I thought a pastor friend of mine had stepped out of his usual humble character, at least during his introductory statement. Anyone without a working knowledge of the Gospels probably fell for it.
He began his comments, “Tonight I will recite from memory the entire Christmas story.” “What is he doing?” I wondered privately. He continued, “from the Gospel according to John.” I suddenly realized the prank, but stifled a laugh. He stepped back from the podium, clasped his hands behind his back and glanced heavenward in a grandiose pose, caught a chest full of air as to recite paragraphs without inhaling, and pausing for comedic timing, said, “The Word became flesh!” Which is John’s entire Christmas story in four words.
It’s true that John left the details to Dr. Luke and Tax Collector Matthew. But what a profound albeit brief account of the events long ago in the little town of Bethlehem! John starts his Gospel by agreeing with the ancient Greeks that the unity, coherence, and meaning of the universe is by a divine power called Logos, i.e. Word. He adds that the Word has no origin, is the agency of creation, and is the life and Light of humanity. Then his startling Nativity narrative that the Word came to Earth as a human! He is describing Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
The lack of angelic visitations, no-vacancy inns, and mysterious Magi from afar make that simple Christmas account in John easy to miss. That’s no tragedy, if you don’t miss the meaning of it. Max Lucado imagined that even eyewitnesses may have missed the blessed event’s meaning. “The merchants are unaware that God has visited their planet. The innkeeper would never believe that he had just sent God into the cold. And the people would scoff at anyone who told them the Messiah lay in the arms of a teenager on the outskirts of their village. They were all too busy to consider the possibility. Those who missed His Majesty’s arrival that night missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it because they simply weren’t looking.” Lucado expounds John’s phrase, “The world did not know him.” Is the world looking, knowing yet?
The simplest telling of the Christmas story is in this final Gospel. God the Son was with the Father in the beginning, and He took on humanity so He could take on the cross. His Christmas gift is for anyone who receives Him and believes in His name, to be reborn as a child of God by His grace. See for yourself in John chapter 1, the short version.