E100 – December 17, 2017

“In the Beginning… Again” – John 1:1-18

Advent 3 – December 17, 2017



Introduction: A matter of trust

“We’re going to grandma’s for Christmas!” Do you remember hearing that declaration when you were a child? I do. When I was really young, it was almost a four-hour drive on Saskatchewan’s winter highways and then a few more miles of country roads to get to the familiar and welcoming farm house and the loving hugs of those grandparents we hadn’t seen for a few months. (photo of me and Daryl)

Did I know exactly how to get there? No.

Was I concerned about what time we left? No.

Did I know how long we would stay? No.

Was I aware of which cousins would be there? No.

There were a lot of things I didn’t know about our Christmas family plans. But the one thing I did know was, “We’re going to grandma’s for Christmas!” I didn’t need to know all those other details. I was just a kid. I just needed to trust my father… to be telling the truth, and to get us there and back home again safely. But I did trust my father, because he was a man of integrity and honesty, because he kept his word, and because he loved and cared for his family.


The Bible, the Book of Genesis, starts with three words, “In the beginning,” and then it continues “God created the heavens and the earth.”

We corporately, and I personally, have lots of questions about the beginning and about creation.

How did God create everything?

Does the Big Bang fit into the Bible’s creation account?

If we accept the Bible’s chronology of a young earth, how do we reconcile the rocks and fossils that seem to be millions of years old, and how do we reconcile the stars that are millions of light years away? Is God deceiving us in some way? Or are our scientific methods faulty?

Were the six days of creation six 24-hour days?

These are legitimate questions, and we undoubtedly have many more. Do we need to know all the details about creation? No, we don’t. We are just finite human beings… kids. What’s important is that we trust our Father, our heavenly Father. We may not understand everything, but we are learning more and more about the planet and the universe that we live in all the time. Did it destroy the Christian faith when we learned that the earth was round and not flat? No. Did it destroy the Christian faith when we learned that the earth revolved around the sun rather than vice versa? No. Those discoveries just helped us understand God and his creation in new ways. What’s most important here is our relationship of trust in a creator God who keeps His Word and who loves us more than we could ever imagine.


  1. In the beginning…

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. That He created is what’s important. Exactly how He created is not as important.

In the beginning – not right at the beginning, but a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… no, that’s Star Wars history, not Biblical history – but in the beginning God created human beings male and female. When those first human beings didn’t live up to God’s expectations and when they as a race miserably disobeyed Him, God made a new beginning. He sent a flood to wipe out wickedness, and He started all over with one man, Noah, and his family. Later on, God made another new and narrower beginning when He called Abraham to go to a new land and be the father of a special people through whom all the peoples on earth would be blessed. He made another new beginning when the Israelites populated the land God promised to them after a 400 year long stint in Egypt. He made another new beginning after the people of Judah spent 70 years in exile in Babylon.

The entire Old Testament of the Bible is the story of God’s people, His kids, and how He loved them and forgave them when they disobeyed, and how He initiated several new beginnings, and how they learned to trust Him through all the ups and downs.


  1. In the beginning… again

The New Testament starts a new chapter of the same story, another new beginning.

The book of Hebrews explains: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son.” Same story… but a new reality. Old Testament – prophets; New Testament – God’s Son.


If we look at the four accounts of Jesus’ life – we call those the Gospels – we see that Matthew starts with a genealogy that goes from Abraham to Jesus, then it gets into the story of Jesus’ birth, especially Joseph’s version. Luke starts with the story of John the Baptist who would prepare the way for the coming of the Saviour, and then records the episode of Mary and the angel Gabriel and her pregnancy, before relating the oh-so-familiar birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Mark’s Gospel doesn’t start with Jesus’ birth at all, but moves right to the beginning of His ministry. John’s Gospel is different, much different. It takes us back before Jesus’ ministry, before Jesus’ birth, to the very heart and intent of God. John’s Gospel starts with the same three words as the book of Genesis: “In the beginning.” But then it takes us not to the creation account. It takes us to the deity of Jesus… from the very beginning. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” In case you’re uncertain about who “the Word” refers to, John makes it more clear in subsequent verses: “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness.” In order to remove all doubt, John also relates: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” This refers to the birth of Jesus, the Word made flesh. In the beginning Jesus existed as part of the Godhead, but now there is a new beginning with His birth as a human being. John wanted us to know that the coming of Jesus was as significant as the creation of the world; it was literally the start of what St. Paul would later call a “new creation.” The first “in the beginning” was the start of the physical creation – sun, moon, stars, rivers, mountains, trees, giraffes, elephants, lions, and of course human beings. The second “in the beginning” – in the beginning again – was the start of the spiritual creation – people renewed in their hearts and minds to receive the hope, the joy, and the peace that come from Jesus, the new-born Saviour, and the one who was crucified for the forgiveness of our sins and who rose from the dead for the salvation of our entire being.




  1. People didn’t understand who Jesus was

The perspective of John the Gospel writer was fascinating. In the first 14 verses of his story of Jesus, he takes us back before creation, he documents Jesus’ birth (becoming flesh), and he chronicles the response of people to Jesus’ adult ministry, perhaps even to His death and resurrection. He encompasses it all. What does he say?


First of all, after he identifies Jesus as the light of the world, the spiritual light for men, women and children, he states that the darkness has not understood it. The “darkness” is picture language for those who are in the camp of our spiritual enemy, the devil, for those who love evil and rebellion against God, for those who oppose Jesus, and for those who are simply spiritually apathetic. They are all lumped together in the stark contrast between spiritual light and awareness and spiritual darkness and blindness.

Think about today. Lots of people in our society don’t understand God / Jesus. They ignore, reject, misinterpret, misunderstand, just don’t get it. They think that every religion leads to God/heaven, or that if you’re going to get to heaven it will be based on what good works you do, how clean a life you live, how much money you give, how much you pray, and things like that. They don’t comprehend that God gives us salvation / heaven for free, as His gracious gift in the person and the work of Jesus. John is right – “the darkness has not understood [the light].”


The second thing that John says, still in these first verses, is that the world did not recognize Him, and His own did not receive Him. His own would refer to His own people, the Lord’s chosen people of the Old Testament. You’d think that the ones who received the promise would get it. But the Jewish people who were waiting for, looking for, a messiah, a Saviour, did not identify that this Jesus was the one. Perhaps that was because they, too, misunderstood who the Messiah was to be and what He was to do. They had visions of political and military grandeur, a remembering of the good old days of King David, when all the enemies had been defeated and there was peace and stability in the land. When Jesus came as a compassionate shepherd to tend to a people that were spiritually harassed and helpless, well, that wasn’t who they were looking for, so they missed Him.


Another relevant incident – not recorded by John, but recorded by the other three Gospel writers – is Jesus’ opinion poll. He asked His disciples “Who do people say that I am?” You can tell that His identity went over people’s heads, for the disciples reported that popular opinion was that some thought He was John the Baptist, some Elijah, some Jeremiah or another prophet. But they didn’t perceive Him to be the Messiah, the Saviour, the Word made flesh and the Light of the World.


The words and conclusions are still pertinent today – people don’t understand Jesus, don’t recognize Him, don’t receive Him.


  1. John’s first-hand deduction

John, the Gospel writer, comes to a different conclusion about the identity of Jesus. It comes from first-hand experience, which, on the one hand, we might say is cheating, but, on the other hand, we need to say that’s a good thing because he was an insider with personal knowledge of the person and words and work of Jesus. So, what is John’s deduction?

First, as we have already heard, John states that Jesus is the eternal “Word” of God. That implies that He has a message, and actually is a message from God. We could spend a lot of time highlighting the significant messages of Jesus. Let me capture just a few of them:

Love your neighbour.                         Care for the needy.                 Forgive your brother.

Honour marriage.                                Don’t judge others.                 Seek God’s things first.

There are lots more! But we have God’s Word, in Jesus’ words, right here in the Bible. Read it to get the whole message, the whole Word of God!

Oh, one more pretty interesting thing about that descriptor of Jesus is that in Spanish Jesus isn’t called the “Word” of God, He is called the “Verb” of God. “In the beginning was the Verb, and the Verb was with God, and the verb was God.” That gives a completely different sense. Instead of just being the message of God, this leads us to conclude that Jesus is also the action of God – because verbs are action words. Let me capture a few of Jesus’ actions, too:

Jesus healed people.                            Jesus forgave people.              Jesus rescued people.

Jesus provided for people.                  Jesus blessed people.              Jesus died for people.


The second deduction of John is that Jesus is God in the flesh. “The Word became flesh.” God wasn’t content to stay aloof from the people He created, somewhere out there in the cosmic recesses of the universe. He came to this earth to be one of us, to walk with us, to talk with us, to experience human life with us, to rub shoulders with sinners, to take on our human frailties. I don’t think John was there from the beginning of Jesus, from His birth, but he was there from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry for he was one of the first disciples that Jesus called. He was a first-person witness of everything that Jesus said and did. And he summarized it saying, “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Grace – from Jesus’ actions. Truth – from Jesus’ words. John knew, he KNEW that Jesus was the God-man, God in the flesh, a new beginning… again, a hopeful beginning, a beginning that would begin… and never end.


  1. A matter of trust

We’re going to grandma’s for Christmas – it all boiled down to a matter of trust. And my dad was trustworthy.

God says, “You’re coming to my place for ever. I sent my Word, my Son for a new beginning, to develop a relationship. I kept all my promises in Him. I allowed Him to die so that you wouldn’t have to. Hey, I love you.”

It all boils down to a matter of trust, trust in God. Trust… and there will be a new beginning, a new Christmas, an eternal Christmas – no longer just God with us, here, but us with God, there. That’s what John says, “To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name (trust in His name), He gave the right to become children of God.” Kids, giddy kids, looking to go someplace wonderful for Christmas, and not just for Christmas but forever.


Oh, and since God has established a pattern of new beginnings, we can make new beginnings part of our lives – new beginnings as children of God by faith in Jesus, new beginnings in a relationship that has been tainted by hurt or betrayal, new beginnings for family Christmas traditions, new beginnings for your own daily connection with God in prayer and devotion, new beginnings as we contemplate stepping into a new year. New beginnings… and trusting God to bless those new beginnings in the name of Jesus – the Word made flesh.

Let’s pray…

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