The Nativity of Our Lord

Alfred Gorvie

“Reaching into the Darkness” 

John 1:1-14
The Nativity of Our Lord
Analysis by Chris Repp 

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  2He was in the beginning with God.  3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 14And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. 

From Canva

This is Jesus, the lamb of God …, the only Son of God … who by dying for us the death that we have been so eager to embrace loves us back to the life meant for us from the beginning of the world.”

Author’s Note: There has been some recent attention drawn to images of light and darkness in Scripture and in preaching as reinforcing negative racial attitudes towards people of darker complexions. I think it is important to validate this concern and to be attentive to how our use of language is heard by all people, especially those whose life-experience we may not share. At the same time, I suspect that there is something universal about light and darkness that transcends experiential particularity. At any rate, I do not know how to approach this text without using and exploring these images. So I will sin boldly, as Luther advised, and trust more boldly in the gospel that we are all searching for here. 

Diagnosis: Benighted

Step 1: Initial Diagnosis (External Problem): Estranged
John the Evangelist is pretty out in the open here with his diagnosis of the world’s problem. The world does not know its own creator. When God the Word becomes enfleshed in our reality, enters our darkness as living light, even those closest to him, his own people, do not recognize or accept him. 

Step 2: Advance Diagnosis (Internal Problem): Not Believing (Not Trusting)
How did we get so disconnected from our source? John doesn’t say directly, but hints that it has to do with what and whom we are trusting, or rather not trusting. John the Baptizer’s bearing witness was for the purpose of rekindling this trust, which he would not need to do if it had not been quenched and left us in the darkness of unknowing. 

Step 3: Final Diagnosis (Eternal Problem): Loving the Darkness
It gets even worse. Not only are we in the dark, but we love it there. So says Jesus to Nicodemus later in chapter 3 (Jn 3:19). In the darkness we can do what we want, unseen by others. We can serve ourselves and ignore the world. What a life, eh? But this is not life, it is death, to which we condemn ourselves (Jn 3:18). 

 

Prognosis: Enlightened 

Step 4: Initial Prognosis (Eternal Solution): Loved by Light
John the Evangelist is also out in the open about our prognosis. Into our darkness the light comes, looking for us, not content with our self-condemnation, intent on piercing our darkness like the full moon through my bedroom blinds that refuses to allow me to enjoy my slumber. This is Jesus, the lamb of God (Jn 1:29, 36), the only Son of God (Jn 3:16) who by dying for us the death that we have been so eager to embrace loves us back to the life meant for us from the beginning of the world. (Jn 20:31, 1:3-4) 

Step 5: Advanced Prognosis (Internal Solution): Believing (Trusting)
The same creating Word, active at the dawn of creation, delivers this gift of life by means of another gift, faith, created in us by God the Advocate and Spirit of Truth, who also sustains this new creation by continuing John the Baptizers witnessing in and through us. (Jn 15:26-27) 

Step 6: Final Prognosis (External Solution): Children of God 
Through faith we are born from above (Jn 3:3) as Children of God. And since the  apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, we find ourselves active in the world as God has been active in the world through the Son and the Spirit, reaching into the darkness of the world with the living light and witnessing to the life that is in us.