We saw that John 1:1-18 can be described as an ‘overture’ for lovers of classical music, or for those who prefer rock music, it can be described as the ‘opening riff’ …
Either way it is the opening to a work and prepares the listener for what is to come
In a rock song, a riff is a pattern that repeats throughout the work, usually catchy, it gives the piece structure and character.
So it is with John 1:1-18
John’s gospel is built on these opening 18 verses
It is what theologians call ‘The Prologue’
I proposed that verse 14 is the key verse
not only in the Prologue, in the whole gospel
We asked the ‘who’ question
Who is this word who became flesh?
We saw that the Word is the 1C Jewish man, Jesus of Nazareth
John taught us …
Jesus, the Word, is eternal (v.1a)
Jesus, the Word, is eternally with God (v.1b and 2)
Jesus, the Word, is eternal God (v.1c)
Jesus, the Word, is eternal creator God (v.3 – 5)
Main idea …
In Jesus, God became one of us, so that you may become one of his (individual)
In Jesus, God became one of us, that we may become his (Christ’s people collectively)
This week …
John teaches us …
In Jesus, God became truly human (v.14a)
In Jesus, God dwelt among us (v.14b)
In Jesus is the embodiment of grace and truth (v.14c)
1. IN JESUS, GOD BECAME TRULY HUMAN (V.14A)
‘The word became flesh … ‘ (v.14)
‘John unveils the great idea at the heart of Christianity – that the very Word of God took flesh for our salvation’ (Morris, P.91)
CS Lewis calls it, ‘The grand miracle’ (Milne P.46; CS Lewis ‘Miracles’, chapter 14)
God, who had in the past revealed himself through creation, through his spoken word and through his people Israel, now appears himself in human flesh
‘(John) wanted to show to what a low and abject state the Son of God descended from the height of his heavenly glory for our sake.’ (Calvin, P. 20)
‘When scripture speaks of man (humanity) derogatorily it calls (them) him ‘flesh’. How great is the distance between the spiritual glory of the word of God and the stinking filth of our flesh. Yet the Son of God stooped so low as to take to Himself that flesh addicted to so many wretchedness’s’ (Calvin)
God descended into our mess
Vulnerable, frail, a sense of transientness
‘All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field’
(RSV, Isaiah 40:6)
The word became ‘killable’ (Tim Keller)
Vulnerable, frail, killable … are not words used to describe God
Infinite, eternal , almighty
immutable, immense, most wise
most holy, all sufficient, sovereign
infallible, independent, doing whatever he pleases
(The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter II of God, and of the Holy Trinity)
All the above, and then some
Never ‘vulnerable’, ‘frail’, ‘killable’
Two examples from John …
Chapter 4, Jesus conversation with the Samaritan woman
‘Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well’ … or possibly
‘Jesus, thus as he was’… That is, without selecting a good place. Tired, thirsty, Jesus just plonked himself down wherever and asked the Samaritan woman for a drink.
‘Not upon a throne; not upon a cushion, but simply, and as he was, upon the ground’ (Morris quoting Chrysostom, P.228)
Jesus said to her ‘Will you give me a drink?’
No greater example of Jesus becoming ‘flesh’ is his crucifixion in chapter 19. Pilate condemned Jesus to the cross and Jesus immediately fell into the custody of the ‘execution squad’ comprising four Roman soldiers (Milne P. 276) …
‘So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the skull … Here they crucified him with two others … ‘ (v.16-18)
Cicero, the Roman statesman and writer, who would have witnessed a few, described crucifixion as … ‘a most cruel and terrible penalty … incapable of description by any word, for there is none fit to describe it.’ (Milne quoting Cicero, P.277)
And so the eternal, creator God became ‘flesh’ for us
‘Became’/’was made’ flesh
‘Expresses that a person or a thing … enters into a new condition, becomes something it was not before’ (Milne, P.46)
The Word, God the Son, without ceasing for a moment to be truly God, has become forever, truly human (A paraphrase of Milne, P. 46)
A once for all event
A definite completed action
There is no going back for the Word
No plan B, no escape plan, no get out clause in the Word’s favour just in case he gets a better offer or doesn’t want to be flesh anymore
From the point of conception by the Holy Spirit, the Word, the eternal, creator God, became a human person for eternity
Emmanuel, God with us
The God / man forever
Three implications are…
Firstly … The greatness of God
Infinitely powerful, brilliant, creative, holy and just
Yet, loving and personal
Seeking to know and be known
‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life’
Secondly … The value of human life
Have you ever reflected on what God did for you?
Lane Beachley (7 times world surfing champion)…
Anh Do’s ‘Brush with Fame’ (ABC on Tuesday 21.12.2021)
Lane said that when she was around 7 years old her mum died. About the same time Lane also learnt that it was not her biological mum who had died, she had been adopted.
Now there’s a double whammy!
‘I felt so worthless.’
At 7 years old Lane thought … ‘I wasn’t deserving of my own mother’s love, so who’s love am I deserving of? … I am underserving of love … if I become a world champion I will be deserving of everyone’s love’
From that point on Lane was driven to become world champion, to prove she was deserving of love.
Maybe you can relate to Lane.
‘I am worthless’
‘I am undeserving of love’
In Jesus, God has come into the world, looking for you and now calls you to follow him
‘I am the good shepherd … (John 10)
Is Jesus calling your name this morning?
Speaking of himself as the Good Shepherd, Jesus says …
‘The sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out … he goes on ahead of them and his sheep follow him because they know his voice'(v.3, 4)
Have you been rejected, abused, violated, and used?
‘All whoever came before me were thieves and robbers … the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that my sheep may have life and have it to the full … ‘(V.8 – 10)
‘I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me … and I lay down my life for the sheep’. (V.14, 15)
You are so precious that in Jesus, God took became ‘flesh’ and lay down his life for you!
In Jesus, God became one of us that you may become one of His!
Why? Love and because your worth as a person created in the image of God is priceless!
Thirdly … The magnitude of our problem
John’s Gospel speaks of a world in conflict.
A battle between darkness and light.
Darkness … the evil environment in which we find ourselves Morris, P. 76). An environment in which the truth of God is opposed
Light … God’s truth shining in the darkness, dispelling error
Our problem? We prefer darkness …
‘… God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only son. (John 3:17, 18)
‘This is the verdict; light has come into the world, but men and women loved darkness instead of light because their deeds wereevil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear their deeds will be exposed’ (John 3:19, 20)
2. IN JESUS, GOD DWELT AMONG US (V.14B)
‘The word became flesh and pitched his tent among us.’ (V.1b)
‘The word became flesh and tabernacled among us.’
Remember, John is a Jewish man
John probably has in mind the OT tabernacle
A tent, a portable place of worship for God’s people in the wilderness … the place where God chose to have a particular presence on earth
Exodus 25:1 – 9 … ‘Have them (the Israelites) make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.’
In Jesus of Nazareth, God dwelt among us
When Jesus spoke, God spoke. When Jesus acted God acted.
When Jesus made a whip of cords, drove the sheep and cattle from the temple area; when he overturned the tables of the money changers, scattering all their coins; when he said ‘Get out of here, how dare you turn my Father’s house into a market’, God was consumed with zeal for his house.
When Jesus spoke alone with the Samaritan woman at the well, offering her ‘living water’, and defying the social and religious conventions of the day, God met with her personally, offering her life, relationship and acceptance.
‘One should not talk with a woman on the street, not even with one’s own wife, and certainly not somebody else’s wife, because of the gossip of men. It is forbidden to give a woman any greeting’ (Milne quoting Rabbinic citations , P.83)
When Jesus saw Mary and others weeping at the death of Lazarus, when Jesus was so moved that he too wept … God wept at death! Oh, how God was moved.
When Jesus said, ‘It is finished’, bowed his head and gave up his spirit, God himself died.
When Mary stood alone outside the empty tomb three days later, confused and devastated, when the risen Jesus asked her, ‘Why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ And then spoke her name ‘Mary’ in a way that Mary instantly recognised, God had conquered death. Mary had seen the risen Lord!
In Jesus God himself dwelt among us
God identified with our mess
God lived a perfect life of worship for us
God died as the perfect sacrifice for our sin
God rose victorious over death, that we may have life.
In Jesus, God became one of us that we may become one of His!
3. IN JESUS IS THE EMBODIMENT OF GRACE AND TRUTH
‘We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth’
Jesus is truth personified
In Jesus we hear and see the truth of who God is. God’s reality.
In Jesus we begin to understand the origin and the end of the world in which we live. The reality of the created universe.
In Jesus words and in people’s response and reaction to him, we begin to see and understand the truth about ourselves. Our reality. Our sin. Our preference for darkness and sin rather than light.
Jesus is grace personified
In the bible ‘grace’ is ‘God’s provision for our spiritual need by sending his son to be our saviour’ (Morris, P.94)
Grace is a gift
Grace is undeserved
Grace and truth are inseparable
There is no grace apart from truth, and no truth without the offer of grace
Unless we accept the truth about Jesus and ourselves, there is no grace
And, if we accept the truth about Jesus and the truth about ourselves, there too is grace … sin paid for, guilt removed, God’s acceptance assured
A poem attributed to the 19th C English poet, Laurence Housman … (Morris)
“Light looked down and beheld Darkness
‘Thither will I go,’ said Light.
Peace looked down and beheld War
‘Thither will I go,’ said Peace.
Love looked down and beheld Hatred
‘Thither will I go,’ said Love.
So came Light and shone.
So came Peace and gave rest.
So came Love and brought life.
And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”
In Jesus, God became one of us that we may become one of His.