John 1 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

A New Beginning

John 1:1-18

INTRO: Grew up in the church ALL THE TIME. “Midwest goodbye” I did things like: play computer games, read all the books in the library, watch movies, count all my dad’s books, one of the “fun” things I did: write a suggested sermon for my dad, on John 1. Titled, this will give you some insight into my mind at the time “A Very Short Sermon.” You could tell from a young age I was destined for where I am today! It planned to cover 1 verse, had 2 points, and I told my dad even he couldn’t go longer than 5 minutes on it! The 2 points were: The Word was With God, The Word was God. My Christology was on point! But now I actually get to preach that sermon, I’ve got 3 points, and we’re going to be here a lot longer than 5 minutes! 

READ/PRAY (pg. 517)

-Similar themes/ideas to the past couple months in Genesis, light, darkness, God speaking, echoes of creation trickle down to this text.

-I want us to think this morning about the reality of the new creation that we have today. We’ve seen how history started, how our story intersects with that history, and how God’s plan from the beginning of the world was to send His Son into our story.

-We’re also coming up on the Advent season, in which we contemplate the reality of the incarnation (God himself took on flesh) and how we live in eager anticipation of that day. 

-In short, I want us to use this Advent season as a time to better worship/adore God because of how He was worked in human history, but also because of how he’s worked in our individual stories. Each of us is here for a reason, because the message of hope that we remember at Christmas was shared with us. 

  1. In the Beginning (1-5)

-Sound familiar? Where have we seen a verse like that before? 

-We don’t have new revelation today, but what we can do is look back and more faithfully interpret the text that God wrote. Paul’s idea “mirror dimly”

-Ever seen a window that’s super old so it distorts the image you’re trying to look through? That’s how the OT views Jesus, can see shapes/ideas, but not the correct image, it’s distorted. Now in the NT the window is fixed! 

-So what does this tell us about the original creation all the way back in Gen. 1?

-Creation was a trinitarian act. The Father spoke, through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit who was hovering over the waters (Col. 1:16 “for by Him (Jesus) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, all things were created through him and for him.”)

-If we were able to see things through a spiritual instead of physical lens, if we could zoom into every particle in the universe, we’d find that Jesus holds it together. We exist because Jesus holds us together. If it weren’t for Jesus we would cease to be. 

-One of the implications of that is that we need to be looking for areas where we see God at work. Since Jesus holds all things together, everything can be used to point to Him. Listening to a podcast this morning on the way we as Christians tend to look at culture as negative, but God commanded us in the garden to create culture. So art, buildings, music, theater all should point us to God, we should look for the areas in which they all point us to God!

-John is reminding us of God’s act of creation to point out that this is the beginning of a NEW kind of creation. Just as in the beginning God made something out of nothing, so with Jesus, God makes a child appear in Mary’s womb out of nothing.

-But does any remember HOW God creates? Gen. 1:3, “And God said…”

-The second reality we learned about God in Gen. 1 (after creator) is that God is a SPEAKING God.

-God’s Words carry meaning, and he’s chosen to use words to reveal himself to us. Words carry significance and meaning, so when we come to the words of the Bible we need to dig in to understand what God means when He uses them.

-Throughout the Old Testament God’s Word is his revelation of himself, Isaiah 55:10-11 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

-God’s word is connected to Himself. We can trust His Word because He is the source of all truth. Anytime we talk about words, I’m reminded of one of my least favorite quotes that I seem to stumble across at least yearly. “preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.”

-Sounds catchy! And at first glance you think “that makes sense!” Half of it’s right! We’re called to love in word & deed, our lives MUST be radically different, but half of it’s not. Rom. 10:14, “How will they call on him in whom they have not believed? How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” God reveals himself to us through words and THE Word, Jesus Christ.

-What this means is just as the first creation came about THORUGH the Word Jesus, it’s the exact same thing with the NEW creation, it only comes about THROUGH the Word, Jesus. 

Now we’re back to John 1 with the Word. John’s point is different than all the other Gospels because he’s beginning his book in the very beginning.

-John has a very high Christology, as we see in these first few verses, and John’s point in the beginning is to remind us of 2 thoughts that make up the gospel message: visible and invisible. The invisible reached out into the visible to make himself known as the Word. John then spends to rest of this passage talking about the interaction of the visible and the invisible.

-Vs. 2 reminds us that Jesus has always existed, and 3 reminds us what we saw in Col. 1, everything was made through him. 

-But this creation isn’t JUST referring to physical creation, this also refers to invisible, spiritual creation, as seen in 4-5.

-This points to the reason Jesus came to earth, which is explicitly stated in Matt. 1:21, “he will save his people from their sins.” He will give them life.

-Interplay between life and light here.

-Pointing us back to Gen. where the light and the darkness were the first day of creation. Another evidence of this being a new, unique act of creation

-There’s even a sense of hope John uses to end this section: the light SHINES – present tense. The light is STILL SHINING in the darkness! 

-This leads us to the next section, what do we do with the knowledge of the light? We bear witness, just like John the Baptist.

  1. Bearing Witness (6-13)

-See God’s working again in John who was “sent from God…to bear witness about the light.”

-Notice just how explicitly John explains the role of the Baptist: witness, witness, witness. John wasn’t the light, he came to REFLECT the light back to the Son. 

-Do you know how the moon works? The moon isn’t a source of light, the reason we can see the moon is because it reflects the light of the sun, which is why we end up with something called an eclipse, because we on earth, get in the way of the light. 

-We can often do the same thing by getting in the way of the message of the gospel. So many people think we need to add rules and ideas and expectations on what it means to follow Christ, yet verse 12 tells us it’s very simple: believe in his name.

-I think the Christmas season is the perfect time to think about this idea because opening presents often leads to a sense of injustice. You see what someone else got you and go, “Shoot, I didn’t get you enough!” Or else you open their present and go “Well I wasted my money!” That defeats the purpose of receiving a gift! 

-We operate the same way in the spiritual realm. We either try to atone for our own sins or clean up our own lives because we think we’re unworthy to receive salvation. Here’s the thing: we are! Because the point of our lives isn’t about us, it’s about Jesus, just like John made the goal of his life. 

-A little later on in John, we see just how willing John was to be a witness and get out to the way of Jesus, toward the end of John 3, John the Baptist’s disciples came to him complaining that more people were being baptized by Jesus now, but John knows his job: to point to Christ, so he says one of the most helpful verses in the Bible: He must increase, but I must decrease. 

-His entire aim and goal in his life was to be a witness to Jesus, to prepare the way for him. That’s the goal of every single one of us as Christians: to bear witness to who God is, to get out of the way so that people can see Christ working in us. 

11

-Throughout the Old Testament there were hints that someone was going to be coming who would usher in a new era of history. We saw that with the line of Cain vs the line of Seth, or the seed of the woman vs. the seed of the serpent. God sent people, prophets, who would remind people to turn from their sins, repent, and believe in God. The problem is those who were supposedly anxiously waiting for him missed him. Completely.

-Think of those little kids who try so hard to stay up waiting for Santa but miss him every year. God’s chosen people, who had been given the prophecies and promises from old fell asleep and missed him when he came. 

-A.W. Pink, “When the sun is shining in all its beauty, who are the ones unconscious of the fact? Who need to be told it is shining? The blind! How tragic, then, when we read that God sent John to ‘bear witness of the light.’ How pathetic that there should be any need for this! How solemn the statement that men have to be told ‘the light’ is now in their midst. What a revelation of man’s fallen condition.” 

-How often do we miss the way God is working around us because we’re overly worried about appearances, or recognition, or are too busy worrying about ourselves? How many times do we fixate on how terrible our culture is instead of looking for the positives that are taking place around us?

-That’s why we need this next verse. Once you believe, God makes you a child of God. But how do we remain children of God?

13

-John reminds us that there is nothing we can do to ensure our salvation.

-not of blood – genealogy doesn’t matter, being born into a believing family doesn’t make you a believer. Going to church doesn’t make you a believer. Family heritage doesn’t make you a believer. Tradition doesn’t make you a believer. Even acts of “obedience” don’t make you a believer! 

-not of the will of flesh – sincerity doesn’t save you. No matter how much you want it/desire it/hope for it, that won’t save you. On top of that, I can guarantee that your sincerity will fade.

-not of the will of man – effort can’t save you, because Isaiah reminds us that all our “righteous” deeds are as helpful for our salvation as ratty old rags. If you’ve ever tried to do better, just pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, eventually your effort will run out. What do you do then?

-Instead, we become children of God BY God’s grace alone. (we’ll see that in the next section)

-We’ve talked about this idea before: But can literally change your life! Think of news you get: you have cancer, BUT it’s easily treatable. I got in a car accident, BUT I’m fine. 

-We were dead in our sins, BUT God has made us alive together with Christ. And how is that possible? This is where we get to the best news ever:

  1. The Word Became Flesh (14-18)

-Literally, The Word became flesh and tabernacled/tented among us. The Message: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”

-In the minds of the Jews, they would’ve heard tabernacled as a reminder of the Exodus. Same word used in the Greek version of the OT when it talks about the tabernacle. God gave his people instructions to build a tabernacle where his manifest presence/glory could dwell with his people, because no one could see God and live (Ex. 33:20). But notice what John says about Jesus, “WE HAVE SEEN.” 

-Seismic shift: We go from no one can see God and live, to WE SAW HIM. That’s why I like what The Message says, he came and lived with us. We saw him, we ate with him, we touched him, we were WITNESSES to this truth, just like John the Baptist. 

-Remember who this is: God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, becoming Emmanuel, God with Us. 

-Why did Jesus do that? This is where it’s helpful to read/study/memorize catechisms, summaries of what the church has believed. One is the New City Catechism:

22: Why must the Redeemer be truly human?

That in human nature he might on our behalf perfectly obey the whole law and suffer the punishment for human sin; and also that he might sympathize with our weaknesses.

23: Why must the Redeemer be truly God?

That because of his divine nature his obedience and suffering would be perfect and effective; and also that he would be able to bear the righteous anger of God against sin and yet overcome death.

-Not God’s Word, but takes ideas/summaries from God’s Word and puts them in a concise statement.

“We have seen his glory, full of grace and truth”

-The hope of the OT was that the whole world would see God’s glory, “For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory,” (Is. 66:18)

-Whose glory? The only Son – there’s a unique relationship. This is the one all of human history has pointed to. One author describes it as the OT is Promises Made, the NT is Promises Kept. All the promises of the OT find their fulfillment in Jesus, the Word made flesh.

-This is where we see worship radically changing after Jesus comes. Tabernacle – temple – anywhere because now we worship in spirit & truth.

-Then there’s a parenthetical note about John as a witness again in 15

16

-Connects to the “full of grace and truth” in 14

-This fullness connects us as believers today to the same fullness of Jesus

-What do we get? We get “grace in place of grace.”

-This is demonstrating that both the OT (old covenant) and the NT (new covenant) are acts of grace, so what God is doing by sending his only Son is replacing one act of grace with a new act of grace in the gospel message of His one and only Son.

17

-We see the final expression of grace by God sending his son. This isn’t law versus grace, this is grace UPON grace! What this means is we move from a God who has given to his people to a God who has come to his people. 

-Throughout the OT we see these hints of something to come that is far greater, and all those things are fulfilled in Jesus. We no longer need the shadow of the law because we have the light of Christ who has revealed himself to us!

So how do we respond to the reality that God took on flesh? 2 things:

1 –witness. I’ve told many people that for every pastor their job is one of preparation, but that’s also true for every Christian! We work together to prepare each other to grow more like Christ for the people they’ll interact with, or for coming face to face with God!

2 – worship. Apart from God we are dead in our sins, but from God we receive grace on top of grace. Because of Jesus moving into the neighborhood we now have eternal hope, and a day to look forward to when we will see God face to face.

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