David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, December 19, 2010
John 1:1-18, “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 were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’” And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”
One of my favorite passages of Scripture to read, to study, and to preach from during the Christmas season is this passage - John 1:1-19, what is often referred to as the Prologue, the Introduction, to the grand and glorious presentation of the Son of God, the Bread of Life, the Living Water, the Light of the World, the Resurrection and the Life, the Great 'I Am', the Lord Jesus Christ.
Yes, I love to read, have repeatedly heard and studied and preached from the familiar passages in Matthew and Luke, the texts about visits of the angel Gabriel both to Joseph and to the Virgin Mary. The sections that describe the spectacular announcement of our Savior's birth that starlit night to those shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night, and even the passages about the arrival of the kings from the east, the surprise it was to Herod, his insane and sinister jealousy, and, of course, the star that led those wise men, and the record of the gifts of gold, frankincense, myrrh, and most of all, worship that they gave to the One who had been born King of the Jews. I love and thank God for the record of our Savior's birth found in Matthew's gospel, and in Luke's. But, listen – to me – there's just something special something unique and powerful about the way in which all these things are presented and proclaimed through the pen of the apostle John.
In Matthew and in Luke, God shows us the 'Baby Pictures' if you will, the surprised couple, betrothed to be married, suddenly expecting a baby, and not in the normal way, but by the power of God Most High! And, the trip to Bethlehem, because of the genealogical connections to the family of King David and the manger bed because there was no room in the Inn. Yes, in the Holy Spirit-inspired accounts of these events supplied by God's grace in the Gospel of Matthew and in the Gospel of Luke, we have the 'Baby Pictures'.
But here, in the equally inspired record of the apostle John, we are privileged to see, to look at, to behold, this Baby from several other, several different camera angles than we have available to us in Matthew and in Luke. This Baby, so small, so helpless, so innocent, so 'cute' as we all imagine Him to be, when we look at the 'Baby Pictures', who was He? And, what was the meaning, the significance – yes, even for our lives – of His coming?
In his own unique and penetrating style, the Holy Spirit speaking through the apostle John, answers these questions for us here, in John chapter one, verses one through eighteen.
As we examine this text this morning, let me suggest to you that John's portrait of this 'Baby' stretch out in two directions. First of all, all the way back to BEFORE Creation, to before Genesis one, one. And, then, in the other direction, all the way to Calvary, all the way to the Cross. John's simple, yet forceful language spans that incredible distance, from before creation, all the way to Calvary. And, it does so – the apostle John does so – utilizing three simple words to explain three huge ideas. Let's look at those two groups of three, one group at a time.
First of all, allow me to ask you this question: how many of you enjoy looking at baby pictures? There's nothing quite like the expressions that their cute, dimply, chubby-cheeked, faces can display, and the way in which those expressions makes us smile or even burst out laughing. But, listen – as much as I like to look at baby pictures, what makes those pictures to me – to us – is knowing WHO the baby is – and whose he or she is, right? In other words, like with so many other things in this world, in our lives, we are interested in, concerned about the Baby's identity. Who is this little one, and whose is he? Identity, identification, who is this Baby born in Bethlehem? Matthew informs us that He is Immanuel, God with us! And that His name was to be called Jesus, for He would save He people from their sins (Matthew 1:21, 23). And, Luke lets us in on the fact that the Baby whose 'pictures' he displays is none other than the Son of God, Christ the lord (Luke 1:35; 2:11).
But John, using the simple three-letter word – WAS – opens up to us a vantage point into the identity of this Baby that is nothing short of incredible! Who was this Baby? First off, verse one, He was – He is – the Word. To put it right down to where we can grasp this staggering concept, take your Bibles, hold them up like this for just a moment, and meditate on this amazing fact. This is His 'Baby Book', this is that place where, on literally every page, page AFTER page, I'm privileged to see HIS face! Jesus is the Word! Furthermore, notice verses one and two, and what they tell us about His identity, He's not only the Word! But, look at it! He also was in the Beginning, He was with God! And, he was God, He was what God was! Finally, verses 4 through 9, please notice that He was life, the Life, and light – THE Light, the Light of men, verse four tells us, and the True Light who enlightens every man!
Identification – Who is, who was, this 'Baby'? Stretching all the way back to BEFORE Genesis one, one, He is the eternal Creator, He is the Radiant and Penetrating Light, He is the all-powerful Life-Giver. And, all of that is true – why? Because He is God! He is God! 'Was' – just three little letters, 'Is' – only, two. But, listen, what the apostle John makes known to us about the identity of this Baby through those very few letters is powerful – staggering, awesome!
Simple word number two – this time, John uses four letters to spell the word 'CAME'. Verses 9 and 10 – This 'baby', identified by the apostolic witness here as the Eternal Word of God; look what these two verses tell us about Him! John 1:9 – He was the True Light, who came to enlighten every man. John 1:10 – He was the World's Creator, who came, who entered into His creation!
What are we talking about here? What huge, theological concept is out in the open, for us to grapple with here? Well, that three-letter word, 'WAS' underscored the facts about this Baby's identification. But, this four-letter word, 'CAME', building on the foundation of His amazing identification, opens up to us the even more amazing fact of His incarnation – His incarnation! The incredible, awe-inspiring fact that the Eternal Creator came to His own! (verse 11) And that, He, in fact, became flesh, just like you and me, and lived among us! (verse 14) Allow yourself a moment or two, just to meditate on those jaw-dropping truths.
He was, he is – using terms and phrases like Light and Life and “In the beginning,” and “with God,” the apostle John displays for us this Baby's identity! From his own, unique perspective he tells us WHO He is! And, then, by adding just one more letter, through the use of the common word 'came', the Spirit of God amazes us even more by revealing to us the movement – that's what this huge, theological concept we label 'Incarnation' is all about. It is the MOVEMENT of the otherwise untouchable, unreachable God to – where? Right down to our level and right into our lives. (John 1:14)
Which leaves us, then, with what? One more simple word – G-A-V-E. And, what is – to me – the most awesome truth of all. Not identification, nor even incarnation, but invitation. Invitation! GAVE and the incredible invitation made possible because of WHO this Baby is,and WHERE He came! Go with me, first of all, to verses 10 through 13.
John 1:10-13, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Walk with me through those four brief verses, will you? Who is this Baby we've come to worship this Christmas season? He is our Creation, He is this World's Creation – and Owner! So, what did He determine to do? Send us an email? Mail us a Christmas card? Write 'I love you' in the clouds? No! He came to His own – why? That they – that we – might receive Him! And, that in receiving Him, we might be born, “not of blood, not of the will of the flesh, not of the will of man, but born of God.” That we - who because of our sin, our rebellion against Him, our rejection of Him - might no longer be trapped in the darkness and dreary shadow of death, but might be set free, to walk in the newness of the Light of Life! This Baby came to do that! To offer to us the greatest invitation of all, “you can become God's children! You can belong to Him not just as your Maker, but as your Savior, by means of the New Birth!”
How? How did He do it? How did this Baby, so small, so helpless do it? Verses 16 and 17 – one simple word, four little letters, “He GAVE”.
John 1:16-17, “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
- He was – He is
- He came
- He gave
Through those three simple phrases, detailing for us what we need to know about this Baby's identification, incarnation, and invitation – what does the apostle John do? He lets us in on one final picture in this marvelous photographic display.
John 1:18, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son,[a] who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”
In this Baby, the Light, the Life, the Eternal Word of God – in this Baby, we see God! Praise the Lord!