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Sunday, April 22, 2018

posted Apr 24, 2018, 2:32 AM by Site Administrator

IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD

 

John 1:1-5

Key Verse 1:1

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

 

We thank God for allowing us this chance to study the book of John.  This book is known as "the special gospel," compared to the other three synoptic gospels.  Also, it is known as "the gospel of life," "the gospel of light," and "the gospel of love." May God bless us to have life, light and love as we study this book prayerfully. Let’s pray one minute.

 

First, "In the beginning was the Word" (1-2). Look at verse 1. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." The apostle John proclaims from the beginning of his book, "In the beginning was the Word…" What is he talking about by saying, "In the beginning"? We see the same expression in Genesis 1:1, which reads, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." When we read Genesis 1:1 very carefully, we can see that "In the beginning" in Genesis is the time when God began his creation. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." It is the starting point of all things in the universe. From this time on, all things such as time and space, humans and history, and everything else, came to exist. But "in the beginning" in John 1:1 is slightly different. "In the beginning was the Word." It is the time when the Word existed with God, and nothing else. Then, in verse 3, John shows what the Word did - the Word created all things that are there. "In the beginning" is the time when the Word alone existed. It was beyond the time domain, and it was called, "In the beginning." What was there in the beginning? John says that in the beginning was the Word.

 

    We, from time to time, have this question in our mind, "What was there in the beginning?" "What was there before this space or time existed?" "How did it look?" Actually, this question is found wherever human beings are found. It was the same with the people of ancient days. The Greek people were not satisfied with mundane or visible things of the world. Instead, they wanted to know the truth and had a question, "What was there in the beginning?"` Heraclitus (540?-475? BC), Greek philosopher, believed that fire is the primordial source of matter and that the world is in constant strife and conflict. But others disagreed with him and said that water was there in the beginning. Then, others suggested "dirt", and still others, "air" or "atom." Such a debate was going on and on, but none of them could be satisfied with such a childish idea that this beautiful and harmonious world was formed by water, fire, or air.  They could not agree to the idea that beautiful and personal beings such as humans were created by impersonal things such as water or fire. Who will believe that amoeba was in the beginning and amoeba created you? It is "scientifically incorrect!" So, finally, they came to a conclusion that there must have been something superior to the things and creatures of the world. But they could not grasp what it was. According to the conclusion of their logic, that something superior to the things of this world must be there, but they did not know what it was. So, they made an agreement to call it, "logos." They said, "In the beginning was the logos" – that supernatural reason or knowledge was there before the universe was made. So they talked about logos; students learned about it at their schools and took tests.   

   

In the original Greek text of John’s gospel, "the Word" is "Logos." "In the beginning was the Logos,…" He says the same thing, but he personifies Logos, indicating that he is talking about a Person who was in the beginning. That’s why in verse 2, he says, "He was with God in the beginning." What does it mean "a Person"? It means that the Word feels, thinks, plans, talks, and acts. John’s point is very clear. From the beginning of his book, John’s gospel, he says to the Greek people, "The logos you talk about, that should be there in the beginning as the conclusion of your logic, is actually, a Person who has a character, feelings and plans, whom you can talk to." This is an amazing proclamation - in the beginning was a Person. What kind of Person is he? Is he gentle? Is he powerful? Is he loving? Is he compassionate? That's the whole point of this book. That's what the author John is going to talk about in this book. We didn’t know about this Person, but the apostle John, by God’s divine blessing, came to know him personally and now wants to talk about him. In 1John 1:1, the apostle John says, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life." We will learn of this Person by studying John's gospel. By the way, what kind of person should he be, who was there in the beginning, when even space did not exist? What kind of person is he who is there beyond time domain? He must be God. So, John says, "In the beginning was the Word  and... the Word was God." And when the Word was there in the beginning, there was another Person with him, and that another Person was God also, so John says, "The Word was with God in the beginning." With this understanding, let's read verses 1 and 2 together:

 

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

 

We are talking about something really amazing. Before the universe was made, before time started, before the earth was made, there was a Person, who, by the Greek people, was named as the Logos. What an amazing proclamation it is! Who is this Person who was with God in the beginning? Look at John chapter 1, verse 14. Let’s read this verse all together:

 

14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

The Logos, the Word, that Infinite Being who was with God in the beginning, came to the world in the form of a human and lived among his people, and he was named, "Jesus." Jesus is the Logos, who was with God in the beginning! He is God in flesh! This is the apostle John’s proclamation: "Jesus is God who was with God in the beginning." As of that time, many Gentile people believed in Jesus. They experienced his grace, their life changed, they loved him. Yet, they did not know who Jesus was - maybe, they thought that Jesus was a Jewish man who died on the cross on their behalf. To these people, John proclaims that Jesus was their God who was with God in the beginning.

 

Jesus is God! What a glorious proclamation this is! All men are religious in the sense that everyone looks for something or someone to love, cherish and devote themselves to, because otherwise, man’s life is meaningless. What does the fact that Jesus is God mean to us? It means that the object of our worship and devotion is clear. When we know Jesus as our God, we have everything we need. What we need is not food or 8 hours' sleep only; we need the true worthy object of our life's devotion whom we can really love and pursue pouring out everything we have. Jesus is the true worthy object of our worship; now we know what to do with our life, and how to live, because we know that Jesus is our God. Greek people worshiped knowledge – so, they always looked for something new, something fantastic, pouring out all their strength and time on it, as a result, they argued a lot throughout their life, and when their life time was over, they had nothing to say, because they had already talked too much. Cain’s descendants didn’t know the meaning and purpose of their life, because they were disconnected from God; simply, they didn’t know what to do with their life; they had no true object of their life devotion. So, they pursued many other things such as business success in developing industry, in pursuing music and art, and in developing new technology. Then, how was their life? Outwardly, they achieved a lot in the world. But inwardly, despite their great success, they were not happy at all; instead, all people became very violent and immoral that they came to form a terrible society. Modern day, people are smart; all kinds of information are at their fingertips - their potential is indeed great. But the problem is that they don't know what to do with their life, because they do not know who their God is, the true worthy object of their life devotion; despite their great potential and brilliance, they are miserably pathetic, pouring out their energy and time on worthless things such as computer games or pleasure seeking life. To this wandering mankind, the apostle John proclaims that Jesus is our God. Jesus is the true God who was with God in the beginning! Jesus is God whom you have been looking for, the true worthy object of your worship and life devotion. How happy is the man who knows his God whom he can come to, love and worship. Jesus is your God!

 

Second, "In him was life" (3-5). Look at verse 3. "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." Here John shows us that the Word who was with God in the beginning is not unrelated to us. Logos, the Word, Jesus, who was with God in the beginning is the Creator God. Jesus is the cause of all things that are there, and he is the cause of our existence; because of Jesus, we exist. Without him we would not be existing. This shows us who we are very clearly. We are not abandoned or illegitimate children, but children of God; Jesus created us. Because of Jesus we are here. Sometimes we wonder, "Who am I?" "How come I exist and breathe here on earth?" Without coming to Jesus, no one can find the answer to these questions. Some people say that we are thinking reeds. But I am not a reed, but a human created in God’s image. Some scientists say that we are from amoeba. But I am not from amoeba, but I am from God. When people do not know their Creator Jesus, their thinking becomes futile and their hearts are darkened that they make very weird ideas and thoughts only to cause more confusion to human society. Even one person said that you were a mosquito, and when you die, you will be reborn as a cockroach. People are really crazy. When people do not know their Creator Jesus, they do not know where they came from and where they are going; they don’t know what they should do. Certainly, when they do not know Jesus their Creator, they know nothing; the only thing they know is that they have to pay the bills, so they study hard and work hard; all of them are in utter darkness, struggling hard to survive, even without knowing who they are, where they came from, where they are going, what they should do with their life and how to live it; they are truly miserable. But John proclaims that Jesus is the Creator God; because of him we exist. In him, we find our true identity – we are not from amoebas, but we are children of God who came from God to do something great for God. What should we do during our life time here on earth? We love Jesus and do what pleases him, and after finishing our life, we go back to him, and enjoy life together with him forever.

  

Look at verse 4.  Let’s read this verse together:

 

4In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

 

In him was life! This is the author's proclamation that the Word is the source and origin of life. And the expression, "that life was the light of men" shows that life that was in the Word, in Jesus is no ordinary life, but a very special life. This ordinary life all people have is called "psuche." Jesus used this term one time, saying, "Whoever wants to save his life (psuche) will lose it, but whoever loses his life (psuche) for me and the gospel will save it." Here, Jesus shows us how we must use this one life (psuche) we have - we must not try to fulfill our dreams and desires in this life, because, when we do so, even if we may fulfill all our dreams and desires, (usually this does not occur), our life will carry no value, no meaning, no purpose - we will end up doing nothing in our life; instead, we must use this one life we have for Jesus and the gospel, even willing to sacrifice it for him, and when we do so, we will find that our life carries real value, meaning, and purpose, and when we live that kind of life, we will be truly satisfied and happy - by doing so, we have not wasted our life, but used it so wonderfully, thus, saving it. The problem of this ordinary life called "psuche" is that it is perishing. It is really like a laptop computer - the more you use it, the more it is dying. With this psuche, the more you live, the more you are dying. In one way you can say, "I am living." But in the other way, you can say, "I am dying." John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." There, the expression, "perish" shows mankind's condition with psuche very well - people are perishing; no matter what they do, they are perishing, just like a laptop computer. And God's purpose in sending Jesus to the world to die on the cross is so that by believing in him, they shall not perish any longer, they shall not live the life that is perishing any longer, but live life that does not perish - eternal life. That's is God's purpose in sending Jesus; that's is God's intention and desire for people; this is the expression of God's love for mankind that are perishing.  

 

When John says, "In him was life," that life is "zoe," in Greek. What kind of life is zoe? Zoe is the life of vitality or power; when you have the life of power, when life power keeps welling up in you, what kind of life are you going to live? Of course, not the life of couch potatoes, but a powerful life, pursuing something great, working hard to achieve and fulfill something truly valuable; at that time, you life is venturous; challenges come, and you struggle hard to overcome them; your life will not be boring at all, but very dynamic, really action-packed, thrilling. This kind of powerful, action-packed, truly meaningful and fulfilling life is zoe. How will you be when you live this kind of life, so powerful, dynamic, action-packed, meaningful and fulfilling? Of course, you will be so happy and satisfied. This is zoe. Actually, when we think about the definition of zoe, we can see that this is the very life we have been looking for; indeed, this is the ultimate goal of all peoples' struggles - eventually, what humans want is zoe, that truly meaningful and fulfilling life, so dynamic, powerful and action-packed. Some people try to find this powerful and fulfilling life in money; they pour out their time and energy to make big money, working 5 am to 12 am. But all the rich people throughout the world, and throughout human history have testified that money could not give them a truly meaningful and fulfilling life. They have testified that zoe was not in money - so don't try it any longer. Some people try to find that truly happy and fulfilling life in power. So, they worked hard, even willing to kill anyone in their way. But they also have testified that zoe was not in power - many of them became insane, killing so many innocent people; many of them became paranoid, fearing that others would kill them for their thrones as they had killed others. Zoe is not in power, so don't go in that direction. Some people think that meeting their dream spouse would give them zoe. So, when they thought that they had found their soul mate, they married, expecting a truly happy life. But two years later, they come to hate each other so much as if they were their worst enemies, and they divorce. It is really shocking that, at their friends' wedding, these wedding guests don't believe that this marriage will last. Zoe is not in boyfriends or girlfriends or in marriage. There is no soul mate, because all men are sinners! All peoples on earth look for zoe, but the question is, "Where can we find that truly meaningful, fulfilling and happy life?" This is a good question.

 

Now the apostle John shouts, "In him was zoe!" "In Jesus is zoe!" When you come to Jesus, when you pursue him, he will give you that truly fulfilling life you have been looking for. One woman was looking for this truly fulfilling life in her husbands. So, in her pursuit of this truly fulfilling life, she married five times, but none of those five husbands gave her true fulfillment and happiness, so she divorced them all, and now she was trying another boyfriend. Jesus said to her, "Whoever drinks this water will be thirsty again, but he who drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." There was another man who was very intellectual, religious, moralistic and rich. But none of these could give him a truly fulfilling life; he was depressed. Zoe was not found in his great success in the world, even in having great knowledge of the Bible, even in occupying a high position in the church, and even in living a moralistic life. When he came to Jesus for help at night, Jesus told him that true happiness was not the matter of what he had, but the matter of being born again, saying, "No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." (Jn 3:5)

 

Again, John 3:16 shows God's desire for us that in Jesus Christ, we shall not perish but have eternal life - this is God's purpose in sending Jesus to the world. "Shall not perish but have eternal life." This eternal life is "zoe" in Greek. So whenever you see the words, "eternal life" or "everlasting life" in the New Testament, it is "zoe." And it is not about living a long life in heaven, but about having a truly fulfilling and wonderful life now here on earth in Jesus Christ, and all the way to eternity after finishing our life in Jesus Christ. This zoe, eternal life is actually the very life we have dreamed about all the time. Zoe is in Jesus. So, what should we do? Of course, we must seek Jesus, because only he can give it to us. In John 20:31, the apostle John shares with us his purpose in writing this book, saying, "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." Seek Jesus because only he is the Savior, only he can give you zoe, eternal life, the very life you have dreamed about. With zoe, eternal life, you will be really satisfied.

 

The expression, "that life was the light of men" shows that life that is in Jesus plays the role of light in man’s life. Only when we have zoe that is in Jesus, only when we have eternal life in Jesus, we have light in your life - then, we can see everything clearly - who we are, where we came from, where we are going, what to do with our life, and how we must live it. Otherwise, we have no light in our life - without knowing what to do and how to live our life, no direction, no purpose, and no meaning. we just barely survive by the means of 8 hours' sleep and 3 meals a day. Without zoe that is in Jesus, people are just perishing. That's why we must have zoe; that's why we must seek Jesus with all our hearts and strength.

 

Look at verse 5: "The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it." Here, the darkness refers to the people in darkness - they are the people who live without zoe that is in Jesus. Jesus was walking among them, teaching them the word of God. So, the light was shining in the darkness, meaning that those people in darkness had a chance to accept the light and have a new life, called zoe. What great chance they had! Jesus was there among them! But the expression, "the darkness has not understood it," shows their rejection of Jesus due to their ignorance. When students have Bible study with us, the light is already shining in them; when people hear the name Jesus, the light is shining in them. But alas! Many people do not recognize what's going on. They are like blind slumbers, and our job is to shout to them, "Hey, wake up, it is the day time."

 

There are so many people who are in complete darkness. God's gift is eternal life, zoe in Jesus Christ for all peoples on earth. Let's accept Jesus; he is our Savior; he gives us zoe, eternal life, that truly fulfilling life we have been looking for. Let’s bring this good news of zoe that is in Jesus to many dying souls around us.

 

One Word:  In Him was Life and That Life was the Light of Men

 

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