“The Tent of the Son” Christmas Day Sermon
Holy Christmas Day
St. John 1:1-18
December 25, 2012
“The Tent of the Son”
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (Exodus 40:34-35)
I don’t know how to define the glory of God. All I know is that I want it. And I know you want it too.
“Glory” usually means honor, fame, or praise. If you knock a baseball over the fence in the bottom of the 9th in a tie game in the playoffs, you will have glory. Everyone probably has some moment from their childhood when they achieved glory and felt the exultation of victory. It may just have been a kickball game with kids on your street or a spelling test in third grade. But you shined for a moment. You felt like you could do anything.
Some of us, on the other hand, remember vividly times when glory that we had earned was denied us. Recently someone told me a story like this. This person was in high school and constantly walked in the shadows cast by siblings. He decided to put his hand to the plow and studied heroically for a nationwide history exam and got a perfect score. But then the teacher accused him of cheating since he had finished the test so quickly and had completely outshined the star students. Although the teacher couldn’t prove it, he saw to it that he did not get the award and received no honors. When glory that we have earned is denied, we can be crushed and bury the gifts God has given us, believing that we have nothing to give. Or we can become embittered and withhold ourselves from other people rather than permit them to trample our souls.
Most of our moments of being glorified or having it stolen happen when we are children. That’s because our worlds are smaller and we are more self-absorbed. We don’t see that being the hero of the kickball game on a Thursday afternoon is a very small and fleeting thing. Then as you get older you start to realize that more and more of the things that seemed really glorious are not so much.
We think that it’s this kind of glory that we are looking for—success, praise, comfort, security. But in the end what all people are really seeking is glory that does not fade. But the glories of this life are passing. Even the greatest minds, athletes, beauties are like springtime flowers; they display their splendor for a few days under the sun. Then the flower fades and withers. The petals fall to the ground. Its place remembers it no more.
God’s glory is not like this. His glory is hard like diamond. Our glory shatters when it hits reality. God’s glory melts the world, makes the sky roll up like a shade, sends stars hurtling into nothingness. His glory melts mountains, makes rivers spring out of granite, kills giants, blinds persecutors. God’s glory makes barren women fertile, makes virgins conceive and fields overflow with grain, makes children speak hidden wisdom from God which chief priests and doctors of theology cannot understand. It makes the demons shriek in terror, opens deaf ears and blind eyes and tombs and brings the dead to life.
Moses wanted the glory of God. On Mount Sinai, after interceding for the Israelites after they had made the golden calf, after God had promised not to destroy the Israelites but continue to bring them to the promised land, Moses asked God—seemingly out of nowhere: “Please show me your glory.” (Exodus 33:18) It sounds almost greedy, like a person who has seen a dragon’s treasure trove and is willing to risk his life to sneak in and grab a few rings and cups.
Yes. It is greed that comes from hunger. Since the fall of man human beings are starving for the glory of God. They are starving for His presence and His glory even though they don’t know what it is or how to find it. Even though it would kill them.
God let Moses see His glory—but not His face, because no one can see My face and live (Ex. 33:20). But when Moses finished building the tabernacle—the tent where God would dwell in the midst of the Israelites, the Scripture says Moses was not able to enter the tent of the meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (Ex. 40:35) Moses was godly and had found favor with God, and yet he was prevented from seeing or experiencing the full measure of God’s glory.
Later Peter wanted the glory of God. “Lord, it is good that we are here. Let us build three tents; one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” That was Peter’s response to the glory of God when Jesus was transfigured before them, and His skin and clothes became lightning-white. But the evangelist says that Peter was so scared he didn’t know what he was saying. No sinner can see the face of God and live. That’s why the thundering, glorious voice of God thundered from the cloud of glory, “This is my beloved Son! Listen to Him!” And Peter fell on his face like a dead man. What a dreadful, terrible thing it would be to see Jesus’ glory if He was not going to restrain it and walk down the mountain into the Kidron Valley into the brook which ran red with the blood of all the animals that died as offerings for sin. If that uncleanness did not come upon the Lord, no mountain would be thick enough and no ocean deep enough to hide us from the glory of the creator, which would put an end to our attempts to steal His glory with endless destruction.
We cannot look at the glory of God and live. Yet we can’t live without the glory of God either.
Eve wanted the glory of God too. But it wasn’t enough to see it and live in it. She thought it could be taken. She was tricked. And Adam’s sin is even harder to explain, because he was not tricked into thinking God’s glory could be equaled, yet he also ate the fruit which the serpent said would make them like God.
But this is the joy of Christmas: the glory that Adam and Eve tried to take, the glory that Moses and Peter longed to keep—has come upon us. It has been given to us.The glory of God has come upon human beings. It is not merely that we may look upon it as Moses did on the mountain. Human nature, flesh and blood, is personally united to the fullness of God’s glory. God is united to us.
The eternal Word, the Son, tented among us.
- 1. He revealed the glory of God united to human flesh and blood.
- 2. We now enter into the glory of God through Jesus’ body.
- 1. During His earthly life, the Son revealed the glory of God united to human flesh and blood.
- A. The Glory of Christ
- a. He was In the beginning.
- b. All things made through Him and for Him
- c. All things hold together in Him
- d. All things gathered together in Him—the mystery of the ages.
- e. From His fullness we have all received.
- B. The glory of God tented among us.
- a. For a brief time Jesus revealed God’s glory.
- b. His disciples came to understand that the glory of the eternal God was dwelling in this man. That God was this man, and this man was God.
- c. For a brief time He revealed the glory of God in the form of a man who appeared like us—as one subject to death and futility.
- d. But He showed that God’s glory was joined to our nature—not only before the cross, but forever.
- e. God forever is a man,
- f. So that we men will be sons of God forever.
- C. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
- a. He is the fountain of life.
- b. In Him is life;
- c. Apart from Him is no life.
- d. That life gives light;
- e. Departure from Christ is to walk in the darkness and to die.
- f. Yet we are born in the darkness.
- i. We prefer to believe that our darkness is light—our virtue is true goodness—we are basically good and not evil.
- ii. Then we pay lip service to Jesus, but do not want to walk as He walked.
- iii. We do not want to enter into the tent of His flesh and share in the glory of God.
- 2. We now enter the glory of God through Jesus’ body.
- A. To those who received Him He gave the right to become children of God.
- a. To those who believed in His name He gave the right to enter into the glory of God and to share it.
- b. 2 Peter. 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him (F)who called us to his own glory and excellence,4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become (G)partakers of the divine nature, (H)having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
- c. To receive the forgiveness of sins.
- d. To receive justification.
- e. To receive the Holy Spirit.
- f. To share His sinless birth.
- g. To share in His suffering and death.
- h. To share in His resurrection and exaltation.
- i. To be sanctified in this life.
- j. To share in eternal life.
- B. They are born of God.
- a. Receiving Jesus is not accomplished by the will of man.
- b. It is to be begotten by God the Father in His eternal, only-begotten Son.
- c. It is to receive birth from heaven
- d. We are given birth in Christ in Baptism.
- e. Moses could not enter the tent where the glory of God was. It would not let Him enter, lest it destroy him. He could not see God’s face.
- f. We enter the tent because our sins are forgiven. We go into the tent, the tabernacle—Jesus’ body.
- g. He brings us in through Baptism and continues to invite us in through the Gospel.
- h. We see the face of God—not with our eyes, but safely—through faith.
- i. His glory rests upon us even though it cannot be seen by the world or by us.
- j. It is hidden by our weakness;
- k. Yet through the word made flesh, the life and light of God dwells upon us and in us.
- C. They receive grace upon grace.
- a. Grace from Jesus is an inexhaustible fountain.
- b. Daily we decide to walk in Christ as those who have been brought from death to life.
- c. And doing this we see how powerless our will is. To will is present with us (because of the Holy Spirit), but how to carry it out we find not.
- d. Therefore we are required to seek grace more and more for everything.
- e. The fountain of grace, the fountain of life pours from the man Jesus Christ, in whom all the fullness of deity dwells.
- f. The more grace we use, the more we are given.
- g. We begin to take it not only for ourselves but for others.
- h. Jesus’ body is the well of grace and life.
- i. We draw near and take from the well by claiming our baptism into Him;
- j. We claim His absolution when we confess our sins
- k. We claim the fullness of life as we eat His body and drink His blood.
- l. We go into the temple of His body and share in the glory of God, now under the cross, and there in joy forever.