St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Jn 21, 20–25; Rev 1, 1–6; 1 Jn 1,1—2,2)

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Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us”

That’s what Christmas is all about. Not God big. Not God powerful. Not God for you to find for yourself, get for yourself, keep for yourself. Not a God off in heaven somewhere who doesn’t seem to care about us in a year like 2020, a God who’s far away, unapproachable in your time of need. A God who’s not really there when you need Him the most in your darkness, in your sins.

Christmas overturns all that. God small. God approachable, holdable! “Gentle Mary laid her child Lowly in manger; There He lay, the Undefiled, To the world a stranger.” But there He was nonetheless. You could hear Him. See Him. Hold Him. Smell Him. Feed Him.

Wasn’t just Mary. John, too. Beloved Apostle. He saw Jesus. John’s testimony is true. “Nails, spear shall pierce Him through, the cross be borne for me, for you; Hail, hail the Word made flesh, The babe the son of Mary!” John saw Jesus’ cross, heard the “it is finished,” saw the spear, the blood, the water. John saw the tomb. John saw Jesus risen and ascended. Jesus did all of that, and more! “For me, for you.”

“Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”

Of course that’s true. Could be true of any person actually, how much more the Son of God! But your Savior isn’t graspable, touchable, hearable in any of those things. Just your imagination. Jesus is approachable in your sins, in your need because of all that you do hear about Him. What John was moved by the Holy Spirit to write down.

In all that Jesus said and did, we see that He is the Savior of sinners. He comes to a woman caught in adultery—John 9. Samaritan woman living with her boyfriend, after her 5th marriage fell apart—John 4. Judas was a thief of an apostle—John 12. Thomas didn’t believe the Gospel—John 20. Not just them, you! “If we say we don’t have sin, we make Him a liar.” Jesus isn’t a liar about your sins, is He? “Now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains”—John 9.

This isn’t an excuse to sin. Jesus frees us from sin, dies for it, forgives it away. “I write these things to you so that you would not sin, but when anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” You want to keep your sins? You like what they make you? Keep ‘em. Jesus will let you have them. (Just look at what happened to Judas.) No, Jesus has something better in store for you that He’s already done for you.

“Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father.”

Jesus rose from the dead. His blood sets you free from your sins. Nothing else will. You could roll the dice with Jesus. Might turn out well for you. Worked out well for Lazarus. Jesus raised him!—John 11. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will resurrect Him on the Last Day.” “The body of God’s Lamb we eat, A priestly food and priestly meat; On sin-parched lips the chalice pours His quenching blood that life restores.” Best Christmas present Jesus could ever give you. Holdable. Edible. Eat. Drink. For you. Forgiveness. Freedom.

Has to be so. You have to be forgiven. Why run away from it? Why say it’s not for you? Why set it aside for something else? The tag on that Gift, free gift, no strings attached—Christmas every Sunday!—From: Jesus. For you.

((Conclusion.))

St. John’s day is all about Christmas for you. Jesus holdable. Touchable. Audible. Edible. That’s the reoccurring theme in his Gospel! God gifting Himself to you in the person of His only-begotten Son.

That Son is for you. He’ll never turn on you. He’ll be with you the whole way, as He was with John the whole way. Whether you live, whether you die, whether you never die, doesn’t matter. Jesus is yours and you are His.

Jesus has made sure of that: Crucified for you. It is finished. (John 19) Empty tomb, risen from the dead. “If you forgive, they are forgiven.” (John 20) Friend of sinners. Baptizes you into the eternal kingdom. (John 3) Flesh and blood for you. (John 6) But to kick it all of: He was born for you—“Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1)

“We know that [John’s] testimony is true.” “Jesus is the payment for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” “He has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom and priests to our God.”

You are! Free. Forgiven. Eternal kingdom, priest, and child of God. John’s witness true. Jesus is faithful and true. “One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.” ”Unless you are born of water and the Spirit you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” But you are! Holy Baptism. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks My blood stays with Me, and I with him, and I will resurrect him on the Last Day.”

Now that makes for a Merry Christmas.

INI + AMEN.

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