************ Sermon on John 1:1-5 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 21, 2014
"The Light shines in the Darkness"
When did the gospel begin? Take a look, for a moment, at the four gospel writers.
Mark begins the gospel of Jesus Christ with the ministry of John the Baptist.
Luke begins the gospel of Jesus Christ with the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth.
Matthew begins the gospel of Jesus Christ with a genealogy going all the way back to David and Abraham.
As for John, he begins the gospel of Jesus Christ at the same point the Bible begins: "In the beginning" (Jn 1:1; Gen 1:1). So right away John is telling us the gospel is before time and before history and before sin and before creation.
Why does John start this way? John is making claims about Who Jesus is, what He does, and what He brings: Jesus is God; Jesus mediates God's work of creation; and, Jesus brings life.
I Who Jesus Is (vs 1-2)
A Jesus is God. We see this in the first two verses which highlight Jesus' relationship with God:
(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.
Why does John say "Word"? Why doesn't He just say "Jesus"? Why doesn't He just say "In the beginning was Jesus and Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God"?
The word "Word" is significant. Think of how you use words to communicate. Think of how you communicate thoughts, feelings, orders, wishes, and concerns.
A number of months ago David & Linda got a phone call from Alexander's daycare. The daycare people were concerned because Alexander was always hitting himself on the side of his head. We laughed when we heard this. Before he could talk Alexander was taught sign language and one hit to the side of head means daddy and two hits means grandpa. Alexander was asking for his daddy or maybe his grandpa. Now that he is talking Alexander no longer does sign language.Jesus is the "Word." This means in Jesus God communicates His thoughts, feelings, orders, wishes, and concerns. This means in Jesus God reveals His character, His nature, His power, His person. This means Jesus is God's self-expression.
When God speaks things happen. Think back to the act of creation. God spoke and there was light. God spoke and there was sky. God spoke and there was dry ground. God spoke and there was vegetation. God spoke and there was the sun, moon, and stars. When God speaks, things happen.
Jesus is the Word. Jesus is God speaking. So things happen: salvation and sanctification, healings and resurrections, our adoption as sons and daughters of God, answered prayer, new life, protection from the devil.
B "In the beginning was the Word." "He was with God in the beginning." The Bible does not say Jesus had a beginning but that He was already there "in the beginning." John wrote his gospel around AD 90. Already there were heresies appearing denying the doctrine of the Trinity. Already there were those who were saying the Father created the Son or adopted the Son. Already there were those denying the deity of Christ. "Not so," says John. "In the beginning was the Word." "He was with God in the beginning." Jesus has always been God. He has always been there. Here John argues against the beliefs taken over by the Jehovah's Witnesses who say Jesus is not God.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Notice, the Word not only is God but is also distinct from God. He is His own person. He was "with God." Meaning what? Meaning He was in fellowship with the Father. His was and is an eternal love relationship with the Father.
Jesus is God. And Jesus is His own distinct person as part of the Godhead. Here John lays down the basis for the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.
C Jesus is God. That's the big message of John. He is not just a teacher. He is not just a miracle worker. Especially at Christmas we celebrate that the baby in the manger is God. He is divine. He is the Word. He is God's self-expression.
This requires a response on our part. This requires faith. This requires obedience. This requires us to bow the head and bend the knee before Him. This requires that we listen to Him.
II What Jesus Does (vs 3)
A In verse 3 John tells us what Jesus does as God. Especially highlighted is Jesus' relationship with creation:
(Jn 1:3) Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
John makes this point both positively and negatively. Positively, "through him all things were made." Negatively, "without him nothing was made that has been made." Jesus is the agent of creation. And, Jesus is the only agent of creation; there is no other creator; in fact, there is no other god. This means that when God spoke all of creation into being, He did so through Jesus the Word.
"Through him all things were made." All things. He made this valley. He made the mountains that surround us. He made the sequoias. He made the Grand Canyon. He made Niagara Falls. He made the tarantulas and eagles and coyotes and wild pigs and turkeys I see on my bike rides. He made it all. No exceptions.
(Col 1:16) For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
(Heb 1:2) but in these last days [God] has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.
B Have you ever wondered why John starts with Jesus' work of creation instead of going straight to His work as Savior.
Again, John wants to tell us something important about Jesus. Again, John is making claims about Who Jesus is, claims that are vital for us and our salvation.
Who is Jesus? He is the Creator. He is the Creator Who made heaven and earth and everything in them. He is the Creator Who made everything out of nothing. Telling us what? Telling us Jesus is almighty. Telling us Jesus is all-powerful. Telling us there is nothing Jesus cannot do. Telling us Jesus must be God.
We need this kind of Savior. We need a Savior Who is able to provide whatever I need for body and soul. We need a Savior Who is big enough and strong enough to bear the weight of God's anger against sin and release us from it. A weak Savior does us no good. A weak Savior leaves us in our sins. A weak Savior is not able to turn adversity to our good.
This kind of Savior requires a response on our part. This requires faith. This requires obedience. This requires us to bow the head and bend the knee before Him.
III What Jesus Brings (vs 4-5)
A In this candlelight service we end with what Jesus brings as God. John puts it this way:
(Jn 1:4-5) In him was life, and that life was the light of men. (5) The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
Biologists have identified what is crucial for life. First, we need a breathable atmosphere. The atmosphere of planets like Venus and Mars mostly contain carbon dioxide which is a poisonous gas.
Second, we need a suitable climate. The temperature on Earth does not go from one extreme to the other. Mercury can be anything from 200°C below freezing to 375°C above. Venus has a surface temperature of 480°C, which would be much too hot for anybody to live in. Mars can be as cold as -140°C, a temperature which would freeze blood. The other planets are colder still.
Third, we need water. Earth has water! Water contains the oxygen needed for life. Other liquids contain poisonous elements. Water doesn't burn skin, it is drinkable, and it allows life-providing molecules to move around easily.
Fourth, we need light from the Sun. No planet uses it as effectively as Earth. Trees and plants on the planet produce oxygen through a process called photosynthesis. Plants need the Sun to grow.
Go back to the days of creation. The Earth started off formless and empty and dark (Gen 1:2). It is no accident that the first creating word was of light: "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good (Gen 1:3,4). It is light that started off God's creation activity that ended with the creation of man and woman in the image of God.
B In view of this, listen again to what John says about Jesus in our Bible reading:
(Jn 1:4) In him was life, and that life was the light of men.Do you hear what John is telling us? John is telling us Jesus is light. John is telling us Jesus is the source of life. John is telling us Jesus is necessary for life. John is telling us life is not possible apart from Jesus. Life, real life, requires Jesus. That is what John is telling us.
C Every Summer Ruth and I watch Le Tour de France. Not only do we get to watch an exciting bike race but we also get to see spectacular scenery – including fields of sunflowers in the South of France. Did you know the head of the sunflower turns throughout the day to face the Sun? No matter what time of day it is, our TV shows us an entire field of sunflowers turned towards the sun. Sunflowers instinctively know that the Sun is their life.
John informs us that many people are more ignorant than sunflowers. "The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it" (Jn 1:5). So many don't know that they need Jesus. So many don't know they are in darkness. So many don't know their sinful condition. So many don't know Jesus is the answer. As John puts it:
(Jn 1:10-11) He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. (11) He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.Many have closed their hearts and minds to the light. They choose to ignore it, neglect it, or even oppose it. Many have come to love darkness and hate light because their deeds are evil (cf Jn 3:19-21). Theirs is separation from all that is good. Theirs is never ending sorrow, tears, and pain.
"In him was life, and that life was the light of men" (Jn 1:4). He has come to give us light. He has come to shine in our darkness. Therefore, we need to do something. We need to turn away from sin and turn to Jesus. We need to escape the darkness and embrace the light. Come to Jesus, congregation. Don't reject Him, neglect Him, or ignore Him. Come to Jesus because He alone chases away the darkness of sin. Notice what happens when we do:
(Jn 1:12) Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God ...When we come to Jesus, the light, we embrace what is good: love, joy, and peace.
How does John start his gospel? Where does John start his gospel. In the beginning. He goes way back to the beginning and he tells us Jesus is the Word Who is God's self-expression, He mediates God's work of creation, and He is the light Who brings life.
Again, I say, this requires a response on our part. This requires faith. This requires obedience. This requires us to bow the head and bend the knee before Him.
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