Good morning, let’s get right to work, please open your Bibles to the Gospel of John on page 886. I want your eyes on this passage. You can follow on YouVersion too.
We are going to begin our study in the Gospel of John and understand further what Jesus meant when he said, in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world.” That seems audacious. We will be study John for the next few weeks (maybe years J). It’ll be fun. I’ve entitled today’s message, “The true source of security.” My hope is that I can unpack for you the claim of Christ being the light of the Word and apply why this should bring you the greatest sense of security you can imagine.
Our Christmas series is going to be “Apostle John Style.” I believe, if John was here, he would not spend much time telling us about the census, the travel to Bethlehem and the human lineage of Christ. He left that up to Luke and the other gospel writers. Rather, he would dive right in to tell us that Jesus Christ is God. This is how John started his Gospel—there was no wind up and then the pitch—rather, he just threw us straight into the idea that Jesus was God and Jesus was with God from before there was time.
Now, seeing as we may be in the Gospel of John for some time, it is important that I give you a few introductory pieces of information on John.
First, you may ask, Why is it called “The Gospel of John”? Well “Gospel” in this sense, or any of the “Gospels” in the NT (the first four books of the New Testament), is referring to the teaching or revelation of Christ. Gospel is “Good news” so it is the “Good news” of Christ teaching or revelation, as captured by John in this case.
Okay, so it is the teaching and revelation of Christ, but who is this guy named John who wrote it? We know a little bit about his family—His father’s name was Zebedee, his mom’s name was Salome and he had a brother named Jacob. They grew up in northern Israel, in the Galilee area and fishing was the family trade. Before he was a disciple of Jesus Christ, He was a disciple of John the Baptizer, and before that he was just an average fisherman, running the family business.
He left fishing when he went to follow John the Baptist, who was a forerunner for Jesus Christ. We will study more about this crazy grasshopper eating pseudo-prophet later. But it is safe to deduct that John was very moved by the things of God; he grew up in a Jewish home and was anxious to have the Messiah come and save the Jews and rule the world. So, you can imagine his excitement, which we can read about in Luke chapter 5, when he is called to follow Jesus and become a fisher of men, not just a fisher of fish.
John was one of the 12 men called to be an apostle of Christ (Luke 6:12-16) and was in the inner circle with Christ, being one of his most close disciples, along with Peter and James. He wrote his Gospel with anonymity by always and only referring to himself as the disciple “Whom Jesus Loved” (13:23; 20:2; 21:7; 20; cf. 19:26). Let’s just say he was confident, though not cocky, in the love Christ had for Him.
Get this—he was perhaps the only disciple that was present at the crucifixion of Christ (Mark 15:40-41). While the others ran for their lives, John stayed close, no matter the ridicule and held Mary, the mother of Jesus, as she watched Jesus die.
Something else that you can see if you’re reading your Bible with your eyes wide open: Track with me on this—John was one of the three guys that saw the transfiguration of Christ—where Jesus was shown as God and the voice of God spoke. This would have been an amazing thing, right? Let’s just take a pole—pretend you are John for a moment; how many of you would have thought it to be one of the greatest things to see Jesus changed to white light and hear the voice of God? Good—all of you. Peter thought it was so great, he never wanted to leave, “Let’s pitch a tent and stay here forever…” he suggested. Indeed it was amazing—but John never mentions it in His gospel. He is the only one that doesn’t. Why?
I believe the more amazing thing John wants us to see, is not Jesus’ deity as unapproachable glory, but as accessible to all those who have faith. John was more concerned with his readers—even you and I—grasping the Cross and the fact that Christ made a way for us to have a relationship with God, then He was about showing you that Jesus was NOT some untouchable divine phenomenon. John’s Gospel is profound in the way that it makes the love of Christ tangible in our lives.
So with the passion to have the world know Jesus, after Christ ascended, John became one of the “pillars” of the church of Jerusalem along with James and Peter (Galatians 2:9). He was eventually exile by the Romans to the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9) for his own protection mostly, but also to keep peace a month the Jewish leaders who hated him. To the best of our knowledge, he was probably one of the longest living and last eye witnesses to Jesus Christ.
I want you to understanding that He had been with Jesus in the flesh, transformed from a boring fisherman’s life to a pillar of the early church, and saw the crucifixion Himself. You can see why His Gospel and the words He wrote about Christ are so powerful. John was all in on Jesus—He knew he was so loved by Christ and He wanted the world to know they too can be loved by Him. [pause]
One of my favorite places to go in Israel is this place that I can say, with almost certainty, John himself stood with Jesus, Peter and perhaps a few others. It is a place called Tabaga. It is on the north edge of the Sea of Galilee, near a hot spring where the fresh water tilapia gather right off the shore. After Jesus lived his life on earth, dying on the cross and rising again from the dead, He appeared to the disciples. John wrote what happened on the shore there in Chapter 21. These fisher men, probably morning the loss of Jesus, though they knew He was alive again, now went back to doing what they did before they followed Jesus. They were out fishing when suddenly, amidst the morning fog, they see this guy on the short making breakfast. In verses 7 of chapter 21 it says that John (The disciple Jesus loved) figures out it is Jesus and says, “It is my Lord.”
Long story short: they end up going to be with the risen-from-the-dead Christ on this small docking stone on the shore. The dock would have been carved out of stone, and you can see today when you go there the steps carved in this rock—perhaps the very dock used that morning. As I’ve stood on that rock, I’ve literally wept as I imagine what the disciple felt that day, overwhelmed with Joy to be with Jesus again! John knew He was so loved by Jesus—he saw it before and after Christ’s death, and He wants us to know it.
So now imagine John grabbing the pen, with the love of God and a passion for Christ pumping through His veins, and writing these first few words. Perhaps he was overwhelmed with emotions, asking where do I begin? Where do I begin? Ah, I will start before the beginning of time and he wrote in verse 1 of John 1:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
These are some of the most powerful words in the whole Bible. Each letter carries a theological weight that is not matched by many other passages. As John begins his Gospel, he goes back in time before there was time. He starts talking about Christ before creation. He makes this point: The light of Christ existed before life was created.
Christ was not just another man, a mere prophet, or a possible fake. John wanted his readers to know—us to know—that Jesus was God. This means that He had to exist before all time and had to be equal with God in every way. If someone were to read the stories that John was about to tell and think of then as just stories, without the weight of God behind them, then they would miss the whole point of Christ’s existence and John’s testimony. So, John’s preamble sets forth three very clear premises:
First, that Jesus was in the presence of God before time. The passage says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.” In the beginning is far more too much for our pea-sized minds can handle. How do we grasp that He was there at the beginning already—it seems so hard to understand that at one time nothing existed, yet there He was, utterly perfect, just waiting to push play on all of creation. He wasn’t just the beginning—He has no beginning. He is totally eternal, never starting, never commencing, never being born or having a birthdate or a death date. John is saying, His eternality proves His divinity.
If you were to read this passage in the original language John wrote it in, the Greek, you would see that there is not a word “The”. It just reads: “In Beginning” – not “a” or “The”, just to be clear that He was before all beginnings. The fact that there is no article carries this passage back to the most remote start one could possibly imagined. He is not speaking of the beginning of the world here, but before the beginning of anything. That was John’s point: Jesus has always been in the presence of the enteral God because He himself is eternal and is God.
Jesus himself even said in John 17, “Glorify me now with the glory that I had before the world was,” asking God to give Him what he had even before the world was created. The Holy Trinity, God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit shared a special relationship. He so when Jesus says, give me the glory I had before the world was, He is not only acknowledging the relationship He shared with the father, but He is also referring the power He had before anything was created. Which is John’s other point in these first few verses:
Jesus was the power of God at the beginning of time. In the presence, and at the desire of the Father, Jesus’ power was displayed in that He created the whole world. We often think of Jesus as just the Cross guy, but He is also the Creator guy. Look at verse 3, it says, “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” This sentence reads clunky because John is being emphatic. It’s like when my daughter says to be, “dad I want to ride in the car that is your car, the blue car the one that you have, the one with my seat that is your car, I want to ride in it.” She is being emphatic to make sure I totally get what car she is talking about.
In the same way, John is saying all things were made by Him, by Jesus, he made all things, there is nothing that was made that was not made by Jesus. He made it all.
We know, just as the original readers would have known, that only God has the power to create all things. So, when it was finally time for time to begin, Jesus was the one to do the creating. Why? Because He is God! And He is the one the Father chose to uses as the creator of all things.
As the light of life, he was the chief creator. The master architect for all of God’s creation in the world. John refers to Jesus here as the word, carrying on this idea of creator—Why the word? I grew up in the church, I have heard that Jesus was “The word” my whole life, but what does that mean? It is John’s way of helping us grasp the creation power of Jesus.
Think about words for a minute: Words are the means for creating or communicating a thought and bringing that thought into existence. In the same way Jesus is the manifestation of God’s greatest thoughts, brining all things into existence. If you or I have a thought, the best way to convey it is to put it into words. Our words take an unseen thought and bring into reality. In the same way, [don’t miss this] Christ took the invisible God and made Him a reality to us.
A word creates or reveals: So, God sent Jesus, who was God’s word, to reveal Himself to us. Think of Christ as the spokesmen for creation AND recreation. The writer of Hebrews says, “God spoke in the past through prophets but now in the later days he has spoken to us by his son”. Jesus, being the Alpha and Omega (God’s alphabet according to Rev. 1:8) took the divine desires of God and brought them into our reality. As the Word, Christ then has made the incomprehensible of God intelligible to us.
It reminds me of what Paul wrote in Colossians 1:16-17, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Not only did Jesus, create everything at the beginning with God, He is still holding all things together. He has created and He is continually recreating. As the light of life, Jesus is the chief changer. He takes what is broken, failed and faulty and makes it new again. He changes the dark heart to be found in the light.
As we looked at last week—Jesus was prescribed by God to come and change the world far before He was born into a manger. Around 740 BC Isaiah wrote with such certainty that he uses past tense: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” The light of the world came and called people out of darkness, changing them from being hopeless to hopeful; lifeless to new life; godless to being with God for all of eternity. That is why the Bible makes the bold assertion of verse 4 of John 1, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” This is John’s point in this opening of His Gospel: Jesus was not a temporary hope or a Band-Aid for the soul, but He was forever the source of true spiritual life.
Jesus was in God’s presence before time, He had God’s power to create at the beginning of time, and He has the permanence of God for all time. He alone can give eternal life to all who believe on Him. No matter the sin, no matter the wickedness, not matter the despair, Jesus can overcome all darkness. Look at verse 5, it says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” NOTHING will cause His light to fade; NOTHING will cause His light to go out; NOTHING will be more powerful than the life-giving beams of God’s grace through Jesus Christ, for you.
This verse means that though sin may be great and increasing, He is above all sin. As the light of life, Jesus is the chief commander. No crime or corrupt government can overthrow His power. Bottomline: Jesus wins every time.
These first five verses of John make it very clear: Jesus is God. There is no ramp up to prove it. No immaculate conception or birth of a virgin even mentioned. Just the pure assertion that Jesus is God; He is God in presence, power and permanence. And because He is God, if we have our faith in Him, we can rest in the face that He can and will save us. I want you to take this point to heart this week: Christ’s divinity offers you the greatest security. The fact that Christ is who He is, we can go on with our lives not wondering or complaining, searching or struggling to find the true source of life.
The truth is, we all want and need security. We look for it through our bank accounts being full or padded, our retirement accounts being take care of, our kids valuing us as parents, our investments in property growing, or friends needing and wanting to spend time with us, or even in our relationship with God—we long to know He sees us as significance and/or that He is providing us a sense of security. The truth be told, He is providing us with security through the mere fact that He is God and involved in our lives—but He doesn’t just want to be a crutch of convenience, He wants to be an in an active faith-filled relationship.
While I believe that God is sovereign and He calls who He will to have faith in Him, those he calls must have faith. Active faith. He is not going to spoon feed us salvation and save us from all harm. In fact, quite the opposite. He desires that we “Seek and find” him. That we live out our faith in obedience and with righteous fear of Him. Jesus was even quick to say—nearly promise—that you and I will face hard times in this life so that we can find greater dependence upon God. Knowing that Jesus is God is one thing; living your life out in faith that Jesus ins God is another thing. Listen, I may not understand how Jesus relates to every single small thing in my life, but I have faith to believe that He does.
Perhaps this illustration will help to clarify the type active faith we must have:
This may be obvious to you, but we are nothing like an oyster. Not only do we not look like an oyster, but we lack many other similarities.
For example: When God made the oyster, He guaranteed them absolute economic and social security. He built the oyster to have their own built-in-house, a shell. This shell is shelter to protect him from his enemies. You and I don’t have a shell or house we carry around. So, there in lies at least one source of insecurity for us that the oyster will never experience.
Then think about their need for food or nourishment. When an oyster is hungry, the oyster simply opens his shell and food rushes in for him. He doesn’t worry about where the food is coming from or if the paycheck is going to cover the desires of his heart.
For that matter, he doesn’t even have a heart—or a soul. There maybe darkness, but only physical darkness. No spiritual darkness, wondering where God is, who God is and if God even cares about him.
So, while an oyster may be different than us, having total security in and of itself—you and I have been created to long for security and relationship outside of ourselves. This was not a mistake—God didn’t forget to design something in when he created us. If He wanted us to be self-sustaining in our security, he would have made us like oysters. He didn’t. He made us like humans. In His image. With a soul.
He created us with a deep longing to know our creator. Our longing may manifest itself in other ways, such as longing for financial security or peaceful relationships. But for all the longing of our soul, we can look to Christ and find the security we desperately need.
When we don’t understand why life is the way it is, we can look to Christ the creator for direction, understanding and help. Not only did He create all things, but He holds all things together. He is my security.
When we know we’ve messed up and we are desperate to find the “Do over” button, we can look to Christ the chief changer to make us new and give us forgiveness, hope and acceptance when we feel we’ve come nothing but damaged goods.
Or when we feel that darkness has overcome us we can look to the light of life, Christ the commander of darkness and light. NOTHING will overcome Him. So with all the power of God, He looks to you and says, “Let there be light!” I am all you need. The fact that I have divinity should provide you with total security. Do you trust me?