John 1

I do not believe that Christianity as a whole, both true believers and those who only take the name “Christian” to identify with a certain group, really view Christ as being equal with God and actually as being God. The tendency is to place Him in a lesser position than God the Father. Nothing could be further from the truth. The second member of the Holy Trinity chose to come to earth and become a man to display the attributes of God to man.

In John 1, verses 1-5 identify Christ as the pre-incarnate Word. The second section, verses 6-13, identify John the Baptist as the forerunner of Christ in His earthly ministry, and the third section, verses 14-18, state that the Word became flesh. That’s what I plan to consider in this message. The chapter continues with the God’s announcement that Christ is the Son of God in the flesh, and then it records His choosing of four of His disciples.

John 1:1-18

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 nothing was made that was made. 4. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

From the very beginning, the Word was God, and in verse 14, we see that Jesus is the Word that was with God and was God and that He became flesh and dwelt among men. This statement makes it clear that Jesus was with God before the creation of the universe. He did not come into existence. He always existed. He did not become deity. He always was deity. In eternity past, He was there with God and He was God!

John explicitly declared what was implied in the Old Testament that Jesus was involved in the creation of everything that has come into existence. As the second person of the Trinity, He created the universe and all it contains. The Word, however, didn’t act independently of the Father. John writes that all things were made through Him. Other Scriptures tell us that He has authority over every created thing. Jesus' work of revealing God began with creation because all creation reveals God. (Romans 1:19-20).

The most significant element in creation is the creation of life, and John used the word “life” more than twice as often in his book as any other New Testament writer.

Jesus is the source of life; consequently, He can give life to the things He creates. Every living thing owes its life to the Creator, Jesus. John tells us that Jesus is the source of spiritual life and light as well as physical life and light. The light of God's presence overcomes the darkness of sin. It provides revelation and salvation, and this is what Jesus accomplished when He came to earth and died for our sins.

In Genesis 1, God brought light to the world. He brought it in order to overcome the darkness of a world that was in a chaotic condition. When Jesus came into the world, He brought the Light of salvation to a world that was in Spiritual darkness. The One who brought light into this world of darkness overcame the darkness of sin by His death on the cross. The sinless Creator died for the sins of fallen mankind.

The light Jesus brought was greater than the spiritual darkness that was in opposition to it.

John 3:19. “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Light represents revelation and salvation. Darkness represents sin and rebellion.

In verses 6-13, we have John the Baptist’s witness that Jesus was the true Light of the world. “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 10. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13. who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

The Apostle John introduced John the Baptist here. The other Gospel writers described him as the "the Baptist," but John the Evangelist didn’t. He is the only John that the Apostle John mentioned by name in his Gospel. He always referred to himself either as the disciple whom Jesus loved or as the other disciple or in other ways.

John the Baptist was also an evangelist. God sent him to announce that His Son, the Light that would bring salvation to the world, was here. John 3:17. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

John the Baptist was the first of many witnesses that the Son of God was the light that John the Apostle identified in his Gospel. He bore witness that Jesus was the Light of the World.

In John 8:12, Jesus declared “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

John the Baptist's mission was to tell the people that Jesus was the sacrificial Lamb of God who came to die for the sins of the world. He boldly said, in John 1:29. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

That was also the Apostle John’s purpose in writing this book. John 20:31. “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

John stressed the fact that John the Baptist was not the Light. Some continued to follow him as his disciples even after he was beheaded by Herod. John the Baptist testified that Jesus was the Light and he solemnly affirmed that he himself, was not that Light.

It’s an amazing fact that the Word of God took on human form, and even more amazing is the fact that when He did this, people would have nothing to do with Him.

Verse 9 states that “the true Light gives light to every man coming into the world.” The point here is that Jesus, as the Light of the world, affects everyone. His light identifies the sinfulness and spiritual need inherent in every human being.

Those who are convicted and respond
positively will be saved.
Those who reject it will remain in spiritual darkness
and will spend eternity
in outer darkness and eternal damnation.

John used the word "true" in his gospel almost as many times as all the rest of the New Testament writers. Jesus is not only the true revelation from God, He’s the only way to eternal life. John 17:3. “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

John used the word, "world," in this Gospel, to describe the way of life of the unsaved. It’s not a reference to this planet, it pertains to the inhabitants of the earth who have fallen in sin rebellion against God. All of the people of this world are darkened by sin.

In verse 9 we saw that the Light shines on everyone. However many people don’t see it because they are spiritually blind. The world's characteristic reaction to the Word is total indifference.

In verse 10, Jesus came to the world He had created as the Jewish Messiah, but the world didn’t recognize Him because people's minds had been darkened by the fall and by sin. They didn’t accept the Light of the World because their minds were “darkened” to it. They did not understand who He was or why He came to earth.

Jesus came to live among His own creation, specifically to the Jews. They were doubly His; He created them and He also bought them for Himself out of the nations.

Jesus created the earth, but when He visited it, He found it inhabited by people who refused to acknowledge Him for who He was. He didn’t come as an alien; He came to the land He had created.

Verse 12 gives the contrast to verses 10 and 11. Not everyone rejected Jesus when He came. Those that receive Him become God's children. Receiving Jesus consists of believing in His name, and believing in "His name" means to accept who Jesus is and that includes the fact that Jesus died as a substitute in the place of sinners. It does not just mean believing intellectually. It means a belief of the heart that leads to a new relationship with God.

In one sense all human beings are the children of God because He created us. However the Bible speaks of the children of God as those who are His spiritual children by faith in Jesus Christ. The new birth brings us into a new family with new relationships. That is why John wrote, in verse 12, that believing in Jesus gives people the right to become God's children.

All true believers are children of God by the new birth and sons by adoption. John referred to believers only as children of God in his Gospel. He did not call us the sons of God. In this Gospel, Jesus is the only One referred to as a Son of God.

If a person offers you a gift, it doesn’t become yours until you accept it. Salvation becomes yours when you accept God's gracious gift of eternal life. Receiving a gift doesn’t constitute an act of good works on your part. The Bible never regards it as such. It’s your response to the work of Jesus Christ.

Our new life as children of God comes from God. It doesn’t come from our physical ancestors. Many of the Jews believe that because they are descendants of Abraham and are called “God’s People,” they are the spiritual children of God. They believe that the faith of their ancestors somehow guarantees their salvation.

Not true. God does not have any grandchildren. You become a child of God by personally trusting in Christ. John 14:6. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

New life doesn’t come because you desire it. The only thing that brings this new life is belief in Jesus as your Savior. It doesn’t come because of a human decision either. It’s the result of a spiritual decision to trust in Jesus Christ.

The next section, verses 14-16, takes up the Word that became flesh. 14. “And the Word became 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 bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.' 16. And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.”

John introduced Christ as the Word in verse 1 of this chapter. Now, in verse 14, he reveals that it was Christ Who became flesh and dwelt among us. The Word existed and was equal with God before anything else came into being. He became a man when He came to earth, yet He maintained His full deity. At no time did He cease to be God, even when He became flesh and dwelt among us.

Flesh in Scripture has a literal meaning, namely, human flesh, but it also is used as a metaphor for our human nature. Here it refers to God the Son assuming a human nature, but without a sin nature.

John is clear on the deity of the Word. But he is just as clear on the genuineness of his humanity. Jesus actually lived among His disciples. In the Old Testament, God appeared in a cloud that guided the Israelites through the wilderness. In the tabernacle, He appeared in that form in the Holy of Holies. In the New Testament, He lived among them in the person of Jesus Christ. Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived, thought it was incredible that God would dwell on the earth, but that is precisely what He did in the person of Jesus.

John identified the “Word” with Jesus in the flesh in verse 14, but this is the last time He is called the Word in this Gospel. From now on, John refers to Him as Jesus, or Christ, or as the Son of God.

In His pre-existence as the Son of God, He was the Creator of the world. As the incarnate Son of God, He displayed those same powers and revealed the person of the Father to mankind.

John and some of the other disciples witnessed Jesus in His God-like glory. God's character and qualities were apparent in Jesus just like a human son resembles his human father, except Jesus is the exact likeness of His Father.

Three of His disciples saw Jesus' glory at the Transfiguration and heard God declare “This is my beloved Son: hear ye him.” Luke 9:35.

His relationship to God as the only begotten Son of God was unique. "Only begotten" doesn’t mean there was ever a time when Jesus did not exist. He existed in eternity past.

Jesus made manifest the grace and truth that is the same glory God has.

The Incarnation, the coming of the Son of God to this earth in the form of a man to redeem fallen man, was the greatest possible expression of God's grace to mankind. God made known the truth of His grace in a way that all humans could understand.

Many of the people Jesus encountered during His ministry failed to understand these things. Looking back to verse 10, we see that neither grace nor truth is knowable apart from God’s revelation of them through Jesus Christ.

John the Baptist (verse 15,) was a witness as to Who Jesus was, as were John the Apostle and the other disciples of Jesus.

Here’s an interesting side note. John the Baptist is one of six persons in the Gospel of John who gave witness that Jesus is God. The others are:

Nathaniel (John 1:49),
Peter (John 6:69),
The blind man who was healed (John 9:35-38),
Martha (John 11:27),
Thomas (John 20:28).
If you add our Lord Himself (John 5:25; 10:36),
then you have seven clear witnesses that Jesus is God.

John the Baptist's witness to Jesus' identity was important to this Gospel. Even though he was older and began his ministry before Jesus, He acknowledged Jesus' superiority in verse 15. This is noteworthy because in that culture an older person was considered superior to a younger person. Jesus' superiority was evident because of His preexistence with the Father and the fact that He was the second member of the Holy Trinity.

In verse 16, the glory of God that Jesus manifested was full of grace and truth. I believe that John was implying that God gives the believer grace to meet every need that arises. God just keeps pouring out His inexhaustible supply of grace on the believer through Jesus Christ, and from the fullness of that grace, all people have received one expression of grace after another. Even the breath we all breathe is a gift from God.

17. “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”

God gave His people the Law through Moses, but He manifested His grace and truth through Jesus Christ.

No one has seen God and lived. There are several incidents in the Old Testament where God made His presence known to someone but God is a Spirit and no one can see a spirit.

He sent His only Son from heaven to earth in the form of a man in order to reveal His love to mankind.