Summary: Christ, as seen through the eyes of John. Bible scholars have long viewed his narrative as the most theological of the four narratives. Calvin wrote: "The first three exhibit His body...but John shows His soul."
Sermon Preached at Grace Community Church (EPC)
Sun City Grand, Surprise, AZ
Sunday, October 6, 2013
by the Reverend Cooper McWhirter
IN CHRIST ALONE: “In the Beginning…” [Part One]
John 1:1-5; 10-14
The gospel of John is distinctly different from that of the Synoptic Gospels; the word “synoptic” meaning: “To see with the same eye”. And that’s because Matthew’s narrative was written by a Jew, for the Jew, about the Jewish Messiah. John Mark, written in a staccato-like fashion, directed his message to those of a Roman mindset. Then, too, the Greek physician, Luke, writing in a linguistic style, appealed to people of Greek origin. And although there were chronological differences; all three narratives shared many of Jesus’ miracles, in addition to His sermons, teachings, and parables.
John, however, spoke explicitly about Jesus being the Christ, the Son of the living God! And rather than focusing on a specific ethnic group, John’s audience was for all mankind [verses 12-14, 18; cf. 20:31].
The Gospel of John has long been regarded by Bible scholars as the most theological of these four narratives. John Calvin, the esteemed Protestant Reformer, put it this way: “The first three (Matthew, Mark and Luke) exhibit [Christ’s] body…but John shows His soul.”
John’s Gospel records Jesus’ ‘self-revelation’; namely that He IS the Christ! His narrative can be divided into two main sections which are sometimes called the ‘Book of Signs’ (chapters 1–12), in which Christ points to His own identity; and the ‘Book of Glory’ (chapters 13–21), in which Christ reveals His fellowship with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Following his prologue, the remainder of John’s account develops the theme as to how the eternal “Word” of God became flesh and ministered to mankind; so that people of every age who place their faith in Him could be saved. And although John’s prologue was written simplistically, the truths he conveys are some of the most profound in all of Scripture…yes, simple; yet so profound!
So let’s begin by beginning…IN THE BEGINNING (repeat)
I still remember, as if it were only yesterday; a Friday afternoon in March of 1972 when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Although I had gone to church all of my life, I never knew that a person must turn his/her life over to Christ in order to secure eternal life!
I didn’t know it at the time but for nearly two years, missionaries at the Stonecroft headquarters in Kansas City, MO, had been praying for my salvation. And had I known, I probably would have resented it! But over time my heart softened. But it wasn’t the Word of God that initially drew me to Christ. Instead, it was the radiant countenance shown by these missionaries that convinced me that my life was a sham!
Like every neophyte, I soon immersed myself in the Scriptures, but where should I begin? My spiritual mentor, Mary Mahaffey, in her distinctive Georgia accent, said: “Cooper, why not begin…in the beginning?” Mary recommended that I start in chapter one in the Book of Genesis alongside these opening verses in John’s Gospel. And so I did; and so must we all!
And this is precisely where John begins where he says: “In the beginning …” which, of course parallels Genesis chapter one, verse one, where God echoed these words to His servant Moses. John deliberately used this phrase to correlate the beginning of time, space and the material universe.
“In the beginning…was”. The verb was accentuates the eternal pre-existence of…the Word! It verifies the fact that before the universe began, the Second Person of the Trinity had always existed! Put simply, Christ was not made! And the Word spoke and the works of creation took on form and substance!
In Greek philosophy the word logos signified the realm of: “divine reason,” “mind,” “thought,” and “wisdom”. But to the Greeks, the word logos was essentially impersonal. So, by drawing from the writings of the Old Testament, John enhanced and beautified this word to mean something much more edifying and far more personal. For example, in Genesis 1:3 God spoke… and once He did so, He brought the world into existence [Psalms 33:6; 107:20; Proverbs 8:27]. The Latin phrase, “creatio ex nihilo” literally means “from out of nothing… something”! And John tells us as much where in verse 3 he writes: “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” Therefore, every living creature whether in heaven above, or the earth below, or under the earth, is accountable to God!
And we’re told that the Word was with God. In other words, from the beginning the Word, symbolizing Christ, WAS, IS, and shall always be in intimate fellowship with the Father. And John tells us that the Word was God! That is to say, the pre-incarnate Christ possessed all of the divine attributes ascribed to the heavenly Father. Furthermore, all three Persons of the Godhead (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) were directly involved in the creation of the universe and everything in it [Colossians 1:16, 17; Hebrews 1:2].