There are several differences between the Gospel of John and the other Gospels. One thing is certainly distinct from our verses today, the longer John has dwelt on the teachings of Christ, the life of Christ, the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, the size of Christ has become supremely large to Him.
Some Christians are tempted to believe John’s Gospel is for the unbeliever or new believer because of the stated purpose in John 20.30-31. But that is a mistake, because we can see from the outset John’s lifelong meditations have led to more expansive affections for Christ and who He is. John’s Gospel is written probably close to 30 years after the other Gospels. It was the last Gospel written, and John has decided to open His Gospel with the supremacy of Christ.
In the book Prince Caspian, by CS Lewis, articulates a conversation between Lucy and Aslan. It has been years since Lucy has seen Aslan, and she says, “Aslan, you’re bigger.” Aslan responds, “That is because you are older.” She says, “Not because you are?” He answers, “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.” This is a picture of what Christian maturity is supposed to be like. Like the apostle John, the older we get the bigger Christ should become.
Theme: Maturing Christians are steadily growing in the supremacy of Christ.
1. The Preexistence of Christ—John 1.1.
From the opening line of John’s Gospel we see one immediate agenda. John wants to establish the preexistence of Christ. He does this through 3 strategies. Even with an elementary reading of John 1.1 one can notice these strategies.
First, the author uses rhythmatic repetitions to communicate what He believes to be significant. The word for “GOD” is used twice; the words for “WORD” and “WAS” are used three times. A closer examination of the word for “WAS” will take us into the mind of the author. John uses the verb in the imperfect tense, which means we could read John 1.1 this way, “The beginning was continuing the Word, and the Word was continuing with God, and the Word was continually God.” It is not as if the Word of God began at the beginning of Creation, but was continuing to be and do what it already was. This word play would have resonated with the covenant name of the God of Israel—“I am who I am.”
Second, John’s use of the phrase, “In the beginning was the Word…” is meant to the remind the reader of Genesis. While we remember the books of the Bible by their titles for an Israelite they would have remembered the book by the first phrase found in that book, because there were no titles. As we look back at Genesis we see it was the Word of God that spoke things into existence (Gen 1.3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26). This is another way for John to establish the Word preexisted creation itself.
Finally, by establishing the preexistence of the Word of God John is also trying to establish the Divinity or Deity of the Word. The Greek word for “WORD” is “LOGOS”. During John’s day this word was used in many ways, especially philosophically. But we must be careful in our examination of how John is using this word verses how the world around him uses the word. For the Greek the “LOGOS” was a principle or concept that was separated from the material and historical world. But John says, “the Word was God,” therefore, He is more than a concept or principle. As we examine the “LOGOS” of God we see a person emerge. John is using the word “LOGOS” more in a Biblical sense than a philosophical or worldly sense.
Friends this should remind us of at least 2 things. First, the language of city of man and the language of the city of God is different. The world uses words like Gospel, redemption, reconciliation, peace, and so much more, but they do not mean what we mean, and we must never forget that. Second, it is vital to a healthly Christian that we do not reduce Jesus Christ to a concept or principle. For instance, many people today talked about being Gospel-centered, but they forget the Gospel is about a person. The Gospel is not just some principle that helps us be better people, but the Gospel is about a person that we have personal relationships with.
2. The Community of Christ—John 1.1-2.
For all eternity God has always lived in community, not in isolation. In John 1.1 he says, “…and the Word was WITH God,” and then in verse 2, “He was in the beginning WITH God.” The word, “WITH” communicates a nearness between two persons, but it also demonstrates to us community is about movement. It is one thing to be the presence with someone but true community is about moving toward each other. Community is about seeking to know each other more intimately.
All of humanity was made in the image of God, therefore, we were designed us to be in community. In each and every one of us there is a desire to be known and to know someone more deeply. As Christians we should realize this more than anyone. The people who should have priority in our hearts are the lonely, the brokenhearted, the shut in’s, the outcast, those who the world has rejected. Without Christ this would be our estate for eternity, but God sought us out, therefore, when do that we reflect our Maker.
But in the pursuit of being known and knowing others we will quickly discover the hopelessness of that effort. For every person there are infinite affections and thoughts. As hard as someone tries to know us and we try to know someone else we will reach a point where we cannot fully know them and they cannot really know us. This is why we all need an infinite relationship. We need One who can know our every desire and every thought and yet still love us. Jesus Christ is the bridge between being known by God and knowing God.
3. The Revelation of Christ—John 1.3.
Since the dawn of creation humanity God placed a deep longing in our hearts to know our Creator. But our first parents sought to suppress this truth, and since then every son and daughter of them have been born into this disease:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.—Romans 1.18-21
This is God’s diagnosis of every person. We lost and confused without the direction of our Creator. See the thing is friends John says, “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” You and I were made through Jesus Christ. Paul tells us in Colossians 1.16 that we were made through Christ and for Christ. Through Jesus Christ God has revealed Himself to the world finally and decisively:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.—Hebrews 1.1-3a
Jesus Himself says if you know Him then you know God (John 14.7).
What John, Paul and the entire Bible is trying to establish for us is if we want to understand God, the world, even our own selves, then it begins with WORSHIP. Think about how hard it is to even know yourself let alone another person. Once you toss God in the mix it seems impossible, and it is. The revelation of Jesus Christ shows us God is going out of His way to reveal Himself to us. If we want to understand God, the world around us, even our selves then our posture be, “God help me. God you made me you know what is best for me. God you made my neighbor you know what is best for her. God you made everyone important to me help understand what is best for them. God you are my everything, what will make you happy, because your happiness in my happiness.” These must be the cry of our hearts every morning. Worship is the heartbeat of Christian maturing in godliness. God must become bigger and bigger to us over time.