In The Beginning
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” vs.1
Have people share their New Years Resolutions.
I enjoy staying up til midnight and watching the countdown and all the fireworks going off and people watching as people seem to have this look of optimism and hope as the calendar changes from one year to the next. One thing that happens each year is that whole thing of making resolutions. As I was watching one interviewer asking people about their resolutions, it struck me how many of them were ones that people had made before. They even started their response to the interviewer with :”You know, the same old thing…” and then they would fill in the blank with things like lose weight, get to the gym more often, eat better, be nicer to others, do more things to help others, etc. I began thinking about my own resolutions and how many times over the years I had made the same resolutions year after year. The thought hit me: New Years is a time for new beginnings. And then I thought this: it’s okay to fail at a resolution and give it another try. If you’re like me, you might have resolved something and then beat yourself up because you somehow failed at keeping it. That’s okay. I think a better resolve might be to give ourselves a break and embrace new beginnings. Today we are going to look at new beginnings through the eyes of John 1:1-5. If you are able, please stand as we read God’s Word:
Read Passage – John 1:1-5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Why One More Account?
You might have heard the term Synoptic gospels. The word synoptic means “same.” So we have the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Do we really need one more account? One more gospel? The Gospel of John was one of the last books of the NT to be written. It appears to have been written from the city of Ephesus, where the apostle John served as pastor after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 AD. From all indications, he wrote this gospel toward the close of the 1st century, about 95-96 AD. The Synoptic gospels had already been written and circulated as well as the letters of Paul and Peter. In fact, it is quite probable that John had read them.
So what is so different about John’s account? John does not retrace many of the events already described in the other Gospels. He does not write a chronological biography of the life of Jesus. His purpose is not to detail the ministry of Jesus. John is selective in what he includes, and his selections point to a distinct purpose, one he provides for us in 20:30-31.
“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31
In this purpose statement, John offers two primary reasons for his writing:
1) That you might believe Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah) and the Son of God
2) That believing you may have life.
Begin The Year…End The Year
You might wonder why this is so important. I think what John is doing is taking the story of Jesus, the purpose of Jesus, and his impact on our life, to a deeper level. If it was just to tell the story again, that wouldn’t be necessary. He wants to challenge us to really embrace the idea of a deep relationship with Jesus that will change your life. I want to put the same challenge out to us. We know we will end the year with Jesus, right? I mean we will celebrate Christmas again in 11 months and we will tell the Christmas story and the birth of Christ. We like to do that and it’s a part of our tradition. I want to make Jesus the bookends of 2015. Let’s start 2015 and end 2015 with Jesus and commit to working on deepening our relationship with him.
Why Begin With The Word?
John makes it very clear who Jesus is: He is the Son of God and a part of the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. But John does us an interesting term for Jesus here; he calls him The Word. We have just celebrated Christmas and we use the term “Immanuel” which means God With Us as we remembered the birth of Christ. Let’s look a little deeper by putting these together to get a better understanding of Jesus.
1. The visible manifestation of God
- The voice of God. Note: most of us and even most people in the OT had not heard God’s voice. Now we heart he very words of God in Jesus.
- The visible action of God. We see the love of God displayed in Jesus actions
So we begin with The Word because he is God revealed in the flesh, in word and in action. When we see that, we then realize some of the realities of who Jesus is and why this is so important to us in deepening our relationship with God. We begin with The Word because…
- He Always Has Been…Always Will Be
First, because he always has been and always will be. Notice again verse 1a of our passage today:
“In the beginning was the Word…” vs. 1a
Sound familiar? Sure. It’s the same three words we see in Genesis 1:1. When we look back to the beginning our of existence, Jesus was there. Now when we read Genesis 1 we may have difficulty finding him mentioned there. But numerous times throughout the Bible we see it revealed to us that Jesus was there. Genesis is the account of our beginning, not God’s. And, when we look ahead to Revelation we see him there too. Rev. 21:6:
“It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” Rev. 21:6
Jesus has always been and always will be. It’s not like us. We have a definite beginning and end and sometimes we are quickly forgotten.
Ex. This week I was eating breakfast and Claudia was watching CBS Sunday Morning. They were listing actors and actresses that died in 2014. It struck me how quickly we have already forgotten some of them and how some we see there name and say, “Oh, they passed away?” You probably remember some of the big names, especially when they pass away later in the year like Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, and Phillip Seymor Hoffman. Here are others you may have forgotten about:
Shirley Temple Black Feb. 10
Mickey Rooney April 6
Lauren Bacall August 12
James Gardner July 19
Maya Angelo May 28
Sid Caesar Feb. 12
Casey Kasem June 15
Bob Hoskins April 29
And of course many more. See many of you were saying “Oh yea!” as I mentioned a few of those names.
Jesus cannot and will not be forgotten. Can you imagine if they had that list in the 1st century? Jesus would be on there. The difference is they could have a list we don’t. How many of those people rose from the dead in the 1st century. One. Jesus. We don’t have lists like that. Jesus, always has been and always will be.
- He’s The Source Of All Things
A second reason to start with The Word is He Is The Source Of All Things. Look what John writes in verse 3:
“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” vs. 3
Listen to the insight John gives us about Jesus in this verse; through him all things were made. So in Genesis we can understanding that Jesus was creating. We are given the insight that nothing, nothing, came into being without him. Paul reaffirms this in Col. 1:16 when he writes:
“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” Col. 1:16
This is important to you and I because it means that we are a creation of Jesus. If all things are created through him and in him, and in Colossians the list is meant to show that means everything, then you and I are a created through him and in him. Now I have some things in my life that I have made; things like art pictures, remodeled parts of my home, built some things, etc. You know, the things I have made I tend to pay more attention to, take care of, and have an interest in making sure they are treated properly.
Now put this together and you see how much Jesus must care for you and how much he really loves you and wants the best for you.
Ex. The flooring I installed in my house.
- He’s The Ultimate Authority
And third, not only is he the source of all things, he is the ultimate authority over all things as well. Listen to the seconds part of verse 1:
“…and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” vs. 1b
Because Jesus is the source, we can see in verse 1b that he is also the authority because he is not just the Son of God, he is God the Son. This is also confirmed in other parts of the Bible. Note what John 17:2 says:
“After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.” John 17:1-2
Jesus affirms that God the Father has given him authority over all things. This is a key understanding for us if we want to live in deep relationship with Him. Our world teaches us that we have the authority over things. We in Western culture are taught that we have authority over ourselves, over, the things of this world and even over our own bodies. If we take God’s Word literally, in order to live in harmony with Christ we should submit to his authority. That means we trust him that His Word is best for us; that he has our best interest in mind and that he only wants what is best for us.
- He’s Where we Find Real Life
Now this is where is all comes together; when we realize Christ always has been and always will be, that he is the source of all things, that he is the ultimate authority, we discover that to be in a deeper relationship with him is where we find real life. Going back to the theme of resolutions, we make resolutions to live better and to have real life. But we can find that same thing when we move not a deeper relationship with Jesus. Verse 4 days:
“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” vs. 4
I think it would be safe to say that most people want real life but many are searching for it apart from the source and authority of real life. Jesus says that he came that we may have life and have it abundantly. He doesn’t want us to just go through the motions. He wants our life to be abundant, fulfilling and full of his joy. John 8:12 says:
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
We live in a dark world and sometimes it is hard to find the good things around us.
Finding Light In A Dark World
If you are looking for the one thing that can bring light to the darkness, the one thing that can bring light and overcome the darkness and difficulty of this world, it comes when you begin at the right place and that is with The Word. Notice how our passage ends in verse 5:
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” vs. 5
It can be very tiring trying to do it on your own. You might find yourself entering 2015 already tired. Jesus gives us this promise in Matt. 11:28:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Let me give you one more thing to think about. You might be tried. You might be trying to do it on your own. We can’t. We weren’t meant to. We need Christ. You might have made some New Years resolutions that you aren’t sure are going to work out. Maybe they are ones you’ve made before and you because you failed at keeping them before you feel lost in moving forward with the same things again. In fact, maybe you won’t even make resolutions because of that. I guarantee you that Satan wants you to think that. One of the stumbling blocks he puts in our way is for us to focus on our failures.
There is good news. Our God is a God of resolutions. And it gets better. He even built in a way for us to continually start over. You don’t need a change in the calendar to start over. He gave us the gift of communion.
God is a God who forgives, forgets, and gives us new beginnings; no matter how many times we fail. He is a God of “redo’s.” He even created a way for us to have new beginnings all the time: Communion.