Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Deity of Christ (John 1:1-5)

The first eighteen verses of John’s Gospel are the prologue to the book. A prologue is an opening to a story that establishes the setting or theme. We know from John 20:30-31 that the purpose of the book is to persuade people to the point of trusting that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God; and that believing (trusting) they may have life in His name. In his prologue John declares that Jesus is God, that He became a man, that He dwelt (tabernacled) among us, and that He explained the Father.

It is my conviction that John was showing Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament Tabernacle. John purposefully related events from the life and ministry of Jesus to show Him as the fulfillment of Old Testament concepts moving from Jesus as the lamb of God and culminating in Jesus as the fulfillment of the Mercy Seat (see John 20:12). For Jesus to fulfill these Old Testament concepts He would have to be nothing other than God in the flesh.

The prologue (John 1:1-18) sets the stage so to speak for the unveiling or revelation of Jesus as the fulfillment of the Tabernacle. Since the Tabernacle stood as the heart of the Old Testament sacrificial system and the only way that sinners could approach a holy God, John reveals Jesus as the only way to the Father (John 14:6) because He is the only One who could and did make substitutionary atonement. Jesus is the only hope for man. What you do with Jesus Christ determines your eternal destiny.

The parallel between John’s prologue and the book of Genesis is striking. Just as Genesis sets out in seed form all the major doctrines of the Bible that will be developed later in their mature form so it is with John’s prologue. John will develop the doctrines that he sets forth in the prologue to their full meanings.

In this post, The Deity of Christ (John 1:1-5), we will only cover the first five verses of the prologue to John's Gospel which parallel the beginning of the Bible.

Christ is the eternal Word (John 1:1-2). Christ is the uncreated eternal Son of God. He is equal to God and is God. “In the beginning” means before the beginning began. He is timeless -He had no beginning because He has always been and always will be.

John used the term “Word” for a particular reason - the Jews would have readily understood its background in the Old Testament that God sends His Word to accomplish His purposes (Isaiah 55:10-11). It is interesting that the Old Testament says that (1) God sends His Word in order to accomplish a particular divine purpose, (2) God’s Word unfailingly accomplishes God’s purpose, and (3) God’s Word returns to Him after accomplishing God’s mission. This seed truth will sprout and grow in John’s Gospel as Jesus refers to God as His Father who sent Him (John 3:17; 6:38); as coming to accomplish the Father’s will (John 4:34, 6:38); as having accomplished the Fathers will (John 17:4); and as returning to the Father (John 17:5, 13).

In these first two verses we note three divine attributes that the Word shares with God: (1) He is equal to God in time – He was in the beginning with God. (2) He is equal to God in rank – He was literally face to face with God – that is the meaning of “and the Word was with God.” (3) He is equal to God in essence – “and the Word was God.” The doctrine of the Trinity lies at the heart of John’s exposition. God is one, but his unitary essence is complex, not simple. God is a complex unity, not a mathematical cipher.

Christ is the living Word (John 1:3-4a). Christ is the giver of life – He created everything that has come into being. This verse points out the fallacy of evolution which believes that life arose from nothing – that life came from non-life. Evolutionists and naturalists believe in “spontaneous generation” but they say they do not believe in miracles! The Bible teaches that life came from life – “In Him was life.” Life does not arise from non-life no matter how many billions or trillions of years you allow.

Not only is Christ the giver of life in the physical realm, He is also the giver of life in the spiritual realm and this should be of utmost importance to spiritually dead sinners. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you have no life in yourselves” (John 6:53). Once again the seed truth in the prologue is developed into maturity in the remainder of the Gospel.

Christ is the revealing Word (John 1:4b). Both life and light reveal. Life reveals deadness and light reveals darkness. The sinless life of the Lord becomes the light that illumines or reveals our deadness and our darkness. Light will reveal blindness, badness, and beauty. The blindness of men was revealed by the Lord when He came into the world and the world did not know him (John 1:10). The badness of men was revealed by the Lord when He came to His own and His own did not receive Him (John 1:11). The beauty of the Lord was revealed to those who did receive Him and were saved (John 1:12-13). Light reveals.

Christ is the accomplishing Word (John 1:5). Light is powerful. Darkness cannot overpower it. The darkness desires to snuff out the light. John 12:35 uses the same word that is used in John 1:5. There Jesus said, “Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you.” Jesus is the accomplishing Word. The darkness could not overpower Him. John 1:4-5 are the seed truth concerning the epic battle between Light and darkness. Before His crucifixion Jesus told the corrupt religious establishment, “This hour and the power of darkness are yours” (Luke 22:53). Satan and sinful men did everything in their power to snuff out the Light but the darkness did not overpower it. In Him was life and on the third day He got up and walked out victorious over darkness and deadness. Jesus is the accomplishing Word.

Let me show you the striking parallel between the John 1:1-5 and Genesis 1:1-3.

I. Christ is the eternal Word – In the beginning

II. Christ is the living Word – God created

III. Christ is the revealing Word – Then God said, “Let there be light”

IV. Christ is the accomplishing Word – and there was light

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