The Glory of the Son, the Divine Word | John 1:1-5 | Dr. David Harrell
Shepherd’s Fire exists to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ through mass communications for the teaching ministry of Bible expositor David Harrell, with a special emphasis in encouraging and strengthening pastors and church leaders.
Each transcript is a rough approximation of the message preached and may occasionally misstate certain portions of the sermon and even misspell certain words. It should in no way be considered an edited document ready for print. Moreover, as in any transcription of the spoken word, the full intention and passion of the speaker cannot be fully captured and will in no way reflect the same style of a written document.
In the providence of God, we now come to the gospel of John. I believe the Spirit would have me minister this gospel to you over the next many months. So, will you turn to John 1 and I’ve entitled my discourse to you “The Glory of the Son, the Divine Word.”
This morning we’ll look at the first five verses. Let me read them to you,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”
When I was a young man, I remember a day when I was coming back from Moody Bible Institute to our home over on the other side of Illinois and I went to get on a Greyhound bus and there was an older black gentleman that was there and I could tell he was having a hard time making his way through the crowd, getting up onto the bus. I remember coming along and he was stumbling a little bit so I reached to help him with his cane and he thanked me and he continued to go up the steps and went to sit down and I thought, “You know, I’ll just sit here with him.” And I’ll never forget him turning to look at me with dim eyes, through very thick spectacles, and I remember what he said to me. He said, “Son, do you know my Jesus?” And I said, “Yes, I know your Jesus.” And he patted me on the hand and he said, “I thought so.” And then we talked for about three hours.
But, you know, I also remember that time thinking to myself as I listened to that dear old gentleman, that he knew Jesus in ways that I didn’t and that I wanted to. And I was thinking about that as we come to the text here before us because what we are going to do in the months to come is to get to know his Jesus, my Jesus, your Jesus in a much deeper way.
When you think about it, we are bombarded every day with erotic media, with all manner of wickedness, things that exalt wicked people. We witness alcohol and drug abuse, sexual immorality, abortion, political corruption, economic instability. Even this last week, I’m sure you heard of the young man out jogging in Oklahoma from Australia, the baseball player. Three young teenage boys gunned him down just because they wanted to kill somebody. They said they were bored.
You know, friends, our world is being swept away by a tsunami of sin. Many Christians even struggle to find answers in their churches, trying to understand how to live in such a world and, unfortunately, in many cases, the shepherds are like those whom God cursed in ancient Israel. In Jeremiah 6 we read what the Lord says about them, “They have healed the brokenness of my people superficially.” Folks, we need something other than superficial healing these days. He went on to say, “They are leading you into futility. They speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord.”
Perhaps you’re here today and you’re straining under the weight of sin. Maybe it’s your sin, maybe it’s the sin of someone else. You’re confused, you’re hurting, maybe you’re lonely, depressed, discouraged, afraid. My friends, what we all need is a very clear vision of the Most High God because when we see his glory and his grace put on display in his Word, we find help and we find hope. In fact, the Psalmist tells us in Psalm 146, “How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord.” In Psalm 93, the Psalmist lamented over the chaos that he was experiencing in his world, a world that was in opposition to God and he compared all of that wickedness to a flood that was rising and sweeping him and God’s people away and he said, “The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice. The floods lift up their pounding waves.”
Beloved, please hear me: no matter how ferocious the winds, no matter how high the waves of the wicked, they are but foam. They are foam and noise and bluster. They terrorize for a moment but then they disappear because our God reigns forever, because our God is on the throne. For that reason, the Psalmist said in the very next verse, “More than the sounds of many waters, than the mighty breakers of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty.”
Child of God, please hear this: our God is actively sovereign. He is not just passively glorious and our Lord and his Word are dependable and holy. And as believers, we must immerse ourselves into the life-giving, life-sustaining truths of the Word of God because as Christians we walk by faith not by feelings. If you walk by feelings, then the wickedness of this world will overpower you. And certainly, the object of our faith is the Triune God and we see him most clearly in the face of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ Jesus is both life and light. 2 Corinthians 4:6, Paul says, “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in,” what? “The face of Christ.” If you want to see God, we have to see Christ.
So, it is my most earnest desire to point you, once again, to the Lord Jesus Christ in the months to come, the author, the finisher of our faith because in him we have spiritual life. In him we get a soul-terrifying and yet a soul-thrilling vision of our Almighty God. We have no faith apart from both an understanding of and a love for the Lord Jesus Christ. I appreciate what John Calvin said in “A Definition of Faith”; he put it this way,
“We shall now have a full definition of faith if we say that it is a firm and sure knowledge of the divine favor toward us, founded on the truth of a free promise in Christ and revealed to our minds and sealed on our hearts by the Holy Spirit.”
So, my friends, there is no greater subject in all the world than Christ. But we do not study him merely to gain theological acumen or even accuracy but rather to get to know him more intimately as the lover of our soul. This is what strengthens faith and encourages our soul. Too often, we have very strong heads and weak hearts; we’re full of all of this knowledge but many times we are more cerebral than we are spiritual. But rather, we want to be like Paul who, according to Philippians 3:10, longed to “know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”
So, friends, my prayer for each of you, my prayer for me today and in the days to come is that we will fall more deeply in love with Jesus, that we will see him more clearly in all of his glory, that we will get lost, once again, in the wonder of his love for us, that we will experience what Paul said in Romans 5:5, “the love of God that has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” I want you to become wonderfully aware of his love for you, to experience this deep within your soul and in so doing, do you know what will happen? You will find help and you will find hope. Maurice Roberts put it this way,
“Once a believer has tasted this love of God in his soul, he can never rest content until he has it again and again. The biblical enjoyment of the grace of Christ is not to be looked on as abnormal or extraordinary, but is a part of his earthly inheritance. Enjoyment of God is to be expected and to be looked for. There are gracious communications made to us in this life. The Spirit is the agent who generates a felt joy and exhilaration in the consciousness of the child of God.”
Dear Christian, as we examine the words of this sacred volume, this is my prayer for you: that the Spirit of God will produce within you a profound awareness of inner joy, of exhilarating excitement, of increasing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, so much that you will be able to say with the Psalmist, “God, my exceeding joy!” If you’re here without Christ, I hope you will find him.
Let me give you some background about this great gospel. John, of course, was the son of Zebedee. His mother was Salome who may have been Mary, the mother of Christ’s, sister. So, John was probably the cousin of Jesus. You may recall that John had an older brother. His name was James. Remember, they were sometimes called “Sons of Thunder.” They were aggressive men. They weren’t used to getting in touch with their feminine side. I’ve learned, by the way, when I want to get in touch with my feminine side, I reach over and touch my wife. These were men of great courage to weather the storms of Galilee in the great sea there.
They were very protective of Jesus. You may recall that when some people were hassling them, they wanted him to call down fire from heaven. They were not the seeker sensitive type. They were very ambitious as well. You might recall that they asked Jesus to grant that they would sit on the right and the left hand in his Kingdom. They even got their mother to request the same thing for them in Matthew 20. And instead of granting their request, the Lord told them, “No, you will have to drink of the same bitter cup that I will drink.” And James eventually was beheaded. We read about that in Acts 12 and John was eventually tortured and exiled to Patmos for the sake of Christ. But, certainly, over the course of their life, being around the Savior, they were humbled and they began to grow in Christ, so much so that John refers to himself in his gospel as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” and, certainly, this was true. In fact, John became known as the Apostle of love.
John, along with James and Peter, was in the inner circle of the twelve Apostles and I think it’s fair to say that no one knew Jesus better, nor loved him more, than John. We see this very vividly in the Upper Room where John reclined on Jesus’ bosom. He also stood by his cross and even entered into his tomb. And for this reason, John could say, with unreserved conviction that Jesus is God. John was also the inspired author of three epistles that bear his name, as well as the book of Revelation, a book that was revealed to him by the very one whom he loved so dearly.
When we come to the New Testament and we look at the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we see Matthew depicting Jesus as the sovereign King; we see Mark depicting him as the suffering Savior; we see Luke depicting him as the Son of Man; but John depicts him as the Son of God. Matthew, Mark and Luke, sometimes called the Synoptic Gospels because they provide a synopsis of Jesus’ earthly life, indeed, depict many of the things that occurred in Jesus’ life on earth, but what you will find is that 90% of John’s gospel is not found in Matthew, Mark and Luke because John’s gospel doesn’t deal with his earthly life, but rather with his supernatural aspects, the character of him as the Son of God.
So, he doesn’t focus on the earthly history of Jesus, but rather on his heavenly history. The fact that he is the eternal, self-existent, omnipotent, omniscient, immutable, sovereign, Creator, sustainer and consummator of all things. That is John’s emphasis. That he is the second member of the Triune Godhead, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us that he might save sinners from their sin, from Satan, from death, from judgment, from the horror of hell. He is the Bread of Life, the Living Water, the Good Shepherd who would give his life for his sheep. The one who would raise the dead at the last day, the Messiah, King of Israel, the Judge of the living and the dead. Twenty-one chapters of inspired truth that validates Jesus’ claim that, indeed, he was God in human flesh. Fully God, yet fully human. The incarnate Christ who was able to say, “I and the Father are one.”
I might also add that this is the greatest evangelistic tract ever written. Whenever I speak with unbelievers and they say, “Well, where can I learn more?” I always point them to the gospel of John because here the gospel is unveiled in all of its glory. Many people say that John’s gospel is the Holy of Holies of the New Testament. Indeed, we find that most holy chapter in John 17 where Jesus goes before his Father and we hear his prayer. And what was pictured in the sacrificial system in the Old Covenant is here described in final reality in the New Covenant. Jesus the Lamb has become the substitute for sinners, the propitiation, the one that would satisfy the wrath of God for all who believe in him. Jesus the Lamb of God.
The purpose of John’s gospel is summarized in chapter 20:31. There we read, “these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” O, dear friends, what hope we have in Christ, what help we have in Christ and what horror awaits those who reject him.
But the Apostle Paul has warned us about something very important. For example, in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, he tells us that the “gospel is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world,” referring to Satan, “has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” And, my friends, one of the most effective ways that Satan uses to blind people about Christ is to distort his person, to distort his work, especially distort the fact that he was God in the flesh, to distort his deity. In fact, one of the characteristics of antichrist that John gives in 1 John 2, is their denial of the Son. In verse 22, he says, “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?” You see, friends, anyone who denies Christ is an antichrist. All lies are alien to the truth but this is the great lie, that Jesus is not the one he claimed to be.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:11, we read about what will happen during the tribulation and there, the Apostle Paul tells us, “God will send a strong delusion that they,” referring to unbelievers, “should believe the lie.” And what is the lie? That Christ is not who he claimed to be. If a man does not believe Jesus is God in human flesh, he is an antichrist and this is one of the great tests of a true believer.
In 1 John 4:2, John says, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.”
So, salvation is based on a person’s answer, certainly, to this most fundamental question: is Jesus God in human flesh? In 2 John 7, John again says, “Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus has come in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.”
It’s interesting, in the 1st century the Gnostics said that he was a phantom. In fact, the Corinthian branch of the Gnostics said that Jesus was just a man, that the Christ spirit came on him and then left. By the way, these are some of the lies that John is having to counteract, especially in his epistles. These are deceivers that deny the incarnation and, therefore, the deity of Jesus Christ. And I might also add, that such denials are the basis of liberalism, of modernism, of the cults that we see today. For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Christ was created billions of years ago as the Archangel Michael and it was through this created angel that all other things in the universe were created. They consider Jesus as a mighty god, but he is not God Almighty, like the Father; he is a lesser god. And, therefore, Jesus is not to be worshipped as the Father. They also believe that after his crucifixion, Jesus was raised from the dead as an invisible spirit creature with no physical body. Christ’s spiritual and invisible Second Coming, they believe, took place in 1914 and he has been ruling as King since then through the Watchtower Society.
The Mormons have even more bizarre beliefs. This cult believes that the universe is governed by a head god and his council and that god has many goddess wives, that god is limited by a physical body, that there are many gods and that Jesus was a created spirit brother of Lucifer and Adam. They deny the Trinity. They deny that Jesus was the eternal Son of God. When Mormons die, couples that were baptized in the temple in Salt Lake who have been faithful Mormons, are told that they get their own planet where they can enjoy celestial sex forever and produce more gods. I might hasten to add that Mormonism is rooted in sexual deviancy. Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, polygamists. They also believe that the Bible had to be corrected by the writings of Joseph Smith and the pearl of great price, the doctrines and the covenants and so forth.
But all of these cults, and so many others, deny this fundamental truth that Jesus was God incarnate. And then you move outside of the cults into the realm of just false demonic religions. For example, the Muslims believe that allah alone is the one true deity, that he has neither mother nor father. Similarly, he has no sons or daughters, that he is not a Trinity. He, certainly, is not the God, they believe, of the Old Testament and he is not the God of Christianity but allah, according to Islam, is the god of all humanity and all are supposed to worship him. According to Islamic literature, allah sent out many prophets and one of them was Jesus but the greatest prophet of all was Mohammed. Well, of course, all of these claims are false. These are doctrines of demons and there are hundreds of other false religious systems like these.
With that introduction, let’s examine what the Holy Spirit says, what God, himself, says about the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to look at this under three categories: we’re going to see that Jesus pre-existed with God; he co-existed with God; and he self-existed with God. So, let’s be transported here into the realm of the transcendent. Let’s be elevated beyond all the temporal cares of life and just be lifted high into these great eternal mysteries. You know, we tend to live too low, don’t we? We’re too earth-bound, so let’s leave the earth for a little bit here and let’s, once again, focus on just the glory of our God as we see it revealed in Christ.
In the first 18 verses of John’s gospel, we have a prologue that summarizes all that’s going to follow. Namely, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing we might have life in his name. But first I want you to notice what the inspired writer tells us about the Lord Jesus.
1. That pre-exited with God. Notice the very first phrase, “In the beginning was the Word.” Word translates the Greek word “logos.” Now, it might be a curious thing to say, “In the beginning was the Word.” Why didn’t he say, “In the beginning was Jesus?” That seems to be much clearer and we know this refers to Jesus because later on in verse 14 it says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
I think there’s two reasons why the Spirit of God chose this. The first is that the philosophers of that day used the Greek term logos to express what they believed to be a non-personal supernatural force or energy that was the source of everything in the universe; kind of the principle that held everything together. Think of Star Wars: “May the force be with you always.” That kind of silliness. The ancient Stoics believed that the universe is controlled by logos in the sense of reason and laws and they also held to a form of, what you might call, pantheistic materialism in which the universe linked with God was permeated and controlled by a fiery vapor type of substance which was also called logos. Later, logos was used to define reason which they believed governed the world. If you’ve ever sat in philosophy classes as I had to endure over the years, you’ll get a sense of what we had to endure.
They even mixed all of this with popular Greek mythology and they allegorized the gods of popular religion and made them into personifications of these abstract ideas. For example, Hermes was interpreted as logos. By the time of the 1st century when this gospel was written, even Judaism had been influenced by Stoic philosophy and during that time, we see the personification of such divine attributes as wisdom, which was also called the Word and even Hellenistic views personified both wisdom and word, regarding them as divine agents in creation. And Philo, that great philosopher of that day, taught that logos is both “pattern” and “instrument” of God in creation.
Are you confused? Good, so am I. This is silliness. This is indicative, however, of the evolution of philosophical reasoning, of man’s fallen mind. These are the musings of a fool. Man’s reasoning will always lead him away from the truth, away from God, never towards him. For this reason, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:20, “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” And what’s that foolish message? That Jesus was the Christ who died on the cross to save sinners.
My point with all of this is the Spirit of God knew perfectly well what man was thinking in those days and so he chose the perfect word to describe the Lord Jesus Christ: logos, the Word. So, in effect, what John is saying here is logos is a person. He’s not some invisible force. He is not some abstract non-personal force.
But I believe there is a second reason why this term is used: think about it, God has created us to comprehend and to speak language and language consists of words, expressions of thought. And John is going to reveal to us that the Son of God, as the Word of God, reveals the very heart and mind of God. He is the divine Word. For example, in John 1:18, we read, “No man has seen God at any time.” Then he goes on to say something interesting, “The only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father,” referring to the Son, “he has explained Him.” In chapter 14:24, we read, “The word which you hear,” Jesus says, “is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me.” And in chapter 15:15, “All things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
And we read this all throughout the gospel, all throughout the New Testament. For example, in Hebrews 1, beginning in verse 1, we are told, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son.” By the way, this refutes one of the many heresies that we see in the quasi-Christian movement known as Oneness Pentecostalism. There are well over 20 million people that belong to this movement. These folks deny the Trinity; they have a heresy which theologians call modalism that was taught in the 3rd century by a man by the name of Sabellius. He believed that there is a monotheistic god, he was called a monad and that he progressively revealed himself, or manifested himself, sometimes as the father, sometimes as the son, sometimes as the holy spirit but as we’re going to see, that is a heresy.
But the concept of logos was not just exclusive to the Greeks. The Jews also understood the idea of the Word of the Lord. They understood that. They understood that that was the source of divine wisdom, of divine power. You remember in Genesis 15:1, we read, “The word of the LORD came to Abram,” and then you have the Abrahamic Covenant flowing out of that, the promised son and so forth. In Exodus 24, “The words of the Lord came to all of the people,” and there you have the reaffirmation of the covenant with God to obey his commandment. So, we see this repeatedly in the Old Testament.
So, John begins by saying, “In the beginning was the Word”; in the beginning was a personal God with a personality. The one who is the source and revelation of all truth and wisdom. If you want to know God, get to know Jesus, listen to Jesus. But he says also, he was in the beginning. Now, when was that? Well, it seems pretty obvious: it was in the beginning. In the beginning of what? Well, Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning.” Don’t you love the way the Bible interprets itself? “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In other words, the Word, this personal God who is the source and revelation of truth and wisdom, already existed at creation so he couldn’t have been some created being, as the cultist would say. This means he preexisted with God. He preceded all that exists in the created universe so he can’t be a created being.
Now, notice also that he says, “In the beginning was.” I’m going to get a little technical here for a moment, but hang on because this is so profound, so significant that if you begin to get a hold of it, it will change your understanding of many passages of Scripture. The term “was,” that verb, is the imperfect tense of the verb “to be” in the original language and that denotes continuous action. So, he’s saying here that this logos was continuously existing in the beginning when everything else came into existence. That’s not so hard to understand.
This verb “to be” translated “was” here has profound implications in Scripture because Jesus used it as a title to describe himself. We even see it later in John 8:58. There he told the unbelieving Jews “before Abraham was born, I am.” There it is. In other words, he refers to himself in the present continuous tense. That seems odd. Why would he do that? Because he always was and he will always exist. This is the title of self-existence. There has never been a time when he didn’t exist. You remember when Moses came to God and he said, “What am I going to tell the people when they ask what is his name?” In Exodus 3:14, we read, “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”’” In other words, “Tell them that I AM is the self-existent eternal one who is and who will be. Tell them my name is Eternal Being.” Remember throughout John’s gospel he says, “I am the bread of life. I am the light of the world. I am the door of the sheep. I am the Good Shepherd. I am the resurrection and the life. I am the true and living way. I am the true vine.”
So, in verse 1, “In the beginning was,” there’s that imperfect tense of the verb “to be” from which we get “I am,” “In the beginning was the Word.” In the beginning, the great I AM was already in existence. It’s an amazing thought because there has never been a time when he did not exist. He goes on to say, “and the Word was with God.” In the original language, this is far more expressive and informative than the English translation. This phrase “was with God” expresses the idea of being face-to-face so the phrase pictures two eternal beings, the Word and God, facing each other, enjoying sacred meaningful relationship and communion with each other.
The concept is repeated again in verse 2, “He was in the beginning with God” so, once again, affirming that the Word preexisted with God at creation. My friends, remember this the next time you see little baby Jesus in the manger. Have an accurate understanding of who that is. Remember this the next time you see him hanging on the cross. And remember this the next time you think that he can’t be trusted to help you and give you hope. Your Jesus is way too small if that is the case.
But lest we errantly assume that the Word was something less than God, as the cultist would believe, notice what he says at the end of verse 1, “and the Word was God.” So, not only did he preexist with God but we see here that he coexisted with God, “and the Word was God.” Now, how can anyone miss this? This is the clearest declaration in all of Scripture that, indeed, the Lord Jesus Christ is God, God in the flesh. It doesn’t say, “and the Word was a god,” as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and other heretics would claim. Such an errant interpretation betrays a blatant disregard for Greek grammar.
All through Scripture we read that Jesus Christ is the second member of the Trinity. He possesses all of the excellencies of God and in these, he is coequal, he is consubstantial, he’s coeternal with the Father and anyone that denies the deity of Christ and full equality with the Father, is a heretic that needs to be avoided. In fact, in John 10:1, we read, again, Jesus saying, “I and the Father are one.” Chapter 14:9, “He who has seen me, has seen the Father.”
By the way, if I can add parenthetically: this is so serious, so non-negotiable that we are even admonished to be uncharitable to those who teach these things. In the ancient days, hospitality for traveling teachers was common, it was even crucial for survival, but believers were warned not to show hospitality to any teacher that denied the deity of Christ. In fact, in 2 John 10, John tells us, “If anyone come to you and does not bring this teaching,” in other words, the biblical teaching concerning the deity of Christ, “do not receive him into your homes and do not give him a greeting.”
Folks, we also need to protect our homes from these toxic lies that can come in through the television, through the radio, through literature. When these people come to my door and they want to give me their Watchtower or whatever it is, I tell them very kindly but very forthrightly, I look them in the eye and I tell them, “I will not allow your demonic literature into my home. In fact, you’re believing a lie. You have been deceived. You are a sheep in wolves’ clothing and you are under God’s curse.” And I remind them of Galatians where we read “there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ, but even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed.”
Many times they come and they’ve got some children with them and, of course, that’s always kind of a seductive way of playing on your feelings and all, and I will tell them, “You know, the Lord says that it is better for you to have a millstone hung around your neck and thrown into the sea than to be a stumbling block to one of these little ones.” And then I beg them to repent and believe in the gospel.
Back to the text: at the end of verse 1, again, “and the Word was God.” So, Jesus preexisted and he coexisted with God in the beginning at the eternal preexistent Word who now enjoys and has always enjoyed, face-to-face communion and intimacy and divine life with the Father because he is God. We see this truth of the eternal presence of the Son with the Father even before the Incarnation in the Lord’s Prayer in John 17:5. There Jesus says, “And now glorify thou me together with thyself. Father, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” And again in verse 24, “Thou didst love me before the foundation of the world.” What astounding truths. My friends, to think that our Savior, this preexistent Word, left the glories of heaven to suffer and to die that our sins might be forgiven and that we might have eternal life.
So, we learn that he preexisted with God, he coexisted with God and then thirdly, he self-existed with God. This is only logical, isn’t it? If he preexisted and he coexisted with God, he had to be self-existent. And this is proven here in verse 3, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” I mean, folks, think about it: you cannot be the Creator of all things unless you, yourself, are self-existent, unless you are an uncreated being. The Lord Jesus Christ is the self-existent, eternally existent, uncreated Creator. All things came into being through this divine Word. Notice, it is stated both in the positive from the viewpoint of the past, “all things came into being,” and also in the negative from the viewpoint of the present, “apart from him nothing,” in the Greek “not one single thing,” “nothing came into being that has come into being.”
So, let me say it simply: Christ himself was not created, he was eternally. Again, the imperfect tense, this continuous action. In fact, that word “was” is used four times in the first two verses. So, don’t miss this: the great I AM was eternally. His name is Eternal Being. And also, all things, we see here, are created by him. Hebrews 1:2, “Through whom,” it says, “he made the world.”
Paul reminds us of this in 1 Corinthians 8:6. He says, “there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.” So, everything comes from the Father and all believers exist for the Father but everything is by the Son and everyone comes to the Father, has to come through the Son.
We see this vividly in verse 4. Again, he says, “In Him was life.” So, again, life existed continually in him. He did not acquire life from another source. The divine Word has always been in existence. Now, I know at this point, your head starts exploding, right? I mean, I can see smoke coming out of your ears. The hard drive here is struggling. I know that feeling. Your eyes begin to glaze over when you think about this. You almost stop breathing. You may not believe what’s about to come from my lips but, my friends, this is awesome. People use that word, you’ve heard me gripe about this, this is awesome. Our God is awesome. Nothing else is awesome. Awesome means that your jaw drops and you’re speechless. This is our Savior. This is the Lord Jesus Christ.
But it gets better: “In Him was life.” Now, the term here in the original language, the word “life” is not the Greek “bios” which he could have used, which speaks of biological life, material life, flesh and blood which is, certainly, a form of life but a much lower form of life than what he’s speaking about here. The term is “zoe,” spiritual life, a mystical reality. Not life as an organic biological being, not DNA. My friends, this is speaking of the principle of life that exists beyond the realm of organisms. Exceedingly more complex than anything we can imagine.
To be sure, he is the source of biological life, but God is not physical in any way. God is spirit. But this is speaking of an infinitely more complex existence that life exists within the realm of the spiritual, the supernatural realm like that of the angels. This is a life principle that will exist eternally, even after the biological material form of life dies. This is staggering, isn’t it? Beloved, this is my Jesus. Is he yours? I hope he is.
Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” You see, we exist by him and through him. You remember when Paul spoke to the men of Athens who worshipped the unknown god in ignorance? He tells them that Jesus is the Lord of heaven and earth and then he said something interesting in Acts 17 around verse 27. He says that they should “grope for him and find him. Though he is not far from each one of us,” and here’s why, “for in him we live and move and exist.”
Not too long ago, I held my sister’s hand as she breathed her final breaths and I remembered this great and comforting truth: that Christ is not far from each of us for in him we live and we move and we exist because in him is life.
In verse 4, he says, “and the life was,” there it is again, continuously eternally, “the life was the light of men.” When life is manifested, it shines forth as light. This is a fascinating thought: Christ is the source and the embodiment of spiritual life. It emanates from him in the fullness of his essence and all of his glorious attributes but when life is manifested, when God who is spirit materialized himself, he always did so in brilliant, ineffable dazzling light, the light that the Jews called the Shekinah, the ineffable brightness of his presence. Remember, Peter, James and John witnessed this on the Mount of Transfiguration when Jesus pulled back his flesh and the light of his glory shone forth.
In John’s gospel, what you will find is that life and light cannot be separated in that light is the manifestation of life and both are of the same essence even as God is not separate from the Word. Remember, Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” And we seem to see the same parallel in Psalm 36:9. The Psalmist says, “For with you is the fountain of life. In your light we see light.”
Folks, do you remember when you were spiritually dead before you came to Christ? Before you were born-again? Maybe you remember that time, maybe it was over a period of time where the Spirit of God, by his sovereign grace alone, breathed spiritual life in you and you began to see the light of the gospel and the light of Christ. It began to expose your sin and the horror of hell and caused you to run to the cross. When you were a spiritual cadaver, he breathed life in you in regeneration. He quickened your spirit and when he did that, you saw the light of Christ, the light of wisdom and holiness and truth.
In verse 4 he says, “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.” And then I love this in verse 5, “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” It’s kind of a bad translation. Comprehend is really, not necessarily the best word because it has a different meaning to us in English, but it’s the idea in the original language, of overcoming something. In other words, no opposing power is able to seize the light so as to hinder its radiance.
Have you ever been in a cave. You know, they like to do this thing where they turn off the lights and I mean, you can’t see anything and then all of a sudden the guy will strike a match and it’s like, wow, there’s light. You know, even when they strike that match, they can’t say, “Bring in more darkness and let’s overpower this.” Isn’t it amazing? It can’t happen but light overpowers the darkness and what he’s saying here is that the Lord Jesus Christ entered Satan’s dark world, that domain of darkness, this wicked world but this wicked world could not extinguish the light of his life and those that he saves. Colossians 1:13, “He delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of his beloved Son.” There’s where the light is and all through heaven, there won’t be a sun, there won’t be a moon, there won’t be any stars but it will be lit up by the light of the Lord Jesus Christ. O, what hope we have in him! 1 John 2:8, “Because the divine Word came into the world,” John says, “the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.”
Some of you might be in a dark place right now in your life wondering if your Savior is sufficient. I hope after what you’ve heard today, that has been dispelled completely. This is my Jesus. Is he yours? I hope he is. And if you don’t know him, John is going to tell you in verse 12 of chapter 1 that “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” And I pray that today you will bow your heart before the preexistent eternal Word and be saved.
Let’s pray together.
Father, thank you for these eternal truths. O my Lord, they are just so far beyond our ability to grasp and yet you’ve given us, through your Word, an understanding of the basics, enough that we can chew on and meditate upon for the rest of our lives. Lord, what exciting words these are. I pray that what we’ve heard today as we meditate upon them in the days to come, that you will use these things to help us fall more in love with the lover of our souls. And, Lord, for those that do not know you, O how I pray as your servant this day, that you will consume them with the reality of their lost condition, of the darkness in which they live. Show them the light as only you can do by your sovereign grace that they might be saved. And all God’s people said, Amen.