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True light - John 1:1-18

This is a sermon by Glenn Lyons from the morning service on 10th September 2017.

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John 1:1-18  “True Light”

It’s a great privilege to be the one who begins your “Whatever is True series” in John’s Gospel.

“Truth” is one of the key themes of John's gospel. John shows us truth not in a concept but in a person, the person of Jesus Christ.

John’s gospel has been said to be shallow enough for a child to paddle in; yet deep enough for a diver never to reach its depths. 

The simplicity and profundity of John’s gospel makes it a gospel that is on the one hand easy to understand and also difficult to study.  The layers are beautifully clear and yet also delightfully intriguing. This is what studying God’s word is all about and it serves to bring me back again and again to search out its depths.

These first 18 verses are the ‘Prologue’ in which John describes the coming of God into the world in Jesus - and with a breadth so huge it stretches all the way back to the beginning of time.

Two images / analogies that capture it are: 

I. The Word
II. The Light

1. God the Revealed Word

1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

Its important to point out that John is not being mystical and mysterious in his famous introduction

He is not being deliberately obscure like some sort of new age guru meditating on the sound of one hand clapping!

The Gospel is given:
To bring clarity not obscurity.
To bring certainty out of mystery
To bring light out of darkness

Just like a writer would think carefully about how to grab your attention with an opening line of a book - so John has (under God) carefully chosen language that both the Jewish background and Gentile background readers would understand.

“In the beginning was the Word”  Greek culture hearers would have understood “the Word” as “the Logos” which referred to the Reason / Intelligence that holds the world together.

In Jewish culture the word (Logos) was The Word as in the Law of God / the Torah
In Jewish thought.
• God and His Word are inseparable
• God and His Word are eternal 

AND of course. ...

Jewish readers would not miss the context of Jn1:1 as referring to
Creation (Gen.1) “in the beginning…”

And in that theme -  the first thing John tells us about God the Word is His work in creation.

3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

The WORD creates the universe and you will see this many times in the Scriptures:

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” (Ps. 33:6 NIV)


This also tells us something about the Authority behind the Word itself
The power of the Word is directly related to the authority of the Speaker.

[ For example, King Mswati is King of Swaziland and it is said to be the last country ruled by an absolute monarch – In Swaziland, if the  King says I want a private Jet - it gets bought;  If he says, ‘I want a palace here’ or ‘I want a tarred road to my palace’ - it gets done 
And who see it will say:  “The king built this palace”  Yet not a brick did he lift - but his word accomplished it.
The authority of the man is seen in the power of His word.
and if the King of Swaziland’s Word has that kind of power . . .
How much more so the Word of God !? ]]

The Supreme Authority of God is seen in what His Word is able to accomplish.

Both in Creating and giving life to His world.

4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men (all mankind).

The Life of HIM who is the Word is the life that gives us / mankind life.

The source of our life is not the Sun or the unseen forces of the universe - or our own will power

It is God Himself, the ETERNAL Word and the life giving Light


2. God the Revealed Light

5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (grasp / comprehend / defeat / understand)

Is a simple enough concept to understand and John consistently uses it. The Light to represent good and the darkness, evil.  John also uses ‘day’ and ‘night’ in a similar way. E.g. Nicodemus ch.3,  Judas ch.13 night

[ I remember a line from a South Afican commercial but I cant remember the product - “Not all the darkness in the world can put out the light of one candle” ]

It’s a simple enough concept to understand but the Imagery of Light in relation to the revelation of God is very powerful.
Darkness by its very nature can NEVER overcome the light.
The Light of God shining into our world can never be overcome by the darkness of sin and satanic forces - no matter how dark our days may look.

From the moment God speaks into the chaos of our fallen world it is like light shining into the darkness and no matter how great that darkness, it can never overcome the Light.

[I dont know about you but that is a great comfort to me:
It means that our sin darkened world, with all its fanatical suicide killers, rapists, murderers, traffickers, persecutors and  the rest of its criminal  darkness can never overcome the Light of God’s goodness.
It may seem at times that there is a hatred of the light that is overwhelming It’s a blind mad hatred that echoes from deep inside the satanic centre of the PRINCE OF DARKNESS - - -
Yet, John tells us, this great darkness cannot and will not prevail against the light  ]

It is impossible for darkness to put out light !

We are still here and are not overcome by the darkness not because we are lucky but because God rules and sustains this world by His Word.

• And it is this ETERNAL WORD

• And this UNQUENCHABLE LIGHT

THAT JOHN THE APOSTLE
AND JOHN THE BAPTIST (v.6-8)
(And we too) testify to.

9  The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

John purposefully tells us THE TRUE LIGHT was coming into the world.
Because we live in a world full of ‘pretend light’

[[ Like these long life bulbs we all have to use now which pretend to give light - by the time they really warm up to it, you’ve gone to bed.]]

Our world is full of FALSE LIGHT / pretend light

You just have to do an internet search
Or
Go to a local bookstore to see the 1000’s of messengers claiming to be the light or your guide to the light. And there are some really strange and even dangerous beliefs out there. 

Its been rightly said of this dark world - that when the world abandons true God they dont believe in nothing - they believe in anything.

Our world is full of people who believe they have found the light in everything from the worship of the moon and sun to the belief aliens came to earth and have infected our brains (Scientology)

I believe satan works hardest to deceive, closest to the light.

Of the (apparently) 4200 different major religions in the world
Largest one of them is Christianity. (Islam/Judaism)
Of which there are approx 40 000 different groups, divisions, denominations and sects - all claiming to represent the true LIGHT of GOD. BUT many of them pervert the Truth to suit their own desires.

They pervert it in thousands of ways but it boils down to a refusal to acknowledge the ultimate authority of the Word of God and instead usurp it by asserting the authority of
- Mankind (Reason)
- Culture (Society)
- Tradition (Religion)

We live in a world in darkness, with people happy to live in the dark.
Which is why the TRUE LIGHT is very often a

a. Rejected Light

10  He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.

11  He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.

• The World (v.10)doesn't want to know the Light

• Israel (v.11) doesn't want to know the LIGHT (even though they were told to expect him – In the Hebrew Scriptures the Israelites were told what he would be like; and how he would come)
Even with all that, they still rejected the  Light .

Why?

John 3:19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

People don't want the light.
I in my sinful nature, dont want the light.
We love darkness
[ we’re like the cockroaches in my kitchen when you switch on the kitchen light they scuttle off into the darkness ]

My sinful nature loves the darkness - it wants to gossip; it wants to lust; it wants to be selfish; it wants to be greedy; it wants to rebel; it wants to kill

Which is crazy, there is a kind of madness,  stupidity in rejecting the light.

Especially when you see what God gives to those who receive Him.

12  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

13  who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

To the one who receives the light of God you have the greatest form of adoption ever, you have a God given right to become his children. (Born of God - another great theme of John’s gospel)
We are regenerated - born again -
- not by becoming religious; 
- not because your parents are Christian;
- not because you really really want to (even)
But because God makes it so.
God gives his Fatherhood to those who receive the Light
But
How, if I in my sinful nature love the darkness, how will I truly receive the light I hate?
Only
When God himself reveals His Glory to me.

That is seen in the culminating imagery of Word and Light in v14

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

• Earth shattering truth to 1st century Jews who know that there is ONE GOD (God comes to earth in the flesh)

• Astounding news to 1st century Greeks who thought the LOGOS was far removed from the physical fleshly world. Logos in the flesh!?
The ONE TRUE GOD - the ETERNAL WORD - THE true light - has made Himself known on earth in the flesh as the Son.

Where does the Word of God speak? - in the Son!

Hebrews 1:1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,
(Hebrews 1:1,2a)

Where does the light of God shine? - in the Son !

(we have seen His glory !)

[[ Minister’s seeking days met Martin Lloyd Jones - great preacher of 20th cent. . . . long story… said nothing…. Ask God to show you His glory... ]]

Only when God reveals His Son to you will you see the light of the Glory of God - only then will you fall on your knees and receive him by faith.

////

And see what you receive when you do

16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

First time Jesus Christ is mentioned by name -

The Climax of the revelation of God’s Truth, God’s Word (law), God’s Light, God’s Glory
= Jesus Christ

MOSES BRINGS LAW - exposes our sin (OT)
JESUS BRINGS GRACE - by taking our sin upon himself at the cross and bringing God’s favour (mercy/forgiveness) to all who receive him by faith (v.12)

TRUTH AND GRACE

THE TRUE LIGHT - EXPOSES THE TRUTH ABOUT YOUR SIN AND THE GRACE THAT BRINGS FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SIN.

GRACE = GOD’S FAVOUR TO THE UNDESERVING
GOD’S FAVOUR TO THOSE WHO DESERVE WRATH

And that is yours when you come to know God through Jesus

18 No one has ever seen God; // the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.

You can only know God through Jesus
All those who claim to have seen him? No one.

Religions have Messengers of God highly revered
= Mohammed; Shembe; Joseph Smith;

Technically speaking - in these religions - God could have spoken through someone else;
(their egos would never allow it)
some other messenger could have come.

Not so with us -
Only Jesus is THE MESSENGER and THE MESSAGE
Only the Son can make the Father known to you -

• Only Jesus can reveal the Word of God to you because He is the Word IN THE FLESH
• Only Jesus can reveal God’s Light to you because He is the Light
• Only Jesus can reveal God’s Glory to you because He is God’s Glory.

Why we need to tell people about Jesus

[ Vijay Menon - engineer / hindu background to X
Cannot be many ways to God because there is only one truth - you can't have contradictory truths
= many ways to Jesus but only one way to God -
that is through Jesus.  ]
You believers each have a unique story of how you came to Jesus
But we all have the same story about how you come to know God
That is through Jesus

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