If I were to ask you to define the gospel, I suspect you would say something like this:

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1 Six Big Ideas You Need to Know About Jesus John 1:1 5 (John #2) February 8, 2015 If I were to ask you to define the gospel, I suspect you would say something like this: Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross to pay for our sins, and we need to repent of those sins and believe in Him. And if you were to say that or something similar you would be CORRECT... But maybe not COMPLETE! Remember when you go to court, you swear to tell the truth, the WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth. So, the idea that we need to trust Christ for forgiveness is true, but I don t think it s the whole truth. The Gospel the Good News you see, is more that WHAT Jesus did (and certainly more than what WE are supposed to do) it is WHO Jesus is. The Gospel the Good News is Jesus! So true evangelism true Good Newsing is talking about Jesus to ourselves and our neighbors. Not about our church, not our experiences, but talking about JESUS! And the best place to learn about Jesus is from the Gospels, so this morning I am beginning a fresh series on the Gospel of John. I ve chosen John because he seems to make a conscious effort to highlight truths about Jesus that the other gospels don t always spend a lot of time on. So, this morning let s look at Six Big Ideas that You Need to Know About Jesus from the first five verses of John. I. Jesus is eternal John 1:1, In the beginning was the Word. John 1:2, He was with God in the beginning. Now, I am quite sure that the other gospel writers believed that Jesus was eternal that He existed before He was born but it s interesting that when Mark begins his gospel, he writes, The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and then he talks about John the Baptist and how he baptizes Jesus. The ministry of Jesus begins with John the Baptist. 1

2 Matthew, in the genealogy at the beginning of his gospel, traces Jesus ancestry all the way back to Abraham 2,000 years earlier. And Luke takes the line of Jesus all the way back to Adam. But I think John wants to get rid any ambiguity here! Before John the Baptist, before Abraham, before Adam in fact, before ANYTHING Jesus existed. He was not created. He just WAS! And to drive that point home, in John 8 when Jesus is defending Himself from His accusers, He says to them, Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day. And they laugh! You ve seen Abraham! And then Jesus drops this bombshell: before Abraham WAS, I AM! And they try to stone Him to death, because they understand precisely what He was claiming! Jesus is eternal He was there before anything or anyone else. He was there when TIME began! II. Jesus is the Father s Voice to the World John 1:1, In the beginning was the WORD. I know most of us are used to that phrase now, but, if you know Genesis 1:1, it s a little jarring. It s a bit of a surprise. We re expecting, In the beginning GOD and instead we get, In the beginning was the WORD. Genesis 1 talks about God s ACTION ( In the beginning God CREATED ) but John wants us to focus on God s BEING ( In the beginning WAS the Word. ) We ll discover finally down in vs. 14 who that Word is, but for now John wants us to understand that Jesus, by His very nature, is a REVEALER of God. He s a COMMUNICATOR for the Father. You see, God is a communicative God who is speaking all the time to reveal Himself to us. If He weren t, we wouldn t know anything about Him. So, maybe we can think of Jesus, the Word, in this way: I may have an idea in my head, but you won t have a clue what I m thinking unless I say something. In that sense, when I speak, I reveal myself to you. 2

3 So, in Jesus we get to SEE and KNOW the invisible God. God, of course, speaks in all sorts of ways. He speaks the Psalms tell us through CREATION, as the heavens reveal His glory to us. In the past the book of Hebrews tells us He spoke through the PROPHETS. But now, Hebrews and John tell us, He has spoken to us through His SON. Jesus is the Word of God. The prophets said, Thus says the Lord. Jesus said, I AM the Lord! So, He is not just another prophet He is God s FINAL WORD to the world. Everything we need to know about God is wrapped up in Jesus. He s the voice of the Father to the world. III. Jesus is GOD Well, given everything we ve read up to this point, we re not surprised by this, but for John it s absolutely essential that we get it. John 1:1 and the Word was with God and the Word WAS God. He couldn t be clearer. Jesus was not just another in a long line of prophets. He was not some kind of supernatural angelic visitor. He was plain and simple GOD! Now I m guessing most or all of you believe that, but you need to understand how difficult a confession that would have been for John to make. Because John was Jewish, and as soon as he could talk he was reciting the great Shema of Deuteronomy 6: Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE. And yet here he is declaring, as unambiguously as he possibly could, that JESUS this man who for 33 years had walked the earth was GOD! Well, somebody says, Maybe the Father the one God turned Himself into a human being for a few years. Maybe Jesus is just the Father in disguise! But twice in our passage, John goes out of his way not just to say, the Word was GOD, but also that, He was WITH God in the beginning. They were in eternal fellowship together for all eternity. 3

4 One of the things I love about the gospels and something that I think a lot of Christians miss as they read the gospels is how HUMAN Jesus is. He gets TIRED and HUNGRY and THIRSTY. He CRIES when His friend dies and struggles with all the same TEMPTATIONS that you and I have. And, most of all, He DIES on that cross! But JOHN wants us realize that while He was truly and fully HUMAN, somehow in the mystery of God s being He was also truly and fully GOD. That is critical, because only GOD can fix our messed up world! IV. Jesus is the Father s Agent (or instrument) in Creation We believe, along with the Apostles Creed, in God the Father, Maker of heaven and earth. But notice how John describes Jesus work in John 1:3, Though him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John hints at this in his opening words, doesn t he, when he says, In the beginning But while Genesis talks about the OLD creation, John wants us to understand the NEW creation that Jesus brings. By the way, the second part of verse 3 only confirms the eternality and the divinity of Jesus: because nothing has been made except what HE has made. So Jesus is UNCREATED (because He couldn t have created Himself) and ETERNAL. That old creation is a testimony to the power of God s Word. As Psalm 33 puts it, By the word of the Lord were the heavens [and everything else] made. God spoke and the universe began. V. Jesus is Life So, how much more powerful is this Living Word who speaks and devils flee, waves subside, and blindness vanishes. If anyone is in Christ, Paul tells the Corinthians, he s a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. John 1:4, In him was life. Or as Jesus will put it in John 3, in Jesus the Spirit gives birth to spirit, and we are BORN AGAIN we are re-created by His grace! I want you to notice that little phrase, In him. We re used to seeing that in Paul s writings, but John will have a lot to say about remaining in Christ, for example, as a branch stays attached to the vine, so we can bear much fruit. 4

5 Jesus says, in effect, stick with me and you ll live. There is so much death in our world, but in Jesus we have life! VI. Finally, Jesus is the Light John 1:4 5, 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. Again, John takes us back to the themes of creation and the Word. In Genesis God says, Let there be light, and there was light He chases away the darkness with a simple WORD. Now, in His new creation, Jesus is the Light of the World. In chapter 8, Jesus will, in fact, say, I am the Light of the World, and then in what can only be called a Living Parable He will demonstrate the power of His word when He heals the man born blind. The Light of the World brings light into the world of that poor blind man! Verse 5 is so important to understanding Jesus as the light. It begins in the present tense: The light shines it shines ON in the darkness. Let s be clear: the darkness is still here. In a telling verse in 13:30, John says that when Judas left the Upper Room on his way to betray Him: And it was night. The darkness is still there, and as the NIV translates it the darkness has not understood it. And we will see later in 1:10 that he was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. In fact, even His own PEOPLE did not receive Him. So, we shouldn t be surprised when people today ignore and reject Jesus. But there s another way verse 10 can be translated, and while the NIV puts this alternate in a footnote, the ESV chooses to put it in the actual text: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. So the darkness of this world is constantly trying to EXTINGUISH the light of Jesus, but they can t do it, because the light is more powerful than the darkness. 5

6 Never think that light and darkness are two equal powers, and we re on pins and needles, waiting to see which one wins. By the way, I think John as he often does in his gospel has both ideas of this word in mind: The darkness, first of all, doesn t understand the light, but, second of all, it can t extinguish the Light of Jesus, however hard it may try. Six big ideas you need to know about Jesus. Remember that, as you read tomorrow s headlines. Occasionally, I will hear someone say, They kicked God out of our schools. Yeah, like they could DO that! No, the light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness can neither understand nor extinguish it! Rev. Robert Smallman Bible Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church in America) 1605 Highway G Merrill, WI

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