(John 1: 1-18)
I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. I love it because I can keep up with family and friends and also promote what we are doing here at the church. But I hate it because of all the trash and vitriol that is spewed by incredibly angry people. For that reason, I’ve stopped following a lot of my friends and several of my family members. The stuff they post that they think passes for the truth is mind-numbing. There are few I do keep because it’s like watching a train wreck. You just can’t help but not watch it. I generally try to ignore these posts but there are those times when you just can’t let the absurdity stand, so I go to one of the fact-checking sites like Snopes.com to verify whether or not their post is factually correct. If they are wrong or incorrect, I will sometimes comment on their post pointing out their error. You ‘d think that would be the end of it, but you’d be wrong. Pointing out the incorrectness of their post is often like throwing gasoline on an already raging inferno. It usually draws out the “Oh yeah, then what about…” crowd. It’s like if they didn’t see it with their own eyes, they wouldn’t believe it and you can’t convince them otherwise.
And this is where I think the Apostle John finds himself in our scripture reading for this morning. John wrote his gospel between 85 and 90 A.D. after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. His gospel doesn’t contain the genealogy about Jesus’ family tree that you find in Luke and Matthew because his audience is different. He was writing for new Christians and searching non-Christians. To them, all the fulfillments of the ancient prophecies probably didn’t mean much. John was an eye witness to what Jesus preached, taught and did during his earthly ministry so he could give some relevant and credible first-hand accounting of the time period when God came and lived among his people.
John gets right to the point when he says; In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. Jesus was and is God and has always been with God. In the literary world this is a real attention grabber and makes the reader want to read more to see how such a claim or premise will be supported. To a Greek reader the Word was the principle of reason that governed the world, an abstract idea, and to say that “the Word became flesh” was unthinkable. To the Hebrews the Word was another expression for God, and to say that “the Word was God” was blasphemous. To John, this new understanding of the Word was the gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. John is telling his readers that Jesus was fully human and fully God.
John continues by saying; What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light to all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. What great news for a new Christian or a searching non-believer, a light that shines in the darkness of an oppressive world that grinds the last, the least and the lost under its heel. John’s description shows clearly that he is speaking of Jesus, a human being he knew and loved, but at the same time the Creator of the universe, the ultimate revelation of God, the living picture of God’s holiness, the one in whom all things hold together. This is why I love the Gospel of John. He gets your attention immediately and says if you keep reading, he’ll show you exactly why Jesus is God and God is Jesus. It’s why when I read the New Testament I started with John, read through Revelations, and am now reading Matthew through Luke to complete my reading.
John goes on to tell us about another man from God named John, John the Baptist, who came as a witness to testify to the light so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light, the true light, which enlightens everyone, that was coming into the world. But then, the apostle feels that it is important for the new believers to know that the Christ wasn’t readily accepted. He says; He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. This had to have been a difficult statement to get your head around. His own people did not accept him? How could that be? To John’s credit, he doesn’t dwell on this and tells us that; But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. What’s done is done, move forward and leave the past in the past. Live for the kingdom of God.
What John is telling us is that Christ has chosen to reflect his light through us, his followers, to an unbelieving world. Our role is to be a witness for Jesus Christ reflecting his light and his love. And through us, all who welcome Jesus Christ as the Lord of their lives are reborn spiritually, receiving new life from God. Through faith in Christ, this new birth changes us from the inside out, rearranging our attitudes, desires and motives. Being born makes you physically alive and places you in your parent’s family. Being born of God makes you spiritually alive and puts you in God’s family.
In verse 14, John tells us; And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. The Word became flesh means becoming human and, by doing so, Christ became the perfect teacher. In Jesus’ life we see how God thinks and therefore, how we should think. By becoming human and living among us, Christ was the perfect example modeling what we are to become as he shows us how to live and gives us the power to live that way. He was the perfect sacrifice giving himself up for all our sins and his death satisfied God’s requirements for the removal of sin.
Before Christ came, people could only know God partially. After Christ came, people could know God fully because he became visible and tangible in Christ. Christ is the perfect expression of God in human form. He’s no longer some distant, vengeful and scary God who rules with an iron fist. He was human just like us. He understands us knowing our highs and lows. Jesus came to highlight God’s mercy, love and forgiveness. The true living nature and will of God the Father are revealed in Jesus Christ. As we get to know Christ better, our understanding of God will increase, and we will grow closer to him. In Christ, God revealed his nature and essence in a way that could be seen and touched. In Christ, God became a man who lived on earth, Immanuel, God with us.
The mighty Creator became a part of the creation, limited by time and space and susceptible to aging, sickness and death. But love propelled him, and so he came to rescue and save those who were lost and to give them the gift of eternity. He is the Word, he is Jesus the Christ, he was God in the flesh.
Please pray with me.
Gracious and loving God, how we thank you for always being. You are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. We thank you for loving us so much that you came to earth to live among us in the form of your son Jesus Christ. We thank you for his teachings and the examples he set as a guide to us of how we should live in peace with one another. And, we thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit who guides us and leads us in your ways. We thank you for sending the light and we pray that we, as your children, will carry that light forward so that those who are lost and searching will be drawn to the light and come to love you as we do. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.