Summary: This is the first sermon in the John Series, and focuses on the words John used to describe Jesus as the word, light, and life.
John’s Gospel #1 Word, Light, Life
CHCC: January 6, 2008
I grew up living around my cousins in Ohio. Some of us even went to the same church together along with our parents and grand parents. It was especially fun at holiday time for the cousins to play together on grandpa’s farm. Considering what it would be like to be able to live around your cousins, what do you suppose your cousins would testify about you?
The Gospel of John is the testimony from one of Jesus’ 1st cousins. According to a couple of commentaries I studied, they said that John’s mom and Jesus’ mom were sisters. Therefore, Jesus and John had a close bond as cousins. They spent holidays together. Their families traveled together to Passover. All through their growing up years, Jesus grew to love his little cousin, John.
Throughout his book, John refers to himself as “the disciple Jesus loved.” But they had an even closer bond than that. John came to understand that Jesus was much more than his cousin. That is why he wrote this Gospel.
By the time John wrote this gospel, Matthew, Mark, and Luke had already written event-filled records of Jesus’ life here on earth. John took a more Spiritual perspective … as if he could look down from Heaven and describe the entrance of Christ into the world.
1. The Word John 1:1
He starts with these beautiful words: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1
The original Greek word translated Word is Logos. The word is full of meaning. It was a word used to describe an abstract concept that lies behind everything concrete. I’m not big on studying Grammar, but in this case, the word tense is important. John used the imperfect tense, which shows a continuous state. It gives the idea of “absolute supernatural existence” meaning that Jesus exists beyond the realm of time and space. (Exploring the Gospels, John Phillips)
For John’s original audience, living in the context of the Hebrew faith and Greek culture, Logos referred to the origins of the Universe and powerful Cosmic forces. The little English word “Word” just doesn’t contain that kind of rich meaning.
I found out that in the Chinese Bible, Logos is translated "Tao". If you read it in Chinese it would say, In the beginning was Tao. Tao was with God and Tao was God … And Tao became flesh and lived among us. (Well, okay, more of the words might sound Chinese, but you know what I mean…)
Tao has been defined as the natural order of the Universe, humanly uncontrollable power, the little thing that is bigger than the big things, and so on. People have filled books trying to explain Tao and they end up by admitting that Tao can’t be defined. (Blessed are the Uncool, Paul Grant, p.71-74)
People all over the world instinctively know that there has to be some principle, some entity, some indefinable something, that is the sustainer, the foundation, and the meaning behind everything.
Whether you call it Logos or Tao, or the Word, the concept can’t be fully described in any language. But John gives a definition. The definition is not contained in vocabulary. The definition is a person: His name is Jesus.
Jesus is the Word, the Logos, the Tao. Jesus, the humble man is greater than the universe. Jesus, who put on flesh for a time in order to live within the Universe He had created, He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:2-3
The Greek word “panta” is translated “each thing.” It refers to the infinite detail of creation. The DVD we saw during offering helped us visualize the enormity of the known Universe (And by the way, that’s just as much as we have discovered so far. We haven’t found a sign that says, “The End.”)
The building block of this vast universe is the atom. … an entity that resembles a solar system but is less than 150 millionth of an inch in diameter. The Universe is too huge for us to comprehend, and the atom is too small for us to comprehend. And Jesus made it all … every atom … every galaxy.
2. Light John 1:4-5
In verses 4-5 John says, "In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it."
Have you ever been driving on a two-lane highway at night and the car coming toward you doesn’t dim their lights? It’s annoying! You try to look away and blink your lights to high and low hoping they’ll get the message. When your eyes are adjusted to darkness, the light seems blinding. I think that’s how it is for many of us when we see the light of Christ. If you live in darkness, you want to look away from the light. It seems blinding … and even painful.