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Author:Pastor Keith Davis
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Congregation:Bethel United Reformed Church
 Calgary, Alberta
 www.bethelurc.org
 
Title:The Word Made Flesh - The Self-Expression of God
Text:John 1:1-2 (View)
Occasion:Advent
Topic:The Incarnation
 
Preached:2022-12-11
Added:2022-12-15
Updated:2022-12-15
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

The Word Made Flesh: The Self-Expression of God

Bible Reading: John 1:1-18; text vs. 1-2

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ, when it comes to telling the story of Christ’s life, we usually turn in our Bibles to the opening books of the New Testament – to the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Each author tells the story of Christ’s life from an individual perspective and with a unique purpose.     

 

Matthew and Luke provide the most background details of the events that led up to Christ’s birth and they both provide a birth narrative as well. Both accounts also include extensive genealogies. But in particular Matthew wants to show us the kingship of Christ as he reveals that Jesus, according to the flesh, is the son of David. Luke emphasizes the manhood, the humanity of Christ, as Luke traces the ancestry of Jesus all the way back to Adam.

 

Mark highlights the servanthood of Christ, and if you look at the way Mark begins his opening chapter, he says nothing about Christ’s birth. Rather, he starts with a prophesy of John the Baptist, then moves right to the baptism, temptation and public ministry of Jesus Christ.    

 

And then there’s the book of John. John’s approach to revealing the coming of Christ our Messiah is entirely unique. There is no birth narrative. There are no genealogies. There is no star in the east, no king Herod, and no wise men. Likewise, there’s no manger or angels or shepherds.      

 

You may ask, So, what’s left to tell? What exactly is John’s particular focus and emphasis? John highlights the deity, the Godhood of our Savior and Messiah. John starts with the majesty, the mystery, the greatness and the glory of the incarnation – of God’s Son coming in human flesh.

 

John writes as an eye-witness to what he heard and saw, and here he testifies to that for our sake -- so that we too can see, so that we too can hear, so that we too can bear witness to this majesty and mystery – so that we would believe! For the next few weeks, we are going to spend our time together reflecting on different aspects of this passage – in the hope that as we do so, what we see and hear will deepen our love for and our devotion to our dear Savior, Jesus Christ.       

This morning we are going to consider a very small portion of this passage, namely what it means that Jesus is called the Word, the Logos, of God. That is our theme:   

 

Jesus Christ is the Word of God. Notice these two points:

  1. The Unique Designation Given to Christ
  2. The Great Significance of this Designation

  

1. The Unique Designation Given to Christ

Let’s look at verses 1-2. We read: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. I want to begin by taking a closer look at the term John uses when he refers to Jesus, God’s own Son.

 

I think we can all agree that it is Jesus whom John has in mind in these opening verses. That fact is made certain at the end of the book where John writes in chapter 20:21 But these are written (by these he means the events, the miracles, the teachings, the account of the life and death and resurrection of Jesus) that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, you may have life in his name.

 

Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, is the sole focus and subject of John’s account. So that much is clear. But the question we have to ask here in these opening verses is this: why does John use this particular term when referring to Jesus? Why does John call Jesus the Word?

 

John could’ve said: In the beginning was the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was God. He was with God in the beginning. To be sure, the idea and concept of Jesus as the Son of God is a prominent theme that is developed in the Gospel of John (in John 8 for example where Jesus states that His Father is his witness, it was His Father who sent Him).    

 

I’m sure if we thought about it long enough, we could come up with dozens of different images or terms (all very Biblical) that could be plugged into this opening verse. In the beginning was the Lamb (that is the imagery John uses when he wrote the book of Revelation). In the beginning was the Light. In the beginning was the Messiah.  

Yet the term that John chose, the term that God’s Holy Spirit inspired him to write, is this: In the beginning was the Word. So why that term? The term word comes from the Greek word logos. The word logos had a very broad meaning in John’s day. It was a popular expression of the Greeks when talking about wisdom and logic and reason.

 

In fact, our English word logic is almost an exact transliteration of the Greek word logos.  So, we wonder, is that the concept or the idea that John has in mind here? Is Jesus the wisdom or logic of God. To an extent it does apply, but there’s more to consider.  

 

But the word logos was also used when referring to the essence of something, to the science or the study of something. In fact, we still use that term when referring to certain studies like theology (the study of God) and biology (the study of living things), or geology (the study of the earth’s structure and substance) or psychology (the study of the human mind). So, is this what John has in mind? This too has some merit because Jesus is the exact essence and being of God.

 

But there another definition and implication of the term logos that we need to consider. It is very simple and straightforward – and most importantly, it matches the context of everything John is saying in these opening verses and in his whole account. The word logos also means word or message.

 

And as we can see, that is the way this term has been translated in our Bibles. So we ask, why does John use this particular designation for Christ? What does it mean that Jesus is the Word? I think we can get at the answer to that question in this way: let’s consider for a moment why we human beings use words.

 

Think about this, boys and girls. What is the purpose of words – of the things we speak and say? Why do we talk? We talk to communicate, right? We use words to express our feelings; to convey information or knowledge, to share our ideas, to give voice to our thoughts.

 

If you boys and girls are hungry, or if you aren’t feeling well, if you have a stomachache, or if your little brother or sister fell on the ice outside and needs help – what do you do? You go and tell mom and dad. You speak, you communicate. Even those individuals who are disabled and cannot speak still need to communicate somehow – through the written word or with sign language. We use words – spoken or written or sign language to communicate.

 

Our words are the written or verbal expression of who we are, of what is going on inside of us (our heart, soul, mind, emotions); they can express not only joy and happiness, but also pain, sorrow, our hurts and worries and concerns.

 

Now let’s take all that into account and ask again: why does John refer to Jesus as the logos, as the Word of God. What does he mean? John is revealing to us that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, took on flesh and bone to become divine communication to us. John Piper puts it this way: in calling Jesus the Word, it implies that Jesus is “God-Expressing-Himself."

 

In that way, Jesus Christ is God’s Word, God’s message to this fallen, broken, sinful, dark and hopeless world. Jesus is the personification – the in-the-flesh representation of the message that God has for this world. And by looking at verses 17-18 we see how beautifully this fits.

 

Verse 17 begins: For the law was given through Moses. What was the law – but another WORD of God. The law was a Word that revealed the holy, just, righteous, unchanging, unbending character and requirements of our holy God. And as such that was a Word that convicted and condemned unholy, sinful and fallen men. But what does John say next in verse 17?

 

He says, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. In other Word, Jesus is the new Word, Jesus is the better Word, the final Word that doesn’t convict and condemn but it saves and delivers! It is a gracious Word of life. Going on, verse 18: No one has ever seen God, but God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has what? Has made him known?

 

Jesus is the divine Logos, God’s Word in the flesh, who communicates to us who the Father is. Jesus is the living expression, the physical embodiment of the Father’s love, and grace, and compassion, and mercy. Jesus was the Father’s message of grace to fallen sinners! To look upon the face of Jesus, as it were, then and now, is to gaze upon the fullness of the Father’s love! 

We can hear this clearly expressed by our Savior in John 17, Christ’s high priestly prayer. In vs. 13-14 Jesus prays: I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world anymore than I am of the world.

 

Then later in verse 26 Jesus says I have made you known to them and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.

 

The calling and mission of Jesus was to save sinners by his suffering and death on the cross – but along side that, inseparable from that mission – is the calling of the Son to be God’s-Self-Expression, God’s message, God’s communication of the grace and mercy and love of the Father!

 

And when you consider the fact that the entire Bible – which we call the Word of God -- has but a single, overarching theme and message – this verse from John 1 becomes so much more clear and powerful. From beginning to end, the Bible is the revelation of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, as the Savior sent by the Father, to communicate, to preach, to express, to proclaim the Gospel message: believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!

 

Jesus is the Word of God, the salvation of God, the Gospel of God in flesh appearing! That is what made the first Christmas such an amazing, glorious and surreal event! That is what made the angels sing, and the wise men worship! Jesus -- God’s Son, God’s-Self-Expression, God’s message of hope and grace to this dark and hopeless world was born.      

 

God calls the people of every generation, from every nation, tongue and tribe on earth -- which includes you and me here today -- to come and worship Christ. God calls us to believe in the One He sent, to marvel at the mystery of God made flesh, the logos of God. And what is the proper response? What should our response be? When God speaks, we should listen. When we hear the Gospel, when the Logos of God speaks, we are called to believe, to put our faith and trust in Him, to believe, to follow and to obey.    

 

2. The Significance of this Designation Today

So that is our fist point: the unique designation of God’s Son – as the divine logos. But secondly, I want us to consider the significance of this designation. Why does this matter?  

 

It is no coincidence, people of God, it is no accident or fluke, that the way, the method that our God has chosen to continue to make Himself known in this world, to communicate and call sinners to salvation, is through what means? It’s through the Word of course -- it’s through the preaching and the proclamation of the Gospel, the Logos – to all the people of all the nations.

 

Our God is beautifully and wonderfully and perfectly wise and consistent. Consider that throughout the Old Testament the Word of the Lord came to the prophets. Recall how God called Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel and others to say to God’s people: “Thus saith the Lord”

 

God’s Word came to God’s people at different times and for different reasons -- as a word of instruction, as a word of warning, as a word of encouragement, as a Word of hope, as a Word of deliverance, as a Word of revelation and prophecy of what was yet to come. And whether that message was given through a dream, or in a vision, or by way of the actual spoken Word -- it was the very Word of God that these prophets were to speak and convey to the people.    

 

Yet, even though God gave His Word, what did the people want? Those who were hard hearted wanted to see signs. They wanted to see proof. The Word was not enough. More than once Jesus rebuked the people in his day for this – saying a wicked and depraved generation asks for a sign.

 

The Apostle Paul confronted the same opposition wherever he preached. Recall what he wrote to the church in Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 Paul says: when I came to brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words but with the demonstration of the spirit's power so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God's power.

 

The power of the Word lies not in the power or eloquence of the preacher who preaches it. The power of the Word does not lie or depend upon the brilliance of the argument, as logical and persuasive as it might be; nor does it depend upon the ability of the preacher to sway the emotions of the hearers and lead them to make a decision for Christ.

 

No. If that were true, then we would all be in deep trouble. Then God’s Word would be bound by human limitations and then men could boast that they can harness or control the power of the Word. Thank the Lord this is not the case. Rather, what does God say?

 

1 Corinthians 1: 21ff. God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the gentiles but to those whom God has called both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man strength.

 

In other words, the power of the Word lies in the finished work of our Savior Jesus Christ. The power of the Word lies in the fact that Christ conquered sin and death and Satan and hell and the grave. Christ suffered and died and rose again – to give us and all fallen sinners the victory! And it is Christ who comes to us in the Gospel – and calls us to believe and to find our life in Him!

 

But then we are called to believe it! We are called to receive it as Good News – and not pass it off as the world does -- as a message of foolishness or nonsense or religious gibberish. And make no mistake, beloved, God is speaking to you and to me today. God is coming to you and me in the Gospel. He is expressing himself, communicating himself to you and me right now – and He is making his appeal, he is showing us once more the fulness of His grace and mercy and love in His Son Jesus Christ!

 

Are you listening? Are you receiving Christ or are you rejecting him? Are you listening to the Word or are you ignoring Him? The answer to that question can be clearly seen as you live out your life this coming week. It will be seen by the decisions you make, by how you treat other people, by how you respond to tests and trials and temptations.

 

Does the Word of God dwell in you richly, so that you humble yourself and submit yourself to the Word, and deny your sinful desires, and pray earnestly that you may grow in the grace and knowledge and love of the Lord Jesus Christ?

 

My hope and prayer is that each one of us would hear the Word of God today, and that we would respond each day in love, in faith, and in humble gratitude for God’s gift of salvation. Amen.      




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2022, Pastor Keith Davis

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