From now through Easter Sunday we are going to be working our way through some of the stories found in the Gospel of John. There are four Gospels and they make up the first four books of the New Testament.
Each Gospel represents Christ with a distinctive emphasis. Matthew emphasizes His Kingship. Mark His servanthood. Luke His manhood, and John His Godhead. The book of John presents Jesus Christ as the Great Creator God of the universe. His comprehensive vision of who Jesus is has been used often to open the eyes of unbelievers to who Jesus really is and the way to be in a relationship with Him.
The serious student of the word of God and those who read the book of John more than once will often find Christ to be a little bigger each time they read it.
This is what happened to Lucy in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. When she gazed into the Lion’s face (Aslan the lion represented Christ in the story), this dialogue followed:
“Welcome, child,” he said.
“Aslan, “said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered He.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”
It is my prayer and intention that as you make these day leading up to Easter a time of spiritual focus that you will find Christ bigger and better than you ever have known Him to be. John opens his account with what many scholars believe is a song. It is considered to be poetic in its lyrical form. The opening lines of this book are the toughest to process in some ways but I think we can get through it with some understanding today that will help us as we process the rest of the series.
We are introduced to:
1. The Greatness of Christ’s Life: He is God.
With authority and confidence John’s opening words declare place, power and position of Jesus Christ.
“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.” John 1:1-3 NLT
He is Eternally Preexistent: The idea that God always was is a tough one and can give you a headache if you think about it too long. Thinking our way back through time is almost impossible for us to handle and so faith must kick in and make up for our inability to process. You know that no matter what you believe about the beginning of this world it takes faith. It takes about as much faith to believe in scientific explanations as it does to just take the Bible as the Word of God and rest on its promises. Jesus was. He always was.
He is Eternally in Relationship “The Word was with God.” It is staggering to think about and maybe you see no value in it but the fact is according to John that Jesus was with God always. He was always in relationship with God along with the Holy Spirit. These are foundational truths that will strengthen you faith and concept of God if you embrace them fully.
He is Eternally God “And the Word was God.” He was and is like God in every way yet a separate person. It is in Christ that God assumes a face and a persona that we as human beings can grasp yet He is still God.
This simple statement in verse one is the most compact and pulsating theological statement in all of Scripture. But there is one more description:
He is Eternally Creator “ 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.”
Let me be very clear about something. You either believe the bible to be the word of God or you don’t. There has always been a struggle between science and the Bible. It is not a new thing but an old argument. As I said before, you can put your faith in anything but you will put your faith in something. I choose as a Christfollower and a believer in the word of God to believe that Jesus Christ (God) is the creator of the world and universe.
Colossians 1:16-17, “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. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Hebrews 1: 2-3, “. . .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. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”
Revelation 4:11, “you are worthy, our Lord God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
1 Corinthians 8:6, “. . .yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came, and for whom we live, and there is but one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.”
There are about 100 billion stars in the average galaxy and there are at least 100 million galaxies in known space. Einstein believed we has only scanned about one billionth of theoretical space with our largest and most powerful telescopes. We believe that Jesus created it all and that He keeps it all in order. He keeps it in order in the universe we see and in the places we cannot see. Micro biology is nothing more than a verification of the brilliance of a creator God.
Why is this important? If you believe that Jesus Christ is God and that God created everything then you have the ability to put your life and trust in this same God. There is nothing that you will encounter in this life that He can’t help you through.
What else do we discover about Christ?
2. The Greatness of Christ’s Love: He brings a gift
God has always been about trying to communicate and reveal Himself to mankind. The use of the term, “The Word,” may seem mysterious in some way but in reality it could be read “The Communication.” “In the beginning was the Communication.” God has always been about trying to communicate His love to us.
“ 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created and his life brought light to everyone.
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
6 God sent a man, John the Baptist, 7 to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. 8 John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. 9 The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” John 1:4-13 NLT
The Light was Revealed Remember we are describing Jesus Christ and this thought is especially wonderful and heartening. He came to give us spiritual light in a dark world. Where light goes, darkness is dispelled. “The light shines in the darkness,” meaning Christ is continually bombarding every corner of our hearts through the work of the Holy Spirit in nature, conscience and the scriptures. It is as we receive the light and take it to the darkness that the message of Christ gets shared. (The absolute importance of the church being the body of Christ)
The Light was Rejected According to our text; “He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him.” Can you feel the pathos in these words, “He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him?”
I wonder today where you are regarding Christ. I wonder if you are receiving Him or rejecting Him. I wonder if you have ever seen the life changing and transforming light of Jesus Christ. In an amazing demonstration of love Christ continues to call and pry His way into the hearts of men and women. The fact that you are in this building today hearing this message is a testimony to the grace and light of God trying desperately to reach your soul.
The Light Received
12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.”
What can you say to words like this? If you believe. . .you have the power and right to become the sons and daughters of God. You and I are given the ability to be born again with a birth that comes from God. It’s the ultimate do over. It is the transforming power of God that comes into our lives when we surrender ourselves to Jesus Christ.
John never got over this concept of becoming the children of God. Many years later as an old man he writes these words, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1
He even follows these words with the prospect that we are becoming and taking on the nature of our Heavenly Father, “Dear Children, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2
I would like to take a moment right now and encourage you to receive Christ. “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him. . .” There is nothing to join, nothing to sign or nothing to give, just believe. Believe and receive in Jesus Christ and enter into a relationship with Him that will transform your life.
There has to be a moment when this happens. Have you had that moment of faith? Have you ever or will you today believe and receive Jesus Christ as Your Savior?
3. The Greatness of Christ’s Labor: He brings grace.
“ 14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
15 John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”
16 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.
17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.” John 1:14-18 NLT
Christ came to do a job. It was and is a labor of love. John uses very descriptive language and says that “. . .the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.” Literal translation is, “He pitched His tent among us.”
In the original translation John says, we receive “grace upon grace.”
God’s grace is continually flowing to those that love Him and have received Him. The great reformer Martin Luther puts it this way,
“The sun is not dimmed and darkened by shining on so many people or by providing the entire world with its light and splendor. It retains its light intact. It loses nothing; it is immeasurable, perhaps able to illumine ten more worlds. I suppose that a hundred thousand candles can be ignited from on light, and still this light will not lose any of it brilliance. . .Thus Christ, our Lord, to whom we must flee and of whom we must ask all, is an interminable well, the chief source of grace. . . Even if the whole world were to draw from this fountain enough grace and truth to transform all people into angels, still it would not lose as much as a drop. This fountain constantly overflows with sheer grace.”
There is a great article that illustrates the concept of grace written by Charles Stanley.
““One of my more memorable seminary professors had a practical way of illustrating to his students the concept of grace. At the end of his evangelism course he would distribute the exam with the caution to read it all the way through before beginning to answer it. This caution was written on the exam as well. As we read the test, it became unquestionably clear to each of us that we had not studied nearly enough.
The further we read, the worse it became. About halfway through, audible groans could be heard through out the lecture hall. On the last page, however, was a note that read, "You have a choice. You can either complete the exam as given or sign your name at the bottom and in so doing receive an A for this assignment."
Wow? We sat there stunned. "Was he serious? Just sign it and get an A?" Slowly, the point dawned on us, and one by one we turned in our tests and silently filed out of the room.
When I talked with the professor about it afterward, he shared some of the reactions he had received through the years. Some students began to take the exam without reading it all the way through, and they would sweat it out for the entire two hours of class time before reaching the last page.
Others read the first two pages, became angry, turned the test in blank, and stormed out of the room without signing it. They never realized what was available, and as a result, they lost out totally.
One fellow, however, read the entire test, including the note at the end, but decided to take the exam anyway. He did not want any gifts; he wanted to earn his grade. And he did. He made a C+, but he could easily have had an A.
This story illustrates many people’s reaction to God’s solution to sin. Some people look at God’s standard--moral and ethical perfection--and throw their hands up in surrender. Why even try? they tell themselves. I could never live up to all that stuff
Others are like the student who read the test through and was aware of the professor’s offer but took the test anyway. Unwilling to simply receive God’s gift of forgiveness, they set about to rack up enough points with God to earn it.
But God’s grace truly is like the professor’s offer. It may seem unbelievable, but if we accept it, then, like the stunned students who accepted the professor’s offer, we, too, will discover that, Yes, God’s grace truly is free. All we have to do is accept it.
The more you come to know Jesus Christ the bigger He will become to you. Remember the story of Aslan the Lion and Lucy. I want to watch this interaction between a little girl and a lion that represents Jesus Christ.
In his book, What’s So Amazing About Grace, Phillip Yancey tells the story of Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway grew up in a very devout evangelical family, and yet there he never experienced the grace of Christ. He lived a libertine life that most of us would call "dissolute"… but there was no father, no parent waiting for him and he sank into the mire of a graceless depression. A short story he wrote perhaps reveals the grace that he hoped for. It is the story of a Spanish father who decided to reconcile with his son who had run away to Madrid. The father, in a moment of remorse, takes out this ad in El Libro , a newspaper. "Paco, meet me at Hotel Montana, Noon, Tuesday… All is forgiven… Papa." When the father arrived at the square in hopes of meeting his son, he found eight hundred Paco’s waiting to be reunited with their father. Was Paco such a popular name? Or is a father's forgiveness the salve for every soul?
There’s a sweet and blessèd story
Of the Christ Who came from glory
Just to rescue me from sin and misery.
He in lovingkindness sought me,
And from and sin shame hath brought me.
Hallelujah! Jesus ransomed me.
From the depth of sin and sadness
To the heights of joy and gladness
Jesus lifted me, in mercy full and free.
With His precious blood He bought me;
When I knew Him not, He sought me,
And in love divine He ransomed me.
By and by with joy increasing,
And with gratitude unceasing,
Lifted up with Christ forevermore to be,
I will join the hosts there singing,
In the anthem ever ringing,
To the King of Love, who ransomed me.
Hallelujah, what a Savior, Who can take a poor lost sinner,
Lift him from the miry clay and set him free! I will ever tell the story,
Shouting, “Glory, glory, glory!”
Hallelujah! Jesus ransomed me
Benediction: Remember now as you go, “ 14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.