1) JESUS CHRIST IS THE WORD
John 1:1 IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:2 The same was in the beginning with God.
To our modern ears, it might be strange to call another person “the Word” (logos). But while it might be strange to us, it wasn’t strange to either the Jews or the Greeks.
The Jews shied away from using God’s name at all, lest they accidentally use it in vain. They would substitute other titles—like “Heaven”—instead of pronouncing the divine name. Another title they would have used was, “the Word.” Any Jew reading this would have known from the first phrase who John was talking about.
The Greeks also used this title, “the Word,” but not in the same way as the Jews. They would have used it to refer to the ultimate reason or the purpose of the universe. They would have used it more in an impersonal sense or philosophical sense rather than a personal sense.
Both Jews and Greeks reading the Gospel of John would have been hooked from the very first line. For both Jews and Greeks, John points them to a specific person. Who is the Word? John makes that clear in later verses:
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. (John 1:14–15)
The Word made flesh? John being His forerunner and witness? This can only be referring to Jesus. For the Jewish reader, their own God was made flesh. For the Greek reader, the impersonal reason behind the universe was, in fact, a person!
So “the Word” was a universal term that everyone would have understood. But there’s more to it than that, because there would have been other terms that were universal as well.
Why use the word, “Word”? Because God’s words are powerful. What do you think of when you read “in the beginning”? Genesis 1, right? That’s what John wants you to think, so go back to Genesis 1. How did God create?
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. (Genesis 1:3)
6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. (Genesis 1:6)
9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. (Genesis 1:9)
11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. (Genesis 1:11)
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: (Genesis 1:14)
20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. (Genesis 1:20)
24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. (Genesis 1:24)
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:26)
Isn’t that awesome? God’s Word is powerful! The old preacher, A.W. Tozer, praised the power of God’s Word when he said:
The voice of God is the most powerful force in nature, indeed the only force in nature, for all energy is here only because the power-filled Word is being spoken (Tozer, 70).
God’s Word is powerful, but it’s also a Word that communicates to mankind. You can see this all over the Old Testament in expressions like: “…the word of the Lord came unto…” Here a a few:
1 After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. (Genesis 15:1)
10 Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying, (1 Samuel 15:10)
11 And the word of the Lord came to Solomon, saying, (1 Kings 6:11)
17 And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, (1 Kings 21:17)
The phrase, “the word of the Lord,” appears about 275 times in the Old Testament. What does this tell us about God? Simply this: God wants to communicate with us!
God has told us about Himself in the Bible, but He was also shown Himself to us in another Word—Jesus Christ, His Son. Look at this most wonderful verse in John—
18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. (John 1:18)
We know God because of His Word—especially His Son, the Word! God wants to communicate with you. Communication is possible because of words, and Jesus is the ultimate Word.
Are you listening to God? Back when I was a kid, everyone had CB radios in their vehicles. It was how Mom could talk to Dad when he was out in the back pasture. It was fun to talk to truckers when we drove someplace. I remember that the channel that we used was always 19. Once in awhile, when Dad wanted to talk to someone else, he’d fiddle with the channels. You could only talk to someone if you were on the same channel as they were.
God’s channel is Jesus Christ. You can only get to know God and communicate with God through Jesus Christ. Have you received Jesus as your Savior? Have you come to God through Jesus, His Son?
Jesus Christ is the Word, the only way to communicate with God (John 14:6).
2) JESUS CHRIST IS ETERNAL
John 1:1a IN the beginning was the Word,
The gospels of Matthew and Luke begin their accounts of Jesus with His virgin birth. The gospel of Mark begins with Jesus’s baptism by John the Baptist. But the Gospel of John gives us whiplash by taking us back to the beginning!
“In the beginning was the Word,” is supposed to make you instantly think of the first phrase of the Old Testament, “In the beginning, God created…” (Genesis 1:1). Jesus Christ was there! Does that mean that Jesus was the first being that God created? No, it doesn’t. It means that Jesus Christ was right there, existing, as He always had been.
There are clues in the text that tell us this. Here’s just one clue, if you will pardon my Greek: it has to do with the tense of the verbs in the first verse. Those three “was”’s are in a past tense that we call the imperfect tense. There’s a past tense in the Greek that simply means something happened in the past and that’s it—the building was built. But the imperfect tense can carry the idea of “was continuing.” So verse one can sound like this,
1 In the beginning was continuing the Word, and the Word was continuing with God, and the Word was continually God. (John 1:1)
So Jesus wasn’t made at the beginning of creation, He was always there, continuing to be as He always was. I am reminded of what Jesus says in John 8:58—“Before Abraham was, I am.”
The “was” in John 8:58, by the way, is not in the imperfect tense. Jesus does not say that Abraham “was continuing,” only that Abraham existed at one point in time. And what was Jesus? He says that He is “I am.” And that tells us that He is continually existing.
John 8:58 also links Jesus with an important Old Testament passage in Exodus 3, when God approached Moses at the burning bush. Moses asked God what His name was. God answered:
14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. (Exodus 3:14)
What does it mean when God says that He is “I AM”? It means that He is self-existent. He requires nothing outside of Himself to exist.
We require a father and a mother to give us birth. We require at a minimum, food, water, and air to continue to exist. We also require additional things like clothing, shelter, love, purpose and so on. We are far from being self-existent.
God exists without requiring anything outside of Himself. He is “I AM.” And Jesus says in John 8:58, that He is “I am,” so He is self-existent. In the beginning, He was continually—or, as one person put it, “Jesus always was wasing” (Hughes, 16). But I like how God puts it Himself, “I AM.”
This Christmas, we marvel at the birth of the baby Jesus. But don’t think for a minute that was the beginning for Jesus. The incarnation is only another phase of Jesus’s eternal, self-existent life. We should be throughly amazed and flabbergasted at how the Eternal One became a baby.
Jesus Christ is the Word, the Eternal One, and…
3) JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONE GOD
John 1:1b and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
This statement is easy to read over quickly and miss what it says, so let’s slow down and mull it over. The Word—Jesus Christ—was with God, and the Word—Jesus Christ—was God.
Put some other names in there to see how incredible this statement is: and Tami was with Levi and Tami was Levi. That doesn’t work, does it? Tami can’t be with Levi and be Levi at the same time!
Well, what is it? Is Jesus with God or is Jesus God? Both!
Jesus the Son of God is not the Father. He is distinct from the Father in that He is a different person from the Father. The Holy Spirit is also distinct from the Father and the Son. He is a different person from the Father and the Son. This is why John can say that “the Word was with God.”
Yet, at the same time, both the Father and the Son (and the Spirit) are God. That is, their essence is God, but they are not three separate gods. The Bible firmly insists that God is one:
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: (Deuteronomy 6:4)
6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. (1 Corinthians 8:6)
This is why John can say that “the Word was God.” Now, how is this possible? Yikes! We don’t know that…He is God, after all! Our business is this: there are three persons, but one God and we must trust Him with the details.
We are like toddlers who ask questions with complicated answers: “Mommy, how does our brain work?” “Well, there are these things called neurons…and there’s a cortex…and there’s this stuff called serotonin…Sigh, honey, it just does…trust me.”
Just trust that, if God says He is three persons yet one God, He can be that way.
What this means for us is that, through Jesus, we can glimpse God. Later in the Gospel of John, Jesus says to Philip:
9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? (John 14:9)
Philip, you don’t need to have a special vision of the Father because, by knowing Me, you know the Father! We can know God more by looking at Jesus Christ because Jesus is the One God.
Was is it important that Jesus be God? Why couldn’t Jesus just be a great, inspired prophet and teacher like so many people believe Him to be? The reason has to do with our sin. Our sin requires that a steep penalty be paid—“the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
Now, we can and do die because of our sin…but the result isn’t pretty. We don’t get to Heaven and we don’t get eternal life. But Jesus Christ died for our sins in our place. Many people have questioned how this could be. How can one man die for the sins of others? Some have even been quite offended at the notion!
Once, I took a spanking for my sisters that I didn’t deserve. What they did, I don’t remember, but it wasn’t me! Me taking the spanking didn’t change their guilt at all. I didn’t do it because I was compassionate either, I just wanted the lecture from Dad to be other so I could go on with my day!
In the same way, if we were to die for the sins of someone else, our death would be quite meaningless. It would do nothing.
But since Jesus is God, and being God, He is sinless, He was able to die for our sins and pay the penalty for our sins. And this is where Christmas comes in again. God can’t die, but a man can. So Jesus, the eternal God, became a moral man—a baby—so that He could die for our sins. He was born to die.
Christianity is a religion unlike any other in the world. Instead of a god demanding works from people to be saved (which is what every other religion does), Christianity says that the one true God became a sinless man, Jesus Christ, and died for our sins so that we might live. We only need to receive His gift of salvation by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).
That’s what we get to celebrate in the Lord’s Supper.
There’s one more wonderful thing about Jesus Christ being God that I want to say. Because Jesus is God, that means that He is infinite. And because He is infinite, that means that He can truly satisfy your needs. Paul, in Ephesians 3, prays for the church…
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. (Ephesians 3:17–19)
Why would Paul pray such a thing? Because he knew that, in order for Christians to be happy and satisfied in this world, we must be happy and satisfied in God.
Otherwise, we spend our time chasing the idols of health, beauty, sex, money, stuff, fame and fortune. Otherwise we melt whenever we get hurt or face a trial. All those things are so limited, but we treat them as they are the end all be all. They aren’t. They break, rot, wear out, deplete, delete, and diminish.
If you want to be truly happy and satisfied this Christmas—don’t yearn for the presents under the tree, yearn for Jesus Christ. He is infinite and eternal. He is the one true God. He alone and save you and satisfy you for all eternity.
Hughes, R. Kent. John: That You May Believe. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1999.
Tozer, A. W. The Pursuit of God. Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2006.
Levi Durfey—LDM-43-John 1.1-2-20191201FBCAM-SERMON