Jesus, the Gift of God’s Grace (John 1:1-5)

Jesus, the Gift of God’s Grace (John 1:1-5)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, November 28 and Sunday, November 29

Immanuel means: “God with us.”

This is the first Sunday of Advent and so we are looking forward to Jesus’ birth. The word “advent” actually means “coming.” The idea is the coming of the Christ child.

With that in mind, I was recently thinking back to my beliefs about Jesus from when I was a child. As a child, what were your beliefs about Jesus? Think way back, way back to some of your earliest comprehensions about Jesus. When I was a very young child, I thought that Jesus was the first man created. I actually thought that Jesus was before Adam and Eve. I didn’t understand or comprehend that Jesus was coming to earth at Christmas time. But later on, I did begin to understand that the idea of Christmas was Jesus’ birth, but then I thought God just decided to have a son. I even thought that maybe someday God would consider having another son. I wonder if you have had any similar views. At some point I realized, or God taught me, that Jesus did not have His beginning when He came to earth.  This is exactly what I want to talk about today.

This year, over the next several weeks, I wish to talk about Jesus, the indescribable gift.

Today, I wish to talk about Jesus, the gift of God’s grace.

Next week we will talk about Jesus the gift of God’s Truth.

Then, we will talk about Jesus the gift of God’s Love

On Christmas Eve we will talk about: Jesus, the Indescribable Gift, God in the Manger (Luke 2:1-20; 2 Cor. 9:15)

On December 27, we will talk about Jesus, the Gift of God’s Hope

As we look at John 1:1-5 we are going to see that Jesus’ beginning was in eternity past, actually Jesus had no beginning at all. But, Jesus did choose to come to earth to become our sacrifice for our sins. God chose to come to be with us. John 1:1-5 also shows that Jesus is fully God, yet separate. Are you confused? That is okay; let’s get into this passage and clear things up.

Let’s read John 1:1-5:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 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.

Humpty Dumpty had an unsolvable problem. We have a problem too, but ours has a solution.

Jesus Christ came to our wall,

Jesus Christ died for our fall;

So that regardless of death and in spite of sin,

Through grace, He might put us together again.[1]

  1. Let me give some context to this passage and in so doing allow me to show you how this passage relates to our Advent season.
    • Matthew’s Gospel begins with Jesus’ birth from Joseph’s perspective.
      1. More specifically, Matthew’s Gospel begins with the lineage of Jesus beginning with Abraham and ending with Joseph.
      1. Then in Matthew chapter 3 he writes about John the Baptizer.
    • Luke’s Gospel begins with John the baptizer preparing the way for Jesus.
    • Later in Luke’s Gospel, Luke gives the lineage of Jesus beginning with Adam (Luke 3:23ff).
    • Mark’s Gospel begins with John the baptizer preparing the way for Jesus.
    • The point is that the other three Gospels focus on John preparing the way for Jesus and the Gospel according to John will do that as well.
    • But two of the other three Gospels focus on Jesus’ physical lineage. They do this for a reason. It was important to establish that Jesus was the rightful King of Israel as He came from the family line of King David. But John’s Gospel is focusing on Jesus’ eternal past. That is what I want to focus on today. In a few weeks we will get to the narrative of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, but first let’s look at Jesus’ eternal past. Long before Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem He already existed, and He was active in creation. This is important as many false religions and many cults have this false doctrine about Jesus which can be cleared up here in John 1:1-5.
    • Notice that as Jesus took on flesh, He became the light of the world. This was all because of God’s grace.
    • Jesus took on flesh in order to save us from our sins.
    • This is God’s grace.
  2. Beginning: Notice the passage says in verse 1: In the beginning… stop right there.
    • Now, let’s think about that. This is stating that what John is about to write about has to do with the beginning.
    • More specifically this has to do with the very beginning of time as we know it. Think about that for just a minute.
    • What is it like to think about a time before time? It is difficult to even state that isn’t it? How do I write “time before time”? I believe as John is here writing this phrase, he is intentionally echoing Genesis 1:1 and Genesis says, “In the beginning God created…”
    • Since Genesis writes, “In the beginning,” and John writes, “In the beginning,” we can conclude that Jesus is beyond our timeline.
  3. The Word: Now, John continues by stating that in the beginning was the Word.
    • John does not say that The Word was created in the beginning.
    • No, John is saying that the Word was already in existence in the beginning.
    • He just was. In Revelation Jesus says, “I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end” (Rev 22:13). But what does John mean by saying the Word? Basically, he is writing about Jesus. We know this by context, right?
    • I mean as soon as he completes this first section, he will begin writing about John the baptizer (John 1:6-9), then in the very next verse, he uses the male pronoun translated as “he” to refer to “the Word” (John 1:10). He is writing about Jesus.
    • So, we can gather that he is writing about a man. But in the first century, during this time period, the Jews and the Greeks would know that the Word embodies reason which gives order to the universe. The Jewish people may have had a little more of a concept of the Word as God and as the creator.
    • John’s audience would have known that John is writing about God and context will later show that John is writing about Jesus. Later on, in verse 14 John writes that the Word became flesh. So, it is clear that the Word is Jesus’ eternal past.
    • Jesus’ beginning was not being born of Mary; no Jesus was with God from the beginning.
    • Jesus chose to become a man in order to die for us and save us by His grace. Jesus is the Gift of God’s grace.
  4. with God, was God, He was in the beginning with God: Notice this.
    • The Word, Jesus, was with God. Jesus has always existed with God and now the text also says that Jesus was God.
    • Now, this is not simply an eternity past concept. John is writing about this as an eternity past idea, but Jesus is still with God and Jesus still is God. Notice that Jesus was with God and Jesus was God.
    • Jesus is both the same as God and separate from God at the same time. That is what this passage is saying. Jesus was with God and was God.
    • Don’t try to understand this. If I could understand God, He would not be that great. Yet, God still has revealed certain things about Himself to us and so we should educate ourselves as much as we can.  
    • Immanuel means God with us.
    • It is also critical that we understand that this verse is NOT saying that Jesus was a God or the Word was a God. No, Jesus is God and Jesus is with God. We don’t worship three gods.
  5.  All things came into being…
    • Another critical idea that we must focus on is that all of creation came into being by Him. Look at this in verse 3. Everything you see was created by Him.
    • Jesus created everything that we see in the night sky. Jesus created those stars and those planets. It is mind boggling when we think of how amazingly large outer space is, but Jesus created all that is in existence.
    • Jesus created everything we see on this planet. He created the materials that we are made out of. He created the materials that exist all around us. He created everything (see Colossians 1:16-17 and Psalm 8).
    • According to this passage, things are not only created by Jesus, they are also held together by Jesus. Now, think about that for just a moment, what does that mean for who we put our trust in?
    • Shouldn’t we put our trust in Jesus as the One who holds all things together?
    • Shouldn’t we put our trust in Jesus as the One who owns all things?
    • Doesn’t the One who creates have ownership of all that He created?
      • I think about the things that I fear. I fear snakes, most you know this. Oftentimes, I have been running and saw a garter snake on the trail and jumped 10 feet. I hate snakes!
      • My fears have changed the past 9 years or more.
      • I fear danger happening to my children. When Mercedes was a baby a situation happened that really stressed this in my life. We had a baby monitor that would go off if Mercedes or Abigail quit breathing, but this can also go off if one of them would move to the corner of the crib. In 2012, the monitor went off in the night and as I was still half asleep, I walked into her room. But I was about to wake up really quickly. I started feeling around in the crib to move Mercedes, but I didn’t feel her in the crib. Instantaneously, in a split second, I woke up and had the worst thoughts come into my mind. I thought about whether she crawled out of the crib, or whether someone got into our house. Then, I found her in the corner of the crib, the opposite corner that I was looking for her in. But, I had fear.
      • As a father I hear different sounds in the night and have different concerns as I have children to watch out for. I have different fears.
      • Why fear? God is in control. It is okay and good to have a healthy respect for the dangers of certain snakes, and other more serious dangers in life, but we have no ultimate fear. As this passage goes on to say, we have life in Jesus. 
      • Jesus, the gift of God’s grace.
      • Also, this passage is likely stating that things in Heaven and on earth were created by Him. I believe this is stating that the angels and the demons were created by Jesus. If Jesus loves us, which John 3:16 and many other passages says He does, and Jesus created all things, who do we have to fear? We have nothing to fear because Jesus loves us, and Jesus created all things.
  6. In Him Is life: This is more about God’s grace.
    • Now as we look at verse 4, we must grasp the idea that life is in Jesus. In Him was life.  This is a repeated concept in John’s gospel.
    • We have eternal life in Him.
    • We have true life in Him.
    • John uses the word for “life” more than 36 times in his Gospel. In Him was life. We have life in Him.
    • Do you have life in Him?
    • Have you accepted Him as your Savior?
    • Have you believed in Him? If so, then be encouraged. You do have life in Him.
  7. He Is the Light:
    • the final verse of this section says that He is the light.
    • The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.
    • Jesus is like a flashlight shining truth into a world of false realities.
    • It is a false reality that money and materialism lead to happiness.
    • It is a false reality that life is meaningless. No, life has meaning, and we can have a fuller life and eternal life in Jesus.  There are many false realities out there, but Jesus sheds light on these.
    • May that be a challenge to us.
  8. Context again:
    • Now, if we continued reading this passage we would see in verse 14 that John begins to write about Jesus becoming a human being.
    • Eugene Peterson writes that “the Word put on flesh and blood and moved into our neighborhood.”
    • As we move towards Christmas and as we look towards Advent we can be encouraged that Jesus is God with Us.
    • Jesus chose, out of His great love for us, to come into our neighborhood. He chose to be born of a virgin.
    • He chose to be reared in poverty and live a fully human life to give us grace.

Praise God that Jesus chose to become one of us. Billy Graham tells a story of walking a beach with his son, trying to save ants, but the ants were scared not knowing they were trying to help them, and his son said, “What if we could become an ant and tell them we want to save them?” That is why Jesus came into our realm of existence. He came to communicate to us and to die for us.

Here are some applications from this message:

Close: applications:

  1. Jesus has always existed this means we can trust Him. If He existed prior to the beginning He must know the future, again, we can trust Him (verse 1).
    • This is especially true corresponding to Gen 1:1 with the idea that Jesus created time.
    • We must trust Jesus. He has the whole world in His hands and past, present and future in His hands.
  2. If all things came into being by Christ we must surrender to Him as the owner of all things (verse 3).
    • Jesus owns our money
      • Jesus owns our house
      • Jesus owns everything we have and treasure.
  3. On the positive side, given that all has come into being by Jesus we can trust Him.
    • He is in control as the Amy Grant song says.
    • We must trust Jesus as He owns everything.
  4. Jesus is the only way to receive and have life, true life and life eternal. We must follow and embrace His life (verse 4).
  5. We must and will comprehend Jesus’ light and allow His light to shine in us and through us (verse 5).

Can you appreciate this cartoon of Dennis the Menace? He rushes into the room, with his mother standing there with her mouth open, and he says, holding a big box in his hand, “We’d better tell Santa Claus to forget about the train set I asked for. I just found one on the top shelf of Dad’s closet.”[2]

Jesus, God’s greatest Christmas present. A present is grace, grace is a gift. Jesus gifts us with His presence.

Do you know Him?


[1] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 251.

[2] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 82.

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