Christmas Eve | John 1:1-14

2022 Messages

The birth of Jesus was a gift from God to the world. How you respond to that gift matters. Some people need to investigate Jesus to learn who He was and why He matters. For others, the next step is to receive Jesus and accept the gift of eternal life. And if you are already following Him, you should behold Jesus, be captivated by His goodness, and be moved to gratitude and worship.

Timothy "TA" AteekDec 24, 2022

In This Series (10)
Christmas Eve | John 1:1-14
Timothy "TA" AteekDec 24, 2022
All Hands On Deck | December 2022
Blake Holmes, Kyle Thompson, Ben Caldwell, Marvin Walker, Carson SmithDec 1, 2022
God is Here | John 2:13-22
Timothy "TA" AteekSep 3, 2022
From Good to Godly | 2 Samuel 6:1-16
Timothy "TA" AteekAug 14, 2022
Living a Life of Faith, Not of Logic | John 2:1-11
John ElmoreAug 7, 2022
“Why Doesn’t God Do Something?” | Revelation 21:1-8
Timothy "TA" AteekMay 29, 2022
Marriage and Family | Psalm 78:1-8
Chris SherrodMay 8, 2022
All Hands on Deck | May 2022
Blake Holmes, Kyle Thompson, Todd Anders, Ben Caldwell, Mickey FriedrichMay 1, 2022
Good Friday 2022
John ElmoreApr 15, 2022
Leveraging Our Lives for the Sake of the Gospel | 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:2
Timothy "TA" AteekApr 3, 2022

Summary

Christmas gifts are not always what they appear to be, and your response to each gift matters. Jesus is a gift that God gave to humanity (John 3:16). He was not what He appeared to be—a helpless baby born in the humblest of circumstances who was and is God, the Savior of the world, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Your response to the gift of Jesus matters. This Christmas, there are three types of people who should have three different responses to this gift:

  • Investigate Jesus. If you don’t have a lot of familiarity with Jesus and therefore do not have a relationship with Him, you should investigate Jesus. What you will find is that Jesus is always more than you know Him to be.
    • Jesus is the Word (John 1:1). A word is a means of communication; it is a way to make something known. Jesus is God’s greatest communication to us about Himself. Jesus is God, so He shows us what God is like.
    • He is eternal. As the Word of God, He has existed since the beginning, before anything else in creation (John 1:2; Genesis 1:1).
    • He is the agent through whom God created everything (John 1:3).
    • He is the light which is necessary for life (John 1:4-5; Genesis 1:3). He is not only the creator of all things, but the sustainer of all life.
    • If Jesus feels unimpressive or irrelevant, it is because you do not have a full picture of who He is.
    • We don’t get to decide who God is; we only get to decide what we do with who He is.
  • Receive Jesus. Some of you are realizing for the first time that Jesus is the answer you have been looking for. For you, the right response is to receive Jesus.
    • Each person has to make a decision of whether to receive Jesus or reject Him (John 1:9-11).
    • By receiving Him you become a child of God (John 1:12-13). The gift is nothing less than a place in God’s family for all eternity.
    • Receiving Jesus is not like receiving a ticket into heaven. A ticket is something you use only for a moment. But Jesus is not a ticket; He is God. Receiving Jesus means welcoming Him into an intimate, ongoing relationship with you now and for all of eternity.
    • To receive Jesus, you must acknowledge that you are a sinner in need of saving, turn away from a life without God, and turn toward a life with Him.
  • Behold Jesus. If you have already received Jesus and consider yourself a follower of Him, your right response is to behold Jesus.
    • Jesus is the Word made flesh at Christmas (John 1:14). We have seen His glory.
    • The glory of God is the supreme goodness of God (Exodus 33:18-19). To see the glory of God is to be captivated by His goodness.
    • The birth of Jesus is significant because of His death and resurrection. Jesus was born to live perfectly, but then to die sacrificially, and rise victoriously, so that we who were enemies of God could become children of God.
    • Jesus is full of grace and truth. Jesus is full of truth because He has shown you the true way to have a right relationship with God. And if you know Jesus, you know grace in the forgiveness, freedom, and acceptance that comes from His work on the cross.
    • To behold Jesus is to be so captivated by His goodness and love that you are moved toward gratitude and worship.

Discussing and Applying the Sermon

  • Which category do you fit into: those who should investigate Jesus, receive Jesus, or behold Jesus? What is preventing you from doing one of those three things now?
  • For the next 21 days, investigate Jesus by reading one chapter of the Gospel of John each day.
  • If you have not yet received Jesus as Savior, learn about the gospel and pray to accept His payment for your sins and begin a relationship with Him.
  • When was the last time that your soul was captivated by the goodness of God? What is distracting you from fully seeing Jesus?
  • If you are a follower of Jesus, get away for at least 15 minutes today to behold Him until your heart is stirred with gratitude and worship.

Merry Christmas. My name is Timothy Ateek. I'm one of the teaching pastors here at Watermark. If this is your first time with us, let me just say, "Welcome." We are so glad you made it. As you prepare to open gifts, either tonight or tomorrow, I want to make sure you remember two rules. Here's the first rule: presents aren't always what they appear to be. The second rule I want you to remember is that your response matters. When you open a gift, someone is going to care about how you respond when you open that gift.

Let me just explain both rules. The first one that presents aren't always what they appear to be… I'll explain it this way. I want all of the kids to look up here. I want your help right now. If you have to choose one of these gifts to open, which one are you going to choose? The big one, right? You always go with the big one. The big one is always going to be the best one. That's just the way it works.

So, I would take the big one. I wonder what it is. Hopefully an Xbox or PS5. I'd settle for a Hot Wheels set. Any of those would work. But it's no good when it's a pair of socks. Right? No one wants that. If you're the parent who's the super-practical parent, and you're like, "Well, he needs socks," then just buy the socks, but don't give it as a gift. That's not a gift.

The big one isn't always the best one. Sometimes the smallest gift has the greatest value. For example, this past week, I know someone who for Christmas received this hat. You're like, "Okay. It's fine. It's a nice hat." The great thing about this hat is this person was informed that they could wear this hat on a free trip to Florida. That's a great Christmas present. Presents aren't always what they appear to be.

The second rule is that your response matters. I remember when my kids were very young. One of them was about 3 years old, and we were at my in-laws. They had a ton of presents to open. One of my kids… His rhythm was this. He would unwrap a present, he would look at it, and he would set it to the side. He would not say, "Thank you." He would take the next gift. He would unwrap it, look at it, set it to the side, and not say, "Thank you."

When the gifts were all gone, he looked at us and said, "What else you got for me?" I was like, "Oh, that's cute, and we probably need to work on that." The response matters. I saw a video of myself not too long ago from when I was in sixth grade, and it was Christmas Day. I had opened something I really wanted, so in response, here's what I did. I did the running man. Do you all remember this? New Kids on the Block, anybody? That's what I did. I'm sure that pleased my parents and also concerned them a little.

I just want you to remember presents aren't always what they appear to be and your response matters. I tell you that because those two rules have everything to do with Jesus. No one has made the point more clear than Jesus that presents aren't always what they appear to be. See, Jesus Christ was a gift from God to humanity. That's why the most famous verse in the Bible says, _ "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." _

Yet at Christmas we celebrate Jesus, who was and is God, who was and is the Savior of the world, who was and is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords… We celebrate him showing up to a teenage girl in a Podunk town that didn't have room for him. He was a present that didn't appear to be who he actually was.

Then I want to make sure you know that this Christmas, your response to Jesus matters. There is a right way to respond to him. What's going to keep any of us from having that response of looking at the gift of Jesus, and then looking back at God, saying, "What else you got for me?" We're all capable of that. It doesn't matter how long you've known Jesus. It's possible for us to get so distracted by everything going on this Christmas season that the gift of Jesus just isn't that meaningful to us anymore.

So, here's what I want to do. I want to speak to three different groups of people in the room today, and I want to encourage you to have the right response to Jesus. I'm going to do it by looking at my favorite Christmas passage in the Bible. It's the first chapter of the gospel of John. If you have a Bible, I want to invite you to turn with me to the gospel of John, the first chapter.

John is a great guy to learn from. John was a real historical person writing to a real historical people, and John's life was transformed by Jesus. John was a fisherman, and he left fishing to follow Jesus full time. He was in Jesus' inner circle. He was so tight with Jesus that Jesus gave John and his brother nicknames. He called them the Sons of Thunder. What a great nickname. No one has ever called me that.

John was the guy we see at the Last Supper reclining on Jesus' chest. John was the guy that Jesus, when he was being crucified, looked down and entrusted his mom to John. John was the first disciple to find the empty tomb and thus believe in the resurrection. John played a really important role in the establishment of the church. John wrote his gospel to ensure that people had the right response to Jesus. That's why we're looking at it.

The first group of people I want to speak to this morning are the people who don't have that much familiarity with Jesus. You don't have a real relationship with Jesus. The reason you're here right now is you're just trying to be a team player with the family. I appreciate that, and I'm so glad you made it today.

If that's you and you hear me pair the word relationship with Jesus, for you that feels like a disconnect, because if there's any word that pairs with Jesus, it's religion. As far as you know, Jesus is the poster child for a worldwide religion that a lot of people subscribe to named Christianity. If that's you, then your right response to the gift of Jesus this Christmas is to investigate Jesus. I want to encourage you to investigate Jesus.

Christmas is a season of investigation. I mean, how many of you, over the last month, have been reading reviews online and looking at specifications and comparison charts to find the right gift? You're investigating. Any of you kids done any investigating under the tree? You go when Mom and Dad are not around, and you kind of pick it up and shake it, maybe squeeze it to kind of feel and see how heavy it is. You're investigating. Christmas is a season of investigation. I want to encourage you to investigate the gift of Jesus Christ, because I wouldn't be surprised if when you do, you're going to find that Jesus is more than you knew him to be.

I just want to show you what John says about Jesus. Let me ask you… Have you ever thought that Jesus might be the best way to know and understand God? John says in verse 1, "In the beginning was the Word…" John refers to Jesus as the Word. Well, what is a word? A word is a thought expressed. A word makes something unheard heard. A word makes something invisible visible. That's what Jesus Christ has done in regard to God.

Jesus is God's greatest communication to us about himself. We can get to know God by getting to know Jesus Christ. Have you ever thought about Jesus Christ as the best way to know and understand God? If you don't know Jesus, it is a good thing for you to be asking questions like, "Who is he? What's he like? Why do billions of people identify themselves with him?" Jesus is your best way of understanding God.

Have you ever come to the realization that Jesus is, in fact, God? John says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." According to John, Jesus' story didn't start in the uterus of a teenage girl in a Podunk town called Bethlehem. No. According to John, the eternal Word that would take on flesh in the person of Jesus Christ existed prior to creation, and the eternal Word that we now know as Jesus was and is God.

Have you ever thought about Jesus as being the Creator of all things? Look at what John says in verses 2 and 3. "He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." Isn't that interesting? Nothing was made apart from the eternal Word that we now know is Jesus. The eternal Word was the agent of creation. Have you ever thought to give Jesus credit for everything that has been made, including yourself? He's the Creator of all things.

Have you ever thought about Jesus as the one who is actually sustaining your life? John says this in verse 4: "In him was life, and the life was the light of men." We would all agree that without the sun it's impossible for physical life on this earth. Sunlight is that important. What John is saying is before the sun even existed, the eternal Word did, and the eternal Word that we now know is Jesus… In him was life, which means it is impossible to experience sustained life physically or spiritually in this world apart from Jesus Christ.

Some of y'all might be sitting there, saying, "What has God ever done for me?" Well, I just want to invite everyone to take a breath. Everyone inhale and exhale. There's your answer. Every single breath is a rebuttal to the thought that Jesus is irrelevant to your life. Jesus is God. He's the Creator. He's the Sustainer of all things, including you. Would you investigate him this Christmas? Because if you don't, here's my fear.

Our tendency when we think about Jesus is to only think about his 33 years here on earth, but if we only think about his 33 years on earth, we're going to crop Jesus' life. We're all about to take a bunch of pictures, and I would imagine that at some point you're going to use the crop feature on your phone. Why do we crop things out of our pictures? We crop the things that are unimportant or distracting.

If we're not careful, we're going to crop out the things that are essential to Jesus' identity and activity. If you find yourself in a place where you feel like Jesus is very unimpressive and irrelevant, let me tell you what has probably happened. What has probably happened is that you have cropped so much away from Jesus' true identity and activity you're no longer even dealing with the real Jesus; you're dealing with a Jesus you have fabricated in your mind.

Let me just say this. We live in a world right now that says we get to decide what God is like, but we don't get to decide what God is like. We only get to decide what we do with what God is like. So, my encouragement to you… If you don't have a relationship with Jesus, your right response is to investigate Jesus this Christmas. I would encourage you to take the book John that we're looking at right now. It's 21 chapters. Over the next 21 days, why don't you make a decision to read one chapter a day to investigate Jesus and then come join us here on a Sunday morning.

The second group of people I want to speak to this morning is a very specific group of people. You're here today not because you're trying to be a team player; you are here because you sense God needed you to be here. You're here because a miracle is happening in your life, and you had an appointment with God here at Watermark Community Church today.

You're realizing for the first time in your life that Jesus is the answer you've been looking for. In the midst of all of your hurt, in the midst of all of your pain, in the midst of all of your trials, whatever is going on in your life, you have clarity that Jesus is the answer you've been looking for. If that is you, then let me encourage you. Your right response to the gift of Jesus this Christmas is to receive Jesus.

Look back at John, chapter 1. It says this in verse 9: "The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world." That's why this is a Christmas passage. He was coming into the world. "He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own…" The language here is very relational. "He came to his own, and his own people…" The people who you'd think would be most likely to receive him. His own people did not receive him.

Jesus moved in close enough. When he showed up in a manger, God was moving in so close you have to do something with him. You can't ignore him. He comes so close you either receive him or reject him. His own did not receive him. But watch verse 12. "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."

If you feel like God has brought you here for a very important moment in your life, I believe he has brought you here so you can know what is on the table. If you receive Jesus, then here's what's on the table: a place in the family of God for all of eternity. This is a crazy thought. Some of you walked in today enemies of God. That sounds harsh. That's just reality. We all… Apart from Jesus, if we live in our sin, the Bible would classify us as enemies of God.

You walked in here enemies of God, but you're going to leave here children of God. How can that great of a transformation happen in such a short period of time? Simply by you receiving Jesus. "To as many as received him, he gave them the right to become children of God." What does it mean to receive Jesus? That word in the Greek carries the idea of welcoming intimate connection with Jesus.

I told you earlier that your response matters. It does. Your response matters. Here's a good rule to live by: the nature of the gift should determine the nature of your response. A lot of us look at Jesus, and we treat him like he's a ticket. So, he's a ticket that is used for entrance into heaven. If you think about a ticket, a ticket is literally only good for one second. It is only valuable and only needed for that one moment when your barcode gets scanned. That ticket is worthless before that second, and it's worthless after that second.

Jesus isn't a ticket. Jesus is God. He's the Savior of the world. He's the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and he's friend. That's the nature of the gift, and that should determine the nature of our response. So, what does it look like to receive the one who is God, who is Savior, who is King, who is rescuer, who is friend? It is to welcome intimate connection with him now and for all of eternity.

It begins with a prayer where you simply acknowledge before God that you are a sinner, that you have lived life apart from Jesus, and now you want to turn from life without Jesus to life with Jesus, and you recognize that you need him to be your Savior and you want him to be your King. If that's you today, if you're realizing for the first time that Jesus is your answer, then your right response to him this Christmas is to receive him.

The last group of people I want to speak to this morning is those of you who consider yourselves followers of Jesus Christ. If that's you, then your right response to Jesus today is to behold Jesus. Behold is the theme of Christmas here at Watermark. I want to encourage you to behold Jesus. Where do I get that from? Look with me at verse 14. Verse 14 is not only the most important verse in chapter 1; it's the most important verse in the entire book of John. The rest of the book of John exists to unpack verse 14.

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen…" Other translations say, "We have beheld his glory." "…glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." Let's just go phrase by phrase really quickly. This verse is truly amazing. It is packed full of Christmas. It says, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." That's Jesus showing up in a manger. This is Christmas: the Word becoming flesh.

He dwelt among us, and John says we have seen his glory. What does it mean to see the glory of Jesus? Well, it's believed that when John was writing these words, most likely he had a passage from the book of Exodus in the Old Testament in his mind. In Exodus 33, Moses says these words to God: "Please show me your glory." Watch God's response. What does God say to him? He says, "I will make all my goodness pass before you." What's the glory of God? The glory of God is the supreme and infinite goodness of God, so to behold the glory of God is to be captivated by the infinite, supreme goodness of God.

So, my question to you, if you consider yourself a follower of Jesus Christ, is this Christmas season, have you been captivated by the goodness of God in a way that has stirred your heart with worship and gratitude? Or maybe I'll just zoom out for a minute. When was the last time your heart was truly captivated by the goodness of God in a way that it resulted in worship and gratitude? It's possible that if it has been awhile, it's because your life is too full and distracting for you to fully behold Jesus.

Let me illustrate it this way. This wall, this graphic you're seeing… We've been showing it to you for the last month. This has been the Watermark Christmas graphic. It has been packaged on everything. I don't know if you know this, but this graphic you have seen over the last month has been displaying Jesus every single time you've seen it, but there are too many layers of graphics that prohibit you from truly seeing Jesus.

If we were to remove the boxes and icons layer, then you would see that behind the boxes and icons layer is actually a Rembrandt etching of the angel appearing to the shepherds. Then you see that behind the etching of the angel appearing to the shepherds, there's actually another etching that was also done by Rembrandt. If you remove the angels, you see the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

This has been here all along, yet there have been too many layers prohibiting you from seeing it. I wonder if that is what your life has been like. Your life has been filled with so many layers of finding the right gifts and wrapping things up with work and Christmas programs at school you just haven't had time to see Jesus. If that's you, my encouragement is to get where you can see him.

Now, when you looked at that picture, you might have thought, "That feels more like Easter than Christmas," because Easter is where we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus; Christmas is for celebrating the birth of Jesus. But here's the thing: the birth of Jesus is significant because of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Anytime we remember the birth of Jesus, we must look through it to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

I love that John was the one who told us that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. That's Christmas. Then John, the same John, wrote these words in a different book, in Revelation, when he got a vision of the glorified Christ: "He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God." The Word of God became flesh. The Word of God is clothed in a robe dipped in blood. Where did that blood come from? It was his own blood shed on the cross, and then on the third day he rose from the dead.

Christmas is when we remember why Jesus came. Jesus was born to live perfectly, to die sacrificially, and to rise victoriously so that you and I could become children of God. That's why he came. John told us in verse 14 that he came full of grace and truth. If you know Jesus through faith, then you experience the grace and truth of Jesus. You experience the truth of Jesus in the sense that Jesus has shown us the true way to have a right relationship with God.

If you know Jesus, you get to experience the grace of Jesus, complete freedom from your greatest moments of failure, complete freedom from your deepest shame. You're constantly pursued with a perfect love, even as you wander in your imperfections. You and I have the privilege of living near to God as loved, accepted, embraced children, now and for all of eternity. We did nothing; he did everything. We deserved nothing, yet he has given us everything.

If you're a follower of Jesus Christ, the right response to Jesus this Christmas is to behold Jesus. So, let me encourage you. Sometime in the next 24 hours, find 15 minutes to step away from family and food and TV and just behold Jesus until your heart is stirred with worship and gratitude, and then come back together with your family and do the same.

How will you respond this Christmas to the one who was and is God, who was and is the Savior of the world, the one who was and is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, yet showed up to a teenage girl in a Podunk town that had no room for him? If you don't know him, investigate him. Receive him. If you do know him, behold him. Let's pray together.

If you want to begin a relationship with Jesus right now, if you want to say yes to Jesus for the first time in your life, then I invite you in this moment to pray these words. Just say, "Lord Jesus, would you come into my life today? Thank you, Jesus, that you died for me. Thank you, Jesus, that you rose for me. Would you come into my life? Would you forgive me of my sins, and would you begin to lead me in a new life with you as my Savior and as my King?"

Lord Jesus, we love you. We celebrate you as the eternal Word that took on flesh. You lived perfectly, you died sacrificially, and you rose victoriously, all so that we who were enemies could become children. We thank you and praise you. In Jesus' name, amen.