The Word – February 14, 2016

“The Word”

Jeremiah 31:7-14 John 1:1-18


John…the apostle and gospel writer…had a challenge. He saw his task of gospel writing and story sharing as a way to help people believe “…believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31 NIV) John’s task wasn’t easy. He was speaking to two audiences with some radically different perspectives. One audience was the Jews of his day who had their own idea of what a messiah was all about and what he would do. They weren’t sure whether Jesus was the messiah…and their religious leaders were strenuously arguing that he was not. The other audience was the Gentile Greeks. They had no idea what a messiah was…didn’t pay much attention to the leaders of the Jews…and worshipped their own gods…a number of them…or worshipped no god at all. John’s task was a challenge indeed. John’s task was just like ours today. There are people we encounter who have their own idea of what a messiah is or should be…what that messiah should do…and there are people telling us that Jesus is not that messiah. And…we encounter those who worship other gods…perhaps a number of gods…just check with them to see what’s important in their lives and what gives them guidance in their lives. And…despite the many messages about god or gods in some form…there are those who just aren’t buying any of those messages. In what’s called the “prologue”…the first eighteen verses of John’s gospel…he does a masterful job of speaking to all of those audiences. Perhaps we can learn something from John’s words…words that many of us still find hard to understand. The first three verses speak to the greatness of Jesus Christ…the one John calls “the Word.” 1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. (John 1:1-3 NLT) There never was a time when Jesus Christ did not exist. One pundit puts it this way…”Jesus always was wasing!” That is exactly right. Jesus has existed ever since before what we consider existence existed. Now…for some…that kind of thinking makes for a very strong headache. We might look back in time until time itself seems to disappear…and John is telling us Jesus existed before that. Indeed…Jesus did. Jesus was with God. The Father and Son were continually together…face to face. There has always existed the deepest equality and intimacy in the Holy Trinity. Jesus…without beginning or end…has been with the Father…with God. Jesus was God…wrote John. The meaning is that Jesus was God in essence and character. He was God in every way…though he was a separate entity from God the Father. He has been God through eternity to this very moment. To sum up …Jesus was always existing from before the beginning of eternity…as God…in perfect fellowship with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Finally…”Jesus is the Creator of the universe. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.” The New Testament frequently tells us of Christ’s creatorship. In Paul’s letter to the Colossians…in Hebrews and in Revelation we see this testimony. In his first letter to the church at Corinth…Paul wrote…”…for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came, and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” If you like math…think about this…There are about 100 billion stars in the average galaxy and there are at least one hundred million galaxies in known space. That means there are probably ten octillion stars in space. That’s ten with twenty seven zeroes behind it. And…Jesus created them all. Not only is Jesus the creator of something so big…he is also the creator of something as small as the atom. Colossians tells us that in Jesus…”all things hold together.” That should mean to each of us that we can trust such a God with everything. Because he is the Creator he knows just what his creation…his people…need. Charles Steinmetz was a friend of Henry Ford. He was also a mechanical genius. Of Steinmetz people said he could build a motor in his mind…and if it broke down he could fix it in his mind. So when he designed it and actually built it the motor ran with unbelievable precision. One day the assembly line in a Ford plant broke down. None of Ford’s men could fix it. They called in Steinmetz. He tinkered for a few minutes…threw the switch and it started running again. A few days later Ford received a bill from Steinmetz for $10,000. He wrote back…”Charlie, don’t you think your bill is a little high for just a little tinkering?” Steinmetz sent back a revised bill: “Tinkering — $10. Knowing where to tinker — $9,990.” Only Jesus knows where the tinkering should be done in our lives to keep us in perfect running order. Christ always knows which screw to turn…which belt to loosen…and the most beneficial fuel to use. And he uses that knowledge…with love…for our benefit. John tells us to rest in Christ…to trust our life to him. When you consider the greatness of Christ…nothing else makes sense at all. In verses 4 to 13 John describes Christ as light… and stresses the revelation…rejection and acceptance of Jesus’ love as it came into the world. 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. 6 God sent a man, John the Baptist, 7 to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. 8 John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. 9 The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. (John 1:4-13 NLT) John clearly describes Jesus as light. The emphasis is on Jesus being spiritual…life giving light to a dark world…a light that benefits all of humanity. When we see Jesus as spiritual light we should gain insight into his loving attempt to reach the world. Where the light…Jesus…goes… darkness…evil and hurt disappear…the true nature of life in Christ is revealed. Jesus’ light shines continually in the darkness…touching our hearts and lives in the darkness through the work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of the Scriptures. Whether someone believes or doesn’t believe in Christ…ask them to meditate on the thought that Christ is light. They will better understand how much Jesus gives love. But…sadly…a large portion of humankind rejected that light…rejects it today. The light was not overpowered but it did meet resistance. The very world he made did not recognize him…did not receive him. Think about it…then and today…the One who said…”let there be light”…the One whose love moved him to shine his saving light through creation and conscience…the One who mercifully enclosed his light in a human body so that he might bring light to humans…the One who set aside a special people to be the light for others…was rejected. The good news is…he is still light and continues to seek the way into even the most hostile of hearts to bring them to Him. Isn’t that amazing love? And…some respond. Those who respond…who receive the light…become children of God. And…the future holds for them the bright prospect of becoming like the risen Christ himself. Think of the joy of being children of God. Becoming one of God’s own comes simply by receiving Jesus…believe who he is and accept him as your own savior. Then…there’s God’s grace. 14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. 15 John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.'” 16 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:14-17 NLT) John wrote that when Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us…men and women saw his glory as full of grace and truth. From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. And…the grace just keeps growing. As the grace you receive is allowed to work in your life…more grace will come…and then more grace…and even more grace. Grace continues to overflow. Martin Luther put it this way. “The sun is not dimmed and darkened by shining on so many people or by providing the entire world with its light and splendor. It retains its light intact. It loses nothing; it is immeasurable, perhaps able to illumine ten more worlds. I suppose that a hundred thousand candles can be ignited from one light, and still this light will not lose any of its brilliance…. Thus Christ, our Lord, to whom we must flee and of whom we must ask all, is an interminable well, the chief source of all grace…. Even if the whole world were to draw from this fountain enough grace and truth to transform all people into angels, still it would not lose as much as a drop. This fountain constantly overflows with sheer grace.” For those without acceptance of grace…this grace is readily available. There is more than enough grace to cover each person’s sins and give that person an overflowing victorious life. Grace is abundant. Grace is amazing. For those who know Christ…it is clear that “from the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” The creator and savior has given us light and life…so that we can be like John…so that we can take Christ’s word…and light… and life…into the darkness of the world…not just with good deeds…generosity and kindness…but with love like Christ…love that shares endlessly and invites all to His side…to His comfort…to His eternal light and life.