Todd A. Peperkorn, STM
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rocklin, California
Christmas Day 2013
John 1:1–14

TITLE: “Heavenly Clothes”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for this morning is the Gospel just read from St. John chapter one.

When a new child is born, a part of the ritual that parents usually go through is what the child will wear. There are coming-home-from-the-hospital outfits, going-to-be-baptized outfits, first Easter, really first everything outfits. Confirmation. High school or college graduation. Weddings. Even funerals have their clothes, their outfits appropriate to the day or the season. Since Adam and Eve covered themselves with leaves and God clothed them with animal skin, we have been working on covering ourselves up.

We do not simply cover up our bodies, of course. We cover up or actions, the things we do and the things that we don’t do. We seek to cover up our sin, to hide it from all of those around us. Everyone wants to be thought well of by others. So we hide. We hide our actions, mask our thoughts, and try to cover ourselves with words and deeds which make us look and feel better. At least on the outside. In the end, all we really have is our own birthday suit. We are naked before God on our own. No fig leaves can really change a thing.

This being the case, it is worth our seeing what Jesus wore on His divine birthday. One theologian put it this way:

“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities.” It should be noted that the sign given of the Savior’s birth is not a child enfolded in Tyrian purple, but one wrapped with rough pieces of cloth. He is not to be found in an ornate golden bed, but in a manger. The meaning of this is that he did not merely take upon himself our lowly mortality, but for our sakes took upon himself the clothing of the poor. Though he was rich, yet for our sake he became poor, so that by his poverty we might become rich. Though he was Lord of heaven, he became a poor man on earth, to teach those who lived on earth that by poverty of spirit they might win the kingdom of heaven.[1]

When God clothes Himself with our skin, there is something else entirely going on. He does this not to keep His true nature a secret, but so that we may truly know Him, and know that He loves you with an everlasting love. God takes on your nature so that you can take on His divine nature (St. Athanasius).

That is the miracle of the incarnation, dearly beloved. Our nature has been so marred and scarred and covered up that we are little better than the beasts in the stable that surrounded our Lord at His birth. St. Cyril of Alexandria wrote of this in one of his Christmas sermons,

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA: He found humanity reduced to the level of the beasts. Therefore he is placed like feed in a manger, that we, having left behind our carnal desires, might rise up to that degree of intelligence which befits human nature. Whereas we were brutish in soul, by now approaching the manger, yes, his table, we find no longer feed, but the bread from heaven, which is the body of life. COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 1.[2]

Jesus Christ, God and man, is both your divine clothing and your divine food. He clothes you with His righteousness and feeds you His own living body. He takes on the birthday suit of our humanity, clothes Himself in our very lives, and takes upon Himself our, well, our everything. Remember what Isaiah said?

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder,and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.(Isaiah 9:6)

This child is not simply another baby, not another mouth to feed or problem to consider. This child is the One, He is the very image of God come down to earth. And guess what? He looks just like you. Each one of you. Poor and lowly, in a messed up life where things don’t go as they ought. And out of that life, not unlike each one of ours, out of that life comes the forgiveness of sins, eternal life and salvation in His name.

Today we are united with God for He is united with us. Today we sing with the angels and saints and all the company of heaven? Why? Because God Himself has come down to visit and be one with us. Now that is a gift worth remembering. That is a birthday present that God gives to the whole world. And that means you. For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord.

Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

And now the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.

[1] Just, A. A. (2005). Vol. 3: Luke. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture NT 3. (38–39). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

[2] Just, A. A. (2005). Vol. 3: Luke. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture NT 3. (39). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.