Sermon to be preached on Sunday December 30th, 2018,

The First Sunday after Christmas

 

The Lessons: Isaiah 61:10 – 62:3; Psalm 147; Galatians 3:23-25, 4:4-7; John 1:1-18

The Text: John 1:1-18

The Topic: The Lord Jesus Christ is the Light of God that has come into the world

INTRODUCTION

A little girl who grew up in an atheistic home where no one ever spoke of God once questioned her father about the origin of the world. “Where does the world come from?” asked the three-year-old.

Her father replied with a discourse that was materialistic in nature. Then he added, “However, there are those who say that all this comes from a very powerful being, and they call him God.”

At this point the little girl began to run like a whirlwind around the room in a burst of joy and exclaimed, “I knew what you told me wasn’t true; it is Him, it is Him!” [1]

— Sofia Cavalletti, The Religious
Potential of the Child (Paulist Press, 1983)

The faith of this little girl and its simplicity reminds me of a home visit I made years ago to a home where the parents wanted nothing to do with the Church, while their children requested to be baptized. The expression of faith in the Lord by those who are surrounded by the enemies of Christ and of faith in him is admirable, and this conflict between good and evil is set forward here in the Prologue of St. John’s Gospel in terms of the opposition of darkness to light.

THE WORD OF GOD IS WITH GOD AND SHARES IN HIS DEITY

The Gospel according to St. John differs considerably from the other three Gospel accounts. One great point of contrast is that St. John the Evangelist commences his Gospel, not with the infancy narratives, as St. Matthew and St. Luke do, nor with the preaching of St. John the Baptist and the Baptism of Christ, as St. Mark does, but with the eternal existence of the Word of God. Instead of a genealogy to establish the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, St. John identifies Christ as pre-existing his birth and all of creation as the Logos, or the Word of God. The beginning of this Gospel testifies to the existence of the Word of God in the beginning, and to the Word’s being in God’s presence and sharing the nature of God (John 1:1). “Word” as used here translates the Greek term “Logos,” which can refer both to the Word, or the underlying Reason of things, as understood in Greek philosophy. But we understand the term better, I believe, in terms of Hebrew thought than Greek, as it is used here, since it corresponds to the Hebrew idea of personified Wisdom (Proverbs 8, for example) and also to the idea of the words spoken by God in creating the world (Genesis 1), and the word of God in Isaiah 55:10-11 (KJV):

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

 

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

THE WORD OF GOD ACTIVE IN THE CREATION AND ILLUMINATION OF PEOPLE

When we think of the eternal Word of God, we must think of Him as God, sharing in His nature, and expressing and declaring His creative power. In verse 3 of the Prologue, St. John lays emphasis on the creative power and work of the Word of God, by stating that everything came into existence through Him.

From God’s creative power acting through the Word, life comes to the world. The life that is in the Word of God gives life by creating the world and by giving the life that is light, or spiritual illumination. In the sense of spiritual illumination, and spiritual and moral goodness, the life of the Word, or eternal Son of God, is the light of people. It is this light of God’s Word that continues to shine in the face of darkness, or evil, and the evil cannot engulf it.

THE ROLE OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST

St. John has not yet described the Incarnation, the Word made flesh, since his first concern is to show the eternal and divine nature of the Lord Jesus long before his birth on earth. Now, before he mentions the Incarnation, he describes the role of John the Baptist. In the first century A.D., groups of disciples of St. John the Baptist may have continued to exist. St. John the Evangelist wants to make it clear that John the Baptist was not the Christ, the light of the world, but a man sent by God to bear witness to Christ the Light of the world, so that all might believe through him.

THE SPIRITUAL BATTLE – REJECTION OR ACCEPTANCE OF THE CHRIST

There are two fronts of ignorance and opposition to the true light that was coming into the world through God’s Word. One is the rejection of Christ by the age of this present world with its ideologies; the other was the rejection of Christ by many Jewish people of his day.

But the great joy is that all who have welcomed the Lord Jesus Christ and have received and followed Him as Lord and Savior, have received from Him the right to become God’s children, and these are those who have believed in His Name (John 1:12). All those who have received the Lord and believed in Him have been born of God, born from above (John 3:3; 3:5-8), or born again.

THE WORD BECAME FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US

What happens in every believer when he comes to turn from sin, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and receive and follow Him as Lord and Savior, is that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit make their home in him (John 14:23). When Jesus Christ was born on earth, the Word of God became a human being, and people saw the glory of the only-begotten Son of God the Father, and He was full of grace and truth (John 1:14). St. John is so convinced of the power of God’s grace and truth given to the world through the Lord Jesus Christ that he contrasts God’s gift of the Law through Moses to God’s gift of grace and truth through Jesus Christ, as if a new age, or dispensation, of grace and truth began through Christ’s birth.

To emphasize the contrast further, St. John notes that no-one has ever seen God, but the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, has made him known (John 1:18). The truth that no-one has ever seen God’s face and lived was brought home to Moses, when God warned him, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live” (Ex. 33:20, NKJV). God allowed Moses to see all His goodness, but not his face. Now in and through the Lord Jesus Christ, God has been revealed. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews affirms this when he describes the Lord Jesus Christ as “being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3a, KJV).

CONCLUSION

St. John, almost at the beginning of his Gospel account, tells how anyone may become a child of God. One must receive Jesus Christ as Lord, as God, and believe in His Name (John 1:12). This is the only way to receive the life which is the light of mankind, and to have eternal life. It all depends on receiving Jesus Christ as Lord, and following Him. Are you satisfied with your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ?



[1] p. 105, Craig Brian Larson & Phyllis Ten Elshof (General Editors): 1001 Illustrations that Connect. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, Christianity Today International, 2008.

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