“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-3, 14 (ESV)
John’s Gospel gives us a unique picture of Jesus’s birth narrative. As observed by many others through the centuries, John is missing many things that we’ve come to expect at Christmas. Missing are the angel visitations, the dreams, the manger…all the things that we normally associate with the Christmas story.
And yet, John gives us a grander picture that can be overlooked if a careful reader is not looking. John tells us that “All things were made through him,” and this is a theme repeated in the New Testament several times. Paul tells us:
“…yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” – 1 Corinthians 8:6 (ESV)
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” – Colossians 1: 16-17 (ESV)
Through Christ, all things were created. However, often at Christmas it is easy to miss the grand scope of what it means that Christ created “all things” as we focus in on the birth narratives presented by Matthew and Luke. By “all things” it is generally understood to mean the entire created universe. But what does that really mean when we say, “the entire universe?”
When we begin to contemplate this vastness, it becomes quite overwhelming.
In just the Milky Way Galaxy (that we call home) there are an estimated 100 thousand million stars (that is a 1 followed by 11 zeros). In the observable universe, scientists estimate that there are several hundred billion galaxies. But it doesn’t stop there.
The observable universe is only a fraction of the universe. The observable universe is only the part of the universe that we can see from earth, either with the naked eye or through all our advanced telescopes. This part of the universe that humans can see is limited to 46.5 billion light years in any direction.
What is beyond the observable universe is unknown and how far it goes is also unknown. Some believe that the universe is infinite and that it has no edge. Given this vastness, it puts Psalm 8 into a unique perspective:
“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” – Psalm 8:3-4 (NRSV)
Considering the infinite vastness of the universe, what a wonder it is indeed that Christ, who created all things, cares for humanity.
As we approach the baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger this Christmas, remember it was this baby who created all things that we can see in the observable universe and beyond. It was this baby about whom Paul would claim “who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross” Philippians 2:6-7 (NRSV).
In Christ, the creator God became flesh at Christmas to save humanity, showing the special importance that God places on humanity. A singular honor, bestowed upon creatures, living on a spinning ball that is but a speck of sand in the unknown vastness of the created universe. Let us wonder in amazement.