Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Truth and Mystery
Pastor Steve Schell
John 1:1-18
I have studied the Bible for at least four decades and I have observed that every passage, whether in the Old or New Testament, which specifically reveals the person or work of Jesus has come under severe attack in the form of widely varying interpretations and bitter controversy. The ultimate result, of course, is confusion… often confusion to the point that teachers tended to avoid those passages. To merely mention one of them stirs up a hornet’s nest of opinion, so to keep peace many simply don’t talk about it anymore, and those who do have to work up the courage and charge ahead knowing they will be attacked. In my opinion this has been a successful technique used by the devil to undermine our boldness and thereby hinder the preaching of the gospel.

There is no truth more important than the truth about who Jesus is. What Jesus did cannot be separated from who He is. So it’s no surprise that every cult and liberal theologian has saved their best efforts for the “prologue” of John’s gospel. This magnificent explanation by John about the Person of Jesus was placed by him at the front of his gospel because even in his own lifetime false teachers were denying the divinity or humanity of Jesus (1Jn 2:22-27).

Word and Light
John uses two titles for Jesus in this prologue. He calls Him “the Word” and “the Light,” and thankfully he defines what he means by those terms in the prologue itself.
1) Word: “No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten God, who is in the bosom (front fold of His robe) of the Father, that one declared…”
• John says, We heard God speak through Him. Jesus spoke God’s words, which, of course, is exactly what Jesus told us He did (Jn 12:44-50; 14:10, 24)
• Hebrews 1:1-3
2) Light: “The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us and we beheld His glory, glory as of an only-begotten from a father, full of grace and truth”
• John says, We saw God’s grace and truth through Him. We can’t see the Father but we have seen His Son who is exactly like Him.
• “Light” is not information, He is a living Person
• “Tabernacle”: the spirit of God’s Son came down from heaven and dwelled in a tent of human flesh.
• God reproduced Himself and then sent His Son to join the human race.

Defining Jesus
1) Pre-existent: “in the beginning” (v1); “He existed before me” (v5)
• John the Baptist was 6 months older than Jesus (Lk 1:26).
2) Creator: “all things came into being through (dia) Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (v3)
“and the world was made though Him (v10)
• Hebrews 1:2 “… through whom also He (the Father) made the world.”
• Colossians 1:15-17 “He is the image of the invisible God…”
3) Life source: “in Him was life” (v4)
• John 5:26 “For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself”
• Genesis 2:7 “… formed man of dust… and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Lk 1:35, Jesus; Lk 3:38, Adam)
4) Revealer: “the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man”
5) Savior: “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right (authority, privilege) to become children of God, to those who believe (into) His name” (v12)
• A life conceived directly by God (Lk 1:35, Jesus; Lk 3:38, Adam)
• “Born, not of (bloods) nor of the will of the flesh (physical conception) nor the will of man (a human decision to have a child) but of God.”

Body, Soul and Spirit
It seems to me the explanation of the incarnation is not as complicated as we tend to make it. Here’s how I understand it, we are body, soul and spirit and so is He. When we are conceived a spirit begins, but in His case a new spirit wasn’t created when the egg in Mary conceived. The spirit of God’s Son descended from heaven and took up residence in that fertilized egg.
• Luke 8:54, 55 “He… took her by the hand and called, saying, “child arise!” and her spirit returned, and she got up immediately…”

Forever a man
Not only did God’s Son become a man but He will remain one of us forever. That is the clear statement of His ascension into heaven (Ac 1:11). When He appears after His resurrection He is in a tangible body (Lk 24:36-43; 1Jn 1:1). Also when John sees Him in a vision He still sees scars on His body (Rev 5:6).

Truth and Mystery
Even after stretching my mind as far as I can to comprehend such things I’m overwhelmed. It’s so big, it’s scary. Understanding the incarnation is like looking at the enormity of the universe or the complexity of my body or the existence of life itself. So I finally have to rest humbly in what I do know.
1) I believe even though I barely understand.
2) I focus on trying to understand what He’s revealed about how He wants me to live (Bible).
3) I trust His love and wisdom and therefore earnestly try to obey, both to please Him and because I believe obedience will cause me to prosper.
4) The past 50 years have proven to me beyond question that this is the right course of life.

A testimony
I began to believe the moment I met Him, not because someone convinced me of His existence through logic. I knew He was real long before I understood anything theologically. And the God I have known these many years has shown Himself to be trustworthy. I have watched Him provide, protect, guide, comfort, heal, deliver and discipline—events that to me were so clearly His divine action that it becomes embarrassing to try to argue otherwise. To deny what He’s done would be thankless and would only be motivated by deliberate meanness.

So I am content to not understand. I will through the study of His Word comprehend as much as I can but I am able to leave the deep mysteries in His hands knowing that He is so much greater than I that it is preposterous to think I am even capable of such knowledge (Ps 131).

God reproduced Himself and sent His Son to join the human race. When the Son spoke we heard the Father speak. When we watched Him we saw God’s grace and truth at work. When we compare our own lives to what we see in Him we are confronted with our own need to repent. And that’s why He came, to bring us back to God. He showed us God and then He died for us. To those who receive Him He breathes eternal life into us so we will never die and will live with God as His children forever.

It isn’t difficult to understand what John is telling us. The challenge comes in believing it. He’s explaining Someone who is totally unique. He’s letting us glimpse spiritual wonders. He’s told us what we need to know, but not all we’d like to know. So we have to humbly restrain ourselves to believe what He tells us and refuse to go beyond what’s revealed. 

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