The Fourth in a Series on the Gospel of John
There is a reason why Christians love advent and the Christmas season. Advent is the time of year on the church calendar when we sing about, and celebrate the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the word become flesh. It is not only a marvel to us that a virgin conceived the very son of God, but the eternal word who was God, and who created all things, took to himself a true human nature to save us from our sins. The light of the world came to save the world trapped in darkness. The creator becomes the redeemer. Although we cannot see God because his glory is too much for our sinful eyes, God has revealed himself and his glory supremely in the person of Jesus Christ. The incarnation is not only the wonder of wonders, but the incarnation is the central theme of the prologue of John, and the basis for everything which is subsequently revealed in the Gospel.
As we wrap up our three week study of the prologue to John’s Gospel, before, Lord willing, we move into the body of the Gospel next time when we take up with verse 19, of John chapter one. As we have seen throughout our time in the first 18 verses of John’s Gospel, the prologue functions like the foyer to building–the prologue is the entrance to the Gospel itself. Virtually every line and doctrine in the prologue will be restated later on in the gospel. So, if we are familiar with the prologue to John’s Gospel, we’ll be prepared to understand the gospel. The prologue tells us who Jesus is–the world become flesh. The body of John’s Gospel is the record of the revelation of God’s glory.
In the previous two sermons, we have spent time considering a number of the key points set forth by John in the opening verses. In verses 1-3, we covered the familiar words from John which echo Genesis 1:1-2:3 and the creation account. “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 were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” In these verses, John establishes three fundamental Christian doctrines: First, the deity of Jesus Christ (the logos was with God for all eternity), meaning Jesus has no beginning or end; second, the fact that the logos (the word) is distinct from God is the basis for the distinction between the persons of the Father and the Son, a distinction which also underlies the doctrine of the Trinity; and finally, these verses tell us that God created all things through Jesus Christ.
Then, we took note of the fact that in verses 4-5 of the prologue, John introduces a contrast between darkness and light–a contrast which we will find throughout what follows. When using these terms in connection with the creation account (as in these two verses), darkness refers to the fact that nothing whatsoever existed before Jesus created the heavens and the earth–except the Triune God who enjoyed an eternal and perfect inter-Trinitarian fellowship. There was only darkness (nothingness) until God spoke, and in that way, John says, darkness was overcome by light when Jesus created all things.
Next, says John of the logos, “in him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” It is Jesus who is the light, as well as the author of all life. Although John is referring to creation in these verses, it soon becomes apparent that John is also using the darkness and light imagery in reference to human sin and God’s redeeming grace. When Jesus created all things, light dispelled the darkness. But when Adam sinned, the human race was once again plunged into darkness, and darkness becomes John’s preferred metaphor for evil and willful ignorance of the truth. In fact, in chapter 3, John will tell us that people prefer to live in darkness because the light exposes what we do, revealing the fact that we are all sinners in need of a Savior.
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