Happy Boxing Day!
- If you’re a cricket fan and missing the start of the Boxing Day test, I salute your commitment to the body of Christ here at Mitchie!
- The Christmas messages continue
- This morning from John’s Gospel
Stephen W. Hawking, described by some as our greatest theoretical physicist, wrote this in 1988…
‘… ever since the dawn of civilisation, people … have craved an understanding of the underlying nature in the world. Today, we still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from … our goal (science) is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in.’ (P.14)
John, in his gospel, does not attempt a complete description of our universe. He does though tackle the big questions from a theological perspective
- Why is there not nothing?
- Is there a God?
- If so, can God be known?
- Why is the world the way it is?
- Why am I the way I am?
- Is there any real and lasting hope for the world?
- Or for me?
- What happens when I die?
- Is death the end?
- One of the 12, hand-picked apostles
- An eye witness of Jesus three year public life, the miracles, the teaching, the conflict, the interactions with all sorts of people in all sorts of places, his death and his resurrection
- Of the twelve, ‘the apostle whom Jesus loved’ (a phrase used in the gospel)
- The disciple whom, at Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus said to Mary, his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son’, and to John, ‘Here is your mother’. From that time on, John took her into his home. (John 19:26, 27)
- Imagine the reminiscing, John’s questions of Mary, and the discussions that took place around the kitchen table in the years following.
It seems John had had a life time to reflect on the question …
- Who turns water into wine? (2:1-11)
- What sort of self-respecting 1stC Jewish male would be seen in public talking alone with a Samaritan woman? Especially one with a past?
- Who heals the sick, the blind and the paralysed, in an instant and simply by a word?
- Who feeds a crowd of 5000 with a few small loaves of bread and a couple of fish?
- Or, walks on water and calms a storm with a word?
- Who raises to life a man who has been in the tomb four days?
- Why would he head knowingly and purposefully to his own death?
- What about the strange things he said?
- Who makes bizarre statements like …
- ‘Destroy this temple (referring to his own body), and I will raise it again in three days.’ (2:19)
- ‘I tell you the truth … just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it’. (5:21)
- ‘Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and will not be condemned they have crossed over from death to life’ (5:24)
- ‘… My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son, and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day’. (6:40)
- ‘I am the Good Shepherd … . And I lay down my life for the sheep’. (10:14)
- ‘It is finished’ (19:30) (What is finished????)
The fruit of John’s reflection is this gospel.
In writing he had a very clear purpose
- Found at the end of his gospel …
- ‘Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written’. (21:25)
John is calling us to a decision.
- A decision that will not only be life changing, it will also affect how we spend eternity
About John 1:1 – 18
- He is calling us to put our faith in Jesus
- To believe in Jesus
- that Jesus is the Christ, God’s promised king
- that Jesus is eternal, creator God, made vulnerable human flesh, crucified for the forgiveness of sin
- that by believing we may cross from death to life, to eternal life
- That we may know God and enjoy a personal, living, loving, relationship with the living God
- Verses 1 – 18 are described by some as an ‘overture’
- the orchestral introduction to a musical work
- For those of us brought up on rock music though …
- Think of it as the opening riff
- Think, ‘Smoke on the Water’ (Deep Purple), ‘Satisfaction’ (Rolling Stones), ‘Back in Black’ (AC/DC)
- Actually, don’t, forget I said that …
- Back to John 1:1-18
- These verses are known as ‘the prologue’
- A theologian’s way of saying … John’s introduction.
- Where he opens the story, sets the context, gives background details and introduces key ideas
- Verse 14 is the key.
- A life time’s reflection, prayer and the Holy Spirit’s leading has led him to this summary statement …
‘The word became flesh and dwelt amongst us. We (the apostles) have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only, who came from the father, full of grace and truth’. (1:14)
Who is Jesus?
- None other than God, the glorious, eternal, creating, life giving, Son of God become vulnerable, truly human, sent from God, the Father, full of grace and full of truth.
This morning …
- In Jesus, God has become one of us that you may become one of His.
- The ‘who’ is the Word?
- In v.14, “Who”, ‘became flesh and dwelt amongst us’?
JESUS, IS THE WORD
It is in verse 14 that John links the Word (of verses 1 – 13), with the man, Jesus of Nazareth
- In the NT
- ‘The Word’ refers only to Jesus. Only used by John
- John expands the term in Revelation 19:11 – 16
‘I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God … ‘ (
Revelation 19:11 – 16)
- In the NT, Jesus, is the Word of God
- In the OT
- John’s reference, God’s word / the word of God, is ‘God in action’.
- God expressing himself in word and deed
- God creating …
- This phrase ‘And God said / Then God said… ‘ is used eight times in Genesis 1 to describe God creating …
‘And God said, ‘Let there be light! And there was light’
- ‘By the word of the Lord were the heavens made’ (Psalm 33:6)
He sent forth his word and healed them;
He rescued them from the grave’ (Psalm 107:19, 20)
- God saving / delivering his people …
- ”They cried to the Lord in their trouble …
- God speaking, revealing something of himself and his thoughts, in a way that we can understand.
- The prophets are full of the phrase … ‘This is what the Lord says … ‘ (Isaiah 38:1) or a variant of it.
This is exactly what we find in verses 1 – 5 of John 1
- Jesus is God in action. God in word, God in deed!
- God is neither silent nor indolent (inactive)
- God expresses himself through his word
- God achieves his purposes by and through his powerful word
- God can be known
- He is not unknowable
- In fact, God seeks to be known
- He is not hidden from us
- nor does he hide himself from us
- He has expressed himself in creation and throughout history
- Jesus, the Word, is God’s ultimate expression
- God, in word and deed
- Creator, deliverer, saviour
‘In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood / overcome it’
In verses 1 – 5 there are at least four things the apostle John teaches us about the man, Jesus of Nazareth, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among 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)
1. JESUS, THE WORD, IS ETERNAL (V.1A)
‘In the beginning was the word … ‘ (v.1a)
To begin to understand Jesus we need to go back to ‘the beginning’
- Matthew takes us back to Abraham. 2000 years before Jesus birth, the beginning of the nation of Israel
- Mark takes us back to the prophet Isaiah. 740 years before Jesus birth, foretelling John the Baptist, as Jesus’ forerunner, the one who would prepare the way for the Lord himself
- Luke takes us to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, to John the Baptist himself, to the beginning of Jesus three year public ministry
- John however, takes us back, way back to the beginning of the universe, and beyond
‘In the beginning was the word… ‘
‘In the beginning ‘
- A reference to Genesis 1:1 and the creation story
- Same phrase found in Genesis 1:1 of the Septuagint, the earliest known and still existing Greek translation of the OT
- ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ (Genesis 1:1)
- It is about origin, not Jesus origin, the origin of created things
- The beginning of the universe
- At the Big Bang or whatever God’s means was for the beginning, Jesus, the Word, was
- The word therefore, has no beginning, no end
- The Word is not bound by space and time
- So, the baby in the manger is not the beginning of Jesus
‘Although he lived within time as a human being, he (Jesus) is not bound by time. He predates all existence’ (Milne)
‘He is greater than all things, greater than time, changeless as eternity’ (Morris, quoting Guthrie)
Jesus, the word, shares God’s eternity (Milne)
2. JESUS, THE WORD IS ETERNALLY WITH GOD (V.1B)
‘… and the word was with God … ‘ (v.1b)
‘… and the word was towards God’ (‘was’ is more precisely ‘towards’)
‘He was with God in the beginning.’ (v.2)
Think … relationship
- ‘Not only is the word, above all creation and before all ages, he was always with God, always in the presence of God, and always had a certain subsistence of his own in God. Jesus, the word, is distinct from the Father’ (Calvin)
- ‘Jesus the word was eternally with God’ (Milne quoting AT Robertson)
- ”The word has always had a distinct existence with respect to God’ (Milne)
Jesus, the word, is not a creation of God.
Nor is the word a subordinate of God.
Jesus, the word, was eternally with God (Milne)
3. JESUS, THE WORD, IS ETERNALLY GOD (V.1C)
‘… and the word was God.’ (v.1c)
Listen to the teaching of some of the great minds of the past 2000 years …
Leon MORRIS, the boy from Lithgow, NSW,
son of an iron worker who went all the way to Cambridge, became principal of Ridley College and known as ‘The New testament Scholar from Down Under’… in his commentary on John, first published in 1971 and hailed at the time as perhaps ‘the best commentary on any book of the bible by an evangelical in recent decades’, comments …
The great 16th century reformer, John Calvin
- ‘The high point is reached … nothing higher could be said: all that may be said about God may fitly be said about the Word … John is not merely saying that there is something divine about Jesus. He is affirming that he is God, and doing so emphatically … ‘ (Morris , P.68, 69)
- ‘Lest any doubt should remain as to Christ’s divine essence, he (John) clearly declares that He (Jesus, the word) is God’ (Calvin)
- By the first few decades of the 4th century a lot had changed for the Christian church
- The church was moving from the persecutions of the first three centuries, where ‘allegiance to Christ and the scriptures took precedence over the meaning of particular doctrines’, and ‘the threat from the state forced the church to internal unity’ (Cairns P.131), to a period of state protection.
- Constantine, converted to Christianity in 312, was emperor of the Roman Empire and attempting to unify it
- Christianity was moving towards being the state religion.
- What Constantine needed was one empire, one religion and one unified body of teaching.
- The time had now come to resolve some major theological disputes
- In 325 Constantine called the first council of the bishops of the eastern part of the empire to sort it out
- Met in Nicea, modern Turkey
- ‘At stake in the first general council was the simplest, yet most profound question:
- ‘Who is Jesus Christ?’
- The church was divided on the question
- In the blue corner, Athanasius, assistant to the bishop of Alexandria, at the time, insisted that Jesus, the Christ, had existed from all eternity with the Father, was of the same essence as the Father, although he was a distinct personality.
- Is Jesus of the same essence as the Father or different?
- Is Jesus God, or less than God?
- What is Jesus’ relationship to the Father?
- How could Jesus save if he was anything less than God?
- Surely only God himself could pay the price for our sin
- Yet, how could Jesus represent us if he was not truly human?
‘The Message of John’ (Bible Speaks Today, Bruce Milne, p.26)
- The bishops settled the issue, for the time being anyway, though the creed was further developed in subsequent councils of 381 and 451 …
‘When the church attempted to clarify its understanding of the person of Jesus Christ at Nicea in 325, and again at Chalcedon in 451, this gospel (John’s Gospel) was of particular help in undergirding the confession of one who is both true God and true man’
‘John makes no attempt to dilute the full reality of both the deity and humanity of Christ and so helped the church to confess Jesus Christ as one person in two natures’
‘The framers of the early creeds were … erecting, in the light of the witness of scripture, certain boundary walls within which the person of the God-man was to be authentically encountered. Outside these limits lay heresy; within these limits truth’
We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
and was made human.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end.
And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life.
He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
He spoke through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
and to life in the world to come. Amen.
4. JESUS, THE WORD, IS ETERNAL, CREATOR, GOD (V.3 – 5)
‘Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome / understood it’
- Four things to note
- All created things were made ‘through’ Jesus
- Jesus is the mediator of the creation
- Note the positive statement in v.3a
- Note the negative statement in v.3b
- Jesus was, and is, life
- There is life in the world because Jesus is.
- Just as Jesus is life, so he is light
- Jesus is the light of the world.
- Anyone who follows him, will never walk in darkness
- Jesus light shines in the darkness
- Jesus, the light is in mortal conflict with the darkness
- The darkness was not able to ‘overcome’ (not ‘understood’, NIV)
- Jesus won the victory, on the cross.
- There is no distinction in essence between God and the Word.
- Or, between the Father and the Son
- Both are equal in Godhead and therefore equally to be
Honoured, adored and worshipped (Milne)
- Jesus, is forever the word of God, God in word and deed
- In Jesus and Jesus alone, God has revealed himself to humanity
- In Jesus and Jesus alone we hear God and see God
- In Jesus and Jesus alone we encounter the living God
- Jesus alone is God come to us
- Immanuel, God with us
- There is no one else
- Perhaps you are listening this morning, thinking about Jesus, figuring out who he is and what, if any, impact he has on your life …
- Listen to John reflecting on Jesus …
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.’ (John 3:16, 17)
- Now is the time to believe in Jesus, to put your faith in Him
- Jesus is the God / man
- Fully God and fully human
- Jesus has come into the world because God loves the world
- God loves you
- In Jesus, God will not condemn you
- Because God condemned Jesus on your behalf
- Neither will God reject you if you do
- Because God rejected Jesus on your behalf
- On the cross Jesus said these words before he bowed his head in death …
‘It is finished’ (19:30)
- What is finished?
- His work on earth
- His Father’s will complete
- The perfect life lived
- The once for all sacrifice offered
‘In Jesus, God, became one of us that you may become one of his’.
- Jesus perfect life and sacrificial death save you from condemnation
- He will forgive your sin and remove your guilt
- In Jesus, your past mistakes, regrets, sin, shame, embarrassments, hurts are dealt with
- Come to Jesus for life, for connection and relationship with God
- For those who have already believed in Jesus …
- Remember in chapter 6, Jesus was teaching hard things. People began to grumble about Jesus’ claims …
“I am the bread that came down from heaven! Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven'” (6:41, 42)
- Many were deserting Jesus, turning back, no longer following him. Why? Things were getting tough for the ‘would be follower of Jesus’.
‘You do not want to leave too do you?'(6:67)
‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God’ (6:67, 68)
‘In Jesus, God, became one of us that you/ we may become his’.
- 2021 is coming to a close
- Perhaps at this moment following Jesus is hard
- Perhaps you’re tempted to turn back, to walk away, to no longer follow Jesus
- 2022, a new year, a fresh start
- A good time to reflect on just who it is you have believed in
- A time to renew and refresh your commitment to Jesus
- To whom shall we go in 2022?
- Jesus has the words of eternal life. He alone is the holy one of God!