Jesus Tells the Whole Story of God
Series: The Gospel of John
Big Idea: Jesus tells the whole story of God.
- He is God.
- He is the light.
- He is man.
DA Carson – Pillar Commentary Series – The Gospel According to John
Andreas Kostenburger – Baker exegetical series – The Gospel According to John
On March 4, 2012, Citylight Church held its first official church service. It’s hard to believe that we are nearly ten years old. That first service was right here in this room. We curtained off half of this room so that it wouldn’t feel empty, invited everyone we knew, and our little team prayed that, among other things, when 4:30pm rolled around we wouldn’t be all alone in here. And all those years ago, on that first Sunday night, the very first book of the Bible that we learned from was the Gospel of John. If I remember right, we chose the Gospel of John for one reason. The Gospel of John is unmistakably all about Jesus and we wanted our church to be unmistakably all about Jesus. No frills, nothing fancy, just Jesus. We began as a church that night in the Gospel of John. And today we are beginning a fresh journey through the Gospel of John because our desire for the next ten years is the same as our desire for the first ten; be a people that are unmistakably all about Jesus and a church that is no frills, just Jesus. So, today marks the beginning of our journey through John’s Gospel. A Gospel is a sort of Jesus biography, which combines three ingredients – what Jesus did, what Jesus said, and people’s responses to Jesus. And the opening passage of The Gospel of John, which I just read and is sometimes called the prologue, reads like a beautifully crafted, richly artistic movie trailer. These 18 opening verses serve as a preview of coming attractions in the Gospel of John. And the heart of the preview is found in the very first and very last verses of our passage, which happen to be somewhat parallel to one another. John 1:1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Jesus is the eternal Word who became flesh; everything God has to say to the world in a person. John 1:18 – No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. No one has ever seen God, but Jesus made him known. That brings us to the big idea of John’s preview of attractions coming throughout his Gospel: Jesus tells the whole story of God. Jesus tells the whole story of God. In his birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of the Father, Jesus gives a full account of God, is the true revelation of God, and is everything God has to say to the world in a person! Jesus tells the whole story of God. Today I want to consider one question: Why does Jesus, and only Jesus, tell the whole story of God? John provides us with three reasons: 1. He is God 2. He is the light 3. He is man. I should tell you from the outset, we are going to do a lot of gazing in wonder at Jesus today. I believe that’s the most relevant and psychologically healthy thing that any of us can do. Nearly all of us suffer under the burden of excessive introspection, whether we think too highly of ourselves or too lowly of ourselves, nearly all of us think about ourselves too much, and it’s miserably exhausting. As Martin Lloyd-Jones writes in his book Spiritual Depression, “There is only one way to get rid of self, and this is that you should become so absorbed in someone or something else that you have no time to think about yourself.” May all of our unhappy self-absorption begin give way to joyful Christ absorption today. Jesus tells the whole story of God, first, because…
HE IS GOD (1:1-3)
John 1:1 – “In the beginning was the Word…” Who is the Word? Verse 14 tells us that the Word is the one who became flesh and verse 17 tells us that his name is Jesus the Christ. In the beginning was the Word and his name is Jesus. But why does John call Jesus the Word? Because throughout the Old Testament God’s word is closely related to God himself. The Word carries connotations of divinity and divine self-expression or speech. In the OT, the Word is portrayed as a divine person closely related to, but distinct from God. God heals, but He heals by his Word. Psalm 107:20 – He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. God accomplishes his purposes, but He does so by His word. Isaiah 55:11 – So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. In the Old Testament, God’s word is presented as a divine person. John calls Jesus the Word because he’s beginning to give a preview of one of the mega-themes throughout John’s Gospel: Jesus is the true revelation of God because He is God. The preview of this theme only becomes more vivid as we continue reading in John 1:1-3 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. The beginning of John sounds wonderfully similar to the beginning of all things. Genesis 1:1-3 – In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. What is John saying? He is saying that the starting point of the gospel can be traced back before Jesus called his first disciples, back before John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, back before Mary pushed Jesus into the world. The beginning of the gospel can be traced back before the creation of the universe because He is God. He is the Word that God spoke and there was light and everything hoped into being. As Psalm 33:6 says – By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their hosts. Jesus is the true revelation of God and tells the whole story of God because he’s not just a wise sage, an insightful teacher, a helpful life coach, a close comforter, or even a prophet from God. Jesus tells the whole story of God because He is God, equal to and identical with God, but as the Son, distinct from the Father. Jesus is everything that God has to say to the world in a person. Amazing!
Let’s begin to take this personally. Whether you’ve been following Jesus for a long time, are new to Christianity, or are just checking this entire thing out, what comes into your mind when you think about God, is the most important thing about you. What comes into your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you. The question is: where do you look to learn what God is like? Look to Jesus, he alone tells the whole story of God because He is God. And that’s why, very practically, I want to invite all of you, no matter where you are in your journey with Jesus to invest deeply in this journey through John. Pick up a Scripture journal so that you can read and reflect on John throughout the week. Gather each Sunday so that we can learn together. This morning in my devotions the Lord put a verse on my heart, Philippians 3:8. May we all press into knowing him in this season because he’s no teacher. He tells the whole story of God because He is God.
HE IS THE LIGHT
John 1:5 – In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John is saying more than that Jesus was the light that brought life out of the darkness of creation. John 1:9 – The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. In John’s writing, the word “world” rarely means “the physical globe,” rather, it typically means the world estranged from God. Jesus tells the whole story of God because He is the light shining in the sinfully dark world and in our sinfully dark hearts. And the first thing that the light does is that the light exposes. John 1:10-11 – 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. Jesus tells the whole story of God because He is the pure light that exposes the darkness of all our disobeying and rejecting God in the world he created. But the light does not only expose. The light also brings new life by grace. John 1:12-13 – 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. Jesus tells the whole story of God because He alone is the light that both exposes us for the sinners we are and gives us new life and new birth as those who have the right to be called children of God by grace and grace alone.
This brings me to two questions: First, will receive the light? Receiving the light means being both exposed and saved by light. Will you admit what the light has exposed, that you’re dead in the darkness of your sin? Will you receive Jesus as the only true light that can give you new life as one who has the right to be called an adopted child of God forever? He is the light and there is no other. Receive him! Second question: are you living like a child of God, adopted by grace? If you have received Jesus the light as your only hope in life and in death, then being a child of God is your right by grace. But are you living out of your rightful identity? Maybe some descriptions would help (Read from Sonship Lesson 1). Application – receive Jesus the light a fresh each day so that you become more and more who you already are.
HE IS MAN
Jesus tells the whole story of God because he is God, he is the only light that can expose and save us from our darkness, and because He is man. John 1:14 – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. The phrase “dwelt among us” is very important. Back in the Garden of Eden, our first parents, Adam and Eve, enjoyed unhindered access to God. Like when your kids sprint to see you when you get home from work, nothing kept them back from enjoying Go’s presence. God dwelt among them, and they were unspeakably happy about it. But after they disobeyed God, God’s presence became very dangerous for humanity because sinners cannot see God and live. Yes, God was still present after the fall, but his presence was very restricted. God took up residence in Israel’s tent of meeting as they wandered in the wilderness, and later in the most holy place in Israel’s temple. only the high priest had access to God’s presence in the temple, and only he once a year, and only after offering a sacrifice. But in the fullness of time, God took up residence among his people in a far more intimate way than in the tent or temple. God himself took on flesh in Jesus Christ and took up residence among us; truly human and also truly God. Jesus tells the whole story of God and through the incarnation we learn that the story is that God is near. He’s near!
But nearness isn’t necessarily good news. I’ll tell you why. Verse 17 tells us that God has a law. He gave it through Moses, recorded in the Old Testament, and it’s a beautiful reflection of God’s morally perfect character. But we have all failed to do and be what God requires in his law. We are under what is called the curse of the law. God coming near to sinners like us is should spell eternal judgment. But when the Word took on flesh and came near, he tells the whole story of God and the story is grace. The phrase, “full of grace and truth” is the NT equivalent of the phrase that often describes God in the OT, “merciful, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Jesus tells the whole story of God; near and full of steadfast love and faithfulness.
Jesus tells the whole story of God because He is God, He is the light that shines in our darkness, and He became man to show that God is full of steadfast love and faithfulness. So what should we do? Well, we all need to make a choice. The choice is set before us in John 1:11-12 – He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. The choice is simple: receive him or reject him. Receive him and become a true child of God or reject him and experience eternal punishment. Even the choice speaks to how much Jesus loves you. Pastor Tim pointed out to me this beautiful line from Augustine’s Confessions, “What am I to you that you command me to love you, and if I do not, you are angry with me and threaten me with overwhelming misery?” The command to receive Christ and the threat of judgment mean that we are to him inestimably precious. I have two children. I love them so much and I tell them often. Every once in a while, when I am putting one of my kids to bed, and I’m not telling which one, I tell him or her how much I love them. I tell them that I love them through the universe and back again and more than life itself and they reply with either silence or something like, “ok, see ya tomorrow.” Now, why do I say to my child, “say, ‘I love you too daddy.’” Because they mean the world to me. The reason I don’t go around asking your kids to say that they love me, besides that it would just be weird, is because they don’t quite mean to me what my own children do. Jesus tells the whole story of God and the whole story is that God so loves you that the Word who is God and is His Son took on flesh for you. Receive him and let the misery of self-absorption give way to Christ-absorption. Receive him and we’ll be all about Jesus for the next 10 years.