Download the Worship Folder & Announcements for December 25
Fill out a card to record your family’s online worship attendance
For supporting the ministry of the Gospel at Salem
Worship Theme: Inexhaustible Light
- CW 353:Joy to the World
- CW 346:Angels We Have Heard on High
- CW 352: Joy Has Dawned
- CW 343: Once in Royal David’s City
- CW 331: From Heaven Above to Earth I Come
- CW 360: Behold, a Branch Is Growing
- CW 354: Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful
Watch the livestream beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, Christmas Day. After the livestream is finished, the video will be available to watch at any time.
Message: Inexhaustible Light
Pastor Jake Schram
Happy Birthday Jesus. The birth of every child is something special. And I hope that each one is celebrated properly. Perhaps you already have kids and you remember the birth of your children. After the painful part, it often sinks in just how special the moment is. That you are witnessing the beginning of something special, the start of something that didn’t exist 9 months previously.
The Savior’s birth was incredibly special, but very, very different from the norm. You see, even though Jesus was born in human flesh. Even though it was the beginning of Jesus' incarnation, this wasn’t the actual beginning of the Son of God. He had been here quite a bit longer than that. The apostle John fills us in from 1:1-3 of our text. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” Jesus has been here since the beginning of time. He was the Word. He was with God the Father and the Holy Spirit and was God himself as the person of the Son. They are a three-in-one God: Three persons distinct from each other and yet wrapped all together in one inseparable God. Jesus helped create everything being made. Without Jesus, you and I wouldn’t be standing here today.
The Apostle John tells us more: “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” Just like in our children’s devotion, we see Jesus wasn’t about to let our hope in him be nothing but a wish. He was going to do something about saving his people. This was something he had planned from the very beginning. He was going to bring life to the world through his light. Baby Jesus would grow up and live a perfect life. He would then offer his perfect life, which he earned and had every right to keep, on a cross. He would give his life for ours. He would use his perfect life to extinguish our sins.
In sermon text, life and light are used interchangeably. Jesus brings life and Jesus brings light. So let’s take a look at some of the things light can do and in them we will see life. First, light often can keep you warm. When the sun is out, it's usually a little warmer for us. When Sarah and I go home tonight and turn on our Christmas tree lights, the temperature in our house goes up a little bit. Light can keep you warm. The light of Christ can keep you safe and warm in him.
Another thing light does is it can make you feel better. I stole this next part from a psychology website. It said light “can improve mood and stabilize our circadian rhythms, helping us get a better and deeper night’s sleep. Psychologically, light can decrease depression scores and even increase cognitive performance such as reaction time and activation.” Light can make you feel better. God’s light can make you feel better too. I feel better just knowing it is there for me even when life is a bit rough.
A third thing light does is it allows you to see the things around you. One time as a kid, I was in a haunted fun house with my sister and there was a section that was pitch black. We were walking through, and she said something along the lines of, “watch out, there are walls everywhere you could walk into.” I said, “HA! Oh please, I know where I’m going!” WHAM!!! I immediately walked into a wall. When you can’t see, you can’t see where you are going. A light guides the way. Light reveals what is hidden, both good and bad. Light shines in the darkness and overcomes it. You can see obstacles like walls and avoid them. In Israel there were lots of cliffs and rocky crevices. Without a light, one could easily twist an ankle, break a leg, or meet unexpected death. The light of Christ guides the way to eternal life. Otherwise, we are just like the blind leading the blind, aimlessly searching for eternal life, but constantly looking in the wrong direction and running into barriers. Jesus’ light reveals the spiritual pitfalls and shows the way to eternal life. It also reveals what God is really like and how God feels about us through Christ. We are saved because of him. Jesus’ light literally saves your life.
Jesus is the only one who can do this. Only Jesus is the “true light that gives light to everyone.” This is the child we celebrate today. He was in the world, born on the earth, and though he made the universe, sinful people still did not recognize him for who he was and is. He came to that which was his own, his own world, his own people. But even his own did not receive him.
Jesus is the light that saves, but not everyone recognizes him or even wants to. People reject his life-giving light to dwell in the darkness of sin. The picture is of people lost in the darkness of a cave, not knowing the way out. Meanwhile they have flashlights right beside them, ready to guide the way out. But they don’t use them. They ignore their one hope for safety.
That’s us. Often, we have grown too comfortable with the darkness of our sin and try to avoid the light of Christ. We don’t like it when God’s light shows us what we’ve done wrong and that we need a Savior. We try to make our own lights and find eternal life in some other way. We think we can earn it or become the light ourselves and be our own Saviors. But it never works. Sometimes people look to other people as the light. Some think their pastors are the source of the light. But Pastors are not even close to perfect either. People back in Jesus’ day made this same mistake. Many of them thought John the Baptist was the light that saves. Verse 8 tells us, John “was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.” There really is only one light, only one way to heaven, only one way to be saved. Back then and still today, Jesus shines his inexhaustible light for people to see the clear way back to him and into heaven. People are saved from the light. Christ is working in hearts and lives.
You want the light and all it can provide. It can give you strength in all those tough moments. Through it, “to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” What a beautiful picture! Anyone who is adopted knows that someone’s family doesn’t necessarily have to be a blood relative. And it’s the same here. God brings broken people from imperfect families into his perfect holy family. He adopts us all through Christ, the light.
In every life, you will experience light and darkness. But the light can bring you the darkness. When I was in elementary school my best friend, who was a Christian turned on me. To this day I don’t know what or why it happened, but all of a sudden, he had a new friend group and their new goal was to make fun of me. I thought the light of Christ had stopped shining. After all, my Christian friend had done this. But looking back on it now, let me ask you did his actions affect whether God had died for my sins or not? Did it affect the place in heaven prepared for me? It didn’t change anything that Christ had done for me. The light was still shining. I was just looking the other way.
Entering into Martin Luther College, I was looking forward to a fresh start to finally be surrounded by Christians. My very first night, I was about to fall asleep to dreams of Bible studies with new friends and growing in faith together. Some students had been out drinking and were completely out of their minds. They pounded on the thankfully very secure and heavy dorm room door yelling how they were going to do unspeakable things to me. I got so worried to the point where I grabbed a chair and was standing ready to swing if they broke through. It wasn’t what I pictured the first night at college to be. Did God support anything they were doing that night? No. Did what they did change anything God had done for me? Not a chance. The light still shone through. And God would use that moment to bring me a stronger determination to grow in him throughout college and beyond.
Three months into serving here, I got hit with an undiagnosed disease that robbed me of my ability to walk and partially to think. But most of you have all heard way too much about this already over the past couple years. But guess what? Despite all the “why me?” thoughts, none of it changed how much Christ loves me. And in a world full of sin and problems, the light still shone. In some ways brighter than ever as people shared God’s Word with me during my time of need.
I don’t make this out to be some sort of pity party. Everyone has had darkness in their life. And mine hasn’t been all that crazy considering what some of you have gone through. But I hope you see what I’m trying to explain. The darkness cannot destroy the light of Christ. People can’t either. Christ has been there for you your whole life and the darkness will only try and get you to question God or get you to turn away from God. It can’t change the truth of God’s love for you. And the light shines on, not just in the bad moments, but in the great ones too.
For example, whenever a baptism happens in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Christ’s light is shining. When spouses work together in their relationship, not by themselves, but with God and his Word, Christ’s light is shining. When people still gather together to hear God’s Word at church despite cold weather, Christ’s light is apparent. When someone does something nice for one another and then shares God’s Word to someone who might not have heard it otherwise, Christ’s light shows itself even more.
Our text tells us, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Many of us here tonight have been privileged to see Christ’s light shine through the good and bad in our lives. We’ve seen it through the Word whether written or spoken. And an opportunity presents itself to us.
Even though Christ’s light is inexhaustible, not everyone is looking for it or even sees it. This is where you and I come in. This is the time of year when we see all sorts of really cool Christmas light displays. And in the darkness, some of them really stand out because the light contrasts the darkness. It’s impossible not to notice them because they shine so brightly. When you follow Christ and really intertwine it through your life, you stand out. The last 4 verses of our text describe John the Baptist testifying about Jesus. John stood out by showing Christ’s light through his words and actions. The world is full of sin and therefore darkness, but when you shine Christ’s light you stand out. It will be impossible not to see it. Some will ignore you, but others will not. And you will be like a mirror reflecting God’s inexhaustible light. People will be saved by the Word made flesh, which really is the whole reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place. Amen.