Jesus Christ: The Eternal Word (John 1:1-5)

Who is Jesus Christ? Many answers to this question have flooded in. Jesus asked His disciples the following question, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (). After they provided some answers, He confronted them with this question, “But who do you say that I am?” (). Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (). In this unique account of aspects of the life of Christ, John with clarity presents who Jesus Christ is.

John begins this gospel in a very different manner to Matthew, Mark and Luke (the synoptic gospels). Nothing is said concerning His earthly genealogy nor is anything said about the circumstances of His birth. John begins in eternity past, before the beginning of the universe. At the end of this book, John provides the purpose behind his writing, “these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (). We will see that his goal in providing evidence with the view of evangelizing the lost is behind every section in his book.

Sermon Summary: In this passage we will see three features of Jesus Christ as the Word.

THE WORTHINESS OF THE WORD 1:1-2
In the opening verse John uses the term “Word” as a designation for Christ three times. Outside of this text, this term is used the same way on three other occasions (; ; ). The meaning and significance of this designation is to convey that Jesus Christ is the revelation of God to man. In the opening verse, John provides three descriptions that reveal the Worthiness of the Word.

Firstly, the Word is worthy because He is eternal. John begins by saying, “In the beginning was the Word.” This opening line reminds the reader of , but this predates that in what it is saying. is referring to a time before the universe was created. Jesus Christ was in existence before the universe was created because He is eternal (cf. ; ).

Secondly, the Word is worthy because He was with God. John continues by saying, “and the Word was with God“. Here we see the great union and fellowship Christ shares with the Godhead (cf. ). The fact that he “was with God” reveals that Jesus is distinguished from the other members of the Godhead. In the words of J.C. Ryle,

“Let us be fully persuaded that the Father and the Son are two distinct Persons in the Trinity, co-equal and co-eternal, – and yet that they are one in substance and inseparably united and undivided”.[1]

Finally, the Word is worthy because He is Divine. finishes by saying, “and the Word was God“. It is the clear testimony of Scripture that Jesus Christ is God (cf. ; ; ; ). Though He is distinct from God the Father, He and the Father are one (cf. ).

These three descriptions reveal why Jesus Christ is worthy. They are written to reveal that He is “the Christ, the Son of God” (20:31). is a reiteration of what was said in , “He was in the beginning with God” (1:2). This emphasizes what has been said, and declares the eternal relationship Christ has with the Godhead. Jesus Christ is worthy of our worship and praise. He alone can provide salvation to lost sinners because of who He is.

THE WORK OF THE WORD 1:3
The second feature we see concerning the Lord Jesus Christ is His work. We read that, “All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made” (1:3). The entire Trinity was involved in the work of creation (; Is. 64:8; ), but here we see a particular function the Son of God played in the work of creation. The text says, “All things were made through Him. The word “through” indicates that Jesus Christ was the Father’s agent in creation. It was by means of Christ that “all things were made“. Christ is supreme above all creation because “without Him was not any thing made that was made“. He was not only the Father’s agent in creation, but He is the “firstborn of all creation” () in the sense of being supreme.

THE WITNESS OF THE WORD 1:4-5
The final feature we observe in these opening verses is the Witness of the Word.John records, “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” (1:4-5). Spiritual life is found exclusively in Jesus Christ (cf. ). He is the only One who can bring eternal life. When praying to His Father, Jesus said, “this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (). This “life was the light of men” because apart from Him, humanity is in darkness.

The phrase “The light shines in the darkness” (1:5a) is a reference to the powerful entrance of Christ coming into the world. Here the world of humanity is described as “darkness” (cf. ; ) because they are lost and without the light of Christ. In bringing this light to the world, John says, “and the darkness has not overcome it” (1:5b). The word “overcome” can also be translated “comprehend”. Both of these are legitimate translations, however in my view the word “comprehend” appears to be in line with the context (cf. ). However, it is possible that both concepts are intended here. The point is, that without Christ we are in darkness, and the only way in which we can be brought out of such a state is if we believe and trust in the light of world (cf. ).

CONCLUSION
Who is Jesus Christ? He is the eternal Word. He is worthy of our worship because of who He is (1:1-2), what He has done (1:3), and what He reveals (1:4-5). This is why Jesus Christ alone can provide a lost sinner salvation. What an amazing way to begin our study in the Gospel of John.

 

[1]J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, 9

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

31 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.

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.

1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—

13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.

1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

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

5:1  Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops;
siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the judge of Israel
on the cheek.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.

58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—

1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—

To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,

13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

But of the Son he says,

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.

30 I and the Father are one.”

But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

10:1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.

1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 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.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 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. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,

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.

46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.