3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
6There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
10He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' " 16From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.
19Now this was John's testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, "I am not the Christ."
21They asked him, "Then who are you? Are you Elijah?"
He said, "I am not."
"Are you the Prophet?"
He answered, "No."
22Finally they said, "Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?"
23John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.' "
24Now some Pharisees who had been sent 25questioned him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?"
26"I baptize with water," John replied, "but among you stands one you do not know. 27He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie."
28This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' 31I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel."
32Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' 34I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God."
35The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!"
37When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?" They said, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?"
39"Come," he replied, "and you will see." So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.
40Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). 42And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter).
43The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me." 44Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
46"Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip.
47When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false."
48"How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you."
49Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel."
50Jesus said, "You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that." 51He then added, "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." (John 1, NIV)
It's an interesting history that God has had with man. An all-powerful God could have gotten His points across to us in much more powerful ways ... or He could have just given up on is altogether ... yet He has always wanted us to follow Him out of our own free will, not because we were His puppets. His patience with man across the ages proves His love for us.
God created Adam and placed him in a wonderful place, with the ability to have constant communion with Himself. He saw that Adam was lonely, though, and sent Eve to keep Him company. That worked okay for awhile ... again, they shared this wonderful constant communion with their maker. But, as happens when people get together, we want to control things for our own liking. Out of that desire for controlling things themselves, Adam and Eve messed things up.
Later, God sent His law to His people through Moses. He sent prophets to further pronounce that law and prepare man for the future. He sent leaders to help guide the Israelites -- His chosen people at the time. They would follow for awhile and then they'd get their own ideas and start doing their own thing. Then, eventually realizing their mistakes, they'd end up wandering the desert and working to re-prove their allegiance to God. That would work for awhile but then the desires of the flesh would sneak in again and there'd be more wandering ... more seeking.
God sticking by man through all of this is proof of His love -- his desire to have man choose to follow Him and live out that choice from free will.
As predicted by the prophets, God knew that it would come to the point of where something else was necessary. Under the most unlikely of circumstances and, I suspect, out of a bit of desperation, He sent His son to dwell among us. He probably hoped we'd get our act together and that this sort of sacrifice wouldn't really be necessary but He knew that we are weak, that He'd have to take another even more proactive step in reaching us.
And that is how we arrived at the gift of this baby who would grow to be God incarnate walking this earth. The greatest chance we as humans ever have had to learn and to bask in the light but, just as God knew we would do, we messed that up as well by crucifying His son.
And, for the past 2000 years, we have continued to mess things up. As humankind, we have done a lousy job of accepting this baby as our gift. We continue to seek our own ways. We argue, we fight, we war, we practice prejudices unspeakable. Just as quickly as we may seek the light, we mess up, we miss opportunities, we fail to love, we fail to forgive as He has forgiven us.
But, He did come. He was here and, when He left, He left us His Spirit to guide us, to direct our paths. All He asks is that we accept Him, we accept His forgiveness, and we pass it along. It's all in our best interest anyway yet we, as mankind, continue to reject what He offers.
I pray that His love will fill me -- will fill all of us -- this Christmas. That we will forgive others, and forgive ourselves, just as He has forgiven us. That we will go into 2007 with a renewed spirit and with souls refreshed to show His love to the world.
May you have a most blessed next few days celebrating His gift -- the baby that would pay for our salvation, the baby given by a Father grieving for His other children -- and may we all carry that to the world in the new year.