Islam teaches that Jesus was a great prophet who lived in Palestine, was taken up to paradise and will come again. Hindus believe he was a wise guru or even a god—one of the many in their pantheon of gods. New Agers believe that Jesus was a spiritual master who attained enlightenment.
When I was a child, my grandmother told me that Jesus would be my friend if I asked him into my heart. I remember I had a picture hanging in my room that came from her home. It was a picture of Jesus, not a Middle Eastern Jesus but a blond-haired and blue-eyed Jesus, holding a little girl’s face—that I thought looked a lot like me—in his hands. It was a precious picture and showed that Jesus is a friend to children.
Whether you come from a Christian backgrounds or you are from some of the other backgrounds mentioned above, you should ask yourself this question: Who do you think Jesus is?
Jesus is a prophet. He is a wise, spiritual master. And he is a friend. But in the Bible we see that he is so much more than any or even all of these. We are studying the testimony of John, a man who walked and talked with Jesus, who saw him die and saw him after he was raised from the dead. And John’s words are not just from him, but are inspired, breathed out by God to tell us who Jesus really is.
This prologue reaches back before time and brings us up to present day to tell us about The Word. It is a beautiful passage to read and has rich theology to contemplate. We could dig deeper and deeper in this passage but let’s concentrate on a few points about the Word to help us see the truth about who the Bible says Jesus is.
I. The Word in Eternity
II. The Word as Life and Light
III. The Word Became Flesh
IV. The Grace of the Word
I. The Word in Eternity
“In the beginning was the Word.” Reading verse 1 the first century Jew would have thought immediately of Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” John right away takes us back to before creation. The Word was already in existence before the world was created. “The Word was with God” at creation “and the Word was God.”
In Genesis, God speaks and things come into being that were not before. “And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light” (1:3). God creates using the power of his Word. John 1:3, “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” If “all things” were made through the Word, then it follows that the Word was not made. He was not created but was God’s instrument of creation.
There is great mystery here, but it is truth. This Word was with God and was God (at one and the same time), and as we read through the Gospel of John we will see Jesus doing what only God can do. For example, using only words, “Come out Lazarus!” Jesus brings a dead man back to life.
The Word creates life and is the source of Life and Light.
II. The Word as Life and Light
As the eternal Word was the instrument of creation, it follows that “In him was life” (John 1:4). He brought plants, animals and human beings to life. He is the source of life, including both physical and spiritual (eternal) life.
John 1: 4-5 “And the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Just as Jesus is the source of life, he is the source of light. Darkness describes people living without reference to God. By nature we’ve all plunged into spiritual darkness. We were hiding from God, blinded by our sin, headed to the ultimate darkness of death. But light brings knowledge—knowledge of our sin and knowledge of who God is.
Isaiah 9 is a beautiful passage about the coming of the messiah that describes him as light. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2). As John writes about Jesus being the light, shining in the darkness, he shows him to be the Messiah, the fulfillment of all Old Testament hopes and expectations. The Isaiah 9 passage continues, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:9).
The forces of darkness appeared to overcome the light at the cross, but the cross is followed by the bright-white light of the resurrection. The life and the light has conquered the darkness of death. The darkest act brought about the most glorious light, as Jesus made peace between God and man possible by the blood of his cross.
Next week, we will see that as verses 6 to 8 and 15 tell us, John the Baptist pointed the way to the light. He was the last of the Old Testament prophets and bore witness, calling Jesus, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
Look at John 1:9-11 “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.”
He made the world, and it did not know him. The Creator of the universe wasn’t recognized by his creatures! And the Jews who were waiting for their Messiah, whom God had promised to send, did not receive him. 2 Cor 4:4 explains, “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” But there is great hope if we read on in 2 Cor 4:6. “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” God gives us the ability to see and know Christ. And we see this in our passage in John. John 1:12-13 “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Believing on Jesus’ name requires knowledge of him, but the god of this world, Satan, blinds men; and our own sin blinds us, so that we cannot see the glory of Christ. We cannot know him, unless our eyes are opened by God. John describes this as being born of God. If we are born of God, we believe in Jesus and are given the right to become children of God. God shines in our hearts to show us the face of Jesus. We see who Jesus is and put our trust in him.
Notice two more things in verses 9 to 13. First, there are two responses to the light. One is to not receive him—to reject the light and refuse to acknowledge him. The other is to receive him, believing in his name. There is no third option: it’s one or the other. Either accept Jesus, or reject him. While God is sovereign over salvation and must open our blind eyes for us to see, we are responsible to receive or reject him. There are only two ways to live: with Jesus as our king and savior or with ourselves or some other god who will not satisfy on the throne.
Second, notice the word “All” in verse 12. The verse does not say “to the Jews.” It does not say “to people with the right skin color.” It does not say “to people born in Christian homes.” No, it says “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Your nationality does not matter. Your skin color and economic status have no bearing. Your religious background does not preclude you. If you receive the true light, Jesus Christ, who was in the world and made the world, he will give you the right to become a child of God.
But how can this be? We have all lived in the darkness of sin, hiding from God. We have rebelled against him in countless ways. We have sat on the throne of our lives and allowed other false gods to sit there as well. How can a holy God accept a sinful woman like me or you?
II. The Word Became Flesh
Let the next verse impact you! Verse 14, “The Word”—This Word who was with God at the beginning and was God and created the universe and everything in it; This Word who was life and light—This “Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The eternal, all-powerful, omnipresent, perfectly holy Son of God came down from heaven to take on frail human nature. 2 Cor 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
Jesus stooped low to raise sinners. He lived the perfect life, suffered and died to take the punishment of those who receive him, who believe in his name.
In the past, God was present with his people in the tabernacle and the temple, but he was separated from them, because of his holiness and their sin, by a curtain. In Jesus, God came to take up residence among his people once again, in an even more intimate way than when he dwelt in the midst of Israel in the tabernacle. In Jesus, God lived personally among his people as a walking, talking tabernacle. John and others walked and talked with him and when he died the temple curtain was torn in two, showing that he had torn down the barrier between God and man.
John writes in verse 14, “We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John saw and experienced the glory of Christ. He saw it in the transfiguration, but also in day to day life with this man who was perfect. Jesus did not look like God on the outside. He looked like a normal Jewish man. (God is a spirit and doesn’t have a body like man.) But he acted like God. In Jesus, God’s character was clothed in a human body. As his only, unique, one of a kind Son, he perfectly reflected God the Father and acted in complete accordance with his character. Imagine what it would be like to live with a man like that and have him love you. John, observing him day and night, saw his glory. And he saw Jesus’ glorious work on the cross and spent time with him after he was raised from the dead.
This brings us to grace.
IV. The Grace of the Word
John writes that Jesus was “full of grace and truth” in verse 14. Then he writes in 16-17, “And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Grace means the unmerited favor of God that brings blessing and joy. Truth is an attribute of God. He never lies. He is always true to his promises.
When Moses was leading the people of Israel through the desert he went up alone on a mountain to receive God’s law. Moses was the mediator between God and the people because the people were too sinful to be in God’s presence. Moses loved and trusted God, and he asked to see God’s glory.
In Exodus 34 Moses is up on the mountain. God puts him in the cleft of a rock so that he cannot see God’s face but only his back. Read Ex. 34:5-10.
In this passage, God proclaims his name. He declares himself to be “abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” This is the grace and truth John writes about: Grace in God showing mercy and love to a rebellious people; Truth in God’s covenant faithfulness to his people. Moses gave the law, but the law itself pointed to someone greater. God promised his steadfast love and faithfulness, and God sending Jesus, his only Son, to become flesh, take on the sins of humankind, and die, is the ultimate expression of his steadfast love and faithfulness.
Jesus is the one who took the punishment for the guilty, enabling God to forgive iniquity, transgression and sin. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s covenant with his people. He is the marvel and the awesome thing! “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (v.17).
Back in John, verse 18 says, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” Jesus is the only one who can reveal the Father to us. He is the only one who can bring us to God.
We will contemplate the riches of these verses for an eternity. But for now, how can we apply these truths of who Jesus is?
First, we must decide who we think he is, not because our decision somehow changes who he is, but because our decision changes who we are. Will we receive him as our God and King and become children of God? Or will we turn a blind eye and reject the only Son, continuing to walk away from the light into deeper darkness?
Second, as we have seen there is deep mystery here. We can actually know Jesus, yet there is always more of him to know, more of him to experience. Worship and awe of Jesus stokes our love for him and our desire to know him better. We should daily marvel at him in the Scriptures and seek relationship with him there.
Third, because Jesus reveals the Father to us, he must always be the center of our relationship with God. The gospel should be the center of our church and our lives. As one commentary puts it, “If Jesus Christ shares the nature of God, we are called to worship him without cessation, obey him without hesitation, love him without reservation and serve him without interruption. To him be all glory for ever.” (Milne, p. 6.)
Jesus is more than a prophet.
He is more than a guru or an enlightened spiritual leader.
Jesus is none other than the infinite God—who took on flesh for us, that he might represent us, suffer in our place, and save us.
So the most important question for you is the one we started with:
Who do you say this Jesus is?
Post a Comment
Comments for this post have been disabled.