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Sunday, April 29, 2018

posted Apr 29, 2018, 10:39 PM by Site Administrator

THE WORD BECAME FLESH

 

John 1:6-18

Key Verse 1:14

 

The 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.

 

            John 1:1-18 is the introduction to this book. From the beginning of his book, the author apostle John proclaims that Jesus is God who was with God in the beginning, and that in him was life, and that life was the light of men. Without Jesus, people do not have life, “zoe,” and they are perishing. Without Jesus, man’s life has no meaning or purpose. Now in today’s passage, the author apostle John shows us how blessed we are because Jesus came into the world. When Jesus, the Creator God, came into the world in the form of human flesh, he brought into the world amazing blessings. May God bless us through this message.

 

First, “The true light was coming into the world” (6-13). Look at verse 6. “There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.” In verse 5, we learned that even though the light shone in the darkness, the darkness had not understood it. Jesus came into the world as the light, but people did not recognize him. So God sent a messenger ahead of Jesus so that through him, all men might believe in Jesus. His name was John. It is interesting to notice that God sent an evangelist John the Baptist to help these God-believing people who attended worship service regularly and who had a lot of Bible knowledge. These God-believing people did not recognize what’s going on, even when the light was shining in them; these God-believing people were ignorant of the light and thereby, needed help. When John came to Judea, he preached the message of repentance, and so many people responded, repenting and confessing, and John baptized them in the Jordan River. Through John the Baptist, there was great repentance movement in Judea; people held John so highly that many wondered if he might be the Messiah. But the author John here specifically states that John was not the light, but he came only as a witness to the light.

 

            Then, in verse 9, the author John shouts, “9The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” Even John the Baptist, such a great man of God was not the light but only a witness to the light. Then, the true light was coming into the world! What an amazing news it was! By the way, what is the true light? The apostle John gives us the definition of the true light, saying, “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” So the true light is the person that gives light to every man. In human history, there have been many people who played the role of light for some people. For example, Jesus described John the Baptist as the lamp that burned – when people came to him and followed him, they could see that, instead of insisting their own righteousness, they must really repent before God for they were nothing but sinners, even if they believed in God and attended worship service regularly. The Jews chose to enjoy his light for a while. Dante (Dante degil Alighieri 1265-1321) compared Socrates to a candle light. His teaching, for example, “Know yourself,” challenged the people of his time to humble themselves instead of criticizing others. But his candle light burned up too soon. When Buddha taught people his theory of re-incarnation, people were encouraged to be merciful to each other; as a result, the society became a better place. Some time ago, people thought communism was the light for the world. But now it is proved that such an idea brought people pain, sorrow and violence, making the whole world be in constant war. It was a false light. Then, is capitalism better? No! Not at all! The poor become more and more angry in frustration, and the rich more and more corrupt! To some people, their football coaches were the light. Under the guidance and influence of their football coach, they turned from their wild life and pursued the goal of their life sincerely; they became better people, and even some of them become very successful in the society, and their stories, sometimes, impress people a lot. But none of these can be the true light, because they cannot give light to every man. The author John proclaims that Jesus is the true light that gives light to every man.

 

John could say so, because, when he followed Jesus, his life changed completely – that nameless fisherman in Galilee, who wept and laughed on the number of fish he caught, became a world class spiritual leader for all mankind. The apostle Peter could say that Jesus is the true light, because, when he followed him, his life changed completely; he became a world class spiritual leader, and his influences are still found in many aspects of human life, in literatures, in buildings, and in the city names, such as San Pedro, St. Petersburg. A man who was like a party animal becomes a devout man of prayer. A cruel man like John Newton, a slave trader, becomes a shepherd who sheds tears for the lost. I can tell you that Jesus is the true light to me. Jesus is the true light to John Boos. Jesus is the true light to Johnny. We can talk about this all day long, showing that Jesus is the true light that gives light to every man. This is our testimony. This is the good news we proclaim to the world: Jesus is the true light that gives light to every man – not only 2000 years ago but today also; not only to men, but also to women – no gender, no races, no age. What happened to John and Peter can happen to anyone today who follows Jesus, because Jesus is the true light. Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12)

 

But how did people respond to him, the true light? Not good at all. Verse 10 shows the response of the Gentile people. It reads: “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.” By saying, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him...” the author John shows that the world was supposed to accept him. But, due to their spiritual ignorance, they did not recognize their Creator when He visited them at their place; instead of welcoming him with flowers and offerings, they rejected and crucified him to the cross. Their sin was indeed great against their Creator. Verse 11 shows the response of Israel. Israel was called here as “that which was his own.” What a glorious title this is! God chose them to be his partners in his world redemption plan and gave them the Bible, showing them all his plans in advance. They were really blessed. But verse 11 shows that, when God came to them in flesh, they did not receive him. Here, the statement, “they did not receive him,” shows that their rejection was deliberate, intentional. It was even obvious to a man born blind that Jesus was the Son of David, the Promised Messiah. (Jn 9:30-33) But the experts in the Bible rejected Jesus. They knew who he was, but they didn’t like his way, his style, and his purpose, so they refused to accept him as their Messiah, as their God; instead, they crucified him to the cross. Thus, they forsook the amazing blessing Jesus came to give to those who accepted him.

 

Today, still this is how many God-believing people respond. Jesus comes to them and knocks; they open the door and see Jesus standing there, with a parcel in his hands – in that parcel are his instructions of what he wants them to do and how they must live their life – they must deny their own dreams and desires in this life, and, instead of pursuing their own things, they must pursue God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness. But that’s not what they want. So, they close the door, and do not let him in; instead, they just say, “I believe in Jesus; I go to church.” Their rejection of Jesus is deliberate.

 

Look at verses 12 and 13. Let’s read these verses together.

 

12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

 

            Even though the Gentile world did not recognize him, even though his chosen, Bible-believing people did not receive him, God’s plan of blessing the whole world through Jesus could not be hindered. Instead, now God’s grace overflowed to anyone who would accept him. Here, again, we see the word, “receive” indicating that accepting Jesus is someone’s intentional, willing decision. Accepting and believing in Jesus is what each person must decide. When a person does so, then, God gives that person the right to become child of God. It sounds very simple, but it is actually very serious, because, if anyone becomes a child of God, that person is to inherit God’s kingdom, just as sons and daughters are entitled to inherit their parents’ estate. Think about all kinds of wicked people inheriting God’s kingdom, only because they said, “I believe in Jesus.” No one can deceive God and sneak into the kingdom of God. Accepting Jesus or believing in him is far more than just saying, “I believe.” So, in verse 13, the author John explains further about this, saying, “children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’ will, but born of God.” Here, the expression, “but born of God,” definitely shows us what happens when one person believes in Jesus. When one person believes in Jesus, when his turning to God in Jesus is real, God does something for that person, approving that person’s acceptance, and welcoming him into his kingdom. What is it? God’s Spirit gives birth to that person’s spirit, and thereby, that person is born again. In John 3, Jesus says, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” 20 years ago, your mom that is flesh gave birth to you – you were born of your mom, that is flesh – you were a child of your mom, and since then, for the past 20 years, your flesh has grown up. Then, at the age of 20, as you accepted Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit gave birth to your spirit – you were born again, born of God, and thereby, you are a child of God. That’s how people become children of God. Being a child of God is very real, not conceptual or theological.

 

            John also comes up with three ways that cannot make anyone a child of God – natural descent, human decision, and husband’s will. No one can become a child of God through natural descent. Let’s say a pastor is a child of God. But it does not mean that his children become children of God automatically. They grow up in a believing environment, studying the Bible, attending worship service all the time, and praying before the meal in Jesus’ name; they are very familiar with Christian things; they have good Bible knowledge. Yet, still each of them must be born of God, coming up with their own decision to accept Jesus as their Savior. God does not have grandchildren.

 

            No one can be a child of God through human decision either. Let’s say, a man decides to be a child of God. So, what does he do? He begins to live a better life – no longer a party animal’s life, no immoral life, no more violent life, but a good life, sometimes, tossing some coins to homeless people, attending worship service, or even doing some mission work; yet, no one becomes a child of God through that. There must be God’s approval on their repentance, on their turning to God, on their faith in Jesus; they must be born of God.

 

            No one can become a child of God through a husband’s will. In this case, husband is a child of God, but his wife is not. So, he earnestly desires for her to become a Christian; he prays for her diligently; he teaches her the word of God; he invites her to worship service or to Bible conferences; and in order to give good influence to her as a Christian, he does many good things for her, such as being kind to her and washing dishes. Yet, even if he may do all these things, still there is a limit – he cannot change her; he cannot make her a child of God; instead, she must turn to God on her own by faith in Jesus Christ. This is the limit of all God’s servants; this is our limit as shepherds for God’s flock. Even if we want all our sheep to become children of God and do all we can do – praying for them and teaching them the Bible diligently, sometimes, comforting them, sometimes, rebuking them, still we cannot make anyone a child of God; only God can make them children of God. So, we pray all the more. When we think about this, we can see that all the disciples in our church are the products of God’s work – God accepted each of us and gave us a new birth. It is God who did this, and brought us here together for his purpose. We are God’s workmanship in Jesus Christ. We thank and praise God who accepted us and gave us a new birth in Jesus Christ.

 

Second, “The Word became flesh” (14-18). Look at verse 14. Let’s read this verse 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 Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” The Word, who was with God in the beginning, the Infinite God, came into our world in a human form and lived among his people; he was named, “Jesus.” Jesus is the Incarnated God in flesh. What did it mean that the Word became a human being? It meant that now as He became a human, he had to eat human food and drink water frequently; he had to rest and sleep; when he traveled a long distance, he was tired, and experienced hunger and thirst. He could have chosen to be born as a prince in the palace so that he could be exempt, at least, from these things; but instead, he chose to be born as a tiny baby in a poor family and was laid in a manger, the food tray for animals. When he started God’s salvation work, he could have had his angels build a huge cathedral and asked people to come to it; if he did so, his mission life would have been so easy and comfortable – no burden of fishing, no suffering, no sweat; but instead, he chose to start from scratch with his bare hands, walking a lot, trying to find his sheep day and night; this was indeed the grace of God’s incarnation. When the Word, the Infinite God became a human being, He emptied himself completely and lowered himself to the bottom – he indeed, became like you and me, experiencing all the pains and sufferings we suffer. About this grace, the apostle Paul says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2Co 8:9) This is the grace of Jesus’ incarnation. Thanks to God’s marvelous grace of incarnation, even lowly people like fishermen had a chance to meet their God, talk with him, live with him and come to know him very personally – once they met their Creator God in flesh, what happened to them? Their life never became the same; their life changed completely – these lowly people were transformed into awesome and glorious servants of God who changed the course of human history. They shout, “We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

 

            When those American missionaries came to Korea about 120 years ago and served Korean people, it was indeed, God’s grace of incarnation, poured out on Koreans. When Mother Barry, instead of enjoying her life as the princess of Mississippi, came to Korea and served Korean college students, staying in a small rented house and eating smelly Kimchi, it was indeed, God’s grace of Incarnation, poured out on them. Through her, so many college students experienced God’s grace and their lives were changed; then, many of them did the same thing – now many of them are serving God’s mission in foreign countries, giving up their promising career – more than 1,500 missionaries over 90 countries. When our shepherds and shepherdesses visit schools after work, and look for students and teach them the Bible, it is indeed, God’s grace of incarnation, poured out on these lost students. This is Christian history. God started it, and his people follow his example. Let’s pray that we all may join in this beautiful work of God’s incarnation so that many people may see God’s glory through us.

 

            By the way, what kind of glory does John talk about? Usually, when people talk about seeing God’s glory, it is about God’s power such as the Red Sea being divided, or people being healed of deadly diseases. But John was not talking about God’s power; instead, he says, “full of grace and truth.” He is talking about his character. He is talking about what kind of person Jesus was – Jesus was full of grace and full of truth – his graceful and truthful character was so awesomely great and perfect – only God can be so perfect in grace and truth; it was God’s character, God’s personality, and the apostle John was really shocked and amazed – through this, he recognized Jesus as God. Even though the Word that was with God in the beginning covered his glory with human body, his beautiful character was revealed in his words and actions, in how he dealt with people – in dealing with a thirsty Samaritan woman, in dealing with a condemned lady, in dealing with proud and self-righteous Pharisees, and especially, in dealing with his 12 apostles. Other people failed to see this glory of God in Jesus, because they didn’t make real commitment to him; instead, they just came, enjoyed his teachings and healing touch, and then, went home, saying, “Today’s message was pretty good. I like it.” They just enjoyed the benefits from Jesus – his divine teaching and his blessings, but they failed to know him. But the apostle John committed himself to Jesus fully and lived with him for three years; so, he had a chance to know who he really was – Jesus was God, full of grace and truth. When we make real commitment to Jesus by working together with him for God’s kingdom work, there we come to have chances to experience and know him really. Such people come to see the glory of God in Jesus.

 

            Look at verse 15. 15John testifies concerning him. He cries out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’” This is John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus. Actually, he was 6 months older than Jesus, but he testifies that Jesus was before him because Jesus is the Word who was with God in the beginning. Let’s read verses 16 through 18 together:

 

16From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.

 

            “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” Christian life is the life of receiving one blessing after another. The expression, “We have all received...” shows that all believers, no exception have already received one blessing after another. If you are a believer, then, you have already received one blessing after another. So you must be happy and thankful in all circumstances. Thanks to his many blessings, our life has changed so much that even sometimes, it is difficult for us to remember how miserable our life was – it was dark, sorrowful, meaningless, miserable – no hope, no vision, no direction and no purpose – we barely existed without knowing where we were going. But Jesus came to us, and all kinds of blessings have been poured out on us that our life has changed completely – now our life has a clear direction and we know what we must do, and we struggle hard to do something great; our life carries real value, meaning and purpose. We are in the light. When we think about this, we are really happy and thankful. The sun has dawned in our life! Count your many blessings name them one by one! And you will be surprised at what great blessings have been poured out on you in Jesus Christ. We praise and thank Jesus for all these blessings.

 

            Then, in verse 17, the apostle John mentions about three different blessings – the law, grace and truth; in his eyes, these three are fundamental blessings – great blessings. Yet he makes distinction saying that the Law was through Moses, but grace and truth through Jesus Christ. Many Christians show an allergic reaction to the Law, saying that, in the New Testament, we are free from the Law. But they are totally mistaken. It is God’s law. No one, no country in the world has the Law of God, but only we Christians are given the Law of God; God’s law is perfect, just and righteous. God’s law is a great blessing for all Christians. When Moses brought the law to Israel people, it was great blessing to them, because now these slave people could see what was right and what was wrong, what to do and what not to do, where to go and where not to do, and how to live their life. By keeping the law, they could escape from the corruption, avoid all disastrous sins, and even participate in God’s character, becoming holy and righteous. With the law of God, they could grow up as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. To these slave people, the law of God was the best blessing. We are living in a confusing world. In this Post-Modern era, there is no standard; people do not know what’s right and what’s wrong, and as a result, they end up doing so many crazy things only to bring total disasters to themselves, to their children and to the whole society. The law of God must be the best gift to the suffering people of the world.

 

            But the problem is the nature of the law. Statistics show that in America, each person gets a ticket every two years. There was a teacher who bragged about her clean record for about more than ten years, but sadly, after that, she got a ticket, and she was angry because she had to pay the fine; that’s the nature of the law.        No matter how well and how long you have kept the law, once you violate the law, you have to pay the penalty. You have to keep the law always, completely and to the end, and no one can do so due to their weaknesses and wickedness. As a result, instead of bringing blessings and life, the law ended up bringing condemnation, judgment and death. That’s why the apostle Paul said that whoever is under the law is under curse. So, even though the law is good, it is still the second best.

 

            Jesus brought grace and truth into the world. Grace means “second chance.” When you violate the law, you have to pay the penalty, and the wage of sin is death – that’s the law. But instead of punishing us based on what we have done, God forgave us and gave us another chance to live a holy life; that’s grace, and this grace is made available for us in Jesus Christ. And with grace we are encouraged to go on continually, and eventually, we come to have a chance to overcome our own weaknesses and sin problems. With this grace, we have a chance to grow up as real children of God, becoming truly beautiful and awesome in our thoughts and conducts. Grace does what the law cannot, enabling us to live as children of God really.

 

            Truth is what is unchangeable. God showed them his ultimate purpose in giving the Israelites 613 laws, saying, “Be holy as I am holy.” Jesus upholds this standard, saying, “Be perfect therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” In Jesus, this truth stands, and we are all encouraged to live by it. That’s our standard in Jesus Christ. And encouraged and strengthened to live up to this standard of God. Thus, children of God who live by God’s laws and standard appear in this world. 

 

            As a conclusion, the apostle John says, “18No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” Our God is Jehovah Elohim, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Almighty. What kind of Person is He? No one knew it, but the Word came into the world as a human and lived among his people Israel, and showed what kind of Person He is. He is a graceful God; He is a truthful God, full of grace and truth; he is so compassionate, perfect in humility, slow to anger, so pure like a little child, rejoicing over one soul being saved that he forgot about his hunger and thirst. Know your God because He is beautiful.

 

One Word: We Have Seen His Glory, Full Of Grace And Truth

 

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