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From His Fullness (John 1:1-18)

January 17, 2021 Speaker: Bryce Morgan Series: John and the Seven Signs of Jesus

Topic: One Lord: No One Like You Passage: John 1:1–1:18

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I. If I Could Show You God

If I could show you God, right now, would you take me up on that offer? For many, seeing God would be the only way they would be persuaded that God exists. For others, it's their belief in God, their faith, that fuels their desire to see him. Still others might simply be too afraid to see God. Wherever you're coming from, I think most people would take me up on that offer, don't you? Well, if that's your desire this morning, you've come to the right place.

Let's turn over to John 1. This morning we'll be looking at verses 1-18. These verses are described as the prologue to John's Gospel. As we talked about in our previous study, another name for this Gospel could be “John and the Seven Signs of Jesus”.

So... what's significant about this prologue? Well, this Gospel is not like a mystery novel that only reveals its secrets at the very end. No. Though there is an intensification with the seven signs we listed last time, John tells us right from the outset what these signs are confirming.

 

II. The Passage: “From His Fullness” (1:1-18)

Let's look at the prologue together. Now, before we do, let me point out that this prologue is both an introduction to chapter 1 (that focuses on John the Baptist/Baptizer), but also an introduction to the entire book (since all the main ideas of this Gospel are presented in these first eighteen verses). With that in mind, and without further ado, let me read those verses...

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. [4] In him was life, and the life was the light of men. [5] The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. [6] There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. [7] He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. [8] He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. [9] The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. [10] He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. [11] He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. [12] But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, [13] who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. [14] And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only [literally, the 'one of a kind'] Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. [15] (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) [16] For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. [17] For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. [18] No one has ever seen God; the only [literally, the 'one of a kind'] God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

So what's helpful to know about this passage? Well, the main thing we need to know is that John is describing Jesus here. He only mentions him by name in verse 17, so it's important we don't miss that this is all about Jesus. Moreover, you may or may not have detected that John is describing Jesus here through the lens of two passages from the Old Testament. We'll talk about those in just a few minutes.

Overall, I want you to see that John is doing three things in this prologue. He is calling us to witness the Word, he is emphasizing witnesses to the Word, and he is explaining the witness of the Word. Let's see how he does this by looking more closely at verse 1.

 

1. Witness “the Word”! (vs. 1-5, 9-13)

John identification of Jesus here connects us back to our first Old Testament passage, Genesis 1:1-5. As you may know, when God created the world, he spoke it into existence. This idea is highlighted in a verse we heard earlier in our service, Psalm 33:6...

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.

John's fellow apostle affirms this in II Peter 3:5, describing how “the earth was formed... by the word of God.” Now combine this what these apostles had learned about Jesus, that (as Paul expressed it in Colossians 1:16)...

...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.

Thus, it isn't surprising that John describes him in verse 1 as “the Word”. What do we learn here about this “Word”? The first thing we hear about is his pre-existence: “In the beginning was the Word...” That phrase “in the beginning” not only takes us back to Genesis 1:1, but also to that point in eternity just before God created all things. So... long before there was a man named Jesus of Nazareth, “the Word” had a pre-existence in eternity past. The second thing we read here points to his co-existence: “...and the Word was with God...” God was not alone in eternity past. The Word was there with him. Finally, third, John tells us something startling about his existence: “and the Word was God.” Since he was “with God”, he is in some way distinct from God. But clearly, He is also, at the same time, God himself.

Do you see how that stunning fact is affirmed in the next few verses? In verse 2, his pre-existence and co-existence with God are reaffirmed, and in verses 3-5, his existence as God is reaffirmed by describing his role in creating all things: All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. Did God create the Word? No, because everything that was created was created through Him. AND, everything that has life, has life in him: (v. 4) “In [the Word] was life.” We go on to read that His life-giving power also enlightens our hearts and minds, even in a world of spiritual darkness. Wonderfully, what was true in Genesis 1:3-5, at the beginning of creation, is still true for us today: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Does that encourage you this morning?

What else does John want us to witness in regard to this word? Well, look again at verse 9-11. Amazingly, this “Word”, this live-giving light of creation “was coming into the world.” But when he did, he found ignorance and rejection: [Even though] the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.

What does John mean by “his own people”? And how did “the Word” come into the world? Well, drop down to verse 14. We read there that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. Think about that for a moment: the One through whom humanity was made came into the world as a human being. Wow! This 'enfleshing' is what we call the Incarnation. Again, we know that John is telling us here about Jesus Christ, whom he explicitly identifies in verse 17. Before the man Jesus was born of Mary, born as a Jew, he nevertheless existed in eternity past as “the Word”.

Now, starting at John 1:14, a second Old Testament passage begins to shape John's words. That passage is Exodus chapter 33:7 to chapter 34:8. That passage describe how Moses would set up a tent outside the Israelite camp, and in that tent (according to 33:11) “...the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” It was there that Moses asked to see God's glory. It was there that God spoke about his grace. But it was there that God also warned Moses. Exodus 33:20, “...you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And when Moses went to receive a new set of stone tablets from God, tablets containing God's law, we read that God proclaimed his name to Moses. Ex. 34:6... “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness...”

With that OT passage in mind, it isn't difficult to see traces of it in John 1:14-18. When John writes that the Word “dwelt” among us, a literal translation would be, “he pitched his tent among us”. John writes about beholding the glory of the Word, whom he now identifies (for the first time) as the “Son”. He writes in v. 17 about Moses giving the Law. He writes in v. 18 about no one ever seeing God. And wonderfully, at the end of verse 14, he takes that phrase from Exodus 34:6, “abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” and puts it these words: the “Son” came into our world, “full of grace and truth”.

So think for a minute about we've witnessed. Using the language and imagery from two OT texts, John has revealed that the God of both the original creation and Israelite revelation has come into our world in the person of Jesus Christ. More on that in just a few minutes.

 

2. Witnesses to “the Word” (vs. 6-8, 14b, 15)

Now, what about some of the verses we skipped over in our main passage? For example, 6-8:

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. [7] He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. [8] He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

As I mentioned earlier, this prologue not only serves as an introduction to the entire book, but also to chapter one with its focus on the ministry of John the Baptist. It's clear from verse 8, as well as verse 15, that the writer wants to make it abundantly clear that John the Baptist was not the Messiah, but only a forerunner to the Messiah. He was only a man; just as Moses was only a man. But as we've seen, Jesus was and is much more than that.

In addition to John's witness to the identity of Jesus, we also hear the writer's own testimony passionately communicated in verse 14: “...and we have seen his glory...” Later, in chapter 19, verse 35, John will emphasize his heart as an eyewitness: He who saw it has borne witness--his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth--that you also may believe. When the Word stepped from eternity into history, there were witnesses to his life; witnesses we can trust. That's such an important idea to keep in mind as we study this book together.

 

3. Witness of “the Word” (vs. 14, 16-18)

So, having witnessed these powerful and incomparable truths about the Word, and knowing that others have borne witness to the identity of Jesus, the Word made flesh, we now must ask our-selves, “To what did the Word himself witness?” Based on everything we've seen in this passage, the answer (though stunning) shouldn't be surprising. Verse 18... No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

If I could show you God, right now, would you take me up on that offer? Well, guess what? I just did. Anyone who looks at Jesus Christ through eyes of faith will see God. To behold Jesus, is to see God. Why? Because Jesus is the “one of a kind” Son who alone revealed, and continues to reveal, the Father to our world in a “one of a kind” way. This is why John calls this divine Son “the Word” in verses 1 and 14. Just as John's words this morning have revealed Jesus to us in a profound way, “the Word” reveals the Father in a matchless way.

But what about the Law? What about the prophets? What about God's wondrous deeds? What about creation itself? Why was Christ's revelation of God so superior? Because the “one of a kind” Son of v. 14 is this 'one of a kind' God of v. 18. And only this Son “is at the Father's side” (literally, “in the bosom of the Father”; that is, the One who has closest fellowship with the Father... He has made him known).

 

III. A Vast Reservoir

Do you believe this? Have you received him as the Word of God, through whom the world was made; the Word that gave and still gives life? Have you received him as the glorious Son, who reveals the Father's heart because he is closest to the Father's heart? To believe is to receive. To receive is to believe. Remember what John told us in verses 12 and 13...

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

That's a statement about new creation... from the Creator; about new life... from the life-giver. But John's not done. Look at how he builds on this idea of being “children of God”. In light of everything we've learned this morning about the mind-blowing identity of Jesus, listen again to verse 16: For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. Now think: could that word “fullness” get any fuller than everything we've heard about the Word/Son; about Jesus?

In what ways are you running low this morning? Where do you feel a growing emptiness in your life? Please know this: for those who have received Christ, there is grace. And just when you think that grace is going to run out, there is more grace; then more grace, then more grace. How? Because of His fullness. Have you ever heard anything so wonderful? So reassuring? Brothers, sisters, friends, this is not some abstract concept disconnected from your everyday life. No. Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the incomparable identity of Jesus is the vast reservoir of living water that makes eternal life possible.

I said this last time about the point of this book: John wants to feed our faith with a sound and profound vision of Jesus. With that in mind, I think we just started the book going 500 mph? Exalted. Incomparable. But is He in your life? Let's take a minute to ask God to help us live “from his fullness” every day, in every way. Amen? Please talk to God now about Jesus.

 

 

 

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