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We’re celebrating Easter today because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth lived a sinless life, and being crucified took the punishment for our sins. By His death He conquered sin, death and hell for our sake and by His resurrection we are justified.
But not everyone believes this about Jesus. Some would say Jesus was merely an itinerant sage. Mark Dever, Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, makes clear in his book, The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept, who Jesus is and challenges those who think that Jesus was, as he says a “heroic leader who challenged the establishment of his day; someone who provokes feelings of nostalgia as we recount sometimes true, sometimes mythologized school day stories…” He says, “It’s commonly believed that Jesus was a great religious leader.”
Now it may be true that Jesus was a “great religious leader” but that’s far from telling the whole story about who Jesus is.
Turn with me to John’s Gospel. The fourth book in the New Testament. We’re beginning a new series of studies in the Gospel of John this morning. But instead of going to chapter one, go with me to chapter 20. The reason I want to start here in chapter 20 is because this is where we find the purpose or theme of the Gospel of John. Look with me at John 20:30-31
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Very simply stated John’s purpose in writing this Gospel is to persuade people to believe in Jesus.
You may not be a follower of Jesus today but I hope you’ll keep coming back to hear these messages over the coming weeks that reveal just who Jesus is. Because what you choose to believe about Jesus has eternal consequences. My hope is that learning the truth about who Jesus is will persuade you to believe in Jesus.
Now, if you’re already a follower of Jesus, John’s Gospel also goes beyond persuading you to believe in Jesus and helps you grow in your faith by a rich knowledge of who Jesus is and why He came.
Who is Jesus? John, inspired by the Holy Spirit to write what he did, asserts that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah and Son of God.
But just how does John reveal Jesus as the Son of God?
In chapter one we find seven names for Jesus that identify Him in a special way. These seven names make it clear that Jesus was no ordinary man. These names also make it clear that He is God’s Son.
Lord willing, over the next seven studies I’d like to look at each of these names so that we can learn together what they reveal about Jesus.
The first name John uses to describe who Jesus is we find in verse 1. Let’s look at the first three verses.
1:1 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 was not any thing made that was made.
Jesus the Word. Why does John call Jesus Christ the Word? Isn’t the Bible the Word of God? How can Jesus be the Word? Here’s how: The Bible is the written Word of God and Jesus is the living Word of God. Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh. That’s just what John declares in verse 14: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
That points to the first way John’s Gospel makes clear for us who Jesus is.
John calls Jesus the Word because Jesus is how God has revealed His mind and heart to mankind.
Here’s the idea. Words convey meaning, we share our thoughts with our words. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes that can be bad.
We can get into a lot of trouble with our words — we can wound with our words. But we can also speak words that comfort and heal.
Even though words are made of nothing but letters they are powerful things because they convey meaning and thought. The fact that Jesus is the Word is a very good thing. Because Jesus is how God reveals his mind and heart to mankind.
How does God do that through Jesus? The very day we celebrate today makes clear the mind and heart of God. We celebrate Easter as a reminder of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. As I noted earlier, Jesus died that we might be forgiven our sins and was raised from the dead that we might be justified. We learn something of the mind and heart of God when we read in John 3:17 that God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. A holy and righteous God cannot tolerate sin — the price for our sins must be paid. So we learn that God loves and loves so deeply that He was willing to sacrifice His Son for our sins.
We also learn something else about the heart and mind of God in the next verse. John 3:18 tells us that Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. So through the living Word, Jesus Christ, we also learn that if you will not believe in Jesus Christ and accept His loving sacrifice for your sins then you are condemned to suffer the eternal consequences for your sins.
So the living Word of God brings grace and truth, seen here in verses 14 and 17 — but we also learn that the living Word will return in wrath and judgment to judge those who reject Him. Says Revelation 9:13, He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.
Jesus, the living Word, reveals the heart and mind of God. Here’s something else John reveals about he living Word, Jesus Christ.
The Word is also timeless, without beginning or end. Jesus was not created, he has existed all along. Verse 1 says, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. At creation, at the beginning of time as we know it, Jesus was there. In fact verse one sounds a lot like the first verse of the Bible. Genesis 1:1 says,
1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
And then in Genesis 1:3 we learn that God created by the power of His spoken Word. But here in John 1:1 the Holy Spirit moves John to tell us something we don’t learn from Genesis; that the Word through which God created everything was Jesus.
Look at John 1:3 again.
3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Colossians 1:16 says,
16 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 2 Peter 3:5 reminds us that the earth was formed by the word of God.
Then we also learn from John that Jesus was God, clothed in human flesh. It’s very clear here and throughout God’s Word that Jesus was certainly not simply some “heroic leader who challenged the establishment of his day.”
John says it in verse 1 in very simple words so we won’t be confused, and the Word was God.
Jesus is God the Son, God incarnate, God in human flesh. How can this be?
It’s a mystery to our human way of thinking but it’s no less the truth. Jesus Christ was not a mirage, not a ghost nor an illusion.
John says it like this, speaking for himself and the other disciples, in 1 John 1:1-2,
1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us
By the miracle of the virgin birth Jesus Christ was revealed to us, God in human flesh.
— Is it important that we understand and believe that Jesus, the living Word reveals to us the heart and mind of God?
— Is it important that we see and believe Jesus, the living, creating, Word as having no beginning or end?
— Is it important that we understand and believe that Jesus the living Word of God is God in flesh?
Important is an understatement.
It is critical that we believe. The consequences are eternal.
As Jesus himself made very clear in John 14:6,
…“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
And earlier in John 11:25-26 He said,
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.
Today as followers of Christ you serve the risen Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord. What He accomplished on the cross and by His resurrection was only possible because He was the Word made flesh.
If you are not a follower of Christ today, what will you do with Him, will you believe in the risen Lord Jesus Christ and be saved? I pray you will.