Summary: First in a Christmas Series based on John 1. Focus of this message is the Pre-Existence of Christ.
The Eternal Word Becomes Flesh
THE WORD: IN THE BEGINNING WITH GOD
Rev. Todd G. Leupold Perth Bible Church Sunday, 12/2/07 AM
I think this year, we should start off our Season with a Christmas Quiz (Brian Bill, sermoncentral.com). Don’t stress, it’s just one question.
“In what books of the Bible can you find what has come to be known and loved as ’the Christmas story’?”
a.) Matthew, Mark, Luke & John
b.) Matthew & Luke
c.) Mark & Matthew
d.) Matthew, Mark & Luke
And . . . the answer . . . is . . . “B – Matthew & Luke.” Only these two gospels describe the events of Jesus’ birth. Mark begins with Jesus’ baptism before His cousin, John the Baptist, and keeps looking forward rather than back. The Gospel of John, on the other hand, starts by taking us waaay back – to the real beginning long before the nativity. He then jets ahead, past Jesus’ birth and childhood and right up to The Baptist’s preparations for the emergence of the adult God-in-the-flesh Messiah. But why? Doesn’t ’the Jesus story’ begin with the ’Immaculate Conception’?
Actually, no, it does not. The Holy Spirit used the apostle John to reveal that there is really a much different beginning. In fact, to use the words of Brian Bill, “He takes us back to the beginning to show us that He had no beginning.” This year, we will celebrate Jesus’ birth on earth by reflecting on the eternal story unwrapped in the prologue to John’s Gospel.
SCRIPTURE: JOHN 1:1-2
I.) WHAT’S WITH “THE WORD”?
- How about we just agree that we all have a basic understanding that in our English “word” can have many different meanings used in many different ways?
Great, so which meaning – if any - is the Bible talking about here? Is John trying to be ambiguous? Maybe it would be more helpful to look at it as John originally wrote it, in . . .
B.) GREEK: LOGOS
Greek philosophy of this time was ruled by thought and reason. Mere sounds, noise, syllables were called lalia. Simple vocalization was called phone, from which we get “phonics.” Intelligent speech, or utterances which express intelligence, however, were given the designation logos. The concept of logos was understood as an expression of power or force from the mind through thought or speech. In a larger sense, it was taught that all that is, all that is real, all that has power is somehow connected to a singular, impersonal power of thought and reason called Logos. All other expressions of thought, reason or power are but smaller emanations from the Grand Logos. You might think of it as something akin to “The Force” in Star Wars or the New Age idea of a ’Universal Mind.’
As such, the Logos was recognized as being the origin and source of all creation, all that is real, and all that is ’right’, and that brings order and meaning to all things.
Is this, then, what John was really trying to tell us?
No! We need to understand that John himself and his original audience were Scripture believing Jewish people who by force lived within a broader Greco-Roman culture. However, they were and remained Jews first and foremost.
Context clearly tells us that John took this profound and powerful Greek term and then personified it as an expression of the firm, personal One who is the True Mind, Force, Creator, Sustainer and Lord of the Universe!
Essentially, He is expressing that this Mind & Power which the philosophers could see only through dirty distorted glasses, is indeed a personal and singularly unique deity who is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Word/Logos is, therefore, the Person of God who is Creator, Sustainer and Lord of ALL!
As we read through the rest of John’s words here we quickly see that this Word is indeed Jesus Himself!
II.) WHAT DOES THIS ’SAY’ ABOUT JESUS?
It tells us WHO He truly is and always has been:
A.) ETERNAL EXISTENCE
“In the beginning was the Word”
A clear and unmistakable reference to Genesis 1:1 and the beginning of all creation.
When there was a beginning, Jesus already “was.” That is, He has existed eternally with no beginning or end!
The verb translated “was” is the imperfect tense of the verb “I AM” that God so often used to refer to Himself. In the imperfect tense, it refers to something that “continually was.” By contrast, when referring to the creation of the Universe in v. 3, a very different verb is used that refers to the “coming into existence” of something. Put another way, John’s Greek speaking audience would have immediately understood this series of statements to refer to God who already existed before anything was brought into existence.