Summary: First in a series on the Gospel of John. This series deals with the divinity of Jesus.
A Study of the Book of John
“That You May Believe”
Sermon # 1
“Who Is This Jesus?”
Jesus is a great historical figure and held by many to be the most inspirational leader the world has ever known. But is he more? The typical responses to the life and claims of Jesus Christ sounds something like this:
"Jesus Christ was a great man."
"Jesus Christ was a wonderful moral model."
"Jesus Christ was an enlightened religious teacher."
"Jesus Christ was an esteemed prophet."
What do you think of Jesus Christ? Who is He? According to Christianity this is the most important question you or anyone else will ever face. It is important primarily because it is inescapable – no one can avoid it – for you will either answer it in this world or in the world to come. Upon the answer to this question alone hinges your eternal destiny.
This question has renewed importance in our day, when even the non-Christian religions of the world are speaking as if the revere and honor the name of Jesus.
The first three gospel accounts (Matt, Mark and Luke) are called “the synoptic gospels.” The word synoptic means “to see together.” This means that the first three gospel accounts contain many of the same stories and teachings, but each from a different perspective.
However, the gospel according to John is different. The Gospel of John was one of the last books of the New Testament to be written. It appears to be written from the city of Ephesus where the apostle John was the pastor after the destruction of Temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The first three gospel accounts had already been written and were in circulation. For this reason, John did not recount many of the events already recorded in the other Gospels, nor did he set out to write a chronological account of the life of Jesus.
In fact, John states his purpose in writing this account in John 20:31, “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” John offers two primary reasons for his writing, that you might believe in Christ as your Savior and having believed you might have life.
“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 were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”
The Gospel of John introduces the Lord Jesus
Christ with three tremendous statements:
“In the beginning was the Word,”
“And the Word was with God,”
“And the Word was God.”
It can be stated that in this simple sentence is the most compact theological statement in all of the Bible. These verses teach us three separate truths about who Jesus is.
First, He Is Eternally God.
“In the beginning was the Word…”
John begins his Gospel in an unusual manner. Unlike the synoptic gospels that begin their account in an historical context, John opens with God in eternity. Matthew traces the genealogy of Jesus.
Mark began his story of the life of Jesus with the ministry of John the Baptist. Luke gives the story of Jesus’ birth. But John transports us to eternity past – before creation, before man – before the existence of time.
John moves back beyond human history to start his account of Jesus. John begins his gospel with the words, “in the beginning.” The word translated “beginning” is a time word. Psalm 90:1-2 can help us to understand the concept behind this word. “LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. (2) Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”
The word “everlasting” is figurative in the Hebrew. It means “from the vanishing point to the vanishing point.” God is from the vanishing point in the past and reaches to the vanishing point in eternity future. Just as far as you can see, from vanishing point to vanishing point, He is still God. How majestic is that thought!
John’s use of the term “in the beginning” is probably a conscious referral to the very first words in the Bible. In Genesis 1:1 we read, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Does that begin God? When you go back to creation He is already there, and that is exactly what John says in verse one — “in the beginning was the Word.” Notice it is not is the Word; it was not in the beginning that the Word started out or was begotten. “Was” is known as a durative imperfect, meaning “continued action.” In fact the sense of the entire verse is “In the beginning was continuing the Word, and the Word was continuing with God and the Word was continually God.”