If you have your Bibles this morning, I invite you to find John 1:1. Today, we begin our study of the Gospel according to John. If you are new to EBC or visiting EBC, for the foreseeable future, every Sunday morning except the one before Christmas and Easter Sunday, we will be here.
This morning, I want to build today’s message around three headings: the person of John the Apostle, the purpose of John’s gospel, and the prologue about John’s Jesus.
- The Person of John the Apostle
Even though his name is never mentioned specifically in this book, church history and tradition tell us that John is the writer of this gospel that bears his name. God’s Word tell us that John had a brother named James, and together, they were sons of Zebedee also called the sons of thunder.
Mark 3:17, 17 James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, to whom He gave the name Boanerges, that is, “Sons of Thunder”.
It is really amazing how Jesus changed John’s life and demeanor. When Jesus first called him, he was a son of thunder. He was brash and loud. At the end of his life, he was known as the Apostle of Love.
It is John who was Jesus’ closest friends, and with Peter and James, formed His inner circle of three. It is John who was one of the first eye-witnesses of the empty tomb and the resurrected Lord. It is John, the beloved disciple, who wrote this book along with 1, 2, and 3 John and the Revelation making him the second most prolific writer of our New Testament only behind Paul.
- The Purpose of John’s Gospel
John 20:30-31, 30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 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.
The purpose of the gospel according to John is two-fold. First, it is apologetic. That means this book of the Bible makes a defense. John sought to prove that Jesus was the promised Messiah. He did this through his 7 signs and 7 I AM statement.
Second, it is evangelistic. He invites Jew and Gentile alike to believe that Jesus is the Christ and accepting Him as Lord and Savior is the only way to have eternal life.
- The Prologue about John’s Jesus
Prologue simply means beginning. John even starts his gospel with, “In the beginning.” That is the same way that Genesis 1:1 begins.
It is also interesting with whom this gospel begins. Matthew’s gospel begins with Abraham. Mark’s gospel begins with John the Baptist. Luke’s gospel begins with Theophilus. John’s gospel begins with the Word or Jesus, and here are three truths about John’s Jesus, the real Jesus.
- Jesus is Equally God, 1:1-2.
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.
Verse 1 talks about the “Word.” If you will look down at 1:14, we know from this verse and following that the “Word” is Christ.
John 1:14, 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.
Christ was in the beginning, and He was with God. That literally means He was face-to-face with God.
Then, John took that idea one step further, Christ is God. The Father and the Son are two distinct persons, but the same God.
John testified to this truth throughout his gospel, but was explicit here. See John 1:18 and 20:28.
John 1:18, 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.
John 20:28, 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
We also see this explicitly in Paul’s letter to the Colossian Church. See Colossians 1:15.
Colossians 1:15, 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
In verse 2, John simply summarized verse 1. Jesus was in the beginning with God.
- Jesus is the Eternal Creator.
3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
Verse 3 tells us that all things came into being through Jesus. To say it negatively, nothing has ever been created apart from Him.
Regardless of when you believe the earth was created, whether thousands of years ago or millions of years of ago, Jesus was there, and Jesus did it. Jesus was the creator.
This is also the testimony of the rest of the NT. See 1 Corinthians 8:6, Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:2.
1 Corinthians 8:6, 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.
Colossians 1:16, 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
Hebrews 1:1-2, 1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.
Remember also that I said Jesus was the eternal Creator meaning that Jesus has always been. We can see that in how John contrasts Jesus, the Creator, with His creation.
In verse 1, was is the past tense of the verb to be. John uses it on 4 occasions in the first two verses. However, when talking about creation in verse 3, he says creation came into being. Jesus has always been or eternal. Creation came into being. Creation had a definite beginning.
- Jesus is the Effective Light.
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.
Verse 4 tells us that Jesus was life, and the life was the light of men. The word for life here is not “bios,” which means physical life, but it is “zoe,” which means eternal life.
Also, notice that in these two verses, life and the light cannot be separated. They are synonymous.
Verses 5 says that light shines (present tense) and is still shining today, and it is shining in the darkness. However, the darkness cannot comprehend it.
Literally, the darkness could not overcome the light because the light is more powerful or effective. Satan tried to overcome Jesus with the cross, but Jesus overcame Satan with the resurrection. He is the effective Light.
Let me now draw three points of application from our text to our world of faith. First, to have the eternal life that John speaks of in 1:4, you can’t believe like our Jehovah’s Witness friends believe. Instead of translating the end of verse 1 as the Word was God, their copy of the Bible, the New World Translation, reads, “the Word was a god.” Jesus is not one God among many, but the one and only God, and you cannot believe otherwise and receive eternal life.
Second, to have the eternal life that John speaks of in 1:4, you can’t believe like our Mormon friends. They don’t believe that Jesus always has been but that He was created or born or begotten. They fail to recognize the reality of 1:1-2 and that He is eternal and has always been, and you cannot believe otherwise and inherit eternal life.
Finally, to have the eternal life that John speaks of in 1:4, you can’t believe like our Unitarian friends. They don’t believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven. He is one way among many ways. However, that is not what 1:4 says. In Him and only in Him is life, and He and only He is the Light of men, and you cannot believe otherwise and inherit eternal life.
My invitation is two-fold. First, have you trusted in John’s Jesus, the real Jesus for your salvation? Have you trusted in the Jesus that is God, the Jesus that is eternal, the Jesus that is creator and the Jesus that is the light of men? If not, will you trust Him today as Lord and Savior?
Second, if you are saved, will you let the real Jesus have complete control of your life to the extent that you become a bold witness for Him each and every day? There is so much misconception about Jesus, but John speaks of the real Jesus. Will you speak of the real Jesus with your family, friends, and coworkers?