Today we begin a series of sermons which I have been waiting to do for two years. For some time we have been telling you that our goal is to raise up Christians who are apprentices of Jesus. That being like him in character and words and deeds is what the Christian life is all about. Yet in all this time we have not turned our gaze to look at him, now we will do this. This morning begins our gaze at the life of Jesus. We will follow his life chronologically throughout the 4 books about him called “the gospels”.

This morning we will begin with the first 18 verses of John’s gospel. This passage is for me one of the greatest passages in the Bible. John is setting out what he thinks is most important to say before he gets into his story. Almost all of what makes us unique in our Christian faith is stated here. This is very rich food.

John begins with these strange words, “in the Beginning was the word…” “In the beginning” does not sound strange but the word used here means much more than, “in the beginning of our story”, it means not only in the beginning in time but it means in the beginning as “originating from” or as “the first cause”. It means that whatever the “word” is, it existed before time and pre-existed everything that exists. It means that the word was not a created thing and that it has always existed. This is not so strange, but what is this “word” about? The word used here is the Greek word “Logos” which carries the meaning of  “something said including the thought”. It means a statement and the thought behind it. What an amazing thing; In the beginning was God and a statement which God wants to make which is an eternal thought of God which has always existed. This is incredible; that God has some thought which he has always had, which he wishes to say. What thought, what statement, to whom?

What is even more strange is that although this thought was with God it also “was” God and the strangest thing of all is this statement isn’t just a thought it is somehow a person – “HE”. And it is God, but it is also somehow distinct from God – enough to be it’s own self – “he”. It, he, has always existed with God and it is God but it is also somehow distinct in itself. It was not created by God, because it is God. And it is a message, a statement to someone. What an amazing thing!

JOH 1:3  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men. Now things get even more interesting; all created things were made through him. It does not say that he did it alone it says that what was done was “through” him. Everything that exists is made through this message of God. This message is creative, it communicates and it does this first through creation.ROM 1:20  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. The word is God’s statement and it, he, cannot exist without communicating. It’s very first act of making the world is an act with a message, with a meaning to be found.

Now John goes on to say something even more profound; John 1:4  In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. This message of God has life in it and that life is the “light of men”. What is interesting here is that the message is not information, it is life. It is not important as something to know about; it is important because it brings life. The message is not just an idea, it is life. Life itself, real, something you interact with, which is alive and which brings life. And even more significantly, this life is what illuminates human life. The meaning of human life comes, not from  the information [the raw message], but from the message which has become life. It is the life part of the message that is the light of men. It is only after the word becomes life that it can be the light of men. It must become life to be light. This is the nature of truth: it is not useful to us in the abstract, it only becomes true to us when it is imparted into what is alive – it must  be lived to be truth. The only truth which is relevant [helpful] to humanity is that which we can see lived in reality. Words are only words until they are lived. This truth, which is God’s message, is alive and because it is alive it shines into human darkness and brings meaning to human life. All that has human significance has it because of this message, which is alive.

John then goes on to say that this light comes into darkness but the darkness has not understood nor has it overcome it. The light has not been received by the darkness but neither has the darkness overcome it. The light is triumphing.

Now comes a big change. John begins to refer to the Word, this message of God, as a person exclusively. JOH 1:10  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Something amazing has happened. God has taken his message to people and made it into a human life! This life has entered the world but even more amazing than God becoming a man, is the fact that people reject this message and this life. This is the essence of what sin is. Sin is not what you do, it is the rejection of God as God. It is the extreme arrogance of ignoring this message from God. Especially when this message is God himself!

What was this message, that became a human life in order to bring us light? Why embody the message in a life? Why not just speak? It has been said that all religions lead to God. You hear this a lot these days. There is some truth in this and it is this; all religions point to God. It is the desire of humanity to know God. Religion is the human search for God. But inherent in this search is a problem: if God is eternal and creator then we as creatures cannot know him. We cannot understand timeless eternity.

We cannot understand infinity, let alone the one in which infinity dwells. All religions point to God and that is all they do, that is all they can do, for God who is infinite and eternal is not knowable by that which is created, [stuck in time and space].

But God had something to say to man and it was about himself. God wanted to reveal himself to people in a way that we would fully understand and recognize. Not only recognize, but relate to – have relationship with. So the message about himself – the Word – was translated into a new language, which all men could understand. The new language is humanity. God becomes a man to show man what God is like, in our own language.

Now all of this, this miracle, was for a purpose, not just to communicate but, to communicate for a purpose. Here is the purpose: John 1:12  Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. To all who accepted the message, who accepted him as he claimed to be [this is what believing in his name means – it means believing in all that the name implies, Savior, master, Lord, Immanuel{God with us}] there is a consequence. These ones are given the right to become the children of God. And the word “right” here does not just mean permission, it means the power, the capacity. It means that before the coming of the message that brings life, these people could not be God’s children. They did not have the ability to be his children but now, because they believed, they are transformed, born of God, by his life, into his kids.

Jesus was and is God’s message to humanity. He is God revealed to us in our language. We no longer have to wonder what God is like; we have seen him with our eyes. Is Jesus really truly God? Hebrews 1:3  The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being. The great religions point to God but only one reveals him and, in only one, can you know him!  The true wonder of all this is not just that Jesus has perfectly revealed God, the wonder is in the purpose of the message. It never ceases to put me in awe to know that before anything existed, before time, God knew me and wanted to make me his child. It is a cause of constant wonder that the purpose of all God has done was to communicate himself to me so that I could be His child. That creation was made through him to reveal this as well.

Ephesians 1:4  For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will–to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Jesus is the message of God’s glory. He is the expression of the unearned love which God has given us. He is the love which has been waiting, since before time, to come to you.

John 1:16  From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.From Moses came the message of God’s holiness and our sin [the law]. From Jesus came the message of unearned love and forgiveness.

Ephesians 1:7  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,

John 1:18  No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.

 All this is Jesus!

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