as Adam and Eve used the freedom given to them by God to defy Him and to rebel against Him. The result of their disobedience is experienced by each and every one of us on a daily basis as we sin against God and as our conscience awakens us to our rebellion. It is evident also throughout the whole of creation. As the apostle says, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”
Jesus, as Paul says elsewhere, is the second Adam, the first born of the new creation. Thus, the first Adam, the one created from the dust of the ground, is a type of Christ. Again, we learn such from the apostle. “Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of THE ONE who was to come.” And again, Paul says, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”
Jesus is the second Adam, the firstborn of all creation. The early church saw the day of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead as the eighth day of creation, the new day, if you will, of creation. What was destroyed in the fall of Adam is created anew in the birth, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. There is a beautiful baptismal tradition in the church that highlights this eighth day theology. Infant baptisms, like circumcisions, took place on the eighth day to signify the child’s new birth in Christ. To further emphasize the imagery of the eighth day as the day of the New Creation, the baptismal fount is traditionally eight sided.
Jesus was born to die, but in His death and resurrection the new creation is ushered in. The One who was both with God and who was God became flesh. And “we have beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
At Christmastime, as through the rest of the year, our sins sometimes drag us down. We reflect on who and what we are and we aren’t quite sure how God could look at us with a smiling face and with loving and open arms. At such times, the first thing to know is that God sees you through the perfect and holy life of His Son. In Holy Baptism you died with Christ and you were raised up again with Him, which is to say, Jesus’ life became your life and your life became His life.
But, you are also, as the Scriptures say, a new creation, having been born anew in Christ Jesus. Thus, God delights in you. Indeed, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for (God’s) own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” With those words, John sets in motion the overture to the greatest opera of all time, the New Creation ushered in by the birth, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. “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. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.
+ Soli Deo Gloria +
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