The Word Became Flesh - John #1
The Word Became Flesh
JOHN, the Book, the Man – Part 1
January 14, 2007 Dr. Rick Isbell
John, the book, the man.
The Gospel of John was written by the Apostle John near the end of the first century.
- John was called the beloved disciple
- A true friend of Jesus
- Tradition tells us that John was the last of the disciples to die
- John writes from a tender heart that reads like a friend writing you a letter
- John is the first book that new Christians are often encouraged to read
John clearly stated why he wrote this book and even though we will dissect it and examine many themes and life lessons in it, it all points back to one verse that lays it all on the line:
20:31 “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
Let’s read together the words of John 1:1-18
This section is known as the Prologue / introductory statements
Grand introductory statement that reads like Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God…”
All the other Gospels begin by placing Jesus in a historical context –
- Matthew – in the genealogy of David and Abraham
- Mark – Jesus entering Galilee and calling the first disciples
- Luke – the Christmas story, the birth of Jesus
But John wanted to take us all the back, beyond the creation of this world and time as we know it…
- before the human race…
- before life itself
- to say that Jesus’ impact on this world began even before this world began
And John introduces the first dramatic theme of this prologue:
Theme #1: WORD
John is seeming to say that “I want to know about what Jesus did and the ministry of His life and teachings, but you are not going to get all of that unless you can grasp the fact of WHO He is and not just WHAT He did.”
Jesus is God manifest in the flesh
- What He did and what He said is God doing it and saying it.
1:1 As far back as man can think, in the beginning… the Word was existing.
The term “Word” is the common Greek word logos, which meant “speaking, a message, or words.”
- “Logos” was widely used in Greek philosophical teaching as well as in Jewish wisdom literature and philosophy.
- John chose this term because it was familiar to his readers, but he invested it with his own meaning, which becomes evident in the prologue.
The Word was with God
- The word “with” translates to “in company with”
o So the Word, Jesus, had a unique relationship WITH God
- But John then added that the Word WAS God.
o Some, Jehovah’s Witnesses, translate this clause, “The Word was a god.” This is incorrect and is polytheism/more than one God.
o How do you reconcile that with the commandment to have no other God’s before me?
o Others have translated it “the Word was divine,” but that is ambiguous and a watered down view of who John said that Jesus is.
1:2 The Word has always been in a relationship with God the Father.
- Christ did not at some point in time come into existence or begin a relationship with the Father.
1:3 Why is there something rather than nothing?
- That is a debated question in philosophy.
- The answer is God.
- He is the Creator of all things in relation with the Word.
1:4 Life is man’s most important asset but it is only available from God and the Word.
- Man’s spiritual and physical life comes from Him.
Here in VS 4 we see the second major theme of the Prologue:
Theme #2: LIGHT
Light is commonly used in the Bible as an emblem of God;
- darkness is commonly used to denote death, ignorance, sin, and separation from God.
- Isaiah described the coming of salvation as the people living in darkness seeing a great light
1:5 Light’s nature is to shine and dispel darkness.
- Darkness is almost personified in this verse:
- darkness is unable to overpower light.
- By this, John foreshadows points he will later make in his Gospel record: (a) Light will invade the dominion of darkness.
(b) Satan, the ruler of darkness and his subjects will resist the light, but
they will be unable to frustrate its power.
(c) The Word will be victorious in spite of opposition.
The third dramatic theme of the Prologue begins in VS. 6 and it is:
Theme #3: WITNESS
1:6 A man named John came on the stage of history.
- This John did not author this Gospel but was the great forerunner of Jesus known as John the Baptist.
- He was sent from God, which was the secret of his importance.
- Like the Old Testament prophets he was equipped and commissioned by God for special ministry.
1:7 He came as a witness
- sent for people’s benefit to be an additional pointer to the truth of Jesus,
- People in sin are in such darkness that they need someone to tell them what is light.
- John’s goal was that all men might come to trust in Jesus.
1:8 John the Baptist was great but John the Disciple made sure to state that John the Baptist was not the Light.
- Some historical evidence suggests that some followers John the Baptist continued after his death and even after the death and resurrection of Jesus
- John saw that this was not necessary because the One of whom John the Baptist preached was already here doing His saving work
- Twenty years after Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 18:25; 19:1-7) Paul found about 12 disciples of John the Baptist in Ephesus.
- A Mandaean sect still continues south of Baghdad which, though hostile to Christianity, claims an ancestral link to the Baptist.
1:9 Christ gives light to every man.
- This does not mean universal salvation or general revelation
- or even inner illumination.
- Instead, it means that Christ as the Light shines (phōtizei) on each person either in salvation or in illuminating him with regard to his sin and coming judgment
1:10 The world (kosmos) means the world of men and human society which is now in disobedience to God and under the ruler-ship of Satan
- The Logos came among people in the Incarnation, but mankind did not recognize its Maker
- The failure to recognize (egnō, “know”) Him was not because God’s nature was somehow “hidden” in people, as some suggest. Rather, it is because of human ignorance and blindness, caused by sin (John 12:37).
1:11 In some ways this is one of the saddest verses in the Bible.
- The Logos went to His own home but He had no welcome.
- Jesus went to His own people, the nation Israel, but they as a whole rejected Him.
- In rejecting Him, they refused to accept Him as the Revelation sent by the Father and refused to obey His commands.
- Isaiah long before had prophesied of this Jewish national unbelief: “Who has believed our message?” (Isa. 53:1)
1:12 That unbelief, however, was not universal.
- Some received Jesus’ universal invitation.
- To all who accepted Jesus as the Revealer of the Father’s will and as the Sacrifice for sin, He gave the right to become children of God.
- Warren Wiersbe says, “People are not naturally children of God but can become so by receiving the gift of the new birth.”
1:13 The new birth does not come by natural descent nor is it the result of a human decision nor is it the result of a husband’s will.
- it is a supernatural work of God
- A person welcomes Jesus and responds in faith and obedience to Him, but the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit is “the cause” of regeneration
1:14 The Word (Logos) became flesh
- Christ, the eternal Logos, who is God, came to earth as man.
- He did not merely “appear” like a man; He became one
- Humanity was added to Christ’s deity and yet did not change Him;
- “Flesh” in this verse means a human nature, not sinfulness or weakness.
- lived for a while among us is the same wording from the OT that speaks of God’s dwelling in the tabernacle. So Jesus dwelt among us in that same fashion.
- We have seen most naturally implies that the author was an eyewitness
- His glory refers to the unique splendor and honor seen in Jesus’ life, miracles, death, and resurrection.
- The one and only Son (monogenous) means that Jesus is the Son of God in a sense totally different from a human who believes and becomes a child of God.
- Jesus’ sonship is unique for He is eternal and is of the same essence as the Father.
- The glorious revelation of God which the Logos displayed was full of grace and truth
1:15 John the Baptist gave a continuing testimony to Jesus.
- The present tense of the verbs testifies and cries out stresses this.
- Jesus was younger and began His ministry later than John, but John said that because of His preexistence (His eternal nature) He . . . has surpassed me.
1:16 The Word made flesh is the source of grace
- The words we . . . all refer to Christians and include John the author.
- Because of the fullness of His grace . . . one blessing after another… The Christian life is the constant reception of one evidence of God’s grace replacing another.
1:17 The greatness of the OT revelation of God was the giving of the Law by God through His servant Moses.
- No other nation has had such a privilege.
- But the glory of the church is the revelation of God’s grace and truth… through Jesus Christ
1:18 No one has ever seen God means, “no one has ever seen God’s essential nature.”
- God may be revealed by His creation or works
- but His inner essence or nature is disclosed only in Jesus
God the only Son is literally “the unique God” or “the only begotten God”
So John ends his prologue by returning to the truth stated in verse 1 that the Word is God.
- Verse 18 is another statement affirming Christ’s deity:
- He is unique,
- the one and only God.
- The Son is at the Father’s side, revealing the intimacy of the Father and the Son
- Furthermore, the Son has made . . . known
- the nature of the invisible Father as displayed in the Son
So there are a lot of meanings and at least 3 dramatic themes: WORD -- LIGHT -- WITNESS
All of these themes have one common thread among them and that is that the whole purpose was to declare God and to reveal God to us.
The WORD was to miraculously put God in a form that we could understand, see, touch, hold, grasp.
God knew that as humans we needed someone to extend a hand of help to pull us up
- We needed a comforter to stand with us and extend an arm around us to show us understanding and make everything OK.
—Daily Bread “Jackie Robinson was the first black to play major league baseball. Breaking baseball’s color barrier, he faced jeering crowds in every stadium. While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he committed an error. The fans began to ridicule him. He stood at second base, humiliated, while the fans jeered. Then, shortstop Pee Wee Reese came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie Robinson and faced the crowd. The fans grew quiet. Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career.”
Jesus can comfort better because He has been there.
“a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. . .”
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows…”
“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
The LIGHT was to illuminate our hearts with the essence of God
- drive the darkness from our lives
- light up our path as we follow Him
On Christmas Day 1968, the three astronauts of Apollo 8 circled the dark side of the moon and headed for home. Suddenly, over the horizon of the moon rose the blue and white Earth garlanded by the glistening light of the sun against the black void of space. Those sophisticated men, trained in science and technology, did not utter Einstein’s name. They did not even go to the poets, the lyricists, or the dramatists. Only one thing could capture the awe-inspiring thrill of this magnificent observation. Millions heard the voice from outer space as the astronaut read it: "In the beginning God"--the only concept worthy enough to describe that unspeakable awe, unutterable in any other way. "In the beginning God created"--the invasive, the inescapable sense of the infinite and the eternal.
The WITNESS was to reveal to us God’s plan to save us
- to reveal the hope when we seemed hopeless
- to reveal a better way when our ways failed
- to provide an example to those of us who are believers to turn aback around and bear our own witness of the Word in our lives.
But what do I have to witness?
I am a nobody… I am but a speck in the Kingdom.
The fearless English evangelist, Henry Moorhouse, used to tell of an incident he had witnessed in the city of London. Some of the gambling men were betting on how many rats a dog could kill in a given time. One man wagered a large sum that his terrier could kill 25 rats in a single minute. The dog, when thrown into the pit with 25 savage rats, battled furiously. But while he killed a number of them, when the minute was up, he was far short of the goal.
The evil man, taking his dog out of the pit — in anger because he had lost the wager — began to beat and kick the dog unmercifully. The entire incident had taken place at the London zoo and after the beating, the man picked up the battered terrier and threw him into the cage of a lion anticipating that the king of the jungle would immediately tear the dog to pieces.
Instead, Moorhouse said, the supposedly savage beast looked at the pitiful, wounded dog, went up to him, licked him, fondled and stood over him to protect him — growling viciously at the man who had tossed the dog into his cage.
Suddenly the lion’s keeper appeared and demanded to know who had put the terrier in the lion’s cage. The dog’s owner acknowledged that in his “excitement” he had done so, but now wanted the dog returned. At first the keeper acted as if he had not heard the request. Angrily, the man insisted upon the return of his dog, only to be told: “All right, you may have him back. I will open the cage and you can go in and get him.”
Moorhouse said: “When I was beaten and kicked and well nigh destroyed by the devil, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah found me, bruised and bleeding as I was, took me into His care, healed all my wounds, and now He stands over me protecting me from my merciless enemy. I am saved and I am satisfied.”
Hallelujah, what a Savior!