• Download

Gospel of John: Life in Jesus’ Name – The Word

Stonebrook Community Church https://www.stonebrook.org

Several centuries before Jesus Christ came to earth, Greek philosophers used a word to describe the divine and the unseen world and the origin of life. The Greek word was LOGOS. We would translate logos as “word” or “speech.” The declaration out loud what is going on in your head.

In this case, as far back as the 6th century B.C., philosophers who were seeking after the divine and origin of life and good and evil described this elusive unknown out there as logos. Philosophers gave it a wide variety of meaning, but there was some commonality to their views. In general, logos referred to some sort of rational principle of the universe. Some creative energy. All things on earth came from this logos. People derived their wisdom from it. Some viewed this logos as personal. Some saw it as impersonal, like a principle or force.

The Force. If you know anything about Star Wars, you know about The Force. In Star Wars, the Forces is this pervasive energy in living things that gives life and guides life.
In the 1970’s when George Lucas was creating Star Wars and this “Force” theme, he very much had in mind this ancient, pagan philosophy that Greek philosophers called Logos. He wanted young people to be more spiritually minded. So he used this term “the Force” which really embodied this ancient pagan philosophy.

So where am I going with this?

The Apostle John, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirt, wrote an account of Jesus Christ. We call it the Gospel of John.
In John’s very first sentence, he uses the Greek word, Logos, to describe Jesus Christ.
John 1:1 ESV In the beginning was the Word [Greek word, “Logos”], and the Word [Logos] was with God, and the Word was God.
In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God.

So John used a word very familiar to the first century world in the Roman and Greek culture. But he had a very different meaning than pagan philosophers or George Lucas of the 20th century.

This morning, I am excited to kick off a 22-week series on the Gospel of John. We will spend 2/3 of our summer on this and much of our Fall.
We are going to discover just who is this Logos of God. The WORD of God who created all that we see. Who has always been and always will be. Who offers life—eternal life—to anyone who looks to him. Who makes the audacious claim that he is not just A way to heaven, but the ONLY way to heaven. Who presents himself as Living Water to satisfy the thirst in our souls.

Purpose

Most books of the Bible don’t have a specific statement from the author of his intent in writing.

But John makes it easy for us. He tells us rather plainly,
John 20:30–31 ESV “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 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.”
He wants us to know who Jesus is. And he wants us to believe in him.

This book, then, speaks to every one of us here this morning.

This morning, if you consider yourself a skeptic toward Christianity and the Bible, or a seeker of truth, this gospel speaks to you. The seeker and the skeptic.
Last month, I had multiple conversations with a man like this. From his upbringing, he is vaguely familiar with elements of Christianity. A year ago he has had a major health crisis, even facing death, that has pushed him to reexamine his life, including his faith. At this point, he is seeking. But he also is admittedly a skeptic. Skeptical of the Bible. Skeptical of Jesus. So I encouraged him (as I have done with many people over the years) to read this Gospel. In a couple of weeks, I hope to meet with him again for further conversations.

This Gospel confronts us clearly with Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. Who he claims to be. So as we explore this gospel, the question is, what will we do with him?
So if you’re a seeker of God or a skeptic, this Gospel is for you.

This morning, if you consider yourself a disciple of Jesus…you have already believed in Jesus…then this gospel is also for you. For you followers of Jesus, you might be tempted to think that this book “old information”. The message of this book might feel like old history, as in, “Yes, I already know that. So now let me move on to other things.”?

But no, for us who have received him, the message and story of Jesus the Christ is pertinent both now and into eternity.
We can know our Savior in richer and fuller ways. Our faith can be strengthened, our worship heightened, our comfort increased, and our hope enlivened.

For example, in 2010 I was going through some trials that greatly discouraged me. I felt like quitting. But was profoundly impacted by truths in this book. Specifically, Jesus makes seven statements that I call his “I am” statements. He declares, “I am the Resurrection. I am the Way. I am the Life.” As we go through this book, I will relate more specifically how these truths impacted me. But I can tell you it felt like God saved me from going over a cliff of despair, guilt, and shame.

And I still often reflect on those truths, and I find myself strengthened even today. So the lessons I learned 8 years ago continue to go deeper. It’s like I could say, “I know who Jesus is, and I believe in him. Still, the longer I go and the deeper I get, I realize he is greater and better than I knew before.” And I hope each passing year I could say that.

One author said this:
“John’s Gospel is like a pool in which a child may wade and an elephant can swim.”
It is both simple and profound.
Wherever we are at spiritually—whether a seeker or skeptic or a disciple of Jesus— this gospel is for you.

Overview of John’s Gospel

So if I were to summarize the essence of the Gospel of John, what would I say?
This statement will sound quite obvious, but it needs to be stated:
Christ is the center of the story.
The word “gospel” means “good news.” And the good news is not foundationally about religious activities, although those are important. The good news is about a Person. Not a Force or a System or List of Morals. The good news is about a Person named Jesus. If Jesus Christ as a Person is not at the center of what we believe, we don’t have true Christianity.

As John stated in John 20:30-31 here, his purpose is that we might believe. We will discover that over and over again in virtually every chapter, Jesus confronts us with who he is. Jesus himself forces us to choose sides. Are we with him or against him? Do we believe in him or do we reject him? Is he the only way to God, or is he not? Jesus continually allows us no middle ground.

For example,
John 3:18 ESV “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.”
Jesus has the audacity to declare himself as the dividing line…. The dividing line for heaven. For forgiveness. For life. For fruitfulness.

And it was claims such as this that got him killed. For this dividing line is not of bare neutrality. Instead it ultimately leads us to either passionate love or violent rejection.

John 1:1-18

Now let’s begin our journey into this dramatic story about Jesus Christ, a man who has impacted history more than anyone else.
So open your Bibles to the Gospel of John.
Now let’s look at what many people call “The Prologue” to the Gospel. The first 18 verses.

The Prologue functions as an introduction to the Fourth Gospel. The Prologue is like the foyer of a theatre. You are going to enter the main auditorium and watch an entire drama with various scenes. But in the foyer before you go in are numerous displays giving pictures of the scenes you will hear and see when you enter the auditorium itself.

So today is going to give us a picture of what is to come. Then in the coming weeks, we are going to watch the scenes unfold from this drama of the life of Jesus Christ.

Vs. 1-3
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.

Let’s examine this. We see several things:
1. The Word—and we will realize that this is Jesus—this Word was in the beginning.
The name of Jesus is not used until vs. 17, but it’s quite obvious throughout the Prologue John is writing about Jesus Christ. This language is the same as in Genesis 1:1, that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” So Jesus, the Word, was with God in the beginning.

2. The Word, Jesus, was with God. That is, God the Father.
He is not the same Person as God the Father, but he was with him. This hints at relationship. At intimacy.

3. The Word was God. Jesus is Deity.
As a new believer, when I first heard this I was a bit surprised. Though I had somewhat of a church background, I didn’t recall ever really explaining who Jesus was. Then I saw verses like this and the description of God as “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” and it all came together.
This mystery. There is one God yet there are three distinct personalities. It can be a difficult concept to grasp, but it’s quite important. If we don’t get our understanding of God correct, everything else we believe can eventually fall apart.

4. He is the Creator. (verse 3)
Everything we see was made by him. Everything. Microscopic atomic structure. The vastness of the galaxies. And to emphasize this and leave no room for misunderstanding, John says this in sort of a double negative: “Nothing we see was not made by him.”

Now let’s examine this name. Or title. “The Word.” This is an unusual title. As I said, the Greek word is logos.
I have to admit, for years of reading my Bible, I thought this was an odd title. The Word. The Logos.
As I said earlier, over the centuries, mankind has had various descriptions of some LOGOS. Some nebulous, mystical Force or Person out there that explains life and good and evil. Gives meaning to life.

John now describes LOGOS explicitly. In fact, John’s description here would have been shocking to the pagan world.

In this Prologue we are reading today, these 18 verses, John is declaring this Logos to be: a specific Person (not a Force), who created the world, descended from heaven, became a man, rose from the dead, and now offers eternal life and new birth to anyone in the world who will believe in him.
This is stunning.

About 25 years after Jesus died and rose from the dead, the Apostle Paul was in Athens, Greece. And Paul was having a conversation with some pagan philosophers in Athens about Jesus. They were confused.
So he said this:
Acts 17:22–23 ESV “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.”
Paul is essentially saying that this Unknown God, this mystical Logos you have been searching for and having endless debates over….this Logos has come to earth, died, and risen from the dead. He rules over all. He is good, and he reigns supreme even over evil.

Now back to John’s gospel, he essentially tells us that this LOGOS, Jesus, is the one true Logos. He is the Logos of all logos. He is the clear answer to all the speculations of philosophers and ordinary people for centuries.
He is not some Force. He is a person. He is real. He is God. He is not distant but is near. And he was there at the beginning of time.

Instead of “The Force be with you,” John would say, “May the Logos of God, Jesus, be with you.”

Vs. 4-5
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.

In the Word “was life.” He is the Life Giver.
By this, John may have a double meaning in mind.
This statement follows verse 3 that says the Word made everything we see, i.e., he brought about life. So here in verse 4, “life” is expounding on the Creator. But “life” could also refer to eternal life, which is a theme of the book of John. So the Word gives physical life and eternal life. In both senses, “In him was life.”

Then John says that the Word—the Logos—was the light of men. He is the Light-Bearer. The Word gives light to a world that is in darkness. Sin has darkened this world and darkened our hearts. We are in the darkness and cannot see. Plus, we are blind and cannot see the light.
That’s why we are so confused. That’s why there is so much evil. That is why what is so obviously good and holy is not so obvious. We are blind and ignorant.
And don’t we all feel, at least occasionally, like we’re in the dark? We’re lost. Confused. Troubled. Wandering. Both in a daily sense and in a life-long sense.

We simply need the Light of Christ to show us the way. And we need the blind eyes of our hearts opened up so that we can see that Light.

It refreshes my heart to know that Jesus, the Logos, the Word of God, brings both life and light to me.

And verse 5 is very important:
“the darkness has not overcome it.”
People throughout the centuries have tried to explain God, whoever they deem him to be. And they have tried to explain good and evil. We may assume that good and evil are Twins. Opposite twins, but somewhat equal. Who wins, no one knows. Like in Star Wars, the Force has a good and an evil part to it. Either one can win.

But in Jesus Christ, the Light-Bearer, darkness and evil cannot overcome him. Evil tried by crucifying him. But he rose from the dead. And in the end, he will judge all evil and rule over all things.

Vs. 6-9
Now vs. 6-9 are about a witness to Jesus, the Logos of God. That witness’s name is John the Baptist. (This is not the same John as John the Apostle who wrote this Gospel.)

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.

This theme of “WITNESS” is important in John…. because anyone could make a bunch of radical claims like Jesus did.
So in order to believe those claims, we understandably want to know who can vouch for him. Shouldn’t someone be able to testify for Jesus, the Word, like a witness does in a courtroom…. A witness who swears to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
Throughout this Gospel, we read of seven witnesses to verify Jesus is who he says.

1. John the Baptist
2. Father
3. Son
4. Holy Spirit
5. Scriptures
6. Jesus’ works (his words and his miracles, called “signs”)
7. People who saw him.

The purpose of the witnesses (according to vs. 7) is that we would believe. We would trust in Jesus, that he is the Word, the Logos of God. He is the Logos of all logos. The King of all kings.

Vs. 10-11
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.

There is both beauty and sadness in these words.
First, the words, “He came” in vs. 11. God came down to earth. Heaven descended toward his creation. This is beautiful.
He did it because of his kindness and mercy for those made in his image.

Yet there is sadness in these words. The ones he made in his image did not receive him. They did not welcome him. They rejected him.
Each day in the news we read of tragedies all over the world. Cruel and sad events. John’s words here reveal the Greatest Tragedy the world has ever seen. More tragic than a World War. More tragic than a terrorist bombing. More tragic than a devastating disease or an epidemic.

God’s own creation—the people whom he made and loved and came to earth to save—all rejected him. Jews and Gentiles crucified him.

Vs. 12-13
But vs. 12 & 13 reveal the Good News.
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.

Now this is “Gospel”. This is “Good news.” In spite of being rejected, instead of wiping out every living thing, as he has the right to do in perfect justice, God has given mankind the Greatest of Mercies.

To anyone who will believe in the name…the name of Jesus, the Logos, the Word of God, the Lamb of God, the Light of the World, the Good Shepherd of the sheep, the Way, the Truth, and the Life….the NAME of Jesus … God will grant the right and privilege to be adopted as his sons and daughters. They will be given new birth. They will be born of God. Born again.

If you are a seeker or a skeptic, like my friend whom I have been talking to the last couple of months, these are words you need for life eternal. This is True Hope. And as we will find throughout this Gospel, this is the ONLY True Hope.
If you are already a believer in Jesus, likewise these are beautiful words for you. Every day, you can grab hold of these to cling to as promises….promises that God will not fail in. God has given you new birth. You have been born into his heavenly, eternal family. This is your hope and your security and your glory.

Vs. 14
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John reintroduces the Word to us, last mentioned in vs. 1. And in case the reader had any questions in vs. 1-13 as to who the Word was, now John is even clearer: the Word became flesh. He became a man. This is an astonishing truth. This is what we call the Incarnation. The Divine has united with the Human.
How it happened we are not told in this passage, but it did! This reveals an indescribable intimacy of God to descend on the earth and become one of us.

In the Old Testament, we read about God dwelling among his people, Israel, in the tabernacle. In this tent with the ark of the covenant. His glory was displayed to Israel. But only one person, the high priest, could truly draw near to the Presence of God.
Now in Jesus, the Word….the Logos of God, God has drawn very near in a much more personal way. He became a man like us and dwelt among us. The glory of God is on full display through the Word…the Logos of God.

And the only Son is full of grace and truth.
The Son is full of graciousness and kindness toward us, shown by “becoming flesh and dwelling among us.”
And the only Son is full of truth; there is no falseness or unreality. There are no Half-Truths or Partial Truths. He is absolutely true, real, and sincere. And we’ll see later in Chapter 14, Jesus declares, “I am the Truth.” He embodies Truth.

Vs. 15-17
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.

From the fullness of God, all that he is and does, all that he is fully in his entirety– from all this, we have received grace upon grace. Favor and kindness upon favor and kindness.

Considering vs. 16 and 17 together, John is contrasting the Law of Moses with the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
God did show great grace to Israel by giving them the law. But now more grace—grace upon that grace, a greater grace—has been given through the fulfillment of the law, Jesus. For the law spoke of this Messiah and anticipated him.
Grace upon grace. Like waves in the ocean that continually wash on the shore, so God’s grace keeps coming upon us through his Son, the Word of God.

Vs. 18
18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

This may be the climax of the Prologue. John emphasizes the closeness of the Son to the Father.
No one can see the face of God the Father and live. He is so holy and glorious that we would die if we saw him.
But the Son…the Word of God… the Logos has. And now he makes known to all mankind who the Father is.

He is the perfect and exact representation of the God the Father. Philosophers throughout the ages have tried to determine who God is, what he is like. All their efforts are mere mortal speculations.
We need to speculate no longer. If you want to know who God is and what he is like, simply look to Jesus.

Conclusion

In these 18 verses, we have walked into the foyer of the theater. We have not yet entered the auditorium and watched the drama about to unfold on the stage. But we have seen displays in the foyer that tell us of important scenes in this drama.
This drama revealed in the Gospel of John is better than any movie you will watch. It’s not simply based on a true story; it is a true story.

We will spend much of this summer and fall entering into this drama.
I hope we will not be mere spectators in the audience, but participants in the drama.
Engaged. Listening. Searching. Then….. Believing. Worshiping. Loving.
That we would enter into a relationship—and then go deeper and deeper— with the Logos of God, the Word of God.

For centuries before Christ and ever since, man has been searching and searching for the answers to life.
• Where did we come from
• Why are we here
• Who is God
• What does he want
In all these questions and in more, John answers us.
And the answer centers on a Person.
He is called LOGOS. The Word. The Word of God.
He is Creator.
He is God and Man.
He is Life-Giver.
He is Light-Bearer.
He is the Resurrection.
He is the Bread of Life and the Living Water.

Life is found in Jesus’ Name.