358 - The Beginning of Good News (John 1:1-3)
Who is Jesus Christ? The answer to that question is absolutely critical to our eternal destiny. The Gospel of John gets to that point immediately, describing Jesus in its opening verses as the eternal Creator and eternal God.
The Beginning of Good News
Today we begin our Wisdom Journey through the New Testament and particularly the Gospels. The word gospel, in the Greek language, means “good news.” And what good news it is!
The four Gospel accounts, written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, cover the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Each of these authors, inspired by the Holy Spirit, recorded eyewitness accounts of the Lord’s life and ministry. They either saw it themselves or recorded the testimony of other eyewitnesses.
Jesus Christ is Eternal Deity
In total, the Gospels only cover about fifty-two days of the life and ministry of Jesus. I wish these Gospels were ten times longer; but keep this in mind, while we do not have everything we would like to know about the Lord, we have been given enough to know—to become convinced—that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Savior of all who believe in Him.
The Gospel of John even spells that out in John 20:30:
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Now let me put our map out on the deck, so to speak, as we prepare to set sail through the Gospels. And let me tell you, wherever you are right now—whoever you are—I am thrilled that you have joined me in this Wisdom Journey through God’s Word. And if you do not know Jesus as your Savior, I am praying that this journey will sail you right into the harbor of salvation and security and eternal safety in Christ.
Before we raise the sails and set off, you need to understand that we are going to study the Gospels chronologically; that is, in the order in which the events took place. This will eliminate any repetition we find in these four accounts, but more importantly, I want to give you the sense of what it might have been like to follow Jesus through His life right up to His cross, His resurrection, and His ascension into heaven.
So, you might expect us to begin with Jesus’ birth. But first we need to hear the announcement from John. By the way, John wrote after Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and he no doubt had their books as a reference.
John opens with a declaration of some key truths about Jesus Christ—he sort of gives us the Lord’s resume. Truth number one is this: Jesus Christ is eternal deity.
In verses 1-2 we read this:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
First, we must understand that the Word here is Jesus Christ. Verse 14 tells us this: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
Now let’s look at the first three phrases in verse 1. “In the beginning was the Word” declares Jesus to be eternally existent. In other words, He didn’t come into being at His earthly birth—He existed as God the Son from eternity past.
This second phrase, “and the Word was with God,” describes Jesus as intimately close with the Godhead. The third phrase, “and the Word was God,” clearly tells us that Jesus is nothing less than divine.
An interesting verb appears three times in verse 1. Note the verb “was”: “In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God; and the Word was God.”
This Greek verb tense communicates an ongoing, eternal state. So, we could expand our translation here to read:
In the beginning was [and is and always will be] the Word, and the Word was [and is and always will be] with God, and the Word was [and is and always will be] God.
So, truth number one is that Jesus Christ is—and always has been and always will be—eternal deity.
Jesus Christ is the Divine Explanation
Here is the second truth John introduces: Jesus Christ is the eternal explanation.
Also, three times in verse 1 we find the expression “the word”: “In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God; and the Word was God.”
This is the Greek word logos. But logos also can be translated “explanation.” Read it that way for a moment: “In the beginning was the Explanation, and the Explanation was with God, and the Explanation was God.”
To the Greek mind, receiving an explanation from God was impossible. Several hundred years before the birth of Christ, Plato said to his philosopher friends, “It may be that some day, there will come forth from God, a Word, a Logos [Explanation], who will reveal all mysteries and make everything plain.”
Jesus Christ is the Divine Creator
Well, guess what? The Explanation has arrived from heaven—in the flesh. And just what does the Word explain for us? Well, for one thing, the Lord answers one of humanity’s most troubling questions: “Where did we come from?” Today, billions of dollars are spent looking out into the universe to try to answer that question. Well, the answer is here in verse 3: “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
Jesus Christ is not only eternally divine; He is not only the divine explanation; He is also the divine Creator. That is the third great truth we find in these verses: Jesus Christ is the Creator.
The Bible tells us in its very first verse, Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” And now here comes John’s Gospel—verse 1: “In the beginning was the Word.” And then in verse 3 we are told that Jesus was the Creative agent. From the Word came the first words of Creation in Genesis 1:3: “Let there be light.”
The apostle Paul explains further in Colossians 1:16:
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
Well, let me tell you, the human race does not like the idea that God the Son, Jesus Christ, is the Creator. Why? Because if He is the Creator, He is more than a good teacher or a moral example. If He is the Creator, then He is the eternal, all-powerful God who rules the universe.
And as we study the Gospels together, it will be perfectly clear that Jesus claims to be God in the flesh. If you are saying, “No, He didn’t go that far,” well, listen to what is written in John 10:33. Some Jewish people are trying to stone Jesus to death, and why are they trying to kill Him? They say to Him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” It was absolutely clear to His audience that He claimed to be more than a man.
The Good News of Jesus Christ
And here is the good news: If Jesus Christ is the divine Creator, then the rest of the Bible must be telling the truth about Him—that He did indeed die for your sins and He can take you to heaven one day. And if Jesus Christ is the King of the universe, He has the right to be King over your life and mine.
If you are troubled or feeling hopeless and you are asking right now, “What is the purpose of my life?” the answer is found in Jesus Christ. Let Him become your Savior and your Shepherd.
Because Jesus Christ is who He is, He can do for you what He says. He will keep every promise He ever made; and we are going to hear a lot of promises as we begin our journey through the life and ministry—the good news—of Jesus.
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