There was a posting on the Internet recently
of a picture of one of the rooms of a world famous art museum.
On the walls of that room were gorgeous pictures.
Knock your socks off pictures painted by some of the world’s most revered artists.
Truly world class treasure.
Undoubtedly people travel to that art museum from all over the world to view
In that Internet posting you could see those incredible paintings
and in addition you could also see about 30 people seated
right in front of those pictures.
What a privilege to be that close to some of the world’s best art!
So, what were those 30 people doing who were seated right in front of those
paintings? What were those 30 people doing who had such incredible proximity
to such world class treasure?
They were txting.
Every single one of them was txting.
All of them totally focused on their smartphones.
If the president of their country had walked into that room
would anyone have noticed? I doubt it.
So is it a sin to txt? No. Maybe some of them were checking in with parents or
babysitters or making important plans. But all of them were missing out on the
best that that day had for them.
My fear is that that Internet posting might be an accurate picture of current
The Bible gives us dazzling, overwhelming, awesome, motivating,
pictures of our Savior which should prompt worship and praise and adoration and
confession and forgiveness and obedience and giving and evangelism.
But we are super busy, super preoccupied, with all our busyness –
even Christian busyness – that Jesus is ignored.
Let’s be honest. Sometimes Jesus just gets in the way of our agendas, our
priorities, our plans. The God who created the heavens and the universe, the God
who sent His Son to die for our sins would like to speak into our lives daily as we
read the Bible.
Why doesn’t He get it that we are very important people with busy schedules,
and we’ve got better things to do than listen to Him? What is He thinking?
What are WE thinking when that is our attitude?
I’m not going to name names, but I know church leaders who make no secret of
the fact that they have no time for daily Bible reading because they are so busy
with their ministries.
And probably they are saying what other believers are thinking and doing.
And you wonder why Christianity is so weak today?
Let’s do something hugely significant right now: Let’s lift up Jesus. Lift up Jesus.
I love to txt as much as anyone, but can we turn off our phones, sweep aside our
busyness for a while and give our undivided attention to the dazzling pictures God
has for us today that can actually help us in ways those in that Internet posting
God has great pictures for us to see right now. To get the most out of our time
together let’s prepare our hearts with prayer.
You invite us today to spend time in your art gallery
with incredible pictures to show us of your Son.
Please open our eyes and sweep us into a deeper understanding and appreciation
and love for our Savior.
We come before you totally dependent, totally needy.
We cry out for understanding and transformation to Christlikeness..
And we pray this in the name of Jesus.
We’re in the Gospel of John, big John.
The first five verses. Three powerful pictures.
The New Testament begins with four biographies of Jesus.
Why so many? Well, think of it this way. Go to the library, and you’ll find all sorts
of biographies on any great leader. Some might emphasize his character.
Some might emphasize the key decisions he made. Some might talk about what it
was like to work with the man. All written from various perspectives.
The same is true of these four biographies that launch the New Testament.
Matthew is written to the Jewish mind to prove Jesus is the long awaited Messiah
promised throughout the Old Testament. The book just drips with Jewishness.
Mark portrays Jesus as the servant of God the Father, the perfect workman.
Servants don’t give need a genealogy, so Mark has no genealogy.
Servants don’t give speeches, so Mark doesn’t quote Jesus much.
Servants are known for their actions, and that is the focus of that book.
Interested in a detailed historical account of the life of Christ?
Luke is for you. Details, details, and more details.
Similarly John has one theme to His book, Jesus as Son of God.
From beginning to end he wants to prove to us that Jesus is God.
So it’s time to zero in on John 1:1-5 where John gives us three pictures to
introduce Jesus to us.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
In these five powerful verses are three pictures of Jesus:
Picture #1 – Jesus’ relationship to God the Father.
Picture #2 – Jesus’ relationship to the universe.
Picture #3 – Jesus’ relationship to mankind.
Let’s start by taking a good look at picture #1 – Jesus’ relationship to God the
Right away “W o r d” stands out. Repeated over and over.
What is this Word?
The first century audience would know exactly what John was referring to.
The Greek word is “logos”, L o g o s. In much first century thinking
there was a powerful force that ran the universe. That force was the reason life
functioned. That force was impersonal. And that force was called “logos” –
translated “W o r d” here.
So John comes along to tell people about the force that actually runs the universe,
and John 1:14 indicates that force is not impersonal but a person, not a thing.
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.
The force has a name; that name is Jesus. Jesus is the real “Word” that runs
Back to John 1:1
In the beginning…...
In the beginning of what? It’s hard not to recognize an allusion here to Genesis 1:1.
Eternity never had a beginning so this is not talking about the beginning of
eternity. Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 are talking about that unique instant
when God started time and creation.
Genesis and big John start with the same three words and immediately part
company. One goes forward, one goes backward. Genesis steps into time
and tells us what happened during the first seven days of history. John goes the
other way starting at the instant time began, and looks backward into eternity
past to tell us about Jesus who already existed then.
In the indefinite eternity that preceded all time Jesus already was.
Was. Continued action in the past. Was. Jesus has always existed.
To process what it means that Jesus always existed this let’s go wild with our
Press delete to delete yourself, your family, your country, your world.
Press delete to delete thousands of years of human history.
Press delete to delete the 7th day of creation – the day in which God rested
Delete day 6 – all mankind is gone.
Delete day 5 – poof – no living creatures.
Delete day 4 – sun moon and stars – disappear.
Delete day 3 – no dry land, grass or fruit trees.
Delete day 2 – no more firmament .
Delete day 1 – the first day of creation and with it light and time no longer exist.
What do you have left? You’ve got God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit.
The prequel to Genesis 1:1 is the trinity. The prequel to Genesis 1:1 is God.
Nothing else existed then.
If you look in your Bible at the page before Genesis 1:1 you’ll find it’s blank.
In reality it’s not blank. God is there, alive and well.
Long ago, before Genesis 1:1 the only thing that existed was God.
If that humbles us, it should.
Isn’t it ironic that sometimes our lives are so busy we forget He exists at all?
How many times have you and I been in a difficult situation and someone asks us
if we prayed about it, and we respond, “Oh my, I forgot all about praying.
I forgot all about God.”
We have allowed someone, something to come between God and us
to block Him out of our lives. We have been so distracted or overwhelmed
that we have forgotten that above our lives is the eternal God, and that Jesus
Christ is the same, yesterday, today, forever.
You and I look in the mirror and notice how we have grown or aged,
but since the day you were conceived God has not aged a bit.
Since day one of creation Jesus hasn’t changed one bit. He never will.
Sometimes you and I need a makeover. My sister sure thought I needed one
when she barged into my bedroom, opened my dresser drawers
and started throwing some of my clothes into the garbage saying,
“There is no way my brother is going to be seen in public wearing that”.
God has never had a makeover or upgrade. Never needed one.
You and I come home from school or the gym or the office exhausted, worn out,
worn-down, and we look up at God and see His energy level hasn’t fluctuated at
When we talk about decluttering our lives do we include decluttering our spiritual
vision so we see God who has always existed?
In the beginning was the Word.
the Word was with God.
The Word was with God.
Since eternity past Jesus, aka the Word, has hung out with God the Father.
The God of the Bible is a triune God – God in three persons – Father, Son, Holy
When the God of the Bible created Adam and loved Him, this was not the first
time He had shown love. He has loved the Son and the Holy Spirit since eternity
past. When the God of the Bible started a relationship with Adam,
relationship was nothing new to Him. He had had a relationship since eternity
past with the Son and the Holy Spirit. Love and relationship are internal, essential
attributes of the God of the Bible.
There is a lot you and I don’t understand about the trinity and never will.
But right in front of us is a powerful lesson that the trinity teaches us that we
The God of the Bible didn’t need to create anything to demonstrated love or have
a relationship. Love and relationship are key internal, essential elements that
give a warmth and attractiveness to the God of the Bible.
The lone ranger Christian, the Christian who deliberately isolates himself
is showing he doesn’t understand the trinity. A Christian life without love makes
no sense since the trinity has been modeling love forever. A Christian life without
relationships makes no sense since the trinity reeks of relationship. Color the God
of the Bible warm, friendly, inviting, attractive.
:1 continues The Word is God.
Remember “Word” from the Greek original “logos” was viewed by many in Bible
times to mean the impersonal force that ran the universe. John is telling us this
logos, the Word is not an attribute of God, it is not a power emanating with Him
but a Person eternally in the presence of the Father.
Unlike some cults that say Jesus was promoted to God after turning in a great
performance, unlike some people who say Jesus was just a good man, unlike
Unitarians who say Jesus was never God here we are told Jesus was God in
Here, clearly, John is saying the force that runs the universe is not an “it”.
It is a person. Jesus. And Jesus is God…. which means we’ve got to turn to
2 Corinthians 11:4a
For if he who comes preachers another Jesus
whom we have not preached……..
So there is more than one Jesus?
It pains me to say this –but when someone says he believes in Jesus –
they might not be on the same page as us.
The biggest shock to me in years was to hear a missionary
who is a member of a good church, trained at a good Bible school,
serving under a biblically sound mission board tell me he is not sure today if Jesus
So if Jesus is not God, how can He save? What does that Jesus have to offer
anyone? That missionary is not telling his financial supporters of this change in his
theology. Definitely a reason to get missionaries to sign doctrinal statements on a
At a prayer breakfast for prominent city leaders one man in attendance
was surprised to hear a well known spiritual liberal close in prayer
and mention Jesus. So he went up to the person and expressed surprise that the
person believed in Jesus. The person who prayed said, “Don’t get confused.
The Jesus you believe in isn’t the Jesus I believe in.”
When people say they believe in Jesus, we’ve got to clarify if they believe in the
Jesus John is describing. In this first picture of Jesus in the Gospel of John
Jesus is presented as an eternal being who has always been with the Father
and is deity Himself.
So much for the picture of Jesus’ relationship to God the father-
How about a picture of Jesus’ relationship to the universe:
When Genesis 1:1 happens, what is Jesus doing? He is not on vacation.
All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
This is something I didn’t learn in high school science but should have.
There is no mother nature. There is no evolution. Every single thing traces its
origins back to Jesus.
And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
Literally that means – present tense – IN Him all things hold together.
Scientists can dissect an atom but can’t figure out what holds it together.
Here is the answer. Jesus holds atoms together.
You and I live on a stage that Jesus created and controls.
The heavens declare the glory of God
and the firmament shows the work of His hands.
Throughout history there have always been people who said that matter is evil
and only the unseen is pure. This verse is saying matter is not evil. Genesis tells
us our world has been hijacked and distorted by sin. Be patient. In the book of
Revelation Jesus takes the earth back. What is the message from this second
picture of Jesus, His relationship to the universe? Simply put: He is the source
of the universe – all of it.
Finally a picture of Jesus’ relationship to man.
In Him was life.
No one gave Him life. He has always had life in Himself – which means we need
to clarify John 3:16’s “only begotten Son.” So God the Father begat Jesus as my
parents begat me? No.
“Begotten” in the Greek is “monogenes”. Mono = one, Genes = kind.
One of a kind. Unique.
For God so loved the world He gave His unique/one of a kind son,
that whoever believes in Him…..
Back to John 1:4
This is talking about physical life. This is talking about spiritual life.
Every living thing traces its origin back to Jesus. Every person who has been born
again has been born again only because Christ gave them life.
Life – let’s think about that for a minute. Let’s imagine you ask me about my
relationship to my parents. I respond by pulling out my birth certificate which
says I am the son of my parents.
You ask me how my parents raised me. I respond by showing my birth certificate.
You ask me if I was close to my parents. I respond by showing my birth
Right about now you are thinking that this is tragic. He views his relationship with
his parents as a piece of paper and nothing else? There is no mention of
intimacy, nurturing, encouragement, guidance, molding, rich times together,
learning, etc. The father- child relationship is a piece of paper?
Well, let’s suppose you ask me about my relationship with Jesus Christ,
and I tell you the day and hour when I prayed to receive Christ.
You ask me what Jesus has done in my life, and I tell you the day and hour
when I prayed to receive Christ.
You ask what Jesus means to me and what He is teaching me,
and I tell you the day and hour when I prayed to receive Christ.
Do we get it that that is also tragic that I would see my relationship with my
heavenly Father as a prayer I said sometime in the past and nothing else –
when He is offering me LIFE, a joyful LIFE, a forgiven Life, a peaceful LIFE
a productive LIFE, an exciting LIFE, an unexpected LIFE, an intimate LIFE.
We have a twisted view of Jesus if we think He wants us to say a prayer and
nothing more. Yes, that prayer is super important, but it is meant to be the bridge
to LIFE with God.
Time for us to double down on Colossians 1:28. Here we have the goal of Paul’s
Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
The tragedy is by the time this verse has reached the brains of many Christians
it has been changed to “that we may present everyone saved in Christ.”
Saved and mature are far apart in their meaning. Saved means you have put your
faith and trust in Christ. Period. Mature means you have trusted Christ
and gone on to live your LIFE with Christ that includes growing up and
letting His life transform you to be like Him and walk with Him until you die.
Of course Paul wanted people to come to Christ, but that was never the end of
Paul taught justification – God declaring us righteous when we say the
sinners prayer. But Paul also taught sanctification which is us growing up to
maturity in Christ, us becoming perfect or mature because we have been
transformed by Christ to be little Christs who would be powerful witnesses for
If our goal is only to get people saved and nothing more we have reduced
Christianity to a get out of hell ticket. If our goal is only to get people saved and
nothing more we are not following the New Testament at all, and we’ll have a lot
of vulnerable, ineffective baby Christians who are incapable of passing on the
faith to the next generation. Let’s not butcher the Bible by doing that.
If our goal is to follow Paul we’ll work to get people to put their faith and trust in
Christ so they can go on to live the LIFE Jesus offers us.
: 5 completes this picture of Jesus’ relationship to man.
and the light shines in the darkness.
One of the most truly beautiful verses in the Bible.
the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.
The people who were sitting helpless, hopeless, fearful, depressed,
self-destructing because of their own conduct- upon such people the light of
Simon the Zealot saw the light, turned to Christ, became one of the 12 apostles –
and according to church tradition was an effective missionary for Christ. Just a
reminder: Zealots were 1st century terrorists – so this was quite a change in him.
Zacchaeus, the tax collector saw the light, turned to Christ, and pledged to pay
back all those people he had stiffed.
Paul saw the light, turned to Christ, stopped killing Christians and devoted the
rest of his life to building the church.
Light exposed sin in their lives that they turned from. Light guided them to God’s
will. Light gave them the warm love of God.
Can your name be added to that list because you saw the light of Christ and the
more you moved toward it the brighter it became until you put your faith and
trust in Christ? Is their evidence in your current lifestyle that you have turned
from sin and seek to walk down Jesus’ path?
What is so glamorous about stumbling around in the darkness that you would
want to stay there?
LIFE is a terrible opportunity to waste. Give your life to Christ and that won’t
happen….. which leads right into
:5b and the darkness didn’t comprehend it.
Actually, “overcome” is a more accurate translation than “comprehend”.
So again :5b
and the darkness didn’t overcome it.
It means this Jesus we’ve looked at who has always existed and is with God and is
God and created all things and is life will be victorious over all forms of darkness.
And maybe the first thing that pops into your head is if God is really as impressive
as these verses portray Him why is there darkness on planet earth? If everything
that God made was good and God rules, where did this darkness/evil come from?
The answer is – Deuteronomy 29:29.
The secret things belong to God.
The Bible tells us everything God wants us to know, not all that we want to know.
This is the best the Bible does in telling us why evil exists. When we get to
heaven we will ask that question, we will get an answer, it will make
sense. Until then, we’ll have to settle for Deut 29:29.
The second question that comes to mind might be if Jesus is as incredible as
we’ve seen why would darkness fight the light, Him?
The answer to this question is not a secret. The answer is – sin blinds. Sin
distorts. Sin destroys. Sin is stupid. Sin is irrational. Sin is so horrible that it
shocks the daylights out of us at times. Sin is so powerful that
in spite of all the miracles Jesus did, all the healings, all the great sermons
sinful leaders of Israel had Jesus killed. Sinful people can do unspeakable things.
Why is the story of pharaoh so early in Bible? Why is so much space given so early
in the Bible to this man who fights God every step of the way? To make clear
early in human history the horrific damage sin can do to a human mind.
You’d think that most sane people would have given into God after one plague.
But no, sin is so powerful and has such a grip on this pharaoh that he fights God
all the way.
Did you ever stop to think what Egypt must have looked like after a bloody Nile,
frogs, lice, flies, diseased livestock, boils, hail and fire, locusts, darkness
and the first born dead? And that pharaoh never got it? The country was in ruins.
How dense can you be? The potential for evil in an unsaved mind should terrify
But look at your own life. Before we get too critical of unsaved people
realize darkness at one time described all of us. Why did you and I do the stupid,
highly embarrassing, depraved things we did before we came to Christ?
What were we thinking? It’s because we gave the OK for sin to run our lives.
We were blind. Our world view, priorities, goals, everything was distorted and
Our conduct was testimony to the power of sin over us. And if we stayed outside
of Christ, if we stayed unsaved, we would be on the losing side.
But when we put our faith and trust in Christ, we switched sides from darkness to
light. The spiritual blindness is gone. We can see the horror of our past and the
certainty of our future with Christ.
You and I can turn on the news and get depressed. Sin is on offense.
Sin is winning many battles and will undoubtedly win some more.
But we can say with boldness: genuine followers of Jesus Christ are on the
winning side. Satan, you already lost to Jesus and you will lose to Him.
Demons, you’re a bunch of losers. Evil corrupt world system, you’re going down.
Light always overcomes darkness.
How can we sum up this third picture – of Jesus’ relationship to man?
In Him is LIFE to the max. Meaningful. Satisfying. Fulfilled.
You’re a genuine follower of Christ? Live the LIFE you’ve been given.
Stay the course. Press ahead!
If you don’t want Christ, meet your master – darkness. Here is your future – a
prisoner of sin. A spiritual tragedy.
If that isn’t motivation to switch sides today and put your faith and trust in Christ
to forgive your sins and give you LIFE I don’t know what is. It’s better to put aside
your pride, agree with God you are a sinner like everyone else, and receive the
free gift of salvation that He offers.
And that is John’s introduction to Jesus – which is exactly what these five verses
Having looked at pictures of Jesus so spectacular, what should we do with them?
A friend of mine has the answer. A guy at his church messed up pretty badly and
had to go to jail. My friend went to visit him just before he was locked up and
said: “When you wake up in the morning in jail, the big thing on your mind should
not be that you are locked up. The big thing on your mind should be Jesus Christ.”
Yes, that guy faced a difficult future. But the message was not to let life’s
difficulties snuff out Jesus. Jesus is bigger than the problems and deserves to be
the big thing that dominates his life.
And that goes for the rest of us. When we wake up in the morning the big thing
on our mind should not be our resume,
our service to God,
or anything else.
Jesus is so dazzling, so awesome, so powerful, so overwhelming that we should
honor Him by making Him the big thing we dwell on in the morning.
He deserves our meditation.
He deserves our praise.
He deserves our adoration.
He deserves our awe.
He is bigger than any problem we face.
Let’s major on the majors and not txt our way past Jesus this week.