This year we are both studying the Gospel of John and working together to better understand WHAT the Gospel is. As we progress through John, we will be taking moments to evaluate and discuss how what we are learning relates to the Gospel:
- How it helps us understand.
- How it helps us believe.
This morning I want to specifically look at the first 18 verses of chapter 1. This section has come to be known as the prologue. I am a Word Girl! I love exploring the meanings and uses of words. A prologue is defined as a separate introductory section of a literary or musical work. Here we see 18 verses that many have told me in the past few weeks are confusing. Speed bumps to the action of the story. But to me? Oh, this is a beautiful piece of scripture! The reality of what John is explaining here is mind-blowing! We don’t have time this morning to unpack in detail all of the huge truths here, but don’t worry! Part of the beauty of the prologue is that like any good introduction, John is telling us what he is going to tell us!
We were shown in our homework this week that the purpose of the Gospel of John is in chapter 20, starting in verse 30:
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
His purpose is that you may believe. In the prologue, it is as if he is saying, “Hold up. If you are going to really get this, you need to understand something first!” What is it that he wants us to understand? Let’s break it up and look at it:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.
This Word (who he later identifies as Jesus) was there at the beginning. No, even before the beginning. This Word WAS and IS God! We get a glimpse of the Trinity here.
3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
The Word, Jesus, was the agent of creation. He’s the one who made it happen! It’s no accident that John used the same phrase in verse 1 as Moses used in Genesis 1!
4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Jesus is the source of Life. Not only that, but verse 5 shows his mighty power, and hints at the victory to come!
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
John makes CLEAR that John the Baptist was NOT the Word.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
He was coming for everyone, not just the Israelites. But oh, it is also tragic. Look at verses 10 and 11 especially. His own creation did not know him. Not because he was hidden from view, but because sin had blinded them. And then, God’s own chosen people – favored amongst ALL of creation – rejected him. Can you imagine the heartbreak he must have felt?
12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
But and yet are two of my FAVORITE words in the Bible. I once heard them called Gospel Vocabulary.
They rejected him, BUT to all those who don’t, to those who believe, he gives the right to become children of God! What was once reserved only for the nation of Israel is now given to those who would be adopted.
13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Get this! This adoption is not done in your power, your will, or because of a family connection or inheritance. It is purely grace – God’s grace to give you the faith to believe.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
This verse, I think, is one of the MOST amazing. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Creator became part of His creation while still being completely himself! Chew on that for a minute! What was the last thing you created? Are you crafty? Do you write, or cook? What do you create? Imagine you are a dollhouse designer and builder. You create this beautiful house, fill it with furniture and dolls. AND THEN YOU BECOME ONE OF THE DOLLS! Can you do that? No!
How great is the power of our God!
And not only did he become human, he lived among us – interacted with us on a daily basis so that they could see his glory! Just try to wrap your mind around that! Daily physical, personal fellowship with God.
16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
These verses give light to the paradigm shift that has resulted from Jesus’ time on earth. We are no longer under judgment from the Law, which was impossible to follow perfectly 100% of the time – unless you were Jesus! But where Adam, and the rest of us have failed, Jesus succeeded and brought us Grace and Truth. He is Hope.
18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
Here John is bookending all this great theological truth with a reaffirmation that Jesus – the Word made flesh – is completely God. In studying the bible, bookending statements are important to notice. Repetition lends emphasis to anything. But often, it is what comes between the bookends that needs to be paid most attention to because it is being highlighted by the bookends. I know it may seem confusing at first, but that stuff in the middle, it is of great importance.
We will be unpacking all of this as the year progresses. There are themes introduced here that John will carry throughout his gospel. For now, remember that John has written this Gospel so that you may believe in Jesus, fully God and fully man, who came to save His creation from a broken relationship and an eternity separated from him.