John Message #2 “Prologue John 1:1-18” Ed Miller, Nov. 8, 2023

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We welcome all of you.  One announcement.  It’s a happy/sad announcement.  Our brother, Jay, has gone to be with the Lord.  Last night the Lord called him home.  So, we can rejoice.  I love that verse in the Psalm that says that weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.  Well, weeping enduring for the night, and joy in the morning can exist at the same time in our hearts.  So, we weep, and yet we have the morning joy.

Before we look in the Bible, we are going to be speaking about the voice of the Lord, so I want to give you this opening verse as our indispensable principle.  In the Old Testament, Psalm 29 is the Psalm about the voice of the Lord.  I think the great expression in the New Testament is John 5:25, “Truly, truly,” Jesus is speaking, “I say to you, an hour is coming, and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear shall live.”  That’s true some day in the future when Jesus raises the dead, but He says that there’s an hour coming, and now is.  So, it’s also true right now that He wants to speak, and when He speaks, there’s life.  So, let’s commit our time to the Lord.

Heavenly Father, we thank You so much for who You are, and thank You for the Holy Spirit that You put in our heart so that we can know You.  We pray as we meditate together from Your word, that we might go forward in a heart knowledge of our Lord Jesus.  We know we can trust You for this, and we commit our little session unto You, and we thank You in advance.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

We welcome all of you again to our study of the Lord Jesus in the gospel of John.  I try to be careful not to say, “We’re studying the gospel of John.”  We are, but I hope you’ll know more about the gospel, but we’re here to behold our Lord Jesus.  John 15:26, “When the Helper comes whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.”  We have the Holy Spirit living in our heart, and His ministry is to testify about the Son.  John 16:14 is the same idea, “He will glorify Me; He will take of Mine and disclose it to you.  All things the Father has are Mine.  Therefore, I said, ‘He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.’”  That’s His ministry; He lives in our hearts to show us the Lord Jesus in the Bible.  Sometimes, when we have a ministry, a duty or responsibility, it gets old, and we get tired or bored doing the same thing, but the Holy Spirit never gets tired of showing you Jesus, showing me Jesus.  He never gets bored with His ministry; it’s His delight to do that.

Let me review the heart of what we looked at last time in our introduction lesson.  We were introducing this wonderful gospel of John.  John does not leave us to wonder why he wrote or the direction we should follow if we study his writing.  He states it clearly.  He comes right out and tells us.  John 20:31, “These things have been written so that,” see, he’s telling us why, “you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you might have life in His name.”  From that verse I just took three wonderful truths.  Why did John write the gospel?  #1 It was so we would know God, so that we would believe that Jesus is the Christ.  #2 It was so that we would trust Him, that we would believe and put our faith in Him, and depend upon Him, and #3,  Then trusting Him, that we might find life in His name.  In other words, it’s to enjoy Him.  Why did John write this wonderful gospel?  It’s so that we would know who the Lord is, so we would know what faith is, and so we would know what life is, so that we would know Him, trust Him and enjoy Him.  So, that’s the path we’re going to follow as we proceed, story by story, chapter by chapter.  Each chapter is going to tell us who the Lord is, what faith is, and how we can enjoy Him.  That’s the direction we’re going to follow.

Not only did we show last time that outline, that direction, but we also discussed a little bit, the prevailing revelation of Christ in the entire gospel.  In other words, as you go through the gospel of John, you are going to see Him many ways; I’m going to see Him many different ways.  But there’s one particular way that we’re going to behold Him.  This is the prevailing revelation of Jesus in the gospel of John.  It’s mentioned in the very first verse.  John 1:1, “In the beginning was the word, the word was with God, and the word was God.”  We’ll focus more on that title, Jesus is the word, this morning, but in it’s obvious sense, we looked at it last time, the purpose of a word is to communicate a thought, a desire.

We speak to each other so we can understand what we’re thinking, and what we want others to know.  In this connection I love Matthew 12:34, “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”  I love to apply that to our Lord because Jesus, as the word, speaks out of what is in the heart of God.  God wants to be known; that’s why He gives us a word; He wants to communicate Himself to us.  We tied that phrase last time into the last expression in the prologue, verse 18, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him,” He has interpreted Him, He has exegeted Him.  Jesus the word was sent into the world, so that He could communicate to us who God is, and when He does, then we’ll know who He is and we’ll know how to trust Him and we’ll begin to enjoy Him.

One more verse by way of review, and then we’ll look at our new material.  That is Hebrews 1:2. We ended with this last time. “God, who at sundry times and diverse manners, has spoken in times past under the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.”  I called attention to the fact that the pronoun “His” is in italics in most translations.  What that means is that it’s not in the original.  The Bible doesn’t actually says, “in His Son.”  It says, “In these last days, He has spoken unto us in Son.”  That doesn’t seem to make sense, but if you understand that it’s a language, and if I say, “It’s in English,” you would know English, in French, in German, in Spanish, in Korean, in Chinese, in something that’s a language.  Jesus is the language of God, and He has spoken unto us in Son; that’s the word, and that’s God’s communication to us.  Everything I know about God comes from the language He has given, and that is Jesus.  Everything you know about God is coming from Jesus; that’s the language.  God speaks in the language of Christ. 

I’ve often had opportunity to speak to Asian brothers and sisters in Christ.  When I do, because they don’t know my language, they don’t know English, I have to speak through an interpreter.  I speak a sentence, and then the interpreter speaks, and so on, so that they can understand.  When we study the Bible, in particular the gospel of John, since it’s written in God’s language, we need an interpreter.  It’s a language we don’t know, and the Holy Spirit is the interpreter.  That’s why I keep stressing every time we come to the word, what I call “the indispensable principle”.  There’s one great principle of Bible study, and that’s total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit.  I cannot understand God’s word, and you cannot understand God’s word apart from the Holy Spirit interpreting it, because He speaks in Son, in Jesus; that’s the language of God.  If I really believe that, and you really believe that, you would never approach this book without trusting the indwelling Holy Spirit to show you Christ.  I would never approach this book and try to understand it on my own by some academic exercise.  We need the Holy Spirit.

You saw what happened at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was sent down.  It’s such a marvelous thing.  Acts 2, there were Parthians and Medes and Edomites and residents of Mesopotamia, and people from Judea and Libya and Syrene and Pontus and Asia and Phrygia, Pamphylia and Egypt and Rome, Arabs; there was everybody.  But when the Holy Spirit got involved, listen to Acts 2:6, “The multitude came together and were bewildered because they were each one hearing them speak in his own language.”  Then in verse 11 & 12, “’We hear them in our own tongue, speaking the mighty deeds of God.’  They continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’” The only reason they could understand; we call it the “gift of tongues”, but a careful reading will show it was more a “gift of ears” because they were each speaking their own language, but the Holy Spirit was interpreting it and everybody heard as if in their own language. 

That brings us, then, to our new material.  I want to introduce these first eighteen verses.  When I say “introduce”, that’s all we’re going to do, because we’ll not finish these eighteen verses this morning.  These verses are called the “prologue”.  A prologue is like an introduction, but it’s a little bit different.  These verses are more than an introduction.  I handed out a sheet, I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read some of the comments on there, but this is a prologue of prologues.  This section, chapter 1:1-18, does more than introduce the book of John.  It does that.  The prologue mentioned what John will develop as he goes through the book.  It begins with the excellency of Christ.  Well, the gospel will unfold that, how excellent is Christ!  And this prologue shows that there’s an eternal strife between light and darkness.  He’s going to develop that through the book.  John 1:5, “The light shines in the darkness; the darkness did not comprehend it.”  Then in John 9:5, “While I am in the world, I’m the light of the world.”  So, what he mentioned in the prologue, he develops in the book.  In the prologue he mentioned light and life and truth and grace and faith and unbelief and glory and revelation.  That’s all in these eighteen verses.  We’re going to go through the book of John, and we’re going to see all those things unfolded like a flower unfolds. 

In a way, the prologue is a summary of what is going to come, but it’s more than that.  It’s not only an introduction to the book, but it’s an introduction of the divine author of the book.  So, we’re going to get to know the Lord better.  Later on, you can read the handout.  These are men from different denominations.  I deliberately chose different denominations, and what they said about the prologue, and not about the contents, not about what’s in it, but just about the eighteen verses themselves.  It’s a masterpiece of literature. Some commentaries think originally that those eighteen verses were a poem.  Some say it was actually a song that was set to music.  I don’t know if that’s true or not.  I think it’s magnificent prose.  It’s poetic; there’s no question about that.  Like Shakespeare, he didn’t have rhyme and meter but it’s very poetic.  I’m not going to quarrel with those who say it’s a poem or a song. 

From that quotation sheet I passed out (editor’s note: this is available at the end of this transcript), I’m going to quote two of them.  J.C. Ryle, the evangelical clergyman said, “Nowhere shall we find so many expressions, which for want of mental power, no mortal man can fully grasp or explain.  There is something here which nothing but the light of eternity will ever fully reveal.”  That’s just about those eighteen verses.  And then listen to Lang, the German Calvinist, “Every sentence, every word, is pregnant with meaning, and furnishes inexhaustible material for meditation and reflection.  In the whole range of literature, ancient and modern, there is no passage or chapter that can at all compare with this prologue.”  We always say when somebody is a new Christian, “Give them John; it’s so simple.”  They are simple words, little words he uses, but I’ll tell you, this is a profound book.  A child can wade in it and an elephant can swim in it. 

Although this prologue contains many truths that are going to be developed, there is one chief point of the prologue.  In the prologue there are many, many things, but there is one thing.  What is the great message of the prologue?  What is the great theme of the prologue?  We get it by comparing chapter 1:1 with chapter 1:14.  Chapter 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the word, the word was with God, the word was God.”  Then in verse 14, “The word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  So, the prologue is not just that Jesus is Creator, or Jesus is Messiah, or Jesus wants to expound God.  That’s true, but the chief point of these eighteen verses is that the word became flesh.  Theologically, that’s called the incarnation, when God becomes flesh.  The word just means “embodied in flesh”, and it’s the truth that God, the everlasting God, has come down and become human, so that He is divine and human.  That’s the highest meaning of the word, the incarnation. 

You look it up in the dictionary and it will tell you about Jesus’ birth; that’s the incarnation.  But as an embodiment, it’s also used figuratively.  They say that a miser, for example, is the incarnation of greed.  They just use it because everything about greed is there.  Hamas just seems to be these days the incarnation of cruelty and depravity.  Some people who have open arms and are very welcoming, it’s the incarnation of hospitality.  You get the idea how it’s used.  Satan, of course, is the incarnation of evil and darkness and sin, and so on.   In the prologue, the word became flesh is the incarnation of the Son of God, Jesus. 

We’re close to celebrating Christmas.  It won’t be long, and we’ll be in December, and we celebrate the incarnation.  We sing Christmas carols, but I wonder if we pay close attention to the words.  I like Wesley’s Christmas carol “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”.  Listen to verse 2 and pay attention to the words, verse 2, “Christ, by highest heaven adored, Christ the everlasting Lord, late in time, behold Him come, offspring of the virgin’s womb, veiled in flesh the God-head see, hail incarnate deity, pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel.”  There’s a whole theology book in that one wonderful verse!  All through this gospel, the word “incarnate” is going to be exegeted, explaining God, because it’s God’s desire from the depth of His heart that we know Him, that we trust Him and that we enjoy Him.

While I’m mentioning the incarnation, there’s one misconception about the incarnation that needs to be corrected.  Sometimes when people think about the incarnation, they think in terms of Jesus in terms of when He dwelt on earth, thirty-three and a half years.  Some have the idea that God became man for thirty-three and a half years, and then He went back to being who He was before.  The reality is that when He made the decision to become man, He made it forever.  He’s always man; He’s man in heaven; He has a human heart now beating in love for you, beating in love for me.  When Stephen was martyred, he looked up and he saw the Son of Man in heaven, and they rejoiced in the Lamb slain.  He is going to be everlastingly a man.  Incarnation is not that God became man for thirty-three and a half years; pull out the stops and believe it, He became a man forever, so that He could save you and so He could save me.  What a wonderful condescension! 

Let’s go back to verse 1 and begin.  Again, these are simple words, but we’re going to be looking at some pretty big concepts.  “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.”  I want to spend a few minutes on that expression “in the beginning”.  It’s important that the Lord gives us the power of that expression.  Let me set it before you.  Drop down to verse 15, and we’re talking about John the Baptist, “John testified about Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.””  Some interpret that phrase “He existed before me” in terms of what comes before it, “He has a higher rank than I,” in other words, “He’s preferred before me, He’s more important than I am.”  In every way that’s true, that Jesus was more important than John the Baptist.  John said, “I’m not worthy to untie His shoes or to tie His sandals.”  So, in character, He was above John; He’s perfect, and John was a dirty sinner, like we are, but Jesus is perfect.  I love Hebrews 7:26, “It was fitting for us to have a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.”  That’s Jesus.  So, it’s true that Jesus was higher and preferred before John in terms of character.

But when John says, “He existed before me,” is he also talking about time, that He pre-existed?  We know on the level of earth, John the Baptist was older than Jesus.  He was six months older.  Luke 1:36, “Behold, even your relative, Elizabeth, has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.”  Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist.  So, on the level of earth, John existed six months before Jesus, but is John saying actually, “Jesus existed before me?”  Is that literal?  When John says, “In the beginning,” what beginning was that?

If you go to Matthew there is a genealogy, and Matthew traces the genealogy of Jesus, and in the first verse, “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”  So, Mattthew backs up, and goes through David, and backs up and stops at Abraham.  That’s a long way off.  Listen what Jesus said in John 8:58, “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’” Jesus existed before His cousin, John, and Jesus existed before Abraham, even though He went back 2,000 years.  Luke does even better than that.  He takes us beyond Abraham.  Luke 3:38, “The son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.”  He doesn’t go back 2,000 years, he goes back 4,000 years, all the way to the Garden of Eden.

Mark doesn’t give a genealogy, but John does, and John says in verse 1, “In the beginning.”  What beginning is that?  I know it’s before John, and I know it’s before Abraham, and I know it’s before Adam.  Revelation 13:8, “All that dwell on the earth shall worship Him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”  In the heart and in the mind and in the purpose of God, Jesus was already crucified before anything was created.  He was crucified before the foundation of the earth.  How old is the word?  You might say, “Well, older than John the Baptist, older than Abraham, older than David, older than Adam, older than the foundation of the earth.” 

I don’t think it’s a waste of time if I read this next portion.  This is from Proverbs.  We know from 1 Corinthians 1:30, “Jesus became unto us the wisdom of God.”  And we know from 1 Corinthians 1:24, “Christ is the wisdom of God.”  So, when you read, “Wisdom speaking,” in the Old Testament, it is really Christ; it’s our Lord Jesus.  Listen to what wisdom says in Proverbs 8,

“The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His way before His works of old.  I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.  When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.  Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brough forth: While as yet He had not made the earth, nor the field, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.  When He prepared the heavens, I was there: When he set a compass upon the face of the depth, when He established the clouds above, when He strengthened the fountains of the deep, when He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters should not pass His commandment, when He appointed the foundations of the earth, then I was by Him, as One brought up with Him, and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in the habitable party of His earth, and My delights were with the sons of men.”

You hear often when I greet you, I say, “The Lord delights in you.”  This passage said that the Lord delighted in the sons of men before there were sons of men, in eternity past He delighted in the sons of men.  So, we’re looking in John 1 at the preexistence of Jesus, in the beginning.  What beginning is that?  I know it’s before John the Baptist, and I know it’s before David, and I know it’s before Abraham, and it’s before Adam, and it’s before the foundation of the earth.  But let me ask this question, “How long before the foundation of the earth?” 

The prophesy of Jesus being born in Bethlehem from His servant, Micah, gives us a clue.  Micah 5:2, “Thou Bethlehem Ephrata, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from long ago, from everlasting.”  That’s an amazing verse! From everlasting!  The Hebrew is actually, “From the days of eternity.”  Darby actually translates it that way, and says, “From the days of eternity.”  And, so, we begin John and his first words, “In the beginning.”  Where is that?  It’s the unbeginning beginning.  That’s the genealogy that John gives, from the unbeginning beginning, way, way, way back.  He came, the Bible says, from the days of eternity.  That’s pretty far, but it’s not far enough.  There’s more.

So, let me try to present the “more”.  You might say, “You can’t go past eternal ages.  How in the world are you going to go past eternal ages?”  You need to remember that God did not, our Lord Jesus did not only create the galaxies, and the stars, and the planets and life, He created what we call “time”.  Time is a creation, and He put time in His creation, so man was created an adult, and time is in his creation.  If you had cut down a tree as soon as He said, “Let there be tree,” you’d find rings in the tree, because He put time in His creation.  If you picked up a newly created stone, and you did a carbon test on that stone, it would be millions of ages years old.  He put time in creation.  How long does it take for light to come to the earth?  We measure it in light years.  If it were literal, and God said to Abraham, “Look up into the sky and see the stars,” if it took 186,000 miles per second for light to travel, there would only be four stars in Abraham’s sky.  He created time, so all the stars were already there, and all the light years, God created something called “time”. 

What is eternity?  You say it’s duration, it’s time without end, time without beginning.  I don’t know how else to express it, but was there a “time” before there was “time”, and the answer is yes, because God created time.  Some people contrast time and eternity.  They say, “God created time, but eternity is different,” and I don’t want to get into semantics because we know we have an everlasting God, an eternal God, and so on.  But, if you take eternity as time without beginning and without end…. 

Listen to Isaiah 9:6, and this is speaking of our Lord Jesus, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”  In that prophesy of Jesus, that calls Him “everlasting Father”, is Isaiah saying that the Son of God is God the Father?  That’s His name, His title, “He’ll be called everlasting Father.” 

By God’s grace, God has given me six wonderful children.  I know a little bit about “father”; I don’t know how to father that well, but I know what a father is, and by God’s grace my Lillian and I, God has given us six children.

Listen to Job 38:28-29, “Has the rain a father?  Or who has begotten the drops of dew?  From whose womb has come the ice?  And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth?”  “Has the rain a father?”  In Isaiah 9:6, when it says, “A child is born, and His name shall be called Everlasting Father,” it’s not saying that God the Son is God the Father.  Actually, in the Hebrew it doesn’t say “everlasting father”.  It says “father of eternity”.  That’s the Hebrew; He fathered, He created eternity.  There was a time where there was no eternity; He was on the outside, and just like He made space/distance eternal, yet He’s on the other side of eternal distance.  So, He made eternity eternal duration, and He’s on the other side of eternal duration.  All of that, and I’m not trying to impress you with words, but I’m trying to say is that when John says, “In the beginning,” I want you to see how far back he goes.  It’s in the beginning, before, before, before, before eternity, when there was nothing.  You might say, “Well, was there nothing?  What was there before eternity?”  John 1:18 tells us, “The only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained it.”  Way back before eternity, there was the bosom of the Father.  There was God, and that was so wonderful, and it excited Christ when the disciples finally got it!

Listen to John 16:27-28, “For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father,” not from eternity, but from the Father, “Came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and I’m going to the Father.”  Jesus was so excited when they learned that He came from the Father.  John 17:8, “For the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.”  That’s how John uses the word “beginning”.  In the beginning before human history, before creation, before time, before eternity, there was the bosom of the Father—God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit—and from that distance, from that time the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. 

The reason I’m emphasizing this is because we just sort of read these things la, la, la.  That One who pre-existed before eternity now lives in your heart; He lives in my heart.  He’s come all the way down; so long ago He humbled Himself.  If I even believe that a little bit, I could never fret again, and I could never worry again.  If you believe that, even a little bit, discouragement would be an impossibility, that the everlasting God before eternity, came forth out of eternity, the One who fathered eternity, who created everything, came down and became humanity, became flesh, and took you sin, and took my sin, and now comes to live in our heart.  That is only the first phrase of this amazing prologue.  Like I said, it’s simple little words, but it’s an amazing thing! 

Let me bring up a verse now, and I’m going to quote it again at the end.  It’s 1 John 4:4, “Greater is He who is in you than He that is in the world.”  In the light of what we’ve just discussed, let me ask this question, “How much greater?”  Is He ten times greater?  Is He a hundred times greater?  How great is the One that lives in you?  Is He a thousand times greater?  Is He a million trillion times greater?  Infinitely greater is He that’s in you than He that’s in the world.  Boy, we ought to be shouting and praising the Lord for the indwelling Christ that lives in our heart!

We looked at the phrase “in the beginning was the word”; I want to go back to John 1:1 and leave the “in the beginning”, and just focus for a couple of minutes on “the word”.  We’ve got to relate verse 1 with 14, “The word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  The word is Christ, “the word became flesh.”  It’s our Lord Jesus.  That’s who the word is.  He is God’s language; He’s God’s communication. 

On the low level of earth, a word is a sound that has a meaning.  There are some sounds that have meanings, and they aren’t really words.  For example, if you hear the bark of a watchdog, that has a meaning, but it’s not a word.  If you hear thunder, that brings a message that a storm is going to come.  If you hear a drum roll, you expect a certain thing.  If your clock chimes a certain number of times, that communicates.  But usually when we’re talking about words, we’re talking about language, and we’re talking about thoughts, and you need a word to communicate a thought.  Now, you might be able to look at me and say, “I can tell by the look on his face what he’s thinking.”  Maybe, but maybe not.  You can look at me and say, “He’s angry,” or, “He’s surprised,” or, “He’s upset,” or, “He’s discouraged,” but unless you get a word, you’re not going to know for sure.  Usually it takes more than one word.  Sometimes, it takes a sentence, and sometimes it takes a paragraph, and sometimes it takes a book to communicate a thought.  Sometimes, when we’re talking to each other, we’ll say something, and then we see they didn’t get it, and then we say, “In other words,” and so we get other words to use.  You use words to communicate a thought.  Sometimes, you just put them on a shirt.  I saw a shirt that said, “Women seek me; fish fear me.”  Well, you get the idea it’s trying to communicate something.  I saw another shirt one time, and it said, “God doesn’t believe in atheists.”  I thought that was a good shirt.

So, sometimes one word is enough, if it’s context, if you are in a certain context.  If your house is on fire, and the fireman yells, “Jump!” that’s one word.  In context, you know what that one word means; it has communicated.  If something is flying toward you, and I yell “duck”, it’s one word, and you know what it means.  If you are at a golf range, and you make the mistake that I made and you don’t yell, “Fore!”, I got sued, because I hit somebody in the head with a golf ball.  I thought it was a pretty good shot, actually!  Only kidding..

The point is, if you have context…  If I just said, “Wow,” you wouldn’t know what I’m thinking about.  But if I was standing at the rim of the Grand Canyon and said, “Wow,” now you have context.  If I’m standing out in the street and there’s a bunch of fireworks going off in the sky and I say, “Wow,” one word is enough.  So, sometimes, “Yes,” “No,” “Leave,” “Go,” and, “Stop,” it’s enough, one word is enough.  But sometimes, for example, and I’m actually going to do this, and I’m going to try to trick you, too.  I’m thinking about a person.  Whom am I thinking about?  (Group says, “Lillian.”)  Well, I was just going to add to that, “I’m thinking about a person that I love.”  (Group says, “Lillian” again).   Nice guess but I wasn’t thinking about Lillian.  Do you see my point?  I did that on purpose.  But my point is that you’ve got to know, is it a man, is it a woman, is it a child, is it a girl, is it somebody famous, is it a friend, is it some politician?  We need to know, we need more information. 

It would be the same if you say, for example, “I’m thinking of an animal.”  You would have no clue what animal. “I thinking of a plant.”  “I’m thinking of a bird.”  “I’m thinking of an insect.”  Even if you use abstract, “I’m thinking of something beautiful,” or, “I’m thinking of something terrible,” you need more words, and I need more words.  The more inclusive the word, the more words you need to explain that.  If I just said “medicine”, that’s a pretty big word.  If I said “science”, or if I said “weather”, or I said “planet”, or I said “galaxy”, or I said “universe”, and said, “Explain to me, now, the universe,” you would say, “That word is too big, I can’t handle it.  I would need many lifetimes to begin.” 

John begins with a word, and it’s not some little word like “planet” or “universe”.  John 1:1, “In the beginning was the word, the word was with God, and the word was God.”  Three letters that are simple.  Alright, tell me all about God.  “What a word!  I need more help!”  The word “God” is just too big, too grand and too awesome.  I can’t know everything with that one word.  I would have a better chance at understanding “galaxy” or “universe” than “God”.  So, verse 14, God saw my dilemma, so, “The word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father.”  God, in His mercy saw that the one word “God”, the word was “God”, and I can’t handle that, so He said, “Alright, I’ll let the word become flesh, and dwell among you.”  So, we say, “Thank You very much.  Now I have something I can see, a living Savior, and I have a way to study His life.  I notice that He’s a sinless man.  I want to know God, and I want to understand Him.”

Listen to Colossians 1:15, “He’s the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”  Hebrews 1:3, “He’s the exact radiance of His glory, the exact representation of His nature.  He upholds all things by the word of His power, and when He’s made purification of sin, He sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high.”  So, I say, “Wow, God really helped me out.  I couldn’t handle “God”, but the word became flesh, and now I watch Him, and He always pleased the Father, and He never took initiation, and He was always about the Father’s business, and His meat was to do the Father’s will, and He mirrored the Godhead, and if we saw Him, we saw the Father.”  And so, we say, “Thank You, Lord.  Now that we have Jesus, and we know His love and His mercy and His compassion, and His justice,” but then we have to say, “Lord, thank You so much that the word became flesh, but I’m still in the dark.  Thank you very much.  His ministry is amazing, and His life is amazing, and He spoke as no one every spoke, and He’s as perfect as You are, and truly unique, but that didn’t help me know You, or trust You, or enjoy You, as great as Your humbling was, that You became flesh.”

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it’s not an accident that our Lord is called “the word of God”, and our Bible is called “the word of God”.  I sort of feel like Abraham as I present this to you.  In Genesis 18, when He was pleading for Sodom, he said, “Lord, if there is fifty righteous,” and then he said, “Alright, Lord, if there’s forty-five, will you spare the city?”  And then he said, “If there’s forty righteous?”  And then he started to get embarrassed.  He said, “Don’t be angry with me, but I’ve got to answer you once more, ‘If there’s thirty righteous will You spare?’”  And then he says, “How about twenty?”  And he kept going, “How about ten?”  I feel like that as I present this, because God, who wants us to know Him, gave us the word “God”, and that was too big, and so the word became flesh, and that’s a little better, but it doesn’t help.  He said, “Alright, you need more words?  I’ll give you words.  I’ll give you sentences and I’ll give you paragraphs and I’ll give you 66 books; I’ll give you a lot of words.  I’ll give you 1,189 chapters, and I’ll give you 81,173 verses, and I’ll give you 733,692 words, and 3,586,489 letters.  Will that help?” 

Anyway, He says, “Alright.”  I say, “Thank You, Lord, because I didn’t understand “God”, and even the life of Christ is over my head, and I didn’t understand that, and so now You’ve given me a lot of words, so now I can study the history and the prophesies and the types and the poetries and the miracles and the parables and the titles of Christ, and all the different descriptions of Christ.  I have the word who is God, I have the life of Christ, and now I have almost a million words, three quarters of a million words, and I say, “Thank You, Lord, but I feel like Abraham.  I think I need more help.  Thanks You so much for the word, and thank You for the life of Christ, and thank You for the Bible, but I’m in a dead end stop, because studying all of these words, and men have done it, and they end up with creeds, and systematic theology and philosophies and denominations and cults and cold dogmatism, and cold doctrine.”

I’ve got a library with thousands of books, and it’s all about this book (the Bible).  It’s words about words about words, and my hungry heart cries out, “Lord, I want to know You.  I want to trust You.  I want to enjoy You.  With all You’ve given me, I feel like Abraham.  Once more Abraham said, “May the Lord not be angry, and I’ll speak only this once.  I have ventured,” said Abraham, “to speak to the Lord, even though I’m dust and ashes.”  And so, I say, “Lord, have You got anything else?  Thank You for the word, and thank You for the life of Christ, and thank You for the Bible, but here I sit.”

John 16:13-15, “When He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.  All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore Is aid that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”  1 Corinthians 2:11-12, “For who among men know the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?  Even so, the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the word, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God.”  1 Corinthians 2:16, “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him?  But we have the mind of Christ.”

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God has sent His Holy Spirit into your heart and mine, so that He could take the words from the Bible and show us the Living Word, the Lord Jesus, so that we could know God.  That is God’s provision for us, and that’s why every time we come to this book, we need to trust the indwelling Holy Spirit. 

Let me say one more thing, and then we’ll wrap it up.  John 1:17, almost the end of the prologue, “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”  We know what an “opposite” is.  The opposite of up is down, the opposite of in is out, the opposite of white is black, the opposite of hot is cold.  What is the opposite of truth?  You might say, “Well, the opposite of truth is false; it’s a lie.”  Not here; not in this verse.  In this verse, the word “truth” that’s used is the word “reality”, that in Him we have grace and reality.  The opposite of reality is unreality.  That’s the whole point, and what he’s saying is that the word has been made flesh, so that we could finally be real, to have reality, and not have to fake it and not try to be religious and not play religious games.  We want to be real, and we want to be true.  Reality is when the Holy Spirit takes the word of God and unveils the Living Christ.  We know God, so that by knowing Him, we can trust Him, and enjoy Him.  That’s reality.  If you’re not knowing God, if you’re not trusting God, and if you’re not enjoying Him, you’re unreal, and you’re faking it, and you’re playing a game.  May God makes us real!

We’re not even a little bit done with this prologue, but I’m going to stop here, and let’s ask the Lord to work these things in our heart.

Father, thank You for Your word, not what we think it might mean, or what we guess, but what You have intended it to mean.  Will You make that real in our hearts?  Lord, as we study the gospel of John, we pray for reality; we pray that we might be real, and we thank You that You are going to accomplish this in us, because that’s Your heart’s desire.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 



AUGUSTINE: “It is beyond the power of man to speak as John speaks in his prologue”

JOHN CALVIN: “This prologue says more than our mind can take in.”

GODET: (Swiss reformed theologian) “The richest expression which Jesus had of His own Person.”

ALEXANDER MACLAREN (Scottish Baptist Commentator) “The profoundest page in the New Testament.”

INTERPERTERS BIBLE:  “No book in literature has so breath-taking an opening as these stupendous findings on the life and character about to be described.”

LENSKI: (German Lutheran Theologian) “Amid all that has been written by the instruments of inspiration, this prologue stands out as the one paragraph that is most profound, most lofty, and incomparable in every way.”

J.C. RYLE: (Evangelical Anglican Clergyman) “Nowhere shall we find so many expressions, which for want of mental power, no mortal man can fully grasp or explain.  There is something here which nothing but the light of eternity will ever fully reveal.”

JOHN PETER LANGE: (German Calvinist Theologian) “Every sentence, every word, is pregnant with meaning, and furnishes inexhaustible material for meditation and reflection.  In the whole range of literature, ancient and modern, there is no passage or chapter that can at all compare with this Prologue.”

ROGER FREDRIKSON: (President of American Baptist Churches USA)  “Living with this prologue is like standing in the foothills of an awesome mountain range catching a breathtaking glimpse of massive snowcapped peaks reaching up through the haze.”

AUGUSTINE: “It is beyond the power of man to speak as John speaks in his prologue”

JOHN CALVIN: “This prologue says more than our mind can take in.”

GODET: (Swiss reformed theologian) “The richest expression which Jesus had of His own Person.”

ALEXANDER MACLAREN (Scottish Baptist Commentator) “The profoundest page in the New Testament.”

INTERPERTERS BIBLE:  “No book in literature has so breath-taking an opening as these stupendous findings on the life and character about to be described.”

LENSKI: (German Lutheran Theologian) “Amid all that has been written by the instruments of inspiration, this prologue stands out as the one paragraph that is most profound, most lofty, and incomparable in every way.”

J.C. RYLE: (Evangelical Anglican Clergyman) “Nowhere shall we find so many expressions, which for want of mental power, no mortal man can fully grasp or explain.  There is something here which nothing but the light of eternity will ever fully reveal.”

JOHN PETER LANGE: (German Calvinist Theologian) “Every sentence, every word, is pregnant with meaning, and furnishes inexhaustible material for meditation and reflection.  In the whole range of literature, ancient and modern, there is no passage or chapter that can at all compare with this Prologue.”

ROGER FREDRIKSON: (President of American Baptist Churches USA)  “Living with this prologue is like standing in the foothills of an awesome mountain range catching a breathtaking glimpse of massive snowcapped peaks reaching up through the haze.”