************ Sermon on 1 John 1:1 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 25, 2019
1 John 1:1-4
"God's Christmas Gift"
Christmas Day 2019
"What are you getting Ruth for Christmas?" I was asked that question on a bike ride a week ago. "I don't know," was my answer. I was given a bunch of suggestions: a gift certificate to Michaels, or Hobby Lobby; a fancy bottle of wine; a mani-pedi; some kind of cooker from HomeGoods. As I was thinking about this I received the Robb Report in the mail; the cover said that inside the magazine was the ultimate gift guide. "Goody," I thought, "I will get some great gift ideas." On their list:
#1 The Perfect Porsche starting at $2.75 million.
#2 Celebrate Aerosmith's Golden Anniversary for $35,000.
#3 Take over a private island off Tanzania for only $163,000.
I am sure Ruth would like them all and certainly deserves them all but -- sorry honey -- they are out of my price range.
On the first Christmas God had no problems figuring out what to give. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son" (Jn 3:16). Let's look at God's gift the first Christmas.
I That Which was From the Beginning
A "That which was from the beginning ..." That's how John starts off. John, right from the start, tells us he is not writing something new. And, he tells us nothing has changed. What happened at Christmas concerns "that which was from the beginning."
"That which was from the beginning ..." What amazing and unusual language to use. I say this because is there anything in this world which is not new and different? A couple of weeks ago I was looking at some old cars and trucks. Have they ever changed in the last 100 years -- Model T, Studebaker, Thunderbird convertible, Mustang, SUVs and pickup trucks! I started my ministry with a manual typewriter, moved to an electric and then an electronic typewriter, got a word processor, graduated to a DOS based computer, and now use a Windows 10 machine. At the start of our marriage it was just Ruth and me, then three sons, then three daughters-in-law, and now six grandchildren too. I started life in Woodstock, Ontario; we moved to Port Burwell, Ontario; then Aylmer, Ontario; since then I have moved twelve more times. As someone put it, the one constant in life is change.
Actually, there are a number of constants in life. God does not change. The Gospel does not change. The reality of sin and hell's destruction and the need for repentance does not change. Another constant is what John calls "the Word of life." John says the Word of life is "that which was from the beginning."
B What is "the Word of life"? A better question to ask is who. Who is "the Word of life"? The answer, the only answer, can be Christ Jesus. Jesus is "that which was from the beginning." From the beginning of time. From the beginning of history. From the beginning of creation. From eternity to eternity. That's Jesus. He is and was and always will be. He is that which was from the beginning. Or, as John puts it in the opening verses of his gospel:
(Jn 1:1-2) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was with God in the beginning.
The first Christmas began with the Word of life. The first Christmas began with Him who was from the beginning. What I want you to realize is that there never was a time when Jesus did not exist. There never was a time when God the Father was without God the Son. There never was a time when the Son came into existence.
"That which was from the beginning." The first Christmas starts, my brothers and sisters, with the eternal Son of God. It starts with Him Who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
C "That which was from the beginning" is the Word, the Word of life. Think of what "Word" means or implies. When do we need words? When do we use words? How do we use words? Word means communication. Word means information. Word means message. This means that which was from the beginning is not only Jesus but also the message of Jesus. That which was from the beginning is the message of Christmas. That which is from the beginning is the old, old story of Jesus and His love.
This Christmas story, this Christmas message, started already in eternity with God's plan for our salvation. It was stated in the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, when God said the offspring of the woman would crush the serpent's head. The story was reinforced by the sacrifice of a ram in the place of Isaac. The story was confirmed by the sacrifices and ceremonies of the law. It is the old, old story which was from the beginning: the story of Jesus and His love.
II Heard, Seen, Looked at, Touched
A Of special interest to us this Christmas Day is what John says next about that which was from the beginning:
(1 Jn 1:1) ... which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.Do you hear what John is saying? That the eternal Son of God took to Himself a truly human nature. That Jesus was born. That "the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us" (Jn 1:14). John offers four proofs of Christmas.
Before looking at the four proofs, let us ask why it was even necessary for John to offer proofs that the eternal Son of God came in the flesh. Remember, John was writing against those who said the flesh is not important; John was writing against an early form of Gnosticism which said what is important is the mind and its thoughts, not the body and its deeds. So those gnostics dismissed as unimportant that Jesus came in the flesh. They even denied that Jesus came in the flesh.
B With this in mind, let's look at John's four proofs for the reality of Christmas.
First proof: "which we have heard." Heard. What did they hear? They heard the Word of life speak. From out of His mouth they heard sermons, commands, parables, prayers, words of compassion. John heard Him. He heard Jesus during the days of His ministry. He was there at the Last Supper, in the Garden, and at the cross. He heard Jesus after Easter's resurrection. Over and over again John heard Jesus. And, John heard everything. The whole Sermon on the Mount. All of the parables. All the teaching in the synagogues and on the hillsides and in the houses. John heard it all. John heard a real human person speaking.
Second proof: "which we have seen with our eyes." Seen. The Greek word refers to the physical act of seeing. So, it is not a vision that John is talking about. He is talking about what we have seen with the eyes and not with the mind. What did they see? They saw Jesus cast out demons. He was there and saw as Jesus reached out a hand to a lame man and the lame man got up and walked. He was there and saw as Jesus touched the eyes of a blind man and the blind man could see. He was there and saw as Jesus stopped a funeral procession and raised from the dead the widow of Nain's son. He was there and saw when Jesus walked on water. He was there and saw when Jesus stopped the storm. He was there and saw when Jesus commanded demons to enter a herd of pigs. He was there and saw when Jesus multiplied the loaves and the fish. He was there and saw the transfiguration glory of Jesus. He saw it all. John saw a real human person with his eyes.
Third proof: "which we have looked at." This is not a repetition of "what we have seen with our eyes." No, this means an examination, a searching gaze, an objective look, going over the evidence. We have looked closely. We have looked deeply. They looked into the person and power and nature of Christ: His power over disease, His power over death, His power over demons, His power over nature, His power over sin and forgiveness. They looked at all this, they examined all this, and they realized this was God in the flesh.
Fourth proof: "our hands have touched." Touched. Handled. Like a blind man feeling every bump and squiggle on a page of Braille. Listen to Jesus' invitation to the disciples in Luke 24 when they were talking and wondering about the resurrection appearances:
(Lk 24:39) Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."The disciples must have taken Jesus up on this invitation because our text says "our hands have touched." A similar invitation was given to Thomas to touch Jesus' hand and side (Jn 20:24-28). John touched a real human person, a person with a real human body, a person with real human flesh.
Remember who John is talking about? "That which was from the beginning." The eternal Son of God. He became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We heard Him. We saw Him. We examined Him. We touched Him. We can tell you He was not a ghost. We can tell you He was not a vision. We can tell you He was just as real, just as human, as you and me.
God's Christmas gift was the eternal Son of God in the flesh.
III Word of Life
A Sometimes we give and get Christmas gifts that are less than desirable. Sunday Evening Fellowship exchanged gag gifts a couple of weeks ago. I believe I saw a couple of the gifts last year and the year before. From a young age we’ve been told, "It’s the thought that counts," and to accept any gift with a smile. But sometimes you have to wonder if there was any thought to begin with. For instance, a 24-year-old single male ended up with a maternity body pillow for Christmas. A mother sent her daughter and her daughter's husband, each separately, the same self-help book on how to survive living with an abusive spouse. One woman writes, "His mom got me a $1 scarf from Walmart. It had the clearance sticker still on it. His nieces and nephews got me washcloths."
B We can't complain about God's gift the first Christmas. John calls it "the Word of life." Let's look at that word "life." John doesn't mean a life that is full of eating and drinking and sleeping and breathing. John is not talking about earthly life, temporal life. The Word of life brings another kind of life, what John calls "eternal life." Whoever believes in the eternal Son of God in the flesh has eternal life.
Do you know what happens if you don't believe in the eternal Son of God in the flesh? You perish. You perish everlastingly. You perish in the fires of hell. You end up in the same place as Satan and his demons. After a million years have passed, another million await you, and then another million, followed by another million. The punishment and the terror and the judgment and the fury never end.
Jesus is the eternal Son of God in the flesh. And when we believe in Jesus we share in His eternity. When we believe in Jesus ours is eternal fellowship with the Father and the Son. Eternal life with Jesus, eternal life because of Jesus, that is God's Christmas gift for all those who believe in Jesus.
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life" (1 Jn 1:1).
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