We continue our series from the Gospel of John. I am very excited about teaching through this incredible book. John gives us a tremendous picture of Jesus and how he affects our spiritual lives. I am glad that God is allowing us to take this journey together. I pray that we will learn and grow together through our study of this amazing Gospel.
Scholars tend to believe that this was one of the last New Testament books written toward the end of the 1st century. Matthew, Mark, and John had already been written and circulated as well as the letters of Paul and Peter. For this reason, John does not retrace many of the events already described in the other Gospels. John is selective in what he includes, and his selections point to a distinct purpose, one he provides for us in 20:30-31.
John’s purpose centers on telling us 1) who Jesus is and 2) how does this affect me. In essence, Jesus is God and we should believe on Him because of who He is and how He provides life to those who believe in Him.
From the opening section of the gospel, John addresses this question, “Who is Jesus?”
John focuses upon the central fact of our Christian faith: Christianity is not a philosophy, it is about a Person, and that Person is fundamental to our faith. To remove Jesus from Christianity is like taking numbers out of math or the letters out of the alphabet. It is to strip Christianity of its most essential component.
While other world religions focus upon the teachings, ideas, philosophies of their founders and teachers, Christianity is about a personal relationship with a Person. That is why Jesus Christ is the most astonishing individual in human history. More books have been written, music composed, pictures painted, and drama performed about Jesus than any other person. Why?
Why did other great figures come and go? Why do others fade into the annals of history but Jesus Christ looms as large in modern society as he did 2000 years ago? Why is he the most powerful personality to ever appear on this planet? That is the question John answers: who is Jesus?
WHO IS JESUS?
1. Jesus Has Always Existed
For many years I thought that Jesus got his start when He was born. I guess I got this from learning about baby Jesus or Jesus the carpenter, the teacher, I don’t recall any Sunday School or Vacation Bible School lessons from John 1. The fact of the matter is that Jesus Christ has always existed according to verses 1-2
1 In the beginning the Word already existed. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. John 1:1a & 2
John begins his Gospel in an unusual manner. Unlike the Matthew, Mark and Luke who begin their account of Jesus in a historical context, John opens his Gospel in eternity. John was not content to begin his story as Mark did with the story of John the Baptist. Nor was it enough as Luke did to go back to the birth narratives of John and Jesus. John did not even go back with Matthew to the genealogy of Abraham and the roots of Israel, or with Luke to the beginning of the human race in Adam.
John moves beyond human history. He starts “in the beginning.” Do those words sound familiar to you? They take us back to
Gen. 1.1: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
John starts with God. In the Bible, you cannot go any further back than God, and that is where John begins, in eternity past with God’s eternal purpose.
And what does he tell us? In the beginning was the Word. Recognize the significance of what John says here: In the beginning, from all eternity, the Jesus has existed. In other words, Jesus has eternally existed.
Let’s talk briefly about this term, “the Word.” The Greek word is “Logos.” While Logos is not a well-known English word, it was very common in 1st century Greek. And it is a word John employs to capture the attention of his diverse audience.
To the Greeks, the Logos represented “the eternal energy of the universe” (from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1996 by Biblesoft) Much like the “force” of Star Wars.
To the Hebrews, the Logos was identified with the Word of the Lord. In the OT, the word of the Lord is connected with God’s active power. His word represented his actions in creation (Gen. 1.1; Ps. 33.6), revelation (God’s word came to the prophets), deliverance (Ps. 107.20), covenant, guidance, and judgment. The Word of God represented His actions, His self-revelation, how God revealed Himself and acted.
So when John uses the term Logos, it is a term that appeals to both the Greek and the Hebrew. It is a term that captured the attention of the Greek philosophers, the Jewish scholars, and the average citizens. It was familiar to all.
Why is it important that Jesus has always existed? Because he is not some Johnnie come lately, some good man or good teacher he is much more than that. He stands beyond time and space.
- Jesus is God
The Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1b
The “Word was with God,” indicates that Jesus Christ existed in a face-to-face relationship with the Father. He is separate and distinguishable from the Father. We don’t have time to discuss the intricacies of the Trinity, but know that Jesus is not a creation of God, but is God Himself. Separate and equal. Verse 2 summarizes and repeats verse 1 in order to make sure we grasp the magnitude of this truth: “He was with God in the beginning.” Paul writes in Colossians the very same idea:
15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, Colossians 1:15
Why is it important that Jesus is God? Because only God can forgive sins, only God can raise the dead, only God gives eternal life and only God can change my life. And that is what Jesus does: He forgives me, He gives me eternal life, He raises me from the dead and he changes my life.
2. Jesus is the Creator
We see in verse 3 that Christ is also the Creator:
3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.
Again I thought only God the Father was the creator but we see from John and from Paul in Colossians that Christ is part of the creation process:
16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth… Everything was created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16
Why is it important that Jesus is the Creator? Because Jesus created me means he understands me, and he knows how I feel. Do you ever feel that your life is too complex for Jesus to understand? Remember, He created the entire universe, and nothing is too difficult for him. He created you; he is alive today, and his love is bigger than any problem you may face.
4. Jesus is the Light
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. John 1:4-5
The beginning of creation starts with physical darkness in Genesis 1. To correct this darkness God said, “let there be light.”
Spiritual darkness spilled into our world in Genesis 3 and can only be removed by Jesus who is life and light.
Why is it important that Jesus is the Light? Because in his light, we see ourselves as we really are (sinners in need of a Savior). When we follow Jesus, the true Light, we can avoid walking blindly and falling into sin. He lights the path ahead of us so we can see how to live. He removes the darkness of sin from our lives. Have you allowed the light of Jesus to shine into your life? Jesus will guide your life, and you won’t stumble in the dark.
In the next post we will examine, How do the truths that Jesus is God, Creator and light affect me and what should I do?