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Profound Beginnings

Published: 4 months ago- 14 January 2024
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SERMON MANUSCRIPT

Big Idea: Our Saviour is God and eternal life comes through believing in him.

The famous Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr Watson are out in the desert camping. After dinner and a chat around the fire they are off to bed. But during the night Holmes wakes Watson and pointing to the vast array of stars above them says, “Watson, what do you see?”

Watson replies sleepily, “I see an incredible vista of countless stars.” “What does that tell you?” asks Holmes.

Watson ponders for a minute. Astronomically speaking, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Chronologically, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, it’s evident the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.

Why, what does it tell you, Holmes?” Sherlock is silent for a moment: “Watson, you idiot, someone has stolen our tent.”

A humorous example of an awesome splendour revealing a profound and simple truth.

That is a great way to describe our passage today because the opening paragraph of John’s gospel is packed full of awesome splendour which reveals a profound and simple truth.

There are huge linguisticological, theological, cosmological, and soteriological themes all through this passage.

But in all of this awesome “-ological” splendour… What is a profound and simple truth which we must not miss, which we need to see, and hold on to and believe?

Let’s take a look. This is a jam-packed section of Scripture so I will concentrate on three phrases from the passage.

In the Beginning; In the World; In the Flesh. We will follow the theme of creation to help us identify the profound and simple truth John wants us to see.

IN THE BEGINNING (V1-5)

The opening three words of John’s gospel.

Who can tell me what novel begins with this line … It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens

How about this … It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austin

How about this … In the beginning … Genesis 1a

Creation account. Beginning of the Bible, life, the world and everything.

Not an accident or a coincidence that John starts his gospel in the same way as Genesis.

This is an introduction. John is introducing – spoiler alert, JESUS. He doesn’t actually use the name Jesus until v16. But I wasn’t clever enough to shape my sermon around that – maybe next time.

But now the cat’s out of the bag, let’s take a look. What is John telling us about Jesus and creation.

Read v1-3

In the beginning was the Word [eternal], and the Word was with God [distinct from … the Father v14, 18], and the Word was God [divine]. 2 He was in the beginning with God [relational]. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made [agent of creation – all things were made through him; he is not a creature]

Jehovah Witnesses are wrong; every other world religion is wrong because they think Jesus just a man.

John is teaching us of Jesus’ eternal power and divine nature. John is teaching us that all creation was made through him. When you look at the splendour of the world, a sunset, a sunrise, a mountain range words of appreciation just seem to spill out. That’s the right response, to praise and delight in the Creator.

We have not fully enjoyed something until we have expressed delight in it. That steak was delicious! This coffee is so good.

We know how to delight. The world knows how to delight

David Warner’s last test; at the SCG, best ground to watch cricket. Fox sports commentary team tripping over themselves in words of wonder and praise.

The point is that there are lots of people around the world doing a lot of delighting in Taylor Swift’s music. 52 billion streams for Taylor last year.

The world knows how to delight. And yet John tells us that when it comes to God in our natural state, we refuse.

We should delight in our Creator and yet we dark.

Read v4-5

4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Jesus is the source of life, the giver of life, the light of life. There is a darkness that resists the light, the light of life. The world closes its eyes to him; and squints hard to keep the light out. A darkness that refuses to understand and rejects the Majesty of God and the Lordship of Jesus. A darkness that misrepresents him or denies him completely. That darkness is born of sin and rebellion against the rightful rule of our Creator, the giver of life.

Romans 1:20-21

20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

In the beginning was the Word through whom all things were created. Rather than delighting in this awesome splendour we are given to darkness.

This response from the world deserves a response of rightful wrath from God. And yet … look how God responds with love …

IN THE WORLD (V6-13)

Read v6-9

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John [we refer to him as John the Baptist, we should call him John the Witness]. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. [in the face of rejection God sends a witness, a messenger] 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

God’s grace is displayed in John the Witness. The true light is coming, open your eyes, your hearts; don’t miss him this time.

The rebellion deserves wrath but God sends a warning. The majestic, powerful, eternal, creator God expresses his loving goodness to his rebellious creatures. Not only through a messenger, John the Witness but through sending his Son, Jesus.

But look at the reception.

Read v10-13

10 He was in the world [Jesus], and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own [Jesus to Israel], and his own people did not receive him.

The whole world, Jew and Gentile cloaked in darkness. The whole world without excuse. The world did not recognise its Creator. Israel did not receive her King. Sad situation.

Cait taking pizza order from Scott. Scott who? Morrison… Oh! the PM at the time. Embarrassing! So sorry. That’s the polite response.

When the Creator of the world and the promised King of God’s people made an appearance the world did not recognise him, nor apologise.

But notice this, God did not give up. So that some might be saved, God through Jesus made a new creation.

Read v12-13.

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Not man-made, not self-made. But a new creation by God. Born of God, people born again. Spiritual birth into new and eternal life. A new creation by God. Equipped to live in a new way. This is the work of God not the achievement of people.

The awesome splendour reveals a profound yet simple truth. God is our Saviour.

Deserving of death God re-creates a new people with new life and further reveals his glory.

How?

IN THE FLESH (V14-18)

The Word enters creation.

Read v14

14 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.

God the Son took on flesh; he became a man – (incarnation, God with meat) so that he could show mankind the fullness of God’s glory.

How would you expect the powerful, Holy, aggrieved God to display his glory? What awesome splendour would you expect to see? What displays of terrifying power would befit the one true God?

Gary Larson’s “The Far Side calendar for Christmas. Haven’t got there yet but I am expecting that the ‘God at his computer’ cartoon is in there. God looking for an excuse to push the delete button.

But God enters our mess to show us his glory. It is with the delete button… but not Gary Larson’s.

John tells us (v14) God’s glory is displayed through grace and truth… full of grace of truth. John expands on that as he unfolds his gospel account.

God’s glory is seen as Jesus is ‘lifted up,’ that is crucified on the cross.

The glory of God is seen in that he deals with our sin fully through the death of Jesus, so that we can have forgiveness and eternal life and so that God’s demand for Holiness and justice are met – all in the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus’ death on the cross.

What God is interested in deleting is the cost and consequence of our sin.

Read v16-18

16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

God’s posture toward his people has always been grace – unmerited favour. What we receive in Jesus is grace upon grace.

The OT law displayed God’s grace in revealing people’s sin condition before him.

Bathroom scales. Identify the issue and pronounces judgement and the need for a solution.

Grace and truth – the full extent of God’s Steadfast love and faithfulness is displayed in Jesus. In Jesus, we see God in his fullness.

John 3:16-18

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Our salvation is a gracious gift of new creation into eternal life from God.

John’s purpose in writing John 20:31

31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

The profound yet simple truth is that … Our Saviour is God and eternal life comes through believing in him.

In our opening story, Holmes and Watson camping in the desert, Watson responds to what he sees with impressive and comprehensive detail. And yet he missed the profound and simple truth. Someone has stolen the tent.

Here is the profound and simple truth we must not miss from John. Our Saviour is God and eternal life comes through believing in him.

Right Standing with God … is established by Jesus. God the Son is the source of our salvation. We are declared right with God the Father through the sacrifice of God the Son. Debt of sin paid, the righteous wrath of the Father is are deleted. Jesus’ righteousness is credited to our account.

When the Father looks at us the Son gets in his eyes. That’s not just at the start of our journey as followers of Jesus, it’s always true.

Our ongoing confidence before God … is continuing trust in Jesus

The posture of a mature, healthy follower of Jesus is continually taking God at his word that our right standing with him rests completely in Jesus.

Our Saviour is God and eternal life comes through believing in him.

The persistence of sin in our lives reminds us of our ongoing need for faith in Jesus and his saving work. Viewed rightly, it should bring us closer to Jesus not further away.

Satan’s accusations about our sin – give up, it’s not for you, it’s for other people who are better at this.

The Holy Spirit convicting us of our sin through the Word and by our conscience will point us to continuing trust in Jesus, hold on to Jesus.

We have work to do in weeding sin out of our lives. God has given us his Spirit to enable us. We are called to persevere in trust even when what we see or feel encourages us to give up. We walk by faith and not by experience, feelings or sight.

Our Saviour is God and eternal life comes through believing in him.

Don’t step out of the lifeboat because you’re afraid of drowning.

Don’t let go of Jesus.