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Welcoming Jesus opens the way to life

December 23, 2023
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Daily Scripture

John 1:11-14

11 The light came to his own people,
and his own people didn’t welcome him.
12 But those who did welcome him,
those who believed in his name,
he authorized to become God’s children,
13         born not from blood
nor from human desire or passion,
but born from God.
14 The Word became flesh
and made his home among us.
We have seen his glory,
glory like that of a father’s only son,
full of grace and truth.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

It’s December 23. You may have already heard these words read in a candlelight Christmas Eve service (if not, find times and locations at www.resurrection.church/christmas.) Great news: “The light came.” Tragic news: “his own people didn’t welcome him.” Hopeful news: “those who did welcome him, those who believed in his name, he authorized to become God’s children.” And then the truly breathtaking claim: “The Word became flesh.” Scholar N. T. Wright concisely expressed the point of that claim: “John knows perfectly well he’s making language go beyond what’s normally possible, but it’s Jesus that makes him do it; because verse 14 says that the Word became flesh–that is, became human, became one of us. He became, in fact, the human being we know as Jesus. That’s the theme of this gospel: if you want to know who the true God is, look long and hard at Jesus.” * And welcome him this Christmas, whether for the first or umpteenth time.

  • Being born is the way each one of us begins our life in the world. John, taking his cue from Jesus (cf. John 3:3-8), said that the life Jesus brought is so qualitatively new that it’s like being born all over, this time as a child of God. When did your spiritual journey start? In what ways has trusting and following Jesus given you a whole new life? Were you a likely candidate to become a follower of Jesus, or were some people surprised when you welcomed him into your life? In the prologue to his gospel, John said, “The light came to his own people, and his own people didn’t welcome him”. When you have welcomed Jesus and the light he brings to your life, how have you seen God work in unexpected ways in you? In the lives of others you know?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for being born, for becoming flesh, so that you could give me the authority and power to be born anew, as a child of God. Thank you for my new life. Amen.

GPS Insights

Dan Entwistle

Dan Entwistle

Dan Entwistle serves as Managing Executive Director for Church of the Resurrection.

God revealed. 

In 2017, we marked the 500th anniversary of what has become known as the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther, as he examined problems in the church of his day, drew a direct connection between the church’s widespread corruption and the height of authority that had been granted to the office of the Pope. The notion of papal “infallibility” on certain matters had become a source, he felt, of manipulation and distortion that was undermining the church’s integrity and message. Instead, as a corrective measure he insisted that the authority of the Pope is under, and not above, the authority of scriptures.

However, in some cases this path led us to swap the doctrine of infallibility of the Pope for a doctrine of infallibility of scripture. We replaced the Pope with what some have referred to as a “paper pope.” The influence of the Reformation is so profound that it became common for some Christians to refer to the Bible as the “Word of God” (notice the capitalization of Word, referring to Scripture.)

Referring to the scriptures as the Word of God raises the important question of whether the Bible, or Jesus himself, is God’s truest Word, the center of faith and adoration for a Christian. The Bible is vitally important, and we grow spiritually when we make a daily practice of studying and meditating upon it. But the Bible’s ultimate importance is in pointing us toward God revealed in Jesus Christ. Notice that today’s passage calls Jesus the “Word.”

“The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. “From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace… grace and truth came into being through Jesus Christ.” John 1:16-17

Jesus is God’s infallible Word. May we follow him today in his grace and truth, fullness and glory.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* Wright, N.T., John for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1-10 (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 5). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.