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John came as a witness to testify about the Christ. The world saw the goodness of God shining through John's life. Can the world see that light shining from ours? If not, we have to consider whether we've really understood The Light, Jesus Christ.
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Come and See. Go and Fish.
Come, See, Stay: What Followers Do
John the Baptist: A Witness to the Word, an Example to Us
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Don't be a Bird Brain: Receive and Respond to the Goodness of the Word
The Word: Not What You Think... But Even Better
Father, thank you for your Word. Thank you for what you're teaching us. Thank you for how excited we are this morning to come in here, whether it be on our own because we've seen this building and we've heard about it or because a friend has just compelled us to come and loved us enough to say, "Come and see. I want you to know about this one who has changed my life, this one who is life and light and who has invaded my darkness and death and given me hope and meaning."
I pray, Father, if there are some folks here this morning who have never initiated a relationship with Jesus that this would be their moment, that they would get a real clarity of who he was and who he is and what he has come to do and how he is kind and good. I pray, Father, for those of us who already know you.
I pray we would be more informed about your purposes in this world and in our lives and what you intend for us, and that the truth wherever we are would impact us so completely and fully that we might respond more rightly. We ask you do all of that this morning and meet each of us right where we are in a way that only a sovereign God can do. You have our hearts. Use this time for your good. Amen.
Well, last week we looked at John, chapter 1, verses 1 through 5. This little prologue just kind of grabs you in a very poetic way, in a very philosophical way, in a way that just declares its purpose right from the beginning. John wants you to know why he has recorded his experiences and insights into who this Jesus was. It's that you might know him.
He is not just any mere man. He's not a mere mortal. He's not just a good teacher. He is the divine Logos. In other words, he is the Word. We talked last week about how the Word was a very familiar phrase or a name or a moniker that was used by Stoics and philosophers to describe this impersonal divine force that existed both in the hard sciences of math and physics so they could see there was this order that existed, and if you mocked it, you would pay a severe price.
It also existed in the soft sciences, the metaphysical world that rules our conscience. It ruled our morality. There was this thing that was above us and beyond us and in all of us that philosophers really couldn't get their arms around. They argued about the finer points of it, but they knew something was in them.
John says, "Let me tell you who this Logos is, who this Word is. It is a he. It is what has always been and always will be. It is not an it. It is God, the very God of very God, and this divine reality (God, who we could never know because he's so beyond us and so transcendent) has come. His name is Jesus.
If you don't know him, you will stay in the dark and you will continue to trust only in the best opinions of men, but if you come to know him, it will restore you to this divine truth, the divine goodness, and the Divine One, and you can experience life again." That's where we were last week.
There is this odd little verse we find in Matthew, chapter 6, that I'm going to run to really quickly. In fact, I taught at The Porch here a couple of weeks ago (our Tuesday night ministry to 20-somethings), and I used this. I said, "I'm going to talk about money tonight, but I'm not talking about money." I went to Matthew, chapter 6, and I said, "This is a really odd place in Scripture, because what happens here is repeated in Luke 11 in kind of a different context."
Jesus does a very similar thing, but it's almost like Peter and John were his speech writers (this is not the case, obviously), and they decide to play a joke on him. He was just going to read whatever was on the teleprompter. What he does in verses 19 through 20 make complete sense. In verses 21 and 22, he just loses his mind, it looks like. Then, all of sudden, he gets back on message. Watch this. Read this with me. He says,
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." That's flowing. It makes complete sense. Then, look what all of a sudden jumps up right there in verse 22.
It says, "The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" Verse 24: "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."
You're like, "What in the world happened there in that one little section where he just shot off…? He's talking about money. Then, he's talking about the eye and the lamp and the light and the darkness. That makes no sense to me." Well, let me tell you what he was doing. Jesus came into the darkness, and he could have picked any of a number of topics.
That's why I said at The Porch, "I'm going to talk about money tonight, but I'm not talking about money." I could have said, "I'm going to talk about sex tonight, but I'm not talking about sex," or "I'm going to talk about fame tonight, but I'm not talking about fame," or "I'm going to talk about significance tonight, but I'm not going to really talk about significance."
What Jesus is doing right here in the context of talking about money (something men give themselves to)… One person said that silver, sex, self, and sloth are four things that men go out and go after to find life, primarily, but the only thing you're going to find life in ultimately is the Savior, so what Jesus is talking about here is silver.
He's saying, "Money is a fine servant." There's nothing wrong with money, but when you make it your god, it is a lousy master, because it will never satisfy you, but if you don't see the world correctly, if you are blind, if you are in darkness, if you live apart from life, you're going to have to find life somewhere else. If you live apart from God, who his goodness, you're going to try to find goodness and life somewhere else.
Many of you are trying to find it in money. He says, "Here's the gig with money." Go back and look again at verse 22. He says, "If you see money as your ticket to happiness and as the means through which you can have security or if you see money as if you accumulate enough of it and you serve it and you work hard and it rewards you with more of it and all security will be yours. If that's the case, you don't see clearly."
In other words, he says, "The eye is the lamp of the body. The way you perceive reality…" Jesus is talking here about what we call today now a worldview, a lens through which you see reality, and if you have dark shades on where your perspective is, "I need money, and money is going to make me happy, so I'll do anything to get money," your life is going to be perverted. Your whole body is going to be filled with darkness. You're going to be on the wrong course, and it's going to lead you to many a trouble.
Paul later says it will pierce you with many a pain. Great trouble will come on you. Why? Because you are still in darkness. Why? Because you don't perceive who God really is. God is neither silver, self, sex, or sloth. When you see life coming through those things, it's going to leave you a discouraged, despairing, depressed, anxiety-ridden, overwhelmed, and confused individual.
He's saying you have to learn to see who truth is. You have to learn to see correctly. This is what John is doing in the book of John. He's saying, "Put this lens on. See through the revelation of God through his Word, through the witness of the Father, the Son, the Spirit, the disciples, the Scripture, and his works, and come to the Light so that you can see clearly."
That's what this book is about, so here we go in verse 6. Watch this. " There came a man sent from God, whose name was John."John literally means gift of God. That's what his name means. God gave you this man as a gift and what he is trying to do is say, "Y'all are blind! You can't see!"
The reason there is so much chaos in Israel is because who did John go to? Who did Jesus come to? Who did God start to reveal himself to? His purpose was to reveal himself to the entire world, but the way God was going to do that was he was going to take a bunch of blind people and let them see so they could start to walk in a way where they weren't falling off of a cliff and groping for meaning like everybody else so that others would come to them and say, "What is the gig?"
It was the plan for God that all of the nations of the earth might be blessed through the descendants of Abraham. God has a unique and specific calling and purpose for the sons of Abraham, but his plan was to bless the earth. God is not racist, and he is not an individual who smites individuals because of their heritage. He wants everyone to come to know him.
In fact, the Scripture says he is patient. He has not brought ultimate justice on this earth for this purpose yet, because he wants none to perish but all to come to eternal life. God was going to take Abraham and his descendants and say, "You all start to walk with me, and I'm going to reveal myself to you in a kind, progressive way so that you might understand me so that you can declare who I am to others."
What God wanted was for Israel to be so wise that all of the nations would come and say, "Explain to us how you operate the way you operate and why you operate the way you operate." It's very interesting, by the way. China commissioned an individual who was one of their leading scholars to come over to America to understand why the American economy prospered the way it did and why the people of America operated the way they did and why this country was uniquely in world history so filled with fortune, joy, and promise.
Do you know what he went back to the Communist leaders of China and said? He went through all of our models. He looked through everything about why we operate the way we do and who we are. He went back and reported, "It is because of the foundation of what is called the Judeo-Christian ethic and what that has produced in the way they operate and live with one another."
The proper and fundamental principles of capitalism (not capitalism perverted the way we have seen it happen here recently) and not the debt structure where we have gone in recent decades, but when he went back and looked at the fundamental underpinnings of this country philosophically, governmentally, and financially, he said, "These people have a worldview that is different than any other nation that is a world power. It is because of their understanding of who God is and how this world works and who men are and how they need checks and balances and what incentives them." Interesting, isn't it?
They came and said, "What is it with you Americans?" Well, it was at one point we, the people, as one nation under God formed a society which was a great blessing to us. We have since scoffed at him and moved away in our prosperity to believe that we created it ourselves. That's another message for another day.
It should have been as Solomon was during the time of his reign when the Queen of Sheba came and bowed at his feet and said, "I want to learn from you. What do you know?" He said, "I know the Light. I have a relationship with God. He has revealed this to me," and other nations sought him.
There was one God sent to this nation that got darkened in their understanding in the same way we are sent to our nation that is becoming increasingly darkened in their understanding. His name was John. If you go and look at the ministry of John the Baptist, he is a fulfillment of what God said he would send before the coming Messiah. He is the forerunner. He is the one who would come before and help you get ready and soften your heart and till the soil.
If you go to Isaiah, chapter 40… Let me take you to Isaiah 40, and let's just read there a great Old Testament summary of the gospel of John. In fact, if you ever saw the musical, Godspell, or if you listen to Handel's Messiah, the parts that deal with John the Baptist are excerpts right from Isaiah 40. This is what God says that he is up to as he communicates to the Jewish people when he was going to bring this forerunner.
He says, "'Comfort, O comfort My people,' says your God. 'Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received of the Lord's ** hand Double for all her sins.'"** In other words, as crazy as this sounds, what this really means is that though the nation mounts up in rebellion against God, God is going to doubly bless her.
It's not like, "I'm going to give you twice as much hurt as you deserve," but "I'm going to give you grace upon grace because I have revealed to you who I am, but now I'm going to reveal to you again in an even clearer way who I am. "A voice is calling…" If I could sing, this is where I'd sing that little thing from Godspell. "Prepare ye the way of the Lord…" I can't sing, so here we go.
"Clear the way for the L ORD ** in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley…"** Whenever a king would come to town, they would pave a road for him so he would not have to ride through all kinds of nonsense and chaos. Whatever you need to do to make the king feel welcome…
A king is coming to town here in February in America, so we have paved all of these roads so when the king comes he can get right to Arlington. The king is the Super Bowl we worship in this country (football), so we've paved all of these roads. Come! We'll make it flat for you with more lanes. Come easily! They're saying, "Let's get it right."
" Then the glory of the L ORD will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the L ORD ** has spoken."** What's this? The Word of God. Remember what the Word is. The Word is how you communicate yourself or how you reveal yourself most fully and how you share your intellect, your mind, and your emotions.
" A voice says…" Here's this voice that was called to speak in verse 2, that was calling in verse 3."'Call out.' Then he answered, 'What shall I call out?' All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. **** […] **** The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever."
Isaiah, chapter 40, verse 8, is a verse written in the very front of my Bible. You don't need to listen to new insights. You have that which is forever sure and the only foundation that you should build your life on. Jesus, as we know, is the living Word. The Word of God is God's written Word, and they both endure forever. Not a single word of it will pass away.
In Hebrews, chapter 13, we find out Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, in the same way, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, but God sent a gift (John) saying, "Here he comes! Prepare your hearts! Here comes the Lord. Repent! Stop trusting in yourself. Stop looking through the lens of religion and your own perverted understanding of who God is. You have scoffed at what he has told you. You have created your own systems and your own works to trust him, and that was not the intention. Repent!"
That's what John said. "Change your understanding, because no matter what you do, O works of man, and no matter what you create, O philosopher, and no matter what you think, O founder of religion, it will fade. You are like the grass that is here and gone and like the flower which blooms and dies."
" Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; Lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, 'Here is your God!'" I love what John did. You're going to find out in a couple of weeks with me.
"Behold! Here is your God! He's going to come as a Lamb to take away the sins of the world, but don't mistake him for some form of weakness. The Lamb as which he comes is an expression of his love, but he is the Sovereign, and his works will reveal that to you. Believe in him!" Do you get that?
That's the Word. John is a voice crying in the wilderness. John is a bearer of good news. Who is this starting to sound like? It should sound like you and me, people who take the good news, know this, and declare it to others. "How blessed are the feet of them who bring good news." You are a gift of God if you, in fact, represent God the way you should.
By the way, this is too good to pass up. Do you ever want to know what God is like? If you ask people what they dream up of who they want God to be, they will always bring you two things. They want a God who is a sun and a shield. They want a God who is a provider and a protector. They want a God who is bowed up and jacked up and mighty and powerful and yet who is tender and loving.
They want a combination of Fonzie and Fabio. That's who they want. They want somebody who can keep you from getting licked in the back alley and who can hold you tenderly and love you like you always dreamed of being loved. When God revealed himself to Moses, what did he say? "Here I come. I am full of lovingkindness and compassion, but make no mistake. The guilty will not go unpunished."
Isaiah, chapter 40. "Here is your God!" Watch what it says. " Behold, the Lord GOD will come with might, With His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him And His recompense before Him." He is a just, powerful, and sovereign King. Don't jack with him. Secondly, he is like a shepherd.
" Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes." He is a tender, loving, gentle Shepherd. He is a Shepherd King. He is Fonzie, and he is Fabio. That's who he is, and don't you want that? He is this ripped lover. He is this sovereign, powerful King. He is the Lamb, and he is the lion.
Preach it! That's what they're looking for, and you know him, and his name is Jesus, and he will endure forever. Look at verse 7. "He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him." What I love about this, and I'm not going to go long on this, but John the evangelist (John the disciple) says,
"Let me just tell you. This story I'm writing to you is anchored in human history. This is about a real man named Jesus who had a real forerunner named John who lived in a real town named Jerusalem who prayed in a real garden named Gethsemane in the Kidron Valley at the base of real mountain called the Mount of Olives who was really accused by real men and was really sent to a cross by Pilate and Herod and the Jewish leaders.
People really cried out, 'Crucify him!' He was really nailed to a cross and was really crucified on a hill called Golgotha. He really came, and he really did something. This isn't just my idea. This is not me sitting down philosophizing. This is me sharing with you the record of God's revelation of himself anchored in history."
This, gang, is what makes the Word of God unique among books that claim to be words from God. It alone is anchored in history. We can clap for that. I don't care. That's fine! It's true. You go read some other sacred texts. You read the Qur'an. You're going to read the works of those that are in a Hindu faith or the Buddhist faith. That's fine. Let me just tell you that none of them dare to anchor their truth and say, "Test it with history."
It can be beautiful poetry. It can be insightful. It can be wise, but you can't verify it. It is nonsensical by definition. In other words, you can't test it to see if there is any voracity in it. God anchored his Word in the context of history. He dared us to snap the plumb line and said, "Go check it out. If there's not a David, reject it. If there's not a Pilate, reject it. If there is any contradiction in my revered and revealed Word for you, then walk on and ignore it."
He put it right there for you. Go check it out. It says that he came as a witness "…to testify about the Light," so that all might believe through him. Gang, this is what Paul wrote a little bit later in 2 Corinthians, chapter 4, verse 6. This is what Paul says. " For God, who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."
Paul said, "We are but cracked earthen vessels, and what you see in our brokenness and in our understanding that we don't have the light is that we have learned to depend on the one who is Light, and light shines out of us, and the world sees the goodness of God living through us," and they go, "Who is the one who informs your life that you live with such wisdom, such compassion, such grace, and such hope as you live?"
Paul says, "It's not me. I'm not smarter than you. I am just more humble than you. I know that left to myself I will ruin my life and other's lives, and I am a cracked, earthen pot that the light of the glory of God is streaming forth from me." See if this idea is consistent in Scripture. Let's try Matthew, chapter 5, and see what it says in verses 14 through 16, in a rather familiar text.
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket…" Does this sound familiar? Have you seen anybody with a lampshade on their head lately? Right here! How foolish would that be for us to have this truth and this Light and keep it inside!
"…but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house." Who is in your house? Who is in your world? Who are your homeboys? Who are the people you interact with day by day? Do they see the light shining forth in you? "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
You're to be a gift of God. Do people hold up a sign that says, "My life changed because of your name"? See also a couple of weeks ago. How about this? Philippians, chapter 2, verses 13 and following. What does this say? Philippians, chapter 2, talks about the fact that we are individuals who have God at work in us. It says,
" … for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world…"
When people come to you and they go, "I have to tell you something. You have changed my life," you go, "No, no, no. If there is any good in me, you can trace it back to one thing: my relationship with the Light. There was nothing but darkness until the Light came in. All I am is somebody who the Light has shined upon that I can grab you and lead you to the Light. I am not the Light, but I have the Light. I am not the life, but I have the life. His name is Jesus."
This is no small idea. I want to read you an email I got this week. If you're not encouraged by this, you can't be encouraged. If you're not motivated to jump in with John and Keegan, you cannot be motivated. This is from Keegan Mueller. This is what Keegan said to me. He addressed it to, "T. Wiggie."
I'm sure he meant Righteous Reverend or Illustrious Potentate, but he calls me T. Wiggie. Keegan grew up here. Keegan was a several-times state champion in wrestling here in Texas and went on to wrestle in college and did exceedingly well there and now is coaching as a grad assistant at The Citadel.
He said, "Todd, don't worry about writing me back. I just wanted you to know that one of the wrestlers trusted Christ here the other day. His name is Nick. He's a transfer from Clarion College, and this is his second year at The Citadel. He has been through a lot. He was engaged his freshman year at Clarion. Both of his brothers died when he was younger, and he has been mad at God ever since. He's in the darkness. He doesn't know why that could happen and why death is in the world."
If you don't know why death is in the world, you're going to be filled with bitterness and despair and anger and hopelessness and confused. "He had not been back to church since eighth grade. He had shared these things with me a couple of times in some conversations we had. He would say something in passing like, 'The Big Guy and I aren't doing too well these days. We have some issues we need to work out.'
I asked him if I could share something with him each time, and he was always willing to allow me to give my two cents. One day, he decided to church hop with me and a couple of buddies as we were trying to figure out where to head, as I'm new to this area. The first time to go to church since the eighth grade. We discussed some things, and he went on with his life. I was home about three weeks ago, and I went to the service where you passed out the Top Ten Most Wanted bookmark cards."
Do you remember those? I didn't mention them much, but they were for you to use. Keegan used them. He wrote down a few names. One of those names was Nick. "I know these have been around forever at Watermark, but I took one, and I filled out mine. A week and a half later I was confronted by Nick asking me to stay after practice and go to the dining hall because he had some questions.
Everybody had noticed that he had been acting a bit different lately. We walked to a choir room. He asked me about the Trinity. He asked for my input on my life story and other things. He thought he had to get right with God and prove himself first and after he got his life together he could be a friend of God. I cleared that up real fast.
We talked for a while, and I asked him if he wanted to know and follow Jesus as his Messiah and his Lord and let him reconcile himself with God. He made it clear that he did want to do that. We prayed, and I couldn't stop from crying. My man, you know how much I fear emotionalism in Christianity because of my experiences when I was in college with people who abused it and brought confusion with Scripture-twisting and the idea of a needed second blessing and all of the craziness that went with it, but I couldn't help it. I started crying.
I felt like God reminded me of all that I had seen and forgotten that he had done in my life, and just remembering where I had been and where he has taken me as I allow myself to be distracted from this great memory of my salvation so often. I had him walk to my car, and I showed him the Top Ten Bookmark with his name on it.
I showed him the verse at the bottom which is 1 Thessalonians 2:8, where it says, " Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us." We both sat there speechless. I praise God for Nick's salvation and that he would allow me to partake in that actual moment of belief.
He is now one of the people who now come to Watermark Charleston. We have a small group. We meet on Sunday at 11:00 at The Citadel band hall. Because I'm on staff at The Citadel, the school lends me the auditorium for free. I put up four YouTube songs on there with lyrics ready. We sing, and then we listen to you on the web. We recognize where real worship is done. I tell him all of the time it's not done here. What we're doing is worship with a small W. We worship outside this building, and we are developing Community Groups. Pray for us. Keegan."
Come on! How about that? I want to just tell you something. That's your story! That is the guy who sat where you did. He gets to drop in and drop out. He was here one week. Do you know what he did? He said, "I'm getting after it. That little Top-Ten card? I'm filling it out? That little idea of being compelled to converse? I'm compelled. A light is going to shine out of my darkness in a very pagan place on a college campus. Let's go!"
"…in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world." There was a witness who came from God. His name was Keegan. Can I put your name right there? Boy! You want some of that. Look at this. Verse 8: " He[this John, this Keegan, this Todd, or this Watermark]was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light."
Do you know what I do every now and then? There are a couple of things I do. Every now and then I hear a phrase, and I go, "That one will work. If when I die that one is on my tombstone, I will have done well." There are a couple of them. There's one that a long time ago I read about with a guy named John Getty.
John Getty was just a faithful follower of Christ in the 1800s who went to an island in the South Pacific. There is what is called the John Getty Memorial. It's a small plaque on Prince Edward Island up in Canada. This little plaque has his picture on it and says, "When he landed in 1848, there were no Christians here, and when he left in 1872, there were no heathen."
How about that? "When he arrived in 2010 to this community, there was no joy, no hope, no view of eternity, no peace, no fidelity, no generosity, no abiding kindness, no eternal love on this block, but when he left, this was a neighborhood that the world longed to emulate." That should be your story. "When he came to work at CB Richard Ellis, we served unrighteous mammon and gold, but when he left, we used our gold for his glory." What's your story?
I thought, "If it could be said of me, 'When he came, there were no followers, but when he left, there were no rebels,' that would be good," but I like verse 8. When I die, if you could put verse 8 on my tombstone, I will have done well. "Todd Wagner. Born July 1960-something. Died (who knows when). ' He ** was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.' " You put that on my marble and I'll be okay. Verse 9:"There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man."** You want to know him.
I have another thing written in the front of my Bible. It just says, "No man is uneducated who knows his Bible, and no man is wise who is ignorant of it." Jesus is the living Word. The Bible is the written Word. I could say this. No man is uneducated who knows Jesus, and no man is wise who does not follow him. That is verse 9.
I think about Peter and John in Acts, chapter 4, verse 13. It says that they marveled at who they were. "Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John…" They observed the strength of character and the fearlessness of man and the strength and power of their words. "…and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed…" Then, it says that they "…began to recognize them as having been with Jesus."
Don't you love that? I don't really care what kind of degree you have. I say here all of the time I don't hire graduates from seminaries. I tell guys all of the time, "If you graduate from seminary, that's fine. I won't necessarily hold it against you, but what I want to know is do you know this Jesus? Do you love him? Does his light shine in you? Are you a student of the Word? Do you follow the Word?" That's the question.
This is who Jesus is. He's the one who enlightens every man. This Logos, this Word… Here it is again in verse 10 (he). It is a singular male pronoun. This divine impersonal mind is, in fact, a divine personal man. "He [Jesus] was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him."
I want to tell you what verses 10 through 13 are. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ in four verses. If you just memorized John, chapter 1, verses 10 through 13, you know the book of John, and you know Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It is the gospel in four verses. What's interesting about this particular part is you have two different people here.
Do you remember what it said in John, chapter 1, verse 5? It says there, " The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not[katalambanō]it." Did not comprehend it or overtake it? It's both. Verses 10 and 11 are those who did not comprehend who he was. Then, verses 12 and 13 are evidence that he overcomes darkness and that darkness can't hold the Light back because he did reveal himself to some.
Really, chapters 1 through 12 of the book of John that we're about to study are wrapped up in verses 10 and 11. Watch this. "He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own…" His own place, his own abode, the world he created. "…and those who were His own [Israel] did not receive Him." They rejected him.
Verses 10 and 11 talk about the rejection of the Christ. Verses 12 and 13 talk about the reception of the Christ. Some could not comprehend who he was, but darkness could not overtake him, and the Light broke forth, and the righteous remnant came to him. The book of John is really carved up rather neatly.
Chapters 1 through 12 talk about the Light's interaction with darkness and the darkness' rejection of it and the futility of that rejection, and verses 12 through 13 really pick up what happens with those who he receives. In chapter 13, when we get there you'll see a division. He starts to pull his disciples aside.
Now, he said, "Those of you who received the Light, let me give you more light. Let me show you who I am and where we're going with this thing. You are my children, and you will be a gift to the world, and the good news will go forward through you, and the very gates of hell will not stand against it.
Eventually, in 2010, there will be a group of folks who will sit and learn from that which I teach you to record and that I preserve supernaturally and anchor in history, and it will bring light to another generation until I come and show that I wasn't just a Lamb, but I am the lion, and my sovereignty is made clear. I will not come immediately. Why? Because I am gracious and kind, wishing that none should perish but that all should come to repentance."
There you go. There is so much here, but I want to just say this. He came to his own… Really, that reference there is specifically… That word own is neuter. It means it's the earth. He came to that which he created. He came to his possession, that thing, that domain which was his. Into a world he created he placed himself. Onto an earth he was sovereign over and spoke into existence he walked. On a donkey that was his idea he rode. On a tree that he created he was nailed by people who he made.
He was mocked and scorned and rejected, whipped, and crucified, and they didn't receive him. Now, what would you have done? What would you have done had you come to that which you created and they treated you that way? Martin Luther said, "If I were God, and the world treated me as it treated Him, I would kick the wretched thing to pieces."
Matthew told a story that Christ told in Matthew, chapter 21, verses 33 through 43, where he sent forth witness after witness. It's where Christ talks about the owner of a vineyard who sent servant after servant to collect what was his, and eventually he sent the son, and they said, "Let's kill the son. This is the heir, so we can run the vineyard the way we want to run the vineyard," and Jesus then asked those he was teaching, "What do you think the owner of that vineyard will do when he comes to those men knowing they killed his servants, rejected their stewardship of life and responsibility before him, and killed the son?"
They responded, "He will tear those wretched wretches to a wretched end." He said, "That's what you're doing to me, and that's what's going to happen. You'd better figure out who I am. I am the Cornerstone. You'd better build on it, or it will crush you." I'm going to tell you, gang. Jesus is the Light.
I want to do something fun here. I was going to share with you a little story. I first heard this story when I was in high school in a little ministry called Young Life when I trusted Christ. The guy told the story. I never knew where the story came from, but as I was studying John, the story came back to my mind, and I thought, "Where in the world did that little parable come from?" and I have found where it came from.
It came from a 1965 broadcast of Paul Harvey. I'm going to show you…just listen to this…how far our newsmen have come. This is the one who presented the news, but listen to this parable he told, because this is what God did. He knew they could not figure out who he was. They were terrified of him. They were scared of him.
He wanted, though, to still reveal himself to those he loved, and he thought, "How can I communicate? I've communicated myself through power. I've communicated myself through promise. I've communicated myself through provision for sin, but I cannot get through to these birdbrain people." Paul Harvey took that idea and wrote this little parable. Let me let you hear the gospel in The Rest of the Story. Listen to this.
Paul Harvey: It is for the skeptics. It is for the unconvinced that I wish to submit a modern parable. This is about a modern man, one of us. He was not a Scrooge now. He was a kind, a decent, a mostly good man. He was generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men, but he did not believe in all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmastime. I just didn't make sense. He was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just could not swallow the Jesus story about God coming to earth as a man.
He told his wife, "I am truly sorry to distress you, dear, but I am not going to church with you this Christmas Eve. I'd feel like a hypocrite." He said he'd rather stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. He stayed. They went to the midnight service. Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier, and then he went back to his fireside chair, and he began to read his newspaper.
Minutes later, he was startled by a thudding sound, then another, and then another. At first, he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window, but when he went to the front door to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the storm and in a desperate search for shelter had tried to fly through his large landscape window.
Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter if he could direct the birds to it. He quickly put on his coat and galoshes. He tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in.
He figured food would entice them, so he hurried back to the house and fetched bread crumbs, and he sprinkled the bread crumbs on the snow making a trail to the yellow-lighted, wide-open doorway of the stable, but to his dismay the birds ignored the bread crumbs. They continued to flop around helplessly in the snow.
He ran after them and tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms, but instead they scattered in every direction, every direction accept into the warm, lighted barn. Then, he realized they were afraid of him. "To them," he reasoned, "I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know they can trust me and that I'm not trying to hurt them but to help them, but how?"
Any move he made tended to frighten them, to confuse them. They just would not follow, and they would not be led or shooed because they feared him. "If only I could be a bird myself," he thought. "If only I could be a bird and mingle with them and speak their language and tell them not to be afraid and then show them the way to the safe, warm barn, but I'd have to be one of them so they could see and hear and understand. I'd have to be one of them."
At that moment, the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind, and he stood there listening to the bells – Adeste Fidelis – listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas, and he sank to his knees in the snow. Paul Harvey. Good day.
[End of audio]
This is the story, folks. He came. He sent the Scriptures. He sent power. He sent his message. He sent his revelation and conscience. He sent his revelation to creation. Yet, they still could not make him out, so he came. He became as one of them to lead them where they otherwise would not go because they were frightened by him.
" But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name…" If you are here and you don't know why God came, he came to show his justice and to provide for you his love. He didn't just get you into the barn; he provided a means through which, in your wicked rebellion, righteousness could let you into that barn of heaven and be restored into relationship with him. We call that a glorious God, and we will sing to him now. Let's stand together.
Well, if you know the gospel and if your darkness has been invaded by that light, you'll never be the same. If you'll come this morning and initiate a faith with him, birdbrains… That's just about as biblical a term as I can use. You're lost. You keep banging into a window that looks like there is warmth inside, but you can't get there.
Something that is a barrier between you and light and life and warmth in the freezing cold despair of night and death. That barrier is sin, and the solution to it is Jesus Christ, and he beckons you to stop running against that invisible wall, that perverted worldview, and to follow him into life and light. You'll never be the same.
Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Then come! Are you one of the birds that have followed him to light and life and then fly back out? Whistle and chirp and bring them back with feathers that are full and stomachs that are nourished and a song that is filled with hope and communicate to other birdbrains just like you and say,
"There is life here. We have a King. He loves us. He has prepared a place. We can enjoy it now. There will be a day when the whole world will be filled with sun and warmth, but now in this cold and this darkness and this death, we have a place where we can walk in the midst of it and sing as birds of spring. It's a new day. It's a new day."
Are you his witnesses? I want to tell you something. We're building a bigger barn here. Throw in with it. Get out there and sing about what it is we want folks to come into. It's a relationship with Christ. He is good! Do you know him? Come. Do you know him? Sing.
Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.
Who was Jesus Christ? A mythical man created to give a false sense of comfort after we die? Some sort of character that enables us to justify our own choices while simultaneously giving us the power to judge others? Or was He something much bigger? God, in the flesh, walking and living among His creation. A sinless man who became the sacrifice for our sins. The Gospel of John is more than Christology 101. It is an invitation to a living and active faith in Jesus Christ. Come join us on this life-changing journey through the book of John: the story of Jesus Christ.