John's Overture, 1:1-18, 29 April 2012

Big Idea: the first verses of the Gospel tell us about the deity of Jesus, John the Baptist, the depravity of the world, and hope as they preview the rest of the book

John 1:1-18

Why Four Gospels?

Just as marketing professionals use different approaches to communicate with different audiences, so the four Gospel writers uniquely wrote to various groups of people.

Matthew wrote to the Jews. He depicts Jesus as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and emphasizes righteousness.

Mark was intended to be read by Romans. He focuses on Jesus as servant and workman and speaks of miracles, strength and action.

The Greeks were Luke’s target. He is the Great Physician and Friend of Sinners. Mercy, wisdom and humanity are emphasized.

John was written to people of the east. Wise men came from the east to worship baby Jesus. Egyptians, Persians, Indians, Chinese, Babylonians. The mystery touched the misery of the world. We see Jesus as the Word of God, the light, life, and Living Bread. His divinity is prominent. John has more about the resurrected Christ than the other three put together. John mentions seven post-resurrection appearances.

J. Vernon McGee says that John is written for the wretched man, believers who have met Christ but try to follow Him in their own strength. That’s you. That’s me. John wrote at the request of the church that already had three Gospels but wanted something more spiritual and deep that would enable them to grow (Augustine).

The Overture of the Gospel

A prologue is an introduction, but an overture has pieces of the songs that follow. We get a preview of what is to come.

In The Beginning

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1).

In the beginning. Where have we heard that before?

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

John writes elsewhere

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 John 1:1)

Jesus is the Word (logos in Greek).

He was with God in the beginning. 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 all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:2-5)

In the beginning was the Word. It’s past tense. The word “was” is in the durative imperfect. It’s continued action. It doesn’t say in the beginning IS the Word. It says the Word was there in the beginning, the Ancient of Days. Eternal. Timeless.

In the beginning was, not is. When was this? 6000 years ago? Millions of years ago? Who knows?!

The Word was with God. The Word is not God the Father.

The Word was God. God was the Word. The Greek could not be clearer.

What is the Word? Who is the Word?

The Word is Jesus. The Greek word is logos. It meant reckoning.

Let’s look at it this way...

In the beginning was Jesus, and Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God. He was with God in the beginning. 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 all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

He created all things. Jesus was the Creator. Jesus was not created!

The two most important questions you and I must answer are who am I and who is God. Many people believe in Jesus, but what do they believe? Who is Jesus? A good teacher? A prophet? An honorable man? He was an is God.

Arianism was an early heresy. The Arians did not believe Jesus was God and man.

He is life.

He is light.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. (1:6-8)

This is John the Baptist. We’re going to talk more about him next week.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 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. Yet to all who did receive 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. (1:9-13)

Here we see that Jesus is the light.

The Greek word for “world” is “kosmos.” It is not a place, but a reference to everything. If you recall, in the Garden at creation, God said that everything He created besides a lonely man was “good.” Years later, God nearly destroyed it all when He saw how wicked and wretched things had become. Only Noah and his family were spared when the Flood covered the earth and consuming all life that was not hidden in the ark.

We often think of the world as a good place. We are taught that people are good. The reality is that we are all wicked and in rebellion toward God. We carry the DNA of Adam and Eve’s sin. We are messed up. One author has said, “Sin is not a series of bad choices, but a state of being from which bad choices continually come.”

Even in Jesus, we rejected Him. We killed Him. People love the darkness rather than the light. Throughout John we will see how we have rejected God.

We do not live in a nice world that God wants to make nicer. Instead, we live in an evil world that replaces the Truth of God for whatever man-made spirituality is politically correct.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (1:14)

John doesn’t take us to Bethlehem. This is the Christmas story in one verse.

This week I’ve been meditating on this simple verse. It is simple but so profound. God came to earth. Eugene Peterson’s translation of the Bible,
The Message, says, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”

There are many ways in which God could’ve expressed His love for us, yet He chose to come and become one of us.

Jesus is fully God, yet He also became fully human. God understands. Really!

Are you tired this morning? God understands. He has been tired.
Are you struggling with temptation? God understands. He has been tempted in every way.
Are you discouraged? God understands. He was so discouraged that He sweat drops of blood!
Are you sick or in pain? God understands. He experienced the most agonizing pain, not only physically but emotionally and spiritually.

This is what Christmas is all about! God became human and moved into the neighborhood. He understands!!! Hebrews tells us that...

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to
help us in our time of need.
(Hebrews 4:15-16)

(John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father,
has made him known. (1:15-18)

The Word is personified in Jesus. Many Jews rejected Jesus, instead claiming to be followers of Moses. John notes here that Moses never saw God, but those that saw Jesus saw God. Jesus came to fulfill everything that Abraham and Moses and David and Isaiah and every other Old Testament character longed to see and experience.

There is hope for our broken world. There is only one hope, and His Name is Jesus. One writer said, “Transformation and hope cannot be the fruit of some human endeavor. Only God can take the initiative, and men and women must see, receive, and believe the work he desires to do. And when they do, they are reborn to become God’s children.”

We talk a lot about change and transformation, but it’s not a human work; it is a divine work.

This passage “is not about a message that offers hope, but about The Message that is the only hope.”

We see that Jesus is God, Creator, timeless, eternal.
We see that we rejected Him.
We see that Jesus came to bring light and life and hope. Transformation is possible, not through methods or principles, but through a Person.

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