In the Beginning...
Sermon Series: The Gospel of John #1
“In the Beginning...”
Over the next few weeks we are going to be looking at the gospel of John, focusing on the divinity of Jesus as revealed in the gospel.
We live in a world that loves Jesus as a teacher. Jesus moral teachings are among the most popular of all the moral teachings. Words like, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you...” or “Love your neighbor as yourself” - and - “Forgive and you’ll be forgiven” have all made it into our modern moral vocabulary.
But our world doesn’t care very much for this Jesus who is also God.
Of course, the fact of the matter is, we simply cannot have one without the other. Jesus did not come to only be a wise teacher and honorable man, a good person… Jesus came to be both fully God, and fully human… at the same time! It’s one of the great mysteries of our faith!
And how you and I respond to the truth of God’s word affects how serious we take our Christian faith. To accept Christ is to literally go all-in, and to accept him as he declares himself to be… and as the gospels offer testimony as to who He is.
Of course, John’s Gospel is the only gospel that begins with the story of Jesus, not as he appears on earth (as a baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger), but has existed before time began.
Before the dawn of creation itself, Jesus existed as the Logos… the intelligence, the mind, the wisdom of God. This logos gave birth everything that exists, and is also described as “the Word.” This intelligence, this mind of God, is completely un-discoverable except through God’s word, and the works of God in this world. We would say it’s revealed to the chosen, or through the elect.
Have you ever noticed that when it comes to images of Jesus... pictures paintings... that we’ve seen all of our life, that they all look different? Most of the pictures of Jesus reflect the painters appearance… The artist skin color or ethnicity.
Makes me wonder how often we attempt to make Jesus into our own image? Not just physically but theologically?
There are many ideas about who Jesus was and is. But as followers of Christ - as Christians- it’s our duty and responsibility to allow Christ to speak for himself, and to never try to make him into who we think he is, or who we’d like him to be.
This is where the authority of the Bible comes into play. How we see and understand God‘s word is important… It’s important to our faith and important to our life... and it’s certainly important anyone who hopes to ever understand a fraction of the truth that exist about Jesus! The world is full of subjectivity that changes frequently… it proves itself to be superficial.
But by contrast the documents of God‘s Word (the Bible), have withstood the most scrutinizing analysis ever imposed upon any manuscript or written text in the history of mankind. And, yet, these words have emerged with compelling authenticity and authority that no other ancient literature comes close to demonstrating! Nothing even comes close to the accuracy of God’s Word.
Jesus was NOT just a good moral teacher among many other good moral teachers. The word of God declares that Jesus is in fact God.
C. S. Lewis, in one of his most famous and celebrated works, entitled “Mere Christianity”, said “a man who was merely a man, and said the sort of things Jesus said, would not be [considered] a great moral teacher. He would either be [though of as] a lunatic… on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg… or he would be the devil of hell. You must [make] your choice. Either [Jesus] was, and is, the son of God, or else a madman... or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool... or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But... let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about [Jesus simply] being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.”
J. I. Packer died this past week at the age of 93. He was one of the strongest and revered proponents of Reformed Faith (our faith) over the last century. Concerning the authority of Scripture, Packer claimed that "Scripture conceives of the divine character of revealed truth as something which evidences itself to the sound mind as clearly as do light and color to the normal eye." However, "man's mental 'eyes' are blind through sin, and he can discern no part of God's truth till the Spirit opens them."
In other words, God's Word is as authoritatively true as its Author. If we disagree with its teachings or discount its relevance, the fault is not with Scripture but with us.
Jesus is NOT just a good teacher... or a moral character or role model, that we should look up to, and maybe point to on occasion... He is the King of kings, and the Lord of lords... he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus is the only way to God the Father... and He deserves (and demands) our whole devotion.
What we think of Jesus matters. How we see Jesus, and who we believe Jesus to be, matters. And what we believe about Jesus, shows.
Jesus is not just one of may ways to reach the Father. He is the only way. It’s an exclusive claim made by Jesus himself.
“Well what about all those people who haven’t heard the good news?” That’s God’s business, folks, not mine or yours.
You, and everyone who hears the Gospel message, are without excuse. We’ve heard the Good News that Jesus came as the Word made flesh... The choice is our to believe, or not believe... to accept or reject.
But as Presbyterians who believe in the unrivaled authority of God’s Holy Word, we stand on the truth. And it’s our calling, as we profess Christ, to share the Good News in love, knowing that half-hearted, watered down faith is no faith at all.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... [and] out of his fullness, we have received grace in place of grace already given.”