Sermon Starters

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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

Second Sunday After Christmas 
Series B

Option #1: "Some Inside Information"
John 1:1-18
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, M.Div.

In the motion picture "Sink the Bismarck" the scenes shift from the German efforts to launch the greatest battleship afloat to the British efforts to sink it. The British are greatly interested in tracking the Bismarck before she gets out into the open sea. Starvation and surrender for Great Britain may result if they don’t sink the Bismarck. In one scene of the film, the secretary of the navy orders that contact be made with an agent living in Norway in occupied German territory. This puts the agent at great risk, but the information is vital. As the man sights the Bismarck and is in the process of transmitting the information, German soldiers kill him.

Christians live in enemy territory too. John gives us some inside information that is just enough to keep us going until the Lord returns.

I. How close is the source?

    A. He is the "bosom" of the Father--v18; according to Thayer’s Greek Definitions, the word can mean:

        1) the front of the body between the arms;

        2) the bosom of a garment, i.e., the hollow formed by the upper forepart of a rather loose garment bound by a girdle or sash, used for keeping and carrying things (the fold or pocket); cf. Luke 6:38, Luke 16:22-23 (2), John 13:23; 14:9-10. The word implies not only physical proximity but also a close, loving relationship. The NRSV describes Jesus as the "One who is close to the Father’s heart." That is precisely the meaning here. See again John 13:23-25. See also vv1-4 & 14; John 7:15-16; 14:23-24.

II. How do we get the information?

    A. He sent prophets to represent Him and the Apostles to teach about Him--cf Matt 21:33ff; Eph 2:19-20; Rev 21:14

    B. He spoke to us Himself, personally and intimately--"The Word became flesh"--v14a, 6-9; Matt 21:37-38; Heb 1:1-3

    C. He gave His Word that we may learn and grow--Lk 18:31ff, 20:17-18, 23:37, 24:44-49; John 6:68-69, 14:26-27, 20:29-31

III. How valuable is it?; v16: From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.

    A. It is the blessing of a meaningful and fruitful life--John 15:1-5; Rom 8:9; 1 Cor 1:4-9; Eph 4:11-12

    B. It is the blessing of grace and truth; v17: For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ; see also Col 1:19-24; John 8:32; Acts 13:34-39; Rom 3:21-26, 5:21, 6:14; 2 Cor 1:20-22; Heb 11:39-40; Rev 5:8-10, 7:9-17

New Commentary on the Whole Bible:

14 And the Word--continues the theme of the prologue and should therefore be connected with 1:1ff and not directly with 1:13.

was made flesh--is better translated "became flesh." The word "became" indicates a transformation process occurred. The Word, who is God, became what he never before was: man.

and dwelt--literally, "tabernacled" or "pitched his tent." To the readers of this Gospel, the Greek word for "tabernacled" would have evoked the image of the OT tabernacle’s being inhabited by God’s shekinah glory. God in his glory tabernacled in the midst of his OT people. A new tabernacle was pitched among God’s NT people: Jesus, God incarnate. The first believers beheld [gazed upon] his glory. His glory was special; he was the one and only Son come from the Father. And he was full of grace and truth. "Grace," a carryover from a Hebrew word for "loving-kindness," means "favor, kindness" and "gift that brings joy." Christ was full of grace--and truth, which means reality.

Leon Morris explains John 1:14, quoting A.M. Ramsey: "We are reminded both of the Tabernacle in the wilderness and of the prophetic imagery of Yahweh tabernacling in the midst of His people, and of the Shekinah which He causes to dwell among them. The place of His dwelling is in the flesh of Jesus. ...All the ways of God tabernacling in Israel had been transitory or incomplete: All are fulfilled and superseded by the Word made flesh and dwelling among us." (Leon Morris, Commentary on John)

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Option #2: "Christmas Clothes"
Isaiah 61:10-62:3
Rev. Kelly Bedard, M.Div.

A. Faith up our sleeves

    1. Wearing garments of damnation, unrighteousness, and malaise

    2. Dressing in private and unfruitful gardens

B. Faith on our sleeves

    1. Dressed--a passive "activity"!--with salvation, righteousness and praise

    2. A community garden of the rarest and choicest fruits 


1. ma`iyl {meh-eel'} (61:10): in the sense of covering; robe, mantle, cloke, coat; robe; a garment worn over a tunic by men of rank; a long garment worn by David's daughters; a garment of the high priest; figuratively, of attributes.

2. naqab {naw-kab'} (62:2): curse, expressed, blaspheme, bore, name, pierce, appoint, holes, pierce through, strike through; to pierce, perforate, bore, appoint; (qal) to prick off, designate; (niph) to be pricked off, be designated, be specified; (qal) to curse, blaspheme.

3. The "righteousness" (tzdhaqah) of the fourth clause of the verse does not refer to the righteous acts which, to be sure, believers in the Messiah do in the course of a life of sanctification [BDB, 842]. The "righteousness" here, on the contrary, is a "robe" [BDB, 591]) with which we are simply "covered" [BDB, 418) employed with the force of a present perfect explaining the basis of the future joy of the church. (Douglas Judisch)

4. Note the two metaphors for righteousness: first as the robe, on which the perfect comment is "the best robe" of Lk 15:22, festive and wholly undeserved; secondly as shoots of plant life, products of what is sown, whose inherent vitality issues in growth and form. The former depicts righteousness as conferred from outside (cf. Rom 8:10); the latter as springing from within (cf. Rom 8:10); both make it the gift of God. (The New Bible Commentary: Revised)

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