Jesus is God’s Word
The text for this sermon is John 1:1-18. Pastor Jim Kniseley presented this sermon at Resurrection January 3, 2010, the Second Sunday after Christmas.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Yes, the world is pretty much through with Christmas. Many have put away the decorations and are ready for all that January is going to unfold. So, why is that here at Resurrection we still have our decorations and are singing Christmas carols and title this day “The Second Sunday after Christmas?”
The answer is simple: we still observe the traditional 12 days of Christmas. This year our decorations will even be up a bit longer: for the Choir Cantata on January 17 that was rescheduled because of the Blizzard on December 20.
I really appreciate the selection of the gospel reading for today. It’s the prologue to the gospel of John. It’s the Christmas story, told in a way that brings new meaning and life to a story we know very well. I invite you today to find a Bible and turn to the first chapter of the Gospel of John. Let’s plumb these first 18 verses for treasured truths that will enrich our understanding of who Jesus really is.
John knows his Bible well. His first words echo the first words of Genesis: “In the beginning.” John is taking us back to before the world was created, to when there was just God. He is revealing to us who Jesus really is. He calls him “the Word.”
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning (vs. 1-2).
The idea that Jesus is God is revolutionary. It is what separates Christians and Jews. I remember the first time I was told this truth, that Jesus and God are the same. It was in my 3rd grade Sunday School Class. I remember well because I raised my hand and told the teacher she was wrong. Jesus is the son of God. Mrs. Warren was patient with me that day and told me to go home and ask my father, the pastor. “Yes,” my dad assured me, Mrs. Warren is right. It’s hard for a third grader to understand, but God and Jesus are the same.”
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made (vs.3).
Jesus was there for the creation of the universe. He has had a part in creating everything that exists. This is why the Athanasian Creed (the long one we hardly ever use) makes the point ad nauseam that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are one and can never be separated.
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 (vs. 4-5).
John uses the term “life” 36 times in his gospel. Life is Christ’s gift, and he is “life.” The manifestation of this life is “light”, another favorite word of John. Jesus Christ gives “light” or spiritual illumination. Jesus is the “light of the world.” John goes back to another theme of the Book of Genesis, the contrast between darkness and light. God set the sun, moon and stars in the sky to contrast with the darkness. Jesus came into the world, according to verse 5, to be the light that shines in the world’s darkness.
Yesterday in the Men’s Bible Study, Eric and Joshua Carlson did a great job in taking us through the account of the Wise Men’s Visit, recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. We were reminded of the Star that led them to the Christ Child. The star is one manifestation of something called “shekinah” or “God’s glory” in scripture. It reveals something to humans that God wants us to know about. The Israelites were led through the wilderness by a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of smoke by day. Saul was blinded by a flash of light on the road to Damascus. Moses was confronted by a burning bush and the voice of the Lord.
Vs. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
I believe that verse 14 is the heart of John’s Prologue. It gets to the heart of what the message of Christmas is. The God of the Universe did the most humbling and amazing thing: he became a human being (became flesh) and dwelt among us. In doing so, he has revealed the glory of God (the shekinah) in a way that we could understand. Remember in the OT folks asked to see God face to face. They were always told that they could not, for it would be too much, they would die. Moses was granted a glimpse of God’s back, as he was hidden behind a rock, and then his face shone “brilliantly” for days.
Vs. 18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.
So, why did God become a human being? So that we might know God and know his purpose for our lives.
Through the years we have often sang “This Little Light of Mine” with our children. We always hold up our finger to represent the light. I hope that our children and all of us adults too get the message: this light we hold, our faith and words and actions, are really Jesus’ light through us to others. That is what makes this “light” so special.
The gospel writer states his purpose for writing this gospel: (John 20:31) These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
I invite you to look at today’s bulletin cover. What do you see that pertains to the things we have been discussing? I see a star in the sky, that reminds me of the Star of Bethlehem, and the “shekinah” that is presented in scripture. I see the heavenly lights (stars and a planet) that were part of God’s Creation and am reminded that Jesus Christ was present when they were created. I see curtains that may represent darkness and they are being parted so that the light may shine in.
Today we give thanks for Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.