TEXT: JOHN 1:1, 14
GOD’S HAS BARED HIS HOLY ARM IN THE WORD MADE FLESH!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


In many and various ways God spoke to His people of old by the prophets, but now in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son…through whom also He created the world.  Dear hearers of the Word made Flesh:


The Holy Spirit did not inspire St. John, to record the specific events surrounding the birth of Jesus.  In reading the Gospel according to St. John one does not hear of Joseph and the Virgin Mary or of the manger and swaddling clothes.  John begins before that night, even before the conception of Jesus, even before the conception of John the Baptist, even before there was a town named Bethlehem, even before there was the vocation of shepherds, even before there were sheep, even before there was a starry sky over Bethlehem or any stars anywhere, even before there were angels.  John gets immediately to the heart of the identity of the baby who lay in the manger at Bethlehem by taking us back before the creation of the world.

TEXT: JOHN 1:1, 14
GOD’S HAS BARED HIS HOLY ARM IN THE WORD MADE FLESH!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


In many and various ways God spoke to His people of old by the prophets, but now in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son…through whom also He created the world.  Dear hearers of the Word made Flesh:


The Holy Spirit did not inspire St. John, to record the specific events surrounding the birth of Jesus.  In reading the Gospel according to St. John one does not hear of Joseph and the Virgin Mary or of the manger and swaddling clothes.  John begins before that night, even before the conception of Jesus, even before the conception of John the Baptist, even before there was a town named Bethlehem, even before there was the vocation of shepherds, even before there were sheep, even before there was a starry sky over Bethlehem or any stars anywhere, even before there were angels.  John gets immediately to the heart of the identity of the baby who lay in the manger at Bethlehem by taking us back before the creation of the world. 


In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  John reveals that Jesus, the Christ, is the everlasting Son, who was with the Father from eternity!  Christ the Lord existed before His incarnation – before His being named as Jesus. 


John further reveals that the little Lord Jesus who lay down His sweet head on the hay is in fact the Creator of all things.  All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.  He is the Almighty Word who fashioned this universe!  The far reaches of the stars in space; the amazing features of this earth; the wondrous knitting together of the human body is His work.  The Word spoke and it came to be!  Let there be light and there was light!  The Son of God was mightily at work before His incarnation and the words and the deeds of His public ministry in the flesh.


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.  The Word who was in the beginning; through whom all things were made; in whom was life; who was the light of men; became flesh!  You have two hands and ten fingers; since Christmas, God the Son has two hands and ten fingers.  You have two feet, two eyes, two ears; God the Son has two feet, two eyes, two ears.  The Word became flesh.  His body was knit together in the womb of His virgin mother and He was born in David’s town – Bethlehem.  God is now with us in the flesh – skin and hair and sweat and all.  And that can seem pretty unspiritual.


New age mysticism (like old age Gnosticism) invents a god who is at a distance – floating about in nature or the universe – leaving the natural things of the body alone.  These heresies teach people to pursue an inner spiritual glow and superior knowledge or wisdom as a way of salvation.  The body is seen as unimportant and sin and guilt is viewed in like manner – as of no real consequence.  The chief endeavor of human spirituality is discovering the spark of light and full potential of who you really are inside.  Our sin is that we are inclined to think in the same way.  Perhaps not so crassly in new age terms – but we are all theologians of glory – constantly tempted to be our own lights in this dark world.  If these purveyors of a distant god and floating spirits and hidden wisdom are right, and if our Old Adam is right, then there is nothing more meaningless than the Word made flesh and His gifts for you today!


But they are not right – not in the least!  The fact that they don’t receive the Word made flesh is not surprising.  He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.  We sinners are prone to worship ourselves or nature or imaginary idols of mind and spirit.  We are not prone to worship The Word made flesh. 


How bad is this turning against Christ?  He came to his own and his own people did not receive him.  But to all who did receive him, who believed his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 


Dear Christians you are born of God – by water and the spirit – you are born of God.  The true light which enlightens everyone enlightened you at your baptism.  The Early Church spoke of those baptized as those enlightened and as bearers of light.  According to the mandate of Christ you received the washing of rebirth in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  You were gifted with faith in Jesus Christ – the Word made flesh!  It is a miracle of God’s doing that you see in Christ crucified – not foolishness – but rather the wisdom of God and the power of God and the salvation of our God!


The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…full of grace and truth.  That’s God’s gift!  That’s Christmas!  You have a flesh and blood Savior!  He gives Himself to you that you might be whole again, body and soul.  He does so out of pure grace! 


The prophet Isaiah foretold His coming by way of beautiful feet and of God’s holy arm!  How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news…and…The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.  Even as Isaiah foretold destruction and captivity in Babylon he also foretold future rescue and restoration from captivity in Babylon.  Beautiful feet would again bear good news in the mountains around Jerusalem as the exiles returned bearing the vessels of the Lord. 


But then the prophet continues with what we now mark as the last verses of Isaiah chapter 52 and Isaiah chapter 53.  There the suffering servant is revealed who was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief.  He was wounded for our transgressions and was crushed for our iniquities…the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all? 


What human wisdom would have decreed that one man could bear the iniquity of us all?  What human wisdom could have understood the wonder of how God bared his holy arm for all time?  That arm was so small and weak as it came forth from Mary’s womb and then was bound in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.  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.


See what God does for us when He bares His holy arm!  And see the paradox of what the Son of God calls His glory.  Glory is a word in Hebrew that means “something heavy or weighty or deserving of respect.”  The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34) and the temple (2 Chr. 5:14).  The glory of the Lord is the awesome reality of His presence, the weight of His self-disclosure.  When Scripture exhorts us to give God glory (Ps 29:1) it does not mean we are to try to give Him something He doesn’t have.  It means that we are to acknowledge who He is and receive what He bestows and respond to it.


Nowhere is God’s glory seen as it is seen in His Son.  In the New Testament “glory” expresses the very relationship between God and Christ, the very mystery of the person whose birth we celebrate.  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.  In Bethlehem’s manger the glory of God is wrapped in swaddling clothes for you.  All the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him bodily. 


And what He Himself identified as the very hour of His glory was the hour of His betrayal and crucifixion for us sinners (John 12:23-28; 13:31).  The amazing wonder of infant hands and infant feet will in adulthood be hands and feet that feel the pain of driven spikes!  Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter…He was stricken for our transgression.  See in the manger what God does for us when He bares His holy arm.  See on the cross what God does for us when He bares His holy arm.  Even then His feet are beautiful there on that small Mount outside Jerusalem pinioned to the wood of that tree – no, especially then!  The Word through whom all things were made became flesh and used His flesh and blood to finish our redemption!  The Word in whom was life, gave Himself into death to defeat death for us. 


See also on Easter morning what God does for us when He bares His holy arm.  The bodily resurrection of Christ trumpets how eternally good the news of our finished redemption really is.  His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory!  Easter is God’s “Amen” to the incarnation of the son and the sacrificial payment He made for the sins of the world.  How beautiful are the feet of the risen Christ as He stands in the midst of His disciples on Easter morning and says, “Peace be with you”.  How beautiful are His feet as He comes into our midst today speaking that same peace. 


The Word became flesh and now flesh endures.  The heavens and earth will wear out like a garment but not Christ and not those clothed in Christ.  He was born to give you second birth and so He has.  By His Word of promise He also gives His flesh to you at His table – His very body into your mouth – His very blood to drink!  He is not at a distance!  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth.  From heaven He stands among us this morning – still in the flesh – so that from His fullness we continue to receive grace upon grace.  In His Name, Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a