(This sermon was preached on Sunday, April 22, 2012 at Arapahoe Road Baptist Church in Centennial, CO. This is part of our “Jesus Is __________” sermon series as we begin an exposition on the Gospel According to John. The audio version of the sermon should be up soon on our sermons page.)
1. He is the God of all creation.
In John 1:1-5, it says:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
If you have read through the Gospels (that is, the first four books of the NT) that outline the ministry of our Lord Jesus start in differing places. If you read Matthew starts with Mary and Joseph, with Joseph’s dilemma of how his virgin wife could be with child—that child being the Lord Jesus Christ himself—God with us! In Mark, the “beginning” was the start of his earthly ministry. In Luke, he starts with the coming of John the Baptist who (as you will see in John 1:6-8) is the one who came to pave the way as the witness of the Messiah to come.
Yet John starts further back—before Jesus’ ministry, before Jesus’ birth, before David, before Abraham, and even before Adam and Eve. “In the beginning”—meaning for our ears to understand before time began from all eternity—the same as it is in Genesis 1:1. At the same point when God created everything before time began, we see that “in the beginning [too] was the Word.” What are we to glean from here?
The word ‘word’ is translated from the Greek ‘logos.’ John understood that two different audiences would be reading this: the Greeks, and the Jews. The Greeks, especially the uber-rational Stoics, believed that this ‘logos’ was the principal showing the foundation of all rational thought. For the Jews, it was the sum total of all of God’s revelation (“His Word”). So the apostle John intentionally communicated that this to both groups! He is, as the apostle Paul noted, “the treasure of all wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3).
He was with God, meaning he has a distinct personality that was intimate in fellowship with the Father. He is also God in that he possesses the same substance.
Then John goes on! Verse 3: “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” So Christ is the agent of all creation!
The pivot comes in verses 4-5: “In him was life, and that life was light of men. The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not overcome it.” Why is this a pivot? On the surface, it looks as if John is talking about Jesus’ role in the physical creation. But here, John begins to show Jesus’ spiritual creation and work. It’s the word ‘overcome.’ He is using a physical understanding to move forward a spiritual truth. In physical creation, darkness is simply an absence of light. In the spiritual realm, darkness is the presence of evil. But this ‘overcoming’ is interesting. This word can also be translated ‘comprehended’ or ‘understood.’
We have all been in classes where we have struggled. But there is a time (hopefully) that when you have struggled, you persevere until (and what’s the expression we use) “the light comes on.” There is a comprehension to the subject and a mastery that helps you overcome the obstacles impeding the progress! Here, when we say that the darkness has not “overcome” it—it has not mastered it. As in physical properties, so it is in spiritual properties, the light will never master the darkness. Ever.
2. He is the true light of the new creation (John 1:6-13).
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 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. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,[a] and his own people[b] did not receive him. 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.
Here, John begins to show us what the true light is—it’s of a spiritual realm, but more than this. All through the OT, when the Shekinah glory of the Lord would arrive, it would be in light, in splendor, in majesty, and in awe.
This true light (Christ) came into the world. Remember, this is the world that He made. But the world did not know him.
Even more surprisingly (at least on the surface), he came to his own people—and they said no as well. This is the people of Israel! And this is devastating! I remind you of what Romans 9:4-5 says:
4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
Look at all God had given them! Every advantage! Every opportunity! Before them, God rolled out progressively every sign and every relational possibility to show how He would come to rescue—all culminating in the True Light coming, but they remained blind! As we heard on Good Friday,
It would be bad news if the story ended at John 1:10-11. But let’s look again at John 1:12-13:
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.
There are those who do receive him! There are those who believed in his name, trusting in his character, and His work! And God bestowed the right to become children of God. We receive him, but we see how this ultimately happens. We become children of God because we were born only of God.
Think about when you were born! Do you remember the day? Well, no, you don’t. Hopefully you remember your birthday at this point, but we do not remember when we were born. The fact is, most of us don’t remember anything before our 2nd birthday—with rare exceptions. The fact is, we had no say when we were conceived, and we had no say when we were to come into the world! John 3 says that we must be born not just once, but be born again.
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[a] 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You[b] must be born again.’ 8 The wind[c] blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
We are not saved by our family or heritage. We cannot manufacture the Spirit’s work like so many evangelist charlatan’s out there who try to use certain words or emotions to elicit a response.
3. He is the true temple of His people (John 1:14-18).
Look with me at John 1:14-18:
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. 15 ( John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.[a] 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,[b] who is at the Father’s side,[c] he has made him known.
In the Old Testament, God gave His people His name, but He would not dwell among them. Moses and Joshua would go outside of the camp into the Tent of Meeting to meet with and commune with God. So when this Word, this True Light, would become flesh and dwell among us? And we would see his glory? We must not lose the thrust of this passage!
The Tabernacle in the wilderness and the Temple in the Promised Land were the centerpiece of the community of Israel, the people of God. The Temple was the place where God and man met and communed. So when the apostle John writes that the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” this is a ‘tabernacling’ term. The Tabernacle and the Temple pointed to the ultimate centerpiece of God’s people, the ultimate place where God and men could commune and dwell together: Jesus Christ.
Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4 that there would come a time when they would not worship in Jerusalem or anywhere else (even their Mt. Gerazim), but they would worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Christ would dwell with us and we would dwell with him (Revelation 21:1-4). We have even been termed a ‘temple of the Holy Spirit’ through the Spirit of God through Christ residing in us (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) taking us to the throne of God (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Jesus even said that the Temple would be destroyed, but he would raise it again in three days. He is the Temple to which he refers. Not another building, but Himself!
If we wish to see the glory of God, we will not need to be hid like Moses was in the cleft of the rock—we need to see Christ!
Charles Wesley’s words speak true, not just during the Christmas season:
Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"