Summary: This sermon is an exposition of John 1:1-18.
The Gospel of John Introduction: The Word and the Witness
John 1:1-18; 20:30-31
The author of the Gospel is John the Beloved disciple. He was probably a teenager when he began following Jesus. He was the oldest living apostle and, according to tradition, the only one to die a death other than martyrdom. This is the same John who wrote the three epistles of 1, 2, and 3 John and the Revelation.
The Gospel of John is unique among the four Gospels. It contains accounts of miracles, encounters with individuals, and sayings of Jesus not found in the synoptic Gospels. John is the last of the Gospels to be written.
In Christian art and iconography, John's Gospel has been represented by an eagle. The eagle symbolizes the way John emphasizes the Deity of Jesus. John does not immediately begin with Jesus's earthly family line as Matthew does, or rush past details to the deeds of Jesus as Mark does. He does not concern himself with the historical circumstances of Jesus' life, and ministry as Luke does. The portrait of Jesus that John paints is one that looks back to the beginning of time and declares that before anything was, Jesus is the I AM. Jesus is Heavenly.
John, like Luke, specifically tells his readers the purpose of his Gospel.
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.
The word sign is significant for the structure of the way John tells his story of Jesus. John refers to the miracles or acts of Jesus as signs. He chose seven of these signs and strategically placed them next to sayings and encounters of Jesus to preach the Gospel to his readers that they might believe and obey the Gospel. John is writing to reveal the identity of Jesus. Each of the seven signs and each of Jesus' conversations or speeches disclose an aspect of Who Jesus is. In John, the miracles of Jesus become moments of revelation.
Water into wine (2:1-12)
Official's son healed (4:43-54)
Lame man healed (5:1-47)
Feeding of 5,000 (6:5-14)
Walking on water (6:16-24)
Healing of the blind man (9:1-41)
Raising of Lazarus (11:1-57)
We will look at these seven signs, and the sayings of Jesus interspersed between them, followed by what John calls Jesus glorification and finally read the epilogue. As we read John, it is essential to pay attention to his use of the word glory. In John, glorification refers to Jesus's death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. These are the central events of Jesus' ministry, and the events that He says must take place before He gives the gift of eternal life to all those that believe in Him by their reception of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). But, let's begin where John began.
The Gospel begins with a prologue. This prologue takes readers back to the edge of the start of the cosmos to the eternal plan and purpose of God. John 1:1-18 reads like a poem or a hymn.
The Eternal Word
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
John was a person thoroughly immersed in the Hebrew Bible. As we read John, we will hear echoes of the Law, Prophets, and Psalms. He begins his story of Jesus by looking back to the dawn of the first creation. Perhaps, he looks back to the beginning because he is writing about the second. Creation was born once and must be born again. Humanity is born once and must be born again (John 3:5). The first creation began with God's spoken word. The book of Genesis says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..." (Genesis 1:1) The second creation begins as humanity believes the Word that God uttered in the Incarnation (John 1:12-13).
The same Creative Word that formed everything that we can see and not see is the Creative Word that John will be writing about through the following 21 chapters.
In the Hebrew Bible, God's Word is personified as being with Him (Proverbs 8). This prologue is poetic and invites reflection on the Word's role in creation in anticipation of the work the Word will do in the new creation. The Word comes from God and returns to God (John 8:42; 14:28). God's Word completes what He utters it to do.