Prologue: John 1:1-18
PROLOGUE John 1:1-18
“The Revelation of the Word of God”
His Deity (1:1-2)
“Who Was Jesus?”
How is Jesus to be understood? Did he stride out of the wilderness 2000 years ago to preach a gentle message of peace and brotherhood? Or did he perhaps advocate some form of revolution? When did he realize his mission would end with death upon a cross? Did he view himself to be the promised Messiah? Did he understand himself to be both God and man?
For those who say that Jesus did not see Himself as God, the opening verses of John 1 correct their view. “Confusion about the deity of Christ is inexcusable, because the biblical teaching regarding it is clear and unmistakeable. Jesus Christ is the pre-existent Word, Who enjoys full face-to-face communion and divine life with the Father, and is Himself God.” (MacArthur)
It’s important for us to keep straight in our thinking that Jesus was not created. When He was born in Bethlehem, a body was provided for Him, born of a virgin, conceived by God in Mary’s womb. “A body you have prepared for me…I have come to do your will O God.” for “When all things began, the Word already was.” (Continuous action)
We have to wrestle a bit with the idea of Jesus as “the Word.” What exactly does that mean? “Logos” in the Greek, (“logic”) the idea of Jesus as “the Word” of God hits us as a little strange.
What do words do? Well, words can strengthen a nation for war, as Winston Churchill showed us during WW 2. Words can change the direction of our lives, as some of you have known when you said, “I do.”
But words also reveal. God tried to tell us Who He was in the Old Testament. But here as Jesus enters history and time, He SHOWS us by His Word.
It was by the Word of God that the world, and in fact that all of the material and even spiritual aspects of creation came into existence. What do we see over and over in Genesis 1? “And God said….”
Those of us who have used the phrase, “well sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me,” have never been on the receiving end of a critical parent, or a verbally and emotionally abusive spouse, or have never read hurtful and untrue comments on Facebook that amount to bullying.
Words have power. The Hebrew people knew this. They would literally duck if someone starting cursing at them! Words have power.
To the Hebrew person, words had energy and an independent existence. It’s still true of folks living in some parts of the east today.
If you have read or heard the story of Isaacs blessing of Jacob which he was deceived into doing, and you hear the “unblessed” brother Esau begging his father for any word of blessing, you see something of this.
Words have consequences. Jesus said that we would be held accountable to “every idle word” we speak. We are responsible for the use of our words.
But to the Greek reader, the word “logos” meant “reason” or “wisdom.” It was the “logos” in Greek thought that brought order and meaning to the world. They never understood what it was or where it came from, but they did not deny it’s existence.
His Creation (1:3)
God created through His Word, Who was Jesus. Jesus was the agent of God’s creation, both in the beginning and as Jesus, the Word of God personified and incarnated, the Word of God was inseparable from God as your words are inseparable from you.
Before the world or anything in all creation was brought to existence, Jesus existed. Jesus was God! God has always been like Jesus. One little girl, after encountering some of the more difficult and violent places in the Old Testament, felt the need to defend God’s actions. “These things happened before God became a Christian!”
Revelation 4:11 says, “You are worthy, O God, to receive glory and honor and power, because you have created all things and by your will they were created.”
All things came into existence by Him. Not a firefly, a sunset, a sunrise or an amoebae exists without Jesus bringing it to life.
His Illumination (1:4-5)
John now introduced two words that will come back many times in the Gospel. The words are “LIFE” and “LIGHT.” Jesus does two things by His coming:
1). He brings LIFE. Jesus is LIFE. “The wages of sin is death…” We lost life with God because of sin. We are separated from God when we are spiritually dead. Eternal punishment is eternity separated from LIFE with God. “We are dead in trespasses and sins…but alive because of the grace of God.” Death, by definition, is “the inability to respond to life.” Physical death is separation of the spirit or soul from the body. Life is no longer present. Jesus came to call that which was formerly dead to life. A Christian is someone who was once a spiritual corpse but is now alive with resurrected life.
You know, eternal life (and John deals with that term later) begins at salvation and never ends. It doesn’t stop when your body dies. Life never returns to death when Jesus brings it.
The word “LIFE” is tremendously important in John’s Gospel. Thirty five times, the word “zoe” or “life” appears. Fifteen times the statement “to have life” appears. Fifty references exist in total about LIFE.
2). He brings LIGHT. “The light shines in the darkness…”. John uses the word for darkness that means “the realm where God is not loved.” This darkness is a darkness that is the natural realm of those who do not want to do good.” The light shines in that darkness and brings illumination. In the letter of 1 John, he talks about those who prefer to stay in the darkness and not walk in the light. Jesus brought enough light for every man. No one needs to remain in darkness unless they choose to do so.
His Forerunner (1:6-9)
John came to point people to the Light that was Jesus. It’s interesting that people need to be directed to the light. You would think that people who are walking in darkness would welcome it! And yet, people don’t do they? They become accustomed to living in darkness. Their eyes become acclimated to the dark. Do you know there are fish that are found in pools of water is some of the deepest, darkest caves that don’t even have EYES? What do they need eyes for? There’s nothing to see in the darkness. But we need to be pointed to the Light, and John makes clear that HE isn’t the Light, but he knows where the Light is, or better, WHO the Light is.
John was “SENT” (apostelo) from God. One of the big debates among the religious authorities of the time was who John was. He had huge crowds that would come to the Jordan River, near the wilderness, to hear him preach and see him baptize. He had a following of disciples that we run into several times later in the New Testament.
Once when Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees over something He did that made them mad, they demanded to know, “Where did you come from?” Jesus turned the question around on them and said “Was the baptism of John from God or from men?” This caused them a problem. If they said, “From man,” the people would riot against them. But if they said, “From God,” then Jesus would say “then why didn’t you believe what he said about me?”
His Rejection (1:10-11)
So Jesus came to bring LIFE and LIGHT. Why would people not want that? Wouldn’t you want LIFE if you were dead, and LIGHT if you were blind?
But “He came to His own, and His own (People) did not receive Him.” However, their rejection of Him opened the way for the offer of salvation to be offered to “Whosoever will…”. “As many as received Him…” That’s you. That’s me. We are the “whosoever.”. We are the “as many…”
His Offer (1:12-13)
John uses the word “teknon” to describe our new birth in Christ.
In John 3 when Jesus talks to Nicodemus…(“born again…”)
Paul uses the term “huion” which is more a legal term. John emphasizes birth into Jesus. We are regenerated, “born again” into the family of God.
Paul emphasizes the legal phrase because his emphasis on salvation is more focused on adoption than new birth. Both are different dimensions of the same reality. We are made new, made part of a new family, a new community, we come into a new relationship with God…no longer as slaves and subjects but as children in a new family.
His Incarnation (1:14)
Jesus did not come simply to dwell in a human shell. He BECAME flesh. When He was born physically through Mary, He received a body that is STILL alive today. When you go to Heaven one day, you will see the very body of Jesus that was crucified for you, and that was resurrected.
If Jesus wasn’t human He couldn’t be tempted
If Jesus wasn’t human He couldn’t be an example to us
If Jesus wasn’t human He couldn’t die for us.
“…the humanity of Jesus is not a miracle of nature, but a marvel of grace.”
His Witness (1:15-18)
“pitched his tent” “set up his tabernacle” among us
The visible presence of all the excellence of God’s character and nature. No one could stare directly at the glory. Often it was accompanied by a dark cloud that kept the glory from blinding those who looked
Fullness of grace and truth….we do not behold Him now through signs and images and symbolism. Now we behold all the fulness of God (which dwelt bodily in Jesus). Everything you will ever need to see and know of God is seen bodily // physically in Jesus.
- The Gospel is a rescue story, and Jesus is the rescuer
- The Gospel is a promise and Jesus is the fulfillment of it
- The Gospel is a grace story, and it is grace that leads us home
Cowper “God Works in a Mysterious Way”. Struggled with depression, and guilt, and darkness his whole life. On Jan 1, 1773 Cowper tried to commit suicide. It was also on Jan 1 1773 that John Newton’s congregation sang the song “Amazing Grace” for the first time! Newton wrote the stanza that said, “Through many dangers, toils and snares…” with his friend, William Cowper in mind. He had tried numerous times to convince Cowper that all of his sin had been covered by the grace of God. He had hoped that singing the stanza of this song Newton had just written would persuade his friend to trust in the grace of God.