WHO IS JESUS?
There are a number opinions as to the identity of Jesus Christ in the world today and many of them contradict each other. Islam teaches that Jesus was a great prophet and a forerunner to the greatest prophet, Muhammad. Mormonism teaches that Jesus became a God. Jehovah Witnesses teach that Jesus was a created being and eventually became a god. Judaism believes Jesus was a mere man, a blasphemer who claimed to be God. Dr. Ron Allen, professor of Old Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary, recounted an incident of reading the Old Testament with a Jewish Rabbi. After several years reading together, Dr. Allen suggested they read the New Testament. They started reading from John 10. In the middle of the reading the rabbi stood up, threw the bible on the floor, spat on it, began cursing and said, Ďthat *#!?: Nazarene is claming to be God!í We will discover immediately that any serious reading and study of the life of the life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth will lead to that conclusion. Johnís own personal eyewitness account of Christís life will draw the same conclusion.
1. JESUS EXISTENCE IS IN THE BEGINNING 1:1-2
Matthew and Mark begin with the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus and Mark begins with the ministry of John the Baptist. John goes all the way back to the beginning. This brings to mind the account of creation in Genesis 1:1. Genesis 1 describes the first (physical) creation and John 1 describes the new (spiritual) creation. This new creation is really a re-creation of the original spiritual and physical creation. Other concepts which occur here and in Genesis 1 include life 1:4, light 1:4, and darkness 1:5. So we have the beginning of a new beginning John tells us What is this new beginning?
In the beginning was the Word. He is called the Word here. This refers to speaking a message or words and is a description of Jesus life and ministry which spoke of and revealed God. This word was in the beginning meaning that it already was or already existed. In other words, before creation existed the Word already existed! This is because our Lord always existed with God and as God in unity and fellowship with the Father and the Spirit. John is saying that Jesus is God. Now that is radically different that any other world religion today. Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ is of the same stuff as God. Even though he came to earth and clothed himself in flesh, that did not make him less than God. Its interesting that the name Jesus is not used until verse 17. He does not say that Jesus was in the beginning because he cannot say that here. Jesus is the name given to the God-man, born of the virgin Mary. It is his human name, which is given to him only after His incarnation. So the connection is that the God who created the universe is the One who is found lying in the manger. He did not begin to be there. He did not have his origin in the beginning of creation either. He was there and He already existed when the world was created. He was there with God and as God (John 1:34, 49;3:13, 31;5:18;6:31-33, 38, 47-51, 58;7:28-29;8:14,23, 40-42, 56-58;9:16, 29-30, 33;13:1-3;14:1;16:30;17:7-8;19:7;20:17, 28, 31).
And the Word was with God. The implication here is not just proximity. It is not that Jesus was just close or near to God but that there was an intimate personal relationship. That the Word was in special eternal relationship with God. Not only was the word with god the Word was God. In other words what God was the Word was too or and the word was fully God. Meaning the Word was fully deity in essence. He possesses the exact same attributes of God that the Father does and only three persons possess those attributes, the Father, the Son (Word) and the Holy Spirit. These include, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, justice, eternality, sovereignty, unity, infinity, truth, holiness, immutability, and love. Jesus is just as much God as God the Father. J Wís insist on translating this the Word was a God denying the deity of Jesus, claiming that Jesus in his pre-incarnate state was the Archangel Michael, that Jesus was a created being and that he is now a spirit being a god but not the God having the same essence as the Father. But they do not translate it a god in other places where the word God occurs like john 1:6, 12-13, 18;3:2;Romans 1:7;Hebrews 10:31).
The Word was with God in the beginning. The Word had always been in relationship with God the Father. Christ did not at some point in time come into existence or begin a relationship with the Father. Both are God yet we do not have two Gods. In other words, the Father, Son and HS, are of the same mind, emotion, will, purpose and essence in complete harmony with each other never in competition or rivalry. This John tells us is the identity of the Word, Jesus Christ. This is who he is.
There are really only three alternatives for anyone contemplating the existence of God then. First, you can choose to believe nothing about God. That would describe an atheist. Second, you can choose to believe something else about God. That would describe any of the world religions and cults throughout history and today. Third, you can choose to believe the testimony of John and Christ. That would be Christianity and the Bible.
2. JESUS IS THE SOURCE OF ALL THAT HAD A BEGINNING 1:3-5
In verse 3 the Word is not passive but active as the One through whom all things came into existence. He was not created but he was the creator! All things came into being through him including the spiritual and physical realm. As the creator he is the origin, the source of life. In other words, That which came into being--in the Word was its life.
Verse 4 The source of life was also the light of mankind. The concept of life especially eternal life will be a predominant theme in John. This life comes to illuminate the darkness by revealing the righteousness of God and exposing the sinfulness of man. This had the effect of separating the darkness from the light spiritually speaking in comparison to the separation of the light from darkness in Genesis 1. Verse 5 switches from past tenses to the present the light shines on in the darkness. The point is that this light continues to shine even now and never ceases to do so since the very nature of light is that it shines. Another major theme of John is the opposition between light and darkness. Darkness in John usually signifies the evil environment in which men find themselves. For instance, they loved darkness rather than light John 3:19. Those who follow Jesus do not walk in darkness John 8:12. The point here is that the darkness, the forces of evil, oppose the light reveling righteousness and exposing sinfulness, but will not succeed in the opposition. The light continues to shine even with the worlds efforts to suppress the light (Romans 1:18-25). Satan and demons oppose the work of God, resist the light but will be unable to frustrate its power. In John we will see the opposition to Jesus accelerate culminating in his crucifixion but even this resistance is Satans undoing. We are on the winning side. Let your light shine by living righteously not religiously.
3. JESUS AS THE WORD HAS A WITNESS 1:6-13
In addition to the eternal word a man came onto the stage of history. His name was John. He was sent from God and that was the secret of his importance. Johns ministry was a literal fulfillment of a biblical mandate. Isaiah told us that before the Messiah came we would hear a voice of one crying in the wilderness, make ready the way of the Lord. John took that literally and began preparing the way for Christ. Today our ministry must be a literal fulfillment of a biblical command given to us from Matthew 28:19 to make disciples of all nations. John also refused to be the center of attention for his own ministry. His life and teaching always pointed to Jesus Christ even to the point that his disciples were given over to Jesus. It is easy to say our lives point to Christ when in reality we are pointing out our own selves so we can be admired by others. John came as a witness to the light that all men might put their trust in Him. He was an additional pointer of the truth of Jesus, the true revealer of the Father.
The point is that people in this world live in sin and as such are in the realm of darkness. That is, they are living under the dominion of death and judgment. The darkness is so entrenched that they need someone to tell them what is light. That telling is by words, the gospel, and by life, righteousness. John was a witness to the light to be reveled and we are witnesses to that light already revealed!
John, then, is not the light but he bears witness to that true light verse 9. He is the fulfillment of all that light foreshadowed. It is the word which is the source of light. The worlds response in verse 10 to that light was rejection. The world of men and human affairs did not accept this envoy from heaven. The failure to recognize him was because of the human ignorance and blindness caused by sin (John 12:37). He came to possess what was his verse 11 but even his own people did not receive him. He came to what was his own but his own people did not receive him. The irony is clear, he came to his own home but he had no welcome! The refused to accept Him as the revelation of the Father. They did not accept or welcome him. Today, the world does not accept or welcome Him. Jesus is rejected, ridiculed, spurned, cursed and ignored!
All is not lost though. Verse 12 introduces the major theme of John belief. Unbelief was not universal. Some received His revelation and to all who did he gave the right to become children of God. People are not naturally children of God but can become so by receiving the gift of the new birth (John 3). This is true of everyone who places faith in his name. Notice that there is nothing here about making Christ Lord or doing good works or living a religious life. The new birth does not come by natural descent verse 13 nor does it result from a human decision, either of the will of the flesh or of a human reproduction. The birth of a child of God is not a natural birth it is a supernatural work of God. A person welcomes and responds in faith but the mysterious work of the HS is the cause of our regeneration or receiving of the new life of God. It is not of human origin, initiative or action! It does not originate from human intent or endeavor.
4. JESUS REVEALED GOD BY INCARNATION 1:14-18
Here is the climax of all that has been leading up to this. We have not been told who the Word is until now. He has been identified as the word and the light but now we have an astounding revelation that the Word became flesh and lived among men. John 1:1 makes it clear that the Word was fully God but 1:14 makes it clear that he was also fully human. Jesus of Nazareth is identified for the first time as the Word. The two are one and the same. From now on Jesus will become the focus of the book of John. This word lived among us with perfect humanity and undiminished deity. God glory was displayed by means of tabernacle in the Old testament. At the incarnation God lived among his people by means of his son. John saw his glory including the transfiguration, raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus death and resurrection. This revelation of God by Christ is one-of-a-kind. He is Gods So9n in a unique way and sense.
In verse 15 refers to johns testimony again or another time and emphasizes that the Word was not just prior to John but first in an absolute sense. Jesus Christ takes precedence over John because he existed prior to John. Jesus incarnation made it possible for Gods grace to come to Christians as waves continue to come to shore. The Christian life is the constant reception of one evidence of Gods grace replacing another. God grace compounds toward us. It is grace on top of grace. Begins at salvation for by grace are you saved through faith and continues throughout our lives as one gracious gift after another. God wants to break us with his grace not his judgment.
While the greatness of the giving of the law was by God through His servant Moses, the privilege of the church is the revelation of Gods grace and truth through Jesus Christ. here is the first time Jesus is used. Gods grace and truth is bundled up to us in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. That full revelation of God made it possible for His grace to fully come to us. God has never been seen by anyone verse 18 meaning that God has never been seen in his essential nature by man. His inner essence is disclosed only in Jesus. if we want to see God we need to see Jesus. He is the full and final revelation of the Father. The point is that the earthly career of Jesus as the unique one, the one who has taken on human form and nature, who is himself fully God, who is in intimate relationship with the Father, this one and no other has fully revealed what god is like!
(1) Jesus Christ did not only come to die but to reveal who God was.
Jesus earthly mission was to clarify and reveal the truth about God. The truth had become muddied and compromised. We continue that revelation by exposing our world to the reality of Jesus Christ. Each generation and each culture continues to be blinded by their sin and Satans deception. Until Christ returns we are to be the salt and light our culture needs to comprehend the truth.
(2) We cannot save anybody.
Salvation is solely a work of God. We are to be witnesses to the truth and disciplers of those who respond to the gospel. We do not know who will respond but our job is to be the witness and disciplers it is Gods job to draw men to himself. We should not try to do Gods job. We canít.
(3) We can expect the world to remain a dark place.
Just because the light has come does not mean darkness is gone. We are to go wherever the darkness is and bring the light. The darkness may not welcome it but the world did not welcome the origin of the light. Satan will never give up his territory but we are to continue even though it looks bleak and men continue to reject the light.
(4) We can expect suffering as part of witness.
John the Baptist was eventually beheaded. Eleven of the twelve apostles were martyred. John was arrested, beaten, re-arrested and eventually exiled. Would your faith hold up if you were persecuted for it?