“That You May Believe” “Who Is This Jesus?” John 1:1-3
INTRO: Jesus is a great historical figure and held by many to be the most inspirational leader the world has ever known. But is he more? The typical responses to the life and claims of Jesus Christ sounds something like this: "Jesus Christ was a great man." "Jesus Christ was a wonderful moral model."
"Jesus Christ was an enlightened religious teacher." "Jesus Christ was an esteemed prophet."
What do you think of Jesus Christ? Who is He? According to Christianity this is the most important question you or anyone else will ever face. It is important primarily because it is inescapable – no one can avoid it – for you will either answer it in this world or in the world to come. Upon the answer to this question alone hinges your eternal destiny. This question has renewed importance in our day, when even the non-Christian religions of the world are speaking as if they revere and honor the name of Jesus.
The first three gospel accounts (Matt, Mark and Luke) are called “the synoptic gospels.” The word synoptic means “to see together.” This means that the first three gospel accounts contain many of the same stories and teachings, but each from a different perspective.
However, the gospel according to John is different. The Gospel of John was one of the last books of the New Testament to be written. It appears to be written from the city of Ephesus where the apostle John was the pastor after the destruction of Temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The first three gospel accounts had already been written and were in circulation. For this reason among others the H.S. did not direct John to recount many of the events already recorded in the other Gospels, nor did he lead him to write a chronological account of the life of Jesus.
In fact, John states his purpose in writing this account in John 20:31, “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” John offers two primary reasons for his writing, that you might believe in Christ as your Savior and having believed you might have life. “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. (3) All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” The Gospel of John introduces the Lord Jesus
Christ with three tremendous statements: “In the beginning was the Word,” “And the Word was with God,”
“And the Word was God.” It can be stated that in this simple sentence is the most compact theological statement in all of the Bible. These verses teach us three separate truths about who Jesus is.
I. FIRST, HE IS ETERNALLY GOD “In the beginning was the Word…”
A. John begins his Gospel in an unusual manner. Unlike the synoptic gospels that begin their account in an historical context:
1. John opens with God in eternity.
2. Matthew traces the genealogy of Jesus.
3. Mark began his story of the life of Jesus with the ministry of John the Baptist. Luke gives the story of Jesus’ birth.
4. But John transports us to eternity past – before creation, before man – before the existence of time.
B. John moves back beyond human history to start his account of Jesus. John begins his gospel with the words, “in the beginning.” The word translated “beginning” is a time word. Psalm 90:1-2 can help us to understand the concept behind this word.
1. “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.”
2. The word “everlasting” is figurative in the Hebrew. It means “from the vanishing point to the vanishing point.” God is from the vanishing point in the past and reaches to the vanishing point in eternity future. Just as far as you can see, from vanishing point to vanishing point, He is still God. How majestic is that thought!
3. John’s use of the term “in the beginning” is probably a conscious referral to the very first words in the Bible. In Genesis 1:1 we read, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Does that begin God? When you go back to creation He is already there, and that is exactly what John says in verse one — “in the beginning was the Word.”
4. Notice it is not is the Word; it was not in the beginning that the Word started out or was begotten. “Was” is known as a durative imperfect, meaning “continued action.” In fact the sense of the entire verse is “In the beginning was continuing the Word, and the Word was continuing with God and the Word was continually God.”
C. The Word was in the beginning. What beginning? Just as far back as you want to go. He was already there when the beginning was. “Well,” somebody says, “there has to be a beginning somewhere.” All right, wherever you begin, He is there to meet you, He is already past tense.
1. John tells that “in the beginning was the Word.” In Greek it is the word (Logos). It occurs in verses one and fourteen. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…(14) And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” Why is Jesus Christ called the word? What is the significance of that title? John’s calling Jesus “the Word” he was connecting with the thought of his day.
2. To the Jews a word was something concrete and closer to what we would call a deed. What happens when God speaks? The answer is that that thing is done. God said “Let there be light and there was light.” (Gen 1:3)
3. To the Greeks, the Word (Logos) represented the soul of the universe. It was the rational principle from which everything else came. It was a creative governing force of the universe (much like the “force” of the Star wars genre). Not Only Is He Eternally God but….
II. SECONDLY, HE IS EQUALLY GOD “… and the Word was with God…”
A. John states that “the word was with God” -literally (face to face). This indicates that the Word is separate and distinguishable from the Father. He is a separate person. In a simple yet profound words John offers us a glimpse of the Trinity.
B. Although the term “trinity” is not found in Scripture the doctrine is found from its earliest pages. In the story of the creation of man recorded Genesis 1:26 we find, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.” The most common name for God given in the Old Testament is the plural – Elohim. Jesus is co-eternal and co-equal with the Father. Not Only Is He Equally God but…
III. THIRD, HE IS ESSENTIALLY GOD “… and the Word was God.”
A. Literally “and God was the Word.” This means that everything that can be said about God the Father can be said about God the Son. Jesus is in every way God, yet He is a separate person from God the Father.
1. The Jehovah’s Witness in their translation of the scriptures, (The New World Translation) translates this phrase “and the word was a god.” They do this by supplying the indefinite article “a” where none is in the Greek.
2. Unlike any other widely followed religious leader in history, Jesus Christ made a unique claim. He declared Himself God. Not a god, not god-like, but God incarnate - the Creator of the universe in human flesh. Verse three leaves no doubt that Jesus is the creator of the universe. “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”
3. 1 Corinthians 8:6 supports this same division of labor concerning Creation, “yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.”
B. The author of the book of Hebrews also looks back at the beginning when he said:
1. Heb. 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.
2. John when he wrote the book of Revelation again assured that Jesus was the Creator, Rev.4:11 “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
C. The Apostle Paul speaks out to reveal in Col 1:15-17 that Jesus is not only the Creator of the Universe, He is the sustainer as well. “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
CONCLUSION: I want to conclude with the same question that I began with, “What do you think of Jesus? Who Is he really?” These same questions have occupied the minds of men down through the centuries. It was the question that was continually raised during the Lord’s earthly ministry. As Jesus rode a donkey into the city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the people turned to one another and asked, “Who is this?” Mt. 21:10. Even his disciples asked the question among themselves when Jesus stilled the storm on the Sea of Galilee: “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4:41
When Herod first heard about Jesus he asked, “John I have beheaded but who is this of whom I hear such things!” Luke 9:9
There still remains the question, “Who Is Jesus?” and what you decide will determine your eternal destiny. Is he is a good prophet, a great teacher, a wonderful role model, or is he more than that? He certainly claimed to be more.
C.S. Lewis, British theologian and author of “The Chronicles of Narnia”, continues, "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ’I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, The MacMillan Company, 1960, pp. 40-41.)