Welcome to Expound, our verse-by-verse study of God's word. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God by explaining the word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
John, Chapter 1. In the Old Testament, Solomon dedicated the temple. The temple was a symbol of God's presence upon the earth. As he dedicated the temple, Father David had saved up the wherewithal to do it. Solomon built it, and as he dedicated the temple he asked a very intriguing question. Listen to his question.
All the people of Israel are gathered there in Jerusalem and then Solomon says, but will God really dwell on the earth? For behold heaven, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain you, much less this temple that I have built. It's a great question. It's a great thing to ponder as we open up to the Gospel of John. Will God really dwell on earth?
Well, we know that the Tabernacle, and later on the temple, became those focal points for the presence of the Lord among his people. God dwelling among his people. People coming to that central place, seeking the mind and the will of the Lord. But then we come to the New Testament. And in the New Testament, in the person of Jesus, now we really find God dwelling on earth.
We'll see it in John, Chapter 1, Verse 14 if, God willing, we get that far. "And the word became flesh and dwelt among us." "Tabernacled" is the literal term. "And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten Son, full of grace and truth."
God dwelling on the earth. So significant is the incarnation, the coming of Christ dwelling, that it takes not one, but four, different individuals to write the story of Christ. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I'm often asked, why are there four gospels? Why not just one grand gospel, why four? It's because the person of Jesus is so unique. Not one author can capture, in beholding his glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
It's as if the Holy Spirit is the director of a string quartet. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are playing the instruments. And the Holy Spirit is the director. And he puts all of those instruments in beautiful harmony together so the output, the outcome, is an awesome, awesome score. Beautiful to listen to, but it takes all four working together. In harmony together, blended together to get a full picture.
Or, if you prefer a different analogy, it's as if the Holy Spirit is the director on a film set. And he uses four different cameras from four different angles to capture the action. The response of the crowd. The main character's body language, et cetera.
And so we have the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Luke, and now the Gospel of John, each having a different emphasis. I love the Gospel of John. We were talking before the service about the Gospel of John being the go-to gospel that we usually tell new believers we want them to read.
You see, Matthew's gospel was written for the Jewish people. And an often-repeated phrase and word is the word "fulfilled," or "so that it might be fulfilled." We find that phrase in the Gospel of Matthew because it's written for the Jews. To show the Jewish people that Jesus, this Jesus that is presented in Matthew, is the fulfillment of the Old Testament predictions to the Jewish nation.
Then we come to the Gospel of Mark. The Gospel of Mark was written for a Roman audience. It's a gospel of action. It's short. It's fast. It's about doing. It's about accomplishing. It's about getting the job done. It has the Roman audience in mind.
When we get to the Gospel of Luke, it's as though he's writing to a Greek audience. Luke being a gentile physician, being a little more exact, and a little bit different in his language and covering a different angle altogether, speaks about Jesus in his perfect manhood. He is the Son of Man, that's how Luke presents him. And to Greek philosophers the ideal man was often discussed by their philosophers and in their schools. So Jesus, the perfect man, full of compassion, full of love.
When we get to the Gospel of John it seems as though the audience is not the Jews, or just the Romans, or just the Greeks, it's as though the audience here is the whole world. And it presents Jesus probably in the fullest of his character. It speaks of him as the Son of God. In fact, God himself. As God in a human body. God in human flesh.
So in the Gospel of Matthew the focus is on what Jesus said. We have the great discourses in Matthew that are presented. In the Gospel of Mark, we have what Jesus did. It's that rapid action, short, fast-moving gospel. Words like "immediately" are employed a lot. He did this, and then immediately, and then, and then-- it moves quickly.
The Gospel of Luke is about how he felt. And the Gospel of John is about who he was. Or think of it this way, Matthew, Mark and Luke, which are also called synoptic gospels, because they're very similar in their approach. John is very different in his approach. It's as though Matthew, Mark and Luke are snapshots, but John is a studied portrait. It's a studied portrait.
"We beheld his glory, as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." And so you'll notice that John goes back in his genealogy in Verse 1, all the way back further than Matthew, or Mark, or Luke, to the very beginning itself. Like the book of Genesis. In the beginning. In the beginning.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was, in the beginning, with God. All things were made through him. And without him nothing was made that was made. In him was life. And the life was the light of man. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the light that all through him might believe. He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light."
The Gospel of John was written by John. Very good. Although his name does not appear as the author of the gospel. He's never introduced as the writer of the gospel in the gospel. When he begins in Verse 6 and says "there was a man sent from God whose name was John," he's speaking about John the Baptist. Right.
So we have John the Apostle, the author, not mentioned as the author, writing about, at first, John the Baptist. Just so we get that square and we get that straight. So if John is not mentioned as the author of the gospel, how do we know then that the Gospel of John is indeed the Gospel of John? That's a fair question, right? Would you like the answer?
OK. The reason we know John wrote the gospel is because a guy in the beginning of the second century, named Irenaeus, said he wrote it. You go, well, so what? How does he know? Well, Irenaeus was a disciple of a guy named Polycarp. You say, well, so what? Polycarp was a direct disciple of John the Apostle. So he would have known and he would have told Irenaeus.
So Irenaeus is the first one historically that tells us, the guy that wrote this gospel was none other than John the Apostle. Now he does call himself. He goes by an interesting title in his own writings. You know what I'm going to say, some of you, right? He's called "the apostle whom Jesus loved." He writes that about himself. Then there was "the apostle whom Jesus loved," you know, I won't say his name, but it sort of sounds like John.
So he says that about himself, and some people in hearing that think, well, that's sort of arrogant to say, I'm the one Jesus loved. I don't see it as arrogant at all. I think it's confident, not arrogant. You're the disciple Jesus loved as well, and so am I. When you can know that and you can personalize it, and I'm the one that Jesus loved. He loved them all, but John experienced, on a personal level, the love of Christ. So he calls himself the disciple, or the apostle whom Jesus loved.
John is part of an inner circle. Peter, James, and John. We find those three. Although he had those Twelve Apostles, and he had more disciples beyond that, there seemed to be a special core of guys that were just closer to the Lord than the rest.
So when Jesus healed Gyrus's daughter, raised her from the dead, he brought in with him only Peter, James, and John. When he was transfigured with Moses and Elijah, he took with him only Peter, James, and John. In the garden of Gethsemane during his temptation, he scurried off from the rest of the crowd just Peter, James, and John.
John was the first apostle at the Tomb of Jesus. He was also at the cross. He stood at the cross. He watched his Savior die. The other disciples had fled, John alone was there. He was next to Jesus' mother, Mary. In fact, at the cross, Jesus entrusted Mary into John's care. "Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother."
Then, after the Resurrection, when the woman said, he's not in that tomb, you guys. He's gone. It says that Peter and John-- Peter and the other disciple, the disciple whom Jesus loved-- ran to the tomb, and it says that John beat Peter to the tomb.
I just find it fascinating that John, again, writes of himself not only is he the guy whom Jesus loved, but he's the guy who beat Peter to the tomb. Just saying. It tickles me. "And the other disciple did outrun Peter," that's how it's put. I'm just a little faster.
So he gets to the tomb first. It says he looked in first, and he was thinking about what he saw. Then it says Peter went into the tomb, and he sort of scratched his head like, I can't figure this out. Then it says John went in also, and he saw, and he believed. So John was not only the first to the tomb, he was the first to believe, of the apostles, that Jesus had risen from the dead.
He is one of the sons of Zebedee. Who is the other son of Zebedee? James. Yeah. James and John were with their dad, Zebedee, in a fishing business around the Sea of Galilee. They also happened to be partners with a couple other brothers, Peter and Andrew, around the Sea of Galilee.
So they were involved in a fishing business. They were known as the sons of Zebedee. But Jesus called the sons of Zebedee by a nickname. Boanerges, or "sons of thunder," as it's translated. And that is probably because-- and it's interesting that it was John.
James and John, and the rest of the gang were going toward Jerusalem. They were going through Sumeria. They wanted to stay there. The Sumeritans wouldn't receive them, because they had set their face steadfastly toward Jerusalem, and there had been a long-going animosity between those in Sumeria and those in Jerusalem.
So, because they were not well-treated, James and John said to Jesus-- listen to their question. I know you know this, some of you, but for others of you, but for all of us it's still amazingly humorous. They sincerely asked him, Lord, would you like us to call fire down from heaven? And consume this village? Lord, if it's all the same to you, we'd like to just nuke these people. Is that OK with you? We just want to like, we're just going to nuke them into oblivion.
And Jesus said, you don't know what manner of spirit you are. That is not my heart. You don't even know what you're talking about. The Son of Man came to save lives, not to destroy lives. So Jesus, it would seem from that, calls them "sons of thunder." Sons of Zebedee, sons of thunder.
Now why that's a little odd, and should be interesting to us, is that John has been dubbed, you know what he's been called the apostle of? Love. He's been called the Apostle of Love by how tender he writes this story. And how tender he was toward Jesus. And for many reasons that shows an intimacy and a warmth, and a tenderness in John.
And yet, he really seemed to have a temper, seemed to be short on the fuse. Temperamental. Angry. Impetuous. Some of the things we typically ascribe to Peter, that was part of James and John's makeup. But it shows you how Jesus can change a life in 3 and 1/2 years.
To turn men from sons of thunder to sons who are tender. And to make John so tender-hearted that he would lay his head on Jesus' bosom at that Last Supper. And for so many other reasons, I love the fact that lives can change if they're willing to hang out with Jesus long enough. And he hung out with Jesus for his ministry.
So we need to go over these verses and really understand them. And, again, we're in no hurry. I always set my sights high. I always think, oh, we can cover at least a chapter, maybe two. But at least a chapter. But you're looking now and thinking that's quite impossible by this time. But that's OK.
Here's the joy of Wednesday night. We have our time. We do what we do and we pick it up next time and we go through the gospel. Because we want to get certain principles and certain verses understood by all. Some of you have read the Bible, but not all of you have understood it.
So let's go through the Gospel of John now, kind of concept by concept. "In the beginning was the Word," verse one, "and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Now notice this. "He," speaking of the word, sounds like he's speaking of an inanimate object. The word, a piece of conversation, a word. But "he," the word, "he" was, in the beginning, with God.
So Matthew begins the genealogy of Jesus Christ, do you remember with whom? Who was first in the genealogical record? Abraham. Luke decides to take the genealogy of Jesus Christ and go back even further all the way to Adam. He begins with Adam. That's as far back as you can get, you would think.
But John actually does him justice taking it all the way back to the very beginning at the beginning. The point being is Jesus never wasn't he always was. "In the beginning" sounds like Genesis 1. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." "In the beginning was the Word." Now that sounds strange to be talking about a human being. A person. An entity. An entity with a human body. A personality. But to call the personality by the term "the Word."
It sounds so mystical. Ethereal. Philosophical. What's with calling Jesus "the Word?" Why is that? Here's what you need to know. The Jews would sometimes refer to God as "the Word." The Hebrew word is "Memra." The Greek word is "Logos."
And that is because the Jewish people have such a high respect for God they would never use his given name in the Old Testament, Yahweh. They wouldn't say, Yahweh said. It was such an ineffable name, an unpronounceable name, a perfect, holy name. They would either say, Adonai, or simply say, Hashem, which means "the name." Or sometimes in their writings, like the targums, which are commentaries on Old Testament scriptures, they would simply use the term, Memra, or the Word, as a designation of God Himself. So it was familiar among the Jews. If you were to say, the Word, they would think that means God,
But also, in that day and age, among the Greeks, they believed in what they called the Logos, the Word. And that was a term used by Greek philosophers. For you see, the Greeks understood that the world in which we live has a level of design, it would seem, or at least predictable patterns. The light begins in the morning, ends in the evening. There are rotations and orbits of planets, et cetera. There are seasons. There are lengths of days, that you can, after a while, observe and thus predict.
So then they would ask the question, what is the source, and what is the origin of all of this ordered principle in the universe? Why the order? Why the symmetry? Why the predictability? They said, it must be because there is a first principle, an ordering principle, they called the Logos. The reason for the order in the universe, according to Greek philosophers, is because there existed a Logos, a Word.
So appealing to Jewish listeners, appealing to Greek listeners-- remember, he's writing for the world-- in the beginning was the Logos, the ordering principle, the first cause, God himself. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
A few years ago, I heard a knock on my door during the day. And I looked through my little eye hole in the door to see who it was. I was in my study at the time, and I walked up, and I looked in there. And I saw two people there with little green Bibles, green covers, and a little magazine that said, Awake. So I knew that they were Jehovah's Witnesses, Jehovah's Christian Witnesses. So I thought, well, this will be interesting.
So I opened the door, and we began having a conversation. And I'm pretty-- I know where the conversation is going. I know their lines. I know what they're going to say. I know what they've been taught, and I know how they've been discipled. And it finally got to the point where I brought up John, Chapter 1, verse 1. And they were ready.
And one of them said, well, you know, in the Greek, it says in the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the Word was a god. And I looked, and I said, are you sure about that? Oh yes, well attested to. It is. Well, so this person showed me his Bible. It said, sure enough, in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.
So I asked a couple of questions. I always like to ask them, first question, can you provide to me a list of the translators of the New World Translation, your translation? And they couldn't do it. And at that time, the Watchtower Tract Society couldn't and wouldn't provide a list of their translators, because every time they do, the translators they quote say, we didn't say that. You're misquoting us.
So when they told me that the Greek says, the Word was a god, it piqued my interest. And I went, and I grabbed my Greek New Testament out of my office. And I opened it up to the Gospel of John. I spread it out, and I said, show me here, in the Greek. Here is a Greek New Testament, written in the Greek language. Read it. Show me.
Now, I'll admit I was being a little persnickety, a little pesky, a little mischievous. I'm no great Greek scholar. Trust me. But I was, during that time, taking a Greek class from our resident Greek scholar, Dr. Steven Collins. And so I was right in the throes of that. And so I had been studying that passage.
So I said, show me where it is. And they both looked at it and said, we can't read Greek. So I said, OK. Then let's just go through the first couple of verses.
And they're going, OK. Now say, now, you'll notice that last part that I just read, [GREEK] and you'll notice that there is no direct article before [GREEK] because-- and the predicate, notice that the predicate is moved to the front of the sentence, not typically, in English, to the end of the sentence, like we do. But notice that it's moved forward, and it's done that way to prove a point by the author. The author is trying to show the essence of something or someone.
So it literally reads in English, [GREEK] or and God was the Word. That's how it is literally written. And that is because what John is saying is this. The Word, as to His essential being and essence, is God. He is, in very nature, God. That's how the Greek construction goes.
The conversation ended very quickly after that. I tried, actually, to bring them in, and I tried to go through other scripture. And I could tell that one was discipling, and the other one said, no, no, no, no. We got to go. We got to go. And under their breath, we're not going to be back, but--
You can rely on this translation in your English. This is what it says. This is a faithful translation from the Greek manuscript. And the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him, nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
Jesus created all things. He is the Creator. He is the source of life. He comes to the Earth, but He is the source and the origin of life. Every now and then, science asks a logical question. And the question is, if given enough time, can natural processes be responsible for animate life? If given enough time, can natural processes be responsible for animate life?
And what's interesting about that is, a few years ago, the Wistar Institute assembled 50 mathematicians and biologists for a summer, to analyze that issue. And the concluding statement, without going through all of their stuff, just this [? statement, ?] "Based on our understanding of the laws of chemistry and physics and what we know about randomness, mathematical randomness, there is no way that the complexity of life could just come about." The report goes on to say, for randomness to be responsible for life is a mathematical impossibility.
No matter how old you think the universe is, there just is not enough time, by all the current models, not enough time for randomness to be responsible for it. And so they came to the William Paley's idea, the watchmaker idea. He was that guy from the 1700s who said, if there is design, it shows there's a designer. If there's a watch, you can be assured there's a watchmaker. It's funny, because I forgot my watch tonight.
But if you see a watch, how foolish would it be to have you-- anybody have a watch on? OK, so as you look-- is that an Apple Watch?
Yeah. Do you like it? Okay.So it has nothing to do with the [INAUDIBLE]. So what if I were to tell you about your Apple Watch, hey, I know how that happened. I know how that came about.
Millions of years ago, millions of years ago, there was a collision and an explosion and rocks flow down a stream, and they hit each other. And then there was a volcano, a volcano, that happened and then more explosions. And over millions of years, just the right chemicals, silicone, and everything came together, and out of the ground, oozed that watch.
You'd say, you're an idiot. That's stupid.
But if I go, millions of years ago, there was an explosion, and random things happened. And we're here. We go, now, that's so intelligent. Oh, that is so advanced. No, that's so lame, because I am much more complex than that little Apple Watch. As cool as that is, by the way, you and I are just much more complex and advanced than that.
So if there is a universe, there must be a universe maker because of the complexity of life within it, just as if there is a watch, there must be a watchmaker. So that's basically the idea of the Wistar Institute. But John just tells us what happened. All things were made through Him, through Jesus, and without Him, nothing was made that has been made.
"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." Jesus is the source of life. But are you aware that when the Bible speaks of life, when the New Testament speaks of life, it speaks of three different kinds of life? Today, most people think of life as just biological life. And the Bible does speak of that, though very, very sparingly, very rare to find that word in the New Testament, though it does speak of it.
So there are three words. There is the first word, bios, B-I-O-S, like bios, biology. And it means physical, biological life. Heart pumping, lungs breathing, that's bios. And the Bible does speak of that. But what's interesting is the New Testament, though it speaks of it and uses the word, it uses it in a backhanded, almost negative way. Jesus spoke about the thorns that choke out the life of the seed, the biological life.
There is a second usage of the term life in the Greek New Testament, and that's the word psuche. Or we would say, psyche, which sounds a lot like psychology. That's where we get our term psychology. It means your inert, mental life, the inner you, the inner satisfaction. Jesus said, if you want to save your life, psuche, you have to surrender your life. The answer to finding peace of mind and peace of soul is from surrendering your life to Jesus Christ.
But then there is the third usage of it. And by far, it takes the lion's share of all of the usages for life translated from the Greek New Testament into English. And that's the Greek word zoe, zoe. Even though in our language, zoe has been translated like zoology, zoe is a theological term that speaks of a quality of life that comes from God, a quality of life that comes from God. Yes, it will last forever.
But even more than just going on and on and on, it's a quality of life that begins now and continues throughout all of eternity. New life, new zoe, is the result of a new birth. Birth brings life, the new birth. You must be born again. When you are born again, you get zoe, a quality of life that lasts forever.
So in Him was life. He's the origin of biological life. He's also the source of inner satisfaction, psychological life. But he's the giver of everlasting life, eternal life, a quality of life, abundant life that goes on and on and on.
Verse 5 was a verse that I used to question every time I read it. "And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." And I discovered, I'm not the only one that has trouble with it, because it's translated a lot of different ways. Sometimes it says, and the darkness did not overcome it, the darkness did not apprehend it.
Look at it this way. A fog has settled upon the earth. A fog has come upon Narnia. So everywhere you look, it's that cold, wintry fog. And Jesus Christ comes along and is like the flashlight, the foglight, that dispels the fog. And when people see the light, they don't get it. They don't apprehend it. And they can't overcome it, though they would like to overcome it, if they could.
Have you ever turned on the light, when somebody has been in a dark room for a period of time? Or you open the shutters early in the morning, and it's bright and sunny. And somebody is fast asleep, and the first thing they say is, shut that light off. Close those blinds. The light can be so blinding, all they want to do is eliminate it. They don't get it. They don't apprehend it. They don't want it.
"In Him was life, and his life was the light of men. Light shined in the darkness. The darkness did not comprehend, apprehend, or overcome it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John." This is John the baptizer. "This man came for a witness to bear witness of the light, that all through him might believe. He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light."
What do we know about John the Baptist? Well, we know his mom and dad. His dad was a priest in the temple. His name was Zacharias. His mom's name was Elizabeth. They were childless. They were in their older age. And one day, Zacharias goes into the temple to burn incense. And there, standing at the right of the Altar of Incense, is an angel, who said he was Gabriel.
And he said, Zechariah, you and your wife Elizabeth are going to have a baby. And he's going to be great in the sight of the Lord. He's going to be filled with the Holy Spirit from his womb. And he's going to turn many of the hearts of the people of Israel back to the Lord their God. He'll turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers.
So Zecharias gets a vision from the angel Gabriel about he and his elder wife going to have a child. And I love his response to it. If you saw an angel at work, a bona fide lit-up angel, you probably wouldn't do what Zacharias did or say what Zacharias said. It will be just so amazing to you, you just go, what! You tell everybody. And every Christian television show would want you on. You could write books about it. Some do.
But Zecharias says, well, how do I know that's true? Dude, an angel shows up, and you're asking that lame question?
He said, I'll tell you how. I'm Gabriel, and you're not going to be able to speak until he's born, to shut him up. Can you just see, he goes home that night. His wife says, honey, you never say anything.
Well, he couldn't speak for months. He had to write things out. And then John was finally born. Now, when Elizabeth, his wife, was five to six months pregnant, Mary, who had been conceived by the Holy Spirit in her womb, went to go visit, because they were cousins, to visit Elizabeth. And as soon as Mary came to the door and called out Elizabeth's name, the Bible says, the babe leaped for joy in Elizabeth's womb and that that baby was filled with the Holy Spirit from pregnancy onward.
Jesus said he was the greatest man who ever lived. Because his dad was a priest, John the Baptist should have been a priest. He would follow in his father's footsteps. The son of the priest would become a priest. It's by bloodline.
But you see, John was a little bit different. One day, his wife turned to her husband and said, sweetheart, have you noticed John lately? He's wearing camel's hair. His hair is awfully long. And he keeps eating bugs. They fly into the house. He grabs these. He's like-- I don't know what the deal is.
No, I don't know if they had that conversation or not, but we do know that he did probably take a Nazarite vow his whole life. He was separated. His hair grew long. He didn't touch anything that had to do with grapes or wine or the fruit of the vine. He wouldn't touch a dead body or anything that defiled him. That's how Nazarites lived. So he was completely separated for God's purpose and didn't want anything or any activity to contaminate or diminish his calling and his ability to preach God's message. That was John, John the Baptist.
"He was not that light, but he was sent to bear witness of that light. That was the true light, which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world. The world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came unto His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
I love the way John writes. I love it. And this reminds me of what he said in First John, Chapter 1, verse 1, that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have gazed steadfastly upon and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life. Can you imagine hanging out with Jesus? And after a period of time, you're going to go, who is this guy? Where does He come from?
And then it dawns on you one day. He knows everything I think. He can do any miracle. He knows what everybody else thinks. He claims to be the fulfillment of scripture. He does everything that I read about God doing in the Old Testament. This guy, I believe this guy is God in human flesh.
And then to say, we hung out with Him. We heard Him. We scoped Him out. We saw. This is the Word of life. This is the source of everything, the Memra, the Logos. And the Word became flesh. Now, we know, without a doubt, that the Word here refers to Jesus, because the Word became flesh. That's the incarnation. "And dwelt among us. And we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
OK. Go back to verse 11. Notice this. He came unto His own, and His own did not receive him. The first time it says His own, in the Greek language, it's in the neuter. You know what neuter is, right? It's not masculine. It's not feminine. It's neuter, neutral.
The second usage of His own in that verse is masculine and refers to people. So it is probably best translated, He came unto His own things-- neuter-- and His own people did not receive Him. That's how many translations take this spin on it. He came unto His own things, or His own creation, but His own people did not receive him. But as many as did receive Him, He gave them the right to become children of God. You get the point there?
So here's what we discover. The Word, Who made the heavens and the Earth, becomes flesh. And He comes to His own creation. And my, how His creation responds. Water is able to hold Him up, because He made that water. Oh, I don't understand the physics; don't need to. The Creator just willed that so. Creation responded to the Creator.
People who are dead come back to life, because the Creator can do that. He can speak life into them. He has control over every physical force. The creation, the physical universe, is responding to Him. He came to His own things.
But when it comes to people, that have a will, their own volitional capabilities, they did not receive Him. His own people, the Jewish people, with all of those predictions made about their Messiah, His own people did not receive. The creation did. They were responsive. But the people of God, who had the text of scripture and the prophets who foretold Him, they did not receive Him, generally.
But some did. And that's why it says, "As many as did receive Him, to them He gave the power"-- or the right or the authority, it could be translated-- "to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us."
Now, I think there's something else you need to know. And probably things, then, from now on, when you read things like this, and First John, Second John, Third John, are going to make more sense to you. At least I hope. That's the whole purpose of me studying this and teaching you this.
One of the things John was writing against, when he wrote the Gospel of John, and First, Second, and Third John, was, at that time, a philosophy that was being believed in the church, called gnosticism. And without explaining it all to you, let me just say that part of gnosticism said that Jesus Christ only seemed to be human. He really wasn't.
He was special, and He seemed to be human. But they had all these stories, like, when He would walk, He wouldn't leave footprints in the sand, and all these things that said He wasn't a real human being, because God, when He created the world, created emanations. And an emanation was created that was so far from God, it didn't even know God. They have a whole hierarchical, weird teaching, weird structure.
But they denied that Jesus Christ had a physical, human body. So what I'm trying to get you to realize is that the first attack against Jesus Christ was not an attack on His deity. It was an attack on His humanity. It's called gnosticism.
And one of the reasons John writes the gospel, as well as the letters-- First, Second, and Third John-- is to fight against the error of gnosticism, so much so, that in First John, he says, whoever does not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God; is antichrist. What John wants you to know is that this Jesus was God, but He was fully human, as well as being fully divine. He was undiminished deity in unprotected humanity. That's how John presents Him; undiminished deity in a body of unprotected humanity.
He was fully man. He felt things. He wept over things. He had pain that went through his body. He didn't seem to be human, he was fully human; fully divine, and fully human. The Word became flesh.
"John bore witness of Him"-- this is John the Baptist-- "and cried out, saying, 'This was He of whom I said, He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me." It goes all the way back to the beginning. "And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace."
I love this new song our worship team has introduced to us. "Grace After Grace," I love that. Because that's the idea. It's grace after grace after grace. It's like the waves of an ocean. One crashes in and then recedes. And as one goes out, another one comes in. And so it's this free-flowing of wave after wave of God's grace, unending. It keeps going, generation after generation. Get a surfboard and ride the wave of God's grace. I love that.
"Of His fullness, we have all received, and grace after grace after grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." So now, John begins to draw a comparison between the law of Moses, the old covenant, and the free gift of grace, the new covenant. Is there a difference? Tuh. Is there a difference between night and day?
The law demands righteousness from man. And the covenant of grace gives righteousness to man from God. The law says, you better perform your works. Grace says, here is the work of Jesus Christ, finished, done, can't add to it, can't subtract from it. It's not your works. It's His work.
He lived the perfect life you could never live. And then He died an atoning death, your sin upon Him. The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. "No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
What does that mean, no man has seen God at any time? It means that no man in history has ever seen the full, undiminished glory of God in his total essence. They would love to. Moses prayed for that in Deuteronomy 33. He said, Lord, I just have one little, final request. I want to see Your glory. It's quite a prayer.
I mean, Moses-- if I'm there, I'm going, Moses, Moses, you've seen more than I've seen, and you're not happy? I didn't see a Red Sea open up. You did. I didn't see the Egyptians die because of all those plagues. You did. I didn't see manna on the ground every day. You did. I didn't see water coming out of a rock, Mo. You did.
I would think, after all the incredible, miraculous experiences, you would say, this is awesome. I've had enough. He goes, I just want to, just, I would like to see Your glory. God is so tender with Mo, and He says, you know, Mo, if I let you do that, you'll just burn up. You'll fry up. No man can see Me and live. No man can see the undiminished fullness of God in His essence.
So God said, I'll pass before you, and you will see, sort of like the afterglow, the afterburn, the after effect, of my presence. But you cannot see Me. No man can see me and live.
So then Jesus comes along. No man has seen God at any time. But notice the thought of the verse. "The only begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, He has revealed Him," or declared Him, or shown Him forth. What did Jesus say? If you've seen Me, you have seen the Father.
Philip said, just like Moses, Lord, all we want, well, just show us the Father. That's all we want. Again, I go, OK, dude, you've seen miracles. You've seen Jesus. And you-- no, we just want to see God the Father. You keep talking about the Father. Just show Him. Have I been so long a time with you, you don't know who I am? If you've seen me, you've seen the Father. I and the Father are one.
I understand the prayer. I've been in situations, oh, Lord, just give me a glimpse of your glory. Just give me a little more. It will get me through the day. It'll get me through this experience.
But see, Jesus comes along, and He shows us God. And here's, I think, the point. God is aloof and distant and fuzzy and unclear, until Jesus comes along and makes Him clear. He comes on the scene, and when you hear Him speak, that's God talking.
When you see Jesus heal people who are sick, you go, that's God's compassion. He loves people. Look at how he's treating people. I'm seeing God in action. I'm hearing the words of God spoken from the lips of this Messiah. He has brought Him forth.
And so verse 14 and verse 18 should be brought together. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we beheld His glory." Verse 18-- "No man has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the father, He has declared Him."
Now this is the testimony of John. Do you think we're going to finish this chapter? I think not. "This is the testimony of John. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, who are you? He confessed and he said," well, I'll tell you who I'm not. I'm not the Christ. He knew they were thinking he must be the Messiah. So I'll tell you who I'm not. I am not the Christ.
"And they said, What then? Are you Elijah? He said, I am not. Are you the prophet?" He answered, nope. "Then they said to him, who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?" And he said, I am the great son of Zacharias the priest. Oh, it doesn't say he said that. But he could've.
He said, let me tell you who I am. I've got credentials. My dad's a priest in the temple. And by the way, I've been filled with the Holy Spirit since I was in the womb. Let's see, number three, I'm the greatest man who ever lived. I mean, he had a whole litany of things, miraculous birth by my parents, et cetera.
He said, "I am," quoting Isaiah 40, "the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Make straight the way of the Lord, as the prophet Isaiah has said." I love John the Baptist. Fiery, yes. Fiery, yes, but I love his heart. He says, I'm not the Word. I'm just the voice. He's the Word. I'm just the voice declaring the Word. He's the real message. I'm just the messenger. I love that.
You have a message. And the message is Jesus. You don't have to make one up. And I love it when preachers stick with teaching the Bible, instead of, I've got to make up something really cool. No you don't. Don't make anything up, cool or not cool. Just say what the Bible actually says. Just teach the text of the Word, and you will discover the text of the Word, the Word has power.
The living Word, Jesus Christ, has power, and He will use the written Word. You don't have to make up something cool and clever to get the gospel hep and cool, and look at my message. We don't care about your message. You don't have a message. He is the message. You're just the messenger.
And the world is in a mess. And the world in a mess needs messengers giving the message. And the message isn't you. It's Him.
I'm just the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the ways of the Lord. I'm the road worker. That's what John says. I'm just the road crew. He's the Way. He's the Path. He's the Road. I'm just the dude that works the road. I'm pointing, and I'm getting the road straight. But he's the Road. Walk on it. Follow Him. Serve Him.
Make Jesus the message. Keep Jesus the center of your life. Learn His Word. Learn His Word to you. Take it in. Learn to love it; the Word, personally as Jesus and the words that He has provided.
"Now, those who were sent were from the Pharisees. And they asked Him, saying, why then do you baptize, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?" Dude, you're out baptizing people, and you're not any of those people. You're not Elijah the prophet. You're not the Messiah, and you're not the prophet.
That's a very, very important question. But next week, we'll tell you why they asked that question, and what the answer to that issue is. But hey, we've covered half a chapter.
Father, thank you for the testimony of John, an eyewitness, one who saw, studied, and heard the Word of life, the Word Who was from the beginning, the preexistent One, God the Son, who became the Son of Man and Son of God to us on this earth.
Lord, it says, as many as received Him, He gave them the power to become the children of God, to those who would believe in His name. That's the difference between the law and the grace. If I just believe that Jesus has done for me what I could never do for me, but I let Jesus live His life through me. That's life.
Lord, I pray that as we live our biological life, working with our psychological life, that they would both be informed by our eternal, everlasting, age-abiding life. I pray that we would not live for biological pleasure or even mental satisfaction, but we would seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things would be added to us.
Just as Jesus said, if you lose your life, you'll find it, and if you want to find real life, you surrender your life, Lord, we close in a song of surrender to You. We pray, Lord, that you would take from us, this evening, those cares that we're dealing with, those struggles, those diseases, those worries for children, worries for friends, worries for parents, those things that gnaw at us and nag at us, those unresolvable conflicts that we have tried, but been unable to solve. And we surrender it all to You, that we might enjoy, in our minds, in our bodies, in our spirits, true life that comes from You. It's in Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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