Welcome back. We are in the midst of a very profound and majestic discourse of the divinity of Jesus as written by the apostle John. In the prior verses, John calls our attention to the fact that Jesus was one with God the Father (and the Spirit) before the universe was ever created.
The scriptures also tell us that the mystery of man’s redemption by the Word incarnate (Jesus the Messiah), was hidden in God before anything was created (Ephesians 3:6-9). Thus, we can be assured that the Father, Son and Spirit were all agreement regarding not only the necessity, but the process/method of reconciling man to God. Again, this was all known to the Trinity before they even brought the universe into existence.
Can we stop for a minute and make this personal? It is one thing to paint this picture in broad strokes and say that the Trinity purposed to save mankind before he was created, but it’s much more personal than that. Truly, the Trinity was in agreement about rescuing YOU from sin and death. God so intensely loves YOU, that he planned to perfectly and completely redeem YOU before the foundations of the world were laid. When God looked at time, he saw YOU there. He saw that he had breathed the breath of life into YOU, but an enemy had you in bondage. In his great mercy and compassion, he did not leave you to that fate. He himself, in the person of the Word, came to take sin upon himself. How great is the love of God toward YOU! How far are his ways past understanding!
My opinion is that when we get to eternity and we have a chance to see the whole design and scope of the plan of redemption, it will blow our minds! It is also my opinion that our existence in eternity will be an everlasting witness of the love of God, to any and all other life that God has created.
John 1:5 – The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
We ended our last post by pointing out that Jesus is both life and light. He illuminates our spiritual darkness and shows us the way to eternal life.
Light is always self-evident – it makes itself known. Suppose you were in a completely dark forest, so dense and thick that you couldn’t even see your hand in front of your face. That darkness would be overwhelming. But I guarantee that if a lightening bug passed by, you would see its glow! Why? Because even the most minuscule light overcomes the darkness that surrounds it. This principle is true both in the natural realm and the spiritual realm. In fact, it has some pretty profound spiritual significance.
Man is in a state of spiritual darkness, which began when sin entered the human race in the Garden of Eden. But the light of God has shined through that darkness ever since.
Romans 1:19-20 – …since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Here are just some of the ways in which God has manifested himself or shined his light in our spiritual darkness down through the ages:
- God created each person with an innate sense that there is a God, and He gives us a desire to find Him.
- God has given us a conscience that we might know there is right and wrong and therefore an ultimate eternal judge of our actions.
- God revealed himself through his chosen people, Israel.
- God’s countless miracles attest to his existence. Creation gives evidence of God’s existence.
- God revealed Himself to us through the ‘types and shadows’ of the Old Testament.
- God spoke to man through his prophets.
- God preserved the sacred scriptures for us, in which we find His promises of the redeemer.
Ultimately that Redeemer, the Word, the true light, came to earth in fleshly form. And God used John the Baptist to call our attention to that light.
John 1:6-7 – There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.
As you probably already know, John did not perform any miracles. He never claimed to have dreams or visions. His calling was simple: He was a messenger sent from God to us (Malachi 3:1). His purpose was just as straightforward: He came to provide a witness and testimony that Jesus was the Messiah – the Word made flesh; the light of the world.
Through John, God began to herald a change that was about to take place. The astonishing era of grace was about to unfold. The Messiah had come and through him all of mankind (Jew and Gentile alike) could be forgiven and welcomed into the presence of God, the source of all light.
This raises a question – If light reveals itself, then why did God send John to bear witness about Jesus?
The answer is that mankind loves darkness and willfully closes his mind and heart to the light of God. John was like a kind of spiritual night watchman, who went around town calling out that dawn was breaking; it was time for people to arise, shake off spiritual slumber, and begin to live in the light.
John 1:8 – He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
John preached a message of repentance from sin. By awakening people to the reality of their sin and depravation, he prepared them to receive the light of the gospel message and come to faith in Christ.
This should be abundantly clear to each one of us, as we consider our own conversion experience. At some point, all of us were happy living in sin and darkness. But one day, someone (a modern-day messenger of God) shared the gospel with us and because of the conviction of Holy Spirit, we became acutely aware of our sin. That awareness or knowledge of our sin caused us to seek and accept the forgiveness of Christ.
You would never have sought that forgiveness if you weren’t fully convinced that you needed it. And you didn’t know you needed it, until someone told you. This was why God used John the Baptist to bear witness about the light. It is the same reason he still uses righteous men and women today to spread the gospel message.
To avoid any confusion or controversy, the apostle John makes it very clear that John the Baptizer was NOT the actual light. He was like the star that guided the wise men to the manger. He is the friend of the bridegroom, not the bridegroom himself.
John 1:9 – The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
Jesus is the true light (John 9:5, II Corinthians 4:4). He is not a fallible, uncertain or dangerous guide. He is the perfect, true, reliable anchor of our faith. He is the rock upon which our salvation stands. He is the source of all gospel revelation, which banishes spiritual darkness, error and ignorance from our lives.
John now reveals another staggering truth – no more will divine revelation be restricted to a select group of people. The light will be diffused upon Jew and Gentile alike; upon people of every tribe, tongue and nation.
Isaiah 49:6 – And he [God] said, It is too small a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel: I will also give you for a light to the Gentiles, that you may be my salvation unto the ends of the earth.
God does not exclude anyone from his forgiveness or his kingdom. But there will always be men who choose to exclude themselves from it. They choose to close their eyes to the truth and reject the light. They choose to reject/ignore Holy Spirit conviction when it falls upon them, and thus reject the salvation that Jesus provides for them.
It should be further noted that once we have accepted Christ as savior, Jesus makes us lights as well (Matthew 5:14). We are to let our lights shine, so that God may be glorified and draw sinners to himself.
How is your light shining? Is it bright and bold? Or has it become a bit dimmed as of late? This might be a good time to examine yourself and see what you can do to add fuel to your spiritual fire.
John 1:10 – He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.
Jesus was always ‘in the world’. As discussed previously, He existed before the creation, He was active in creation and He continues to breathe life into all creation. If he didn’t, everything would collapse and die.
But what John refers to here is clearly the incarnation of Christ – the time when he took upon himself a body of flesh and dwelt among us for the purpose of redemption.
During that period of time, the world did not ‘know’ Jesus. In other words, the people of that generation either did not understand that he was the Messiah or they refused to acknowledge it. Regardless of whether their ignorance was accidental or intentional, the end result was the same – mankind crucified him (I Corinthians 2:7-8).
John 1:11 – He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
Who or what does John refer to when he says Jesus the Messiah came ‘to his own’?
In this case John is referring to the Jewish people or the nation of Israel. They were God’s chosen people, set apart for his purposes. As you know, God entered into a covenant agreement with Israel. Part of that covenant declared that God would bless the entire world through them (Genesis 26:4). That promise was fulfilled when Jesus the Messiah (the Word/Speech) was born through the Jewish lineage (Matthew 1:1-16). Therefore, the Jews were his own people.
We have clear evidence in the scriptures that Jesus did exactly what John claims – he ministered or revealed himself almost exclusively to the Jewish nation during his incarnation.
Matthew 15:24 – But he [Jesus] answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
(It was only after the coming of Holy Spirit that Gentiles were admitted into the family of God. See Acts chapter 10).
If any nation of people should have accepted Jesus as Messiah, it was the Jews! They were God’s covenant people. They had all the promises and prophesies that identified the Messiah. They lived in expectation of his coming.
Yet, the scriptures supply vast evidence that, in general, the nation of Israel did not receive or accept Jesus as Messiah (Luke 17:25, Acts 4:9-11). It’s almost unbelievable!
However, we should not judge the Jews of that generation too harshly. Mankind as a whole is a fallen race which loves darkness/wickedness. Chances are that if we had been the generation that was alive when Jesus came to earth we too would have chosen to crucify him!
Furthermore, the apostle Paul clearly outlines in the book of Romans (see chapter 11), that rejection of the gospel by the Jewish nation is the result of a temporary spiritual blindness, which God used to open up the gospel message to the entire world (the Gentiles).
Romans 11:11 – I say then, Have they [Israel]] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy.
God has not rejected his people Israel (Romans 11:1-2), even though they rejected him. At the present time, God’s love for Gentiles is creating jealousy in the hearts and minds of the Jews. One day, at the perfect time, He will bring them back into fellowship with himself.
John 1:12 – But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
During the incarnation, the vast majority of Jewish religious leaders and common people rejected Jesus as the Messiah. They rejected the light, truth and spiritual revelation of the gospel message. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that there were some who did believe, and put their faith in Christ.
And there is more good news – people who formerly rejected him can still be touched by the gospel, if they allow its truth to penetrate their hearts and minds. As long as a person is living and breathing on planet earth, they can change their mind and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. So don’t ever stop bringing the names of your unsaved loved ones before the throne of Christ! With God, all things are possible!
Those who respond to Holy Spirit conviction and repent of their sin are given the right or privilege (your translation may say ‘power’) to become a child of God.
This is the highest privilege that can be given to us! Before we met Christ, we were slaves to sin. We were under the curse of God. We were children of the darkness/evil one and the only thing our father could bestow upon us was death and destruction.
But now that we have placed our faith in Christ, God has adopted us as sons and daughters (Galatians 4:4-6, Ephesians 1:5-6)! We are no longer slaves to sin; we have freedom in Christ. We are no longer under the curse, we are blessed by God. We have God as our Father and we are co-heirs with Jesus in the kingdom of God.
John 1:13 – who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
In John chapter 3, Jesus makes it very clear to Nicodemus that there are two kinds of birth – physical and spiritual.
The Jews had placed their faith in their natural/physical birth along with the bloody rite of circumcision. According to their thinking, since they were born Jewish, and since they were circumcised, Abraham was their father and they were automatically included in the family of God (John 8:37-41). To some degree, this was true under the Law.
But as we noted in our introduction, John is writing his gospel around 95 AD. The era of the law has passed. Men are not admitted to God’s family through the law or their lineage or by circumcision. Spiritual birth can only come by the will of God, and His will is that all men will be redeemed through the blood of Christ.
Let me offer you some encouragement:
As a child of God, you have full access to the throne of God. Don’t ever stop mentioning the lost before that throne! Even though you may not see the results right now, God is at work in the lives of those you pray/intercede for. So no matter what, don’t give up!
Let me offer you some relief:
As a child of God, your past sins have been washed away. If God does not hold them against you any more, why would you? Cast off the shame of those old sins; don’t let guilt keep you from actively participating in God’s kingdom.
Let me offer you some strength:
As a child of God, you are a light or messenger of the gospel, just like John the Baptist. So let that light shine brightly! Be confident and secure as you share what God has done for you. Remember, it’s your job to share, but it is Holy Spirit’s job to quicken the hearts of those around you who still need to find Christ.