John 1:9-13 – Receiving Jesus
John 1:6-8 – John The Baptist
John 1:6-8 – John The Baptist
John 1:6-8 HCSB There was a man named John who was sent from God. (7) He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that all might believe through him. (8) He was not the light, but he came to testify about the light.
If you have been watching the news about Iraq recently you may have heard about the persecution of the Mandeans – modern-day followers of John the Baptist. In fact in the first century John the Baptist got such a large following among Jews and other folk in the Middle East that quite a bit of the New Testament is spent explaining the connection between the two cousins – John and Jesus. In Acts 19 Paul has to explain the gospel more fully to a group of John’s disciples in Ephesus as the changeover from following John to following Jesus was not as automatic as we may think.
In Matthew 11:11-13 Jesus says that His cousin John was the culmination of the Law and the Prophets and the “greatest of those born of women”. Yet John, despite his greatness “was not the light”, but rather, like all the prophets of old, John ‘bore witness to the Light”. John “prepared the way of the Lord” by helping Jews take the necessary steps of faith so they could be ready to hear the message of Jesus.
“There was a man named John who was sent from God.” Those “sent by God” are apostles (that is what the word apostle means). Apostles are not sent from a nation as an ambassador, or from a company as a representative but directly from God so as to speak on His behalf.
Those sent from God are sent with a particular message to a particular people – just as Jonah was sent to Nineveh with the commission to warn them of impending judgment. Thus John the Baptist was sent to the desert of Judea with the message “repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand” and a purpose “to be the voice crying in the wilderness prepare ye the way of the Lord.”
John thus prepared the way for Jesus by calling the Jewish people to repentance, so Jesus could call them to faith in Him. The New Testament makes clear that we cannot have biblical faith apart from moral regeneration. The faith of the positive thinkers is not enough. New Testament faith has a direction and that direction is into God, and into His nature.
We cannot remain in sin and truly believe in Jesus, because if we truly believe what Jesus said we will believe what He said about sin and righteousness and repentance.
Believing in Jesus is not just believing that He exists, or that He is loving and nice, or even that He is God, it is also believing what He said and thus obeying His commandments. If Jesus says “do not lay up treasure on earth’ (Matthew 6:19) and we do so then we are not believing what He said.
Believing in Jesus requires stern moral commitment. It is more than a warmed heart; it is a morally changed life. John came as a preacher of righteousness and moral regeneration so that people could be convicted of their sin and turn to God for mercy and a new life in Christ.
The modern debate on grace is often misconstrued. Grace is not God excusing you from all sorts of abhorrent moral behavior, nor is it a free pass into heaven for the unrepentant. Grace is given to make us holy. Grace calls us from wickedness to repentance, grace reveals the way from repentance to faith in Christ, grace grows us from initial faith to deeper sanctification and grace frees and transforms us along the path from sanctification to ultimate glorification.
Grace gives people the chance to become like Jesus. Grace makes the highway of holiness one that is free from condemnation so that we have the courage to travel along it. Grace is not the same as freedom from condemnation, which is only part of the story. We don’t sit down in the road saying: “Wow, I am free from condemnation.” The idea is to keep moving toward Christ-likeness.
It is much easier to tell a convicted and repentant sinner about Jesus, than a complacent and self-satisfied person who is uncaring of the state of his or her soul. So John came to stir people up so that they would care about their souls and seek God.
John came “so that all might believe through him.” He was a prophet who had as his objective – that others would believe in Jesus. Our ministries should be the same – pointing always to the Savior.
“He was not the light, but he came to testify about the light.” No matter how great our intelligence or insight or calling we are not the Light. Only Jesus is the light. Sometimes we make a preacher or teacher or founder of an organization or denomination another “light”. That is wrong, they may give witness to the light, but they are not the light. You can disagree with me and still be wonderfully saved, but you cannot disagree with Jesus and be saved. Jesus is the Truth and I and all other ministers of the gospel merely point to Him.
The Mandeans need Jesus. They need the Light. No man born of woman can guide us. Only Jesus is the Light of our lives.
John 1:4-5 – Life Was In Him
John 1:4-5 HCSB Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. (5) That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.
John 1:4-5 – Life Was In Him
There are 39 references to the word “life” in the gospel of John and most of them refer to Jesus being “life” in some way. Here are just five of them:
JESUS IS LIFE
John 5:21 HCSB And just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son also gives life to anyone He wants to.
John 5:26 HCSB For just as the Father has life in Himself, so also He has granted to the Son to have life in Himself.
John 8:12 HCSB Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”
John 11:25 HCSB Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live.
John 17:2 HCSB For You gave Him authority over all flesh; so He may give eternal life to all You have given Him.
Thus the Word is a living Word, life is in Him, the Word of God is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12), He is not dead and passive like a concept in Greek philosophy.
Jesus is the life of Creation and He is the light of Creation. All true life proceeds from Him and He has the power to give life. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. He has life in Himself – the same sort of self-existence that the Father has and He can give life to others, and those who follow Him do not walk in darkness but rather are granted the “light of life”.
What is this life? Life is the ability to maintain an integrated complex and functional existence and thus to have a continuity of being. Death is to disintegrate, to decay, to longer function, to not continue in an ordered state of being.
Thus Jesus is the source of life and light and progress and integrated complexity, beauty and order. In Genesis He commanded a formless, void and a chaotic world and brought forth that which is very good.
So Jesus is never on the side of darkness, death and decay. He is always on the side of peace, health, order, beauty, life and wisdom. When Jesus encountered leprosy He did not led the disorder and death win, instead Jesus brought about a clean and beautiful restoration.
Mark 1:40-42 MKJV And a leper came to Him, begging Him and kneeling down to Him, and saying to Him, If You will, You can make me clean. (41) And Jesus, moved with compassion, put out His hand and touched him, and said to him, I will; be clean! (42) And He having spoken, the leprosy instantly departed from him and he was cleansed.
Thus darkness, chaos and decay are enemies of God’s purposes on this planet. Jesus shines into this darkness and the darkness cannot comprehend it / overthrow it /seize /possess/overtake it. (The Greek word is “katelaben” and it has this range of meanings).
Whether it be political darkness, moral darkness, criminal darkness, spiritual darkness, or the darkness of ignorance lies and treachery – the light of Jesus is still more powerful.
The darkest place I have ever been in was a small village, in a very remote part of Papua New Guinea. The village was noted for witchcraft and was filled with disease and insanity. Yet for a few days we preached the gospel there and saw some response. There is no place so dark that the light of Jesus cannot shine there. As Corrie Ten Boom said after suffering through Auschwitz, no matter how deep the circumstances, the love of God is deeper still.
“In Him was life and that life was the light of men.” Jesus is not just a general life principle inherent in Creation, which would be close to pantheism; rather He is also a very special revelation to humanity. Jesus is the light that everyone is searching for.
“That life was the light of men” – the light of humankind is not a tremendously insightful concept it is a LIFE, a single human life, the life of Jesus. Just as a husband may say of his wife “she is the light of my life” so Jesus is the light of the life of all humanity.
Without Jesus our lives are gray and dull and dead and without deep meaning, or as the existentialists say: “life is absurd”.
Life becomes meaningful when a person enters it: a parent, a lover, a friend, a spouse, a mentor, or a teacher. Meaning always comes from relationship and ultimate meaning comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Well what does this mean for us? It means that if we want a life that is full of light and life then we should live it by the commands of Jesus Christ, in close relationship with him. You will not get much meaning from achieving or possessing or having power and prestige. I grew up among that sort of stuff and I saw the outcome and the profound mid-life sadness of the very successful.
Secondly it means you should not let chaos rule in your life. You are born-again to new life, to beauty and order and grace, not to chaos and disorder and turmoil. Put Jesus in charge of your life, your business, your family, your finances and watch Him create peace and order and righteousness and light and life.
previous message: John 1:1-3 – Jesus The Creative Word
The Gospel of John
An Exposition by John Edmiston
Jesus The Creative Word
John 1:1-3 MKJV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was in the beginning with God. (3) All things came into being through Him, and without Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.
Colossians 2:9 MKJV For in Him (Jesus Christ) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
We know from Genesis that all things were made through the word of God, what John reveals in this chapter is that Jesus is that Word, He is the very Creative Word of God!
Through Jesus Christ: “All things came into being through Him, and without Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.”
From pineapples to porcupines they all came into being through Jesus.
John carefully rebuts various Gnostic teachings when he tells us that Jesus the Word did not come into existence after God – He was “in the beginning with God”, and that He was “with God” and He “was God”. Jesus is not am emanation, or an ascended master or an angel or a “creature” of any kind. Rather He is the very creative word of God in personal and bodily form. (Colossians 2:9)
The scriptures emphasize that Jesus and God are identical in nature:
Hebrews 1:1-3 MKJV God, who at many times and in many ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, (2) has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds, (3) who being the shining splendor of His glory, and the express image of His essence, and upholding all things by the word of His power, through Himself cleansing of our sins, He sat down on the right of the Majesty on high,
John 14:6-10 MKJV Jesus said to him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me. (7) If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. And from now on you know Him and have seen Him. (8) Philip said to Him, Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us. (9) Jesus said to him, have I been with you such a long time and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father. And how do you say, Show us the Father? (10) Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? The Words that I speak to you I do not speak of Myself, but the Father who dwells in Me, He does the works.
Jesus is God, and all things were made through Him and for Him, and He holds all things together. He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15-20) and he helps us to know what God is like (John 1:14-18). When we see Jesus we see the character of God revealed to us in a way we can understand.
[Now the Trinity is a complex topic and I will not tackle it today but refer you out to an article on my website: http://aibi.gospelcom.net/articles/trinity.htm]
A God who is exactly like Jesus Christ rules reality. If you have seen Jesus you have seen the Father. A grumpy old man does not run the world on a cloud (which is the image of God I had as a child). A God full of mercy and compassion and grace and truth runs the world.
Thus when you pray you are praying to a God who is like Jesus, to someone who loves you and accepts you and who wants to work all things together for your good.
This is not a split world, a battle between light and darkness. There is only one Creator and one creative process – and that is through Jesus Christ.
So when we are in Christ, we are in the center of God’s creative process. We are in the Person who brings all things into existence.
In the beginning of God’s creative process everything was chaos, the Hebrew for ‘without form and void” is “tohu w’ bohu” which is the exact equivalent of helter-skelter or topsy-turvy or in Filipino “halo-halo”. That is a world without structure, chaotic, primeval, and confused.
Into that confused mess came the creative Word and He imposed an order on creation that was “good and very good” (Genesis 1). Similarly Christ can come into the confused life of the sinner and bring grace and salvation. Or He can come into the body of the leper and bring wholeness and cleanness. Or He can speak over the grave of Lazarus and bring life.
As God’s creative word Jesus comes into the confusion and brings the Kingdom of God and love and peace and joy and creates a Paradise, a Garden of Eden.
Jesus is not just an ancient prophet wearing a beard and sandals He is the creative Word of God through whom all things were made. If you are a Christian then you are “in Him” and you are loved by Him and His immense power is available to you to bless you.