United Presbyterian Church of West Orange



Date: January 2, 2022

Sermon Title: “Who is He and What Who is He to You?”

By: Minister Kimberly Braxton


Focus Scripture: John 1:1-18


Who is He: The Word of God Wrapped in Flesh

What Who is He to You: Savior

Good morning and Happy 2022!


Can I tell you that the scripture selection from today’s lectionary selection made me so happy? It is filled with so many perspective shifting revelations that each time I read through the text I kept

finding something else. I even pulled out my old and dusty Greek and Hebrew devotional so I could just marinate in these truths that are more than able to sustain us in the upcoming year. Don’t worry though – we won’t be here for long this morning. To quote Shakespeare “Brevity is the Soul of wit” so my aim is to finish in a tight 20 minutes. To that point I distilled the contents of this passage of scripture to two areas: Who is He and What is He to You?



Now to those who are unaware “Who is He and What is He to You?” is a song by Bill Withers. In this song Bill confronts a lady he is walking with after observing her body language when another man walks past them. His intuition tells him something is going on between the two of them and in the chorus he belts out, “Who is He and What is He to You?”


Now this morning I’m not going to parse the finer points of classic soul music. However, using this song title as a framework as we reflect on this morning’s selected scripture reading with one change. Let’s look at Who He is and answer the question of Who, not what, He is to You. Who He Is?


There is a reality show called “Undercover Boss” and the premise is that they take the chairman/CEO of a franchise and put them in disguise. Then the disguised executive is placed at an entry level position in a franchise location so they can see and experience what was really happening on the front line of their chain.


Now predictably you know what happens next. The executives had an idea of what they believed was happening at their chains; however, when they got in the field and got that firsthand experience, they saw what was happening at their franchises but most importantly they were able to learn about the lives and daily struggles of the people working for them. In one episode the CEO

was being trained by an employee that was happy and had an excellent work ethic but she was living in a homeless shelter with her children because she wasn’t making enough money to relocate to permanent housing.




This revelation brought this grown man to tears. In the end he made it right but in order to empathize with the stress and struggle of this employee he had to lower himself from his lofty position and take on the appearance of someone else and walk among the people his is responsible for leading.


That brings us to our text this morning. Now Jesus isn’t a “undercover boss” because He knew and knows exactly what is going on in His creation. However, in John 1 we see just how far Jesus had to lower himself in order to live among us. Verse 1:1-2, “In the beginning was the Word.” Now this word isn’t like the term you would hear used as a promise like in a Western. You

know that scene when two enemies come together to beat a common foe. And one person, he’ll have a name like “Rip” or “Peg Legged Pete” will say something like, “How can I trust you?” and their opponent will respond in all earnestness looking directly into the camera, “Cause I gave you my word.”

And from that point on the two people are bonded together in mutual trust and fidelity. Now, that makes for a great scene but that’s not the Word that John is referencing in our text this morning.


The Word used here is a direct parallel to the creation narrative in Genesis 1:1-2 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Verse 2 “and God spoke, “Let there be light”. This “speaking” is the Word that John is referring to in the passage. The Word that was present in Genesis, the Word that was present

at the very beginning of creation. That Word. The Word that created light out of darkness and shaped everything. John tells us in verse 3 “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” THAT very Word wrapped itself in flesh, went “undercover” so to speak, to walk among us.


In order to give us the chance, the opportunity to be reconciled back to God as children of God. A creation separated from its creator. The beloved separated from the Lover. So who is He? He is the Word of God, 100% divine who wrapped Himself in flesh in order to reconcile the created back to the Creater. Verses 12 through 13, “12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” Who is He to You?


Now let’s make this personal. What does this mean for us as we walk into 2022? As Christians we all have the head knowledge that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God and He that if we believe in Him we will have everlasting life. John states in verse 16 in the Message translation reads like this, “We all live off his generous abundance, gift after gift after gift.” Well, I let me pose this question to you. Given all that John revealed to us about the deity of Jesus, His role in creation; the true nature of His deity; his willingness to

humble himself and take on flesh and walk among us; the scope of His authority; the depth and breadth of his grace and mercy. Knowing all of this Who is He to You?


I am asking you to personalize all of this heady theological musings and apply it directly to your intentions for the upcoming year. I wish I can say that I received a detailed revelation of what is going to occur in 2022. So much has transpired in the last two years that the only thing I can say about 2022 with any amount of assurance is that ANYTHING is possible. It is all unknowable and concealed from our view. However, I can promise you this. As you fix your intentions and your focus on 2022 on how you want to execute your vision in the year ahead keep in mind YOUR answer to the Question “Who is He to You?” Because when you have THAT answer it will anchor you and center all of your decision making.


When you make Jesus your central focus, when you keep God as your Guiding light, as you allow the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you into all truth there is no situation that can overtake you, there is now weapon formed that would prosper against you, as you are grounded and rooted in the truth of Who He is to You.


Regardless of what 2022 brings you will experience the Joy of the Lord regardless of the circumstances ahead. This is the season where you have done all the work, you have built the foundation, it is sturdy, rooted, fortified, and underguarded. Now is the time to execute the vision but as you walk into your greatness as you take possession of what has been promised to you remember the answer to the question. “Who is He to You?” That answer will sustain you, keep you grounded and humble, keep you on track and keep your focus sharp. Cut away all the distractions and make the pathway clear.


My answer to the Question “Who is He to me?” here it is He is my God – the Holy One; the Living Word; He is my Brother; He is my Father; He is my Rear Guard and my Battle Axe; He is my Comforter and my Corrector; He is the Lover of my Soul and my Hype Man. And above all of this He knows my name and calls me Friend. Write down the revelation and make it plain for yourselves. Habakkuk 2:2 Personalize it and for 365 days remind yourself of Who He is to You.


Let us pray - - “You are the beginning, the living Word our God. Brood across the chaos in our souls, O Wind of Love. Illuminate every darkness, bring life from unknown deeps, create in us a heart that is Your own.” Bless us Lord as we embark on another year. Guard and protect us from all hurt, harm, and danger and continue to draw us close to You. In Jesus name we pray agreeing it is done.