Who Is Jesus? – Part 1

Who Is Jesus? – Part 1

The invitation to come and see is given so that you would believe.

So, we are coming out of the Christmas season. And how many of you have heard the phrase (it doesn’t have to be Christmas), but how many of you’ve ever heard or said, “Y’all come see this?” or “Y’all watch this!” You’ve ever said that? Where I grew up, when I said, “Y’all come watch this,” somebody was walking away with a broken arm. Anybody know what I’m talking about? Cause we were going to do something incredibly silly, that we’re going to walk away being injured, but that’s a phrase we say all the time.

Maybe you get a brand-new truck that you’ve just had your eye on. You’re like, “Hey y’all come see my truck. See, I have a truck. It’s not brand new, but when I got it, I called my brother and I said, “Hey you got to come see this truck. It can do the off road. It can do the crawling features. Do I know how to use it? Nah.  Am I ever going to go off road? No, but it’ll do it. And I was like, you got to come see this.

Maybe you get something, we see this with kids a lot, they get a toy they’ve been wanting. Y’all got to come see my toy. I love this during Christmas because you see these Facebook posts and parents get excited about the toys that they get their kids. Did y’all know about, I don’t know what it’s called, but I saw one where it’s like, “Hey, y’all got to see this toy that that my child got!” It was like a cauldron, like a little bitty pot, and you put some liquid in it and you put some feathers and leaves and you stir it up. Y’all see this thing? You stir it up, and then like a stuffed animal pops out of it! We have children in the room, so I’m not going to ruin the trick. But I had to figure out how it was done cause I was like, I got to see this. You know, it’s like all that you’re putting in is water and next thing you know, you got a Furby and it’s like what is going on here?

But it’s like everything, you got to come and see. Anytime we experience something really cool, we’re like, hey, y’all got to come and see this. When I met Jennifer and started dating her, I called all my buddies from school and said, “Y’all got to see what I got, right? That’s right, cause I knew that I was dating at the time way out of my league. Then I put a ring on her finger. I called my buddies back up and said, “You got to see what I got, you know, cause she said yes!” She would say the same thing about me…she never introduced me to her friends, actually. Yeah, I’ve never met them.

But we experience something great. And we’re like, you got to come and see.

That is what we’re going to begin doing for the next, maybe the whole year of 2022. We are going to journey through the Gospel of John in a series called Come and See, and that’s not the main idea of the whole book. But throughout the book you get these instances. You get these narratives, these stories where Jesus has so impacted somebody so much, that they offer the invitation, “Hey, come and see what this Guy is all about.” Come and see.

We’ll see it in a couple weeks as we go through chapter one. We’ll see it again in Chapter 4. You see it again at the resurrection, where it’s just this idea of you’ve got to come and see Jesus. You’ve got to come and experience this cause He’s doing all these signs and wonders. He’s doing all these awesome things. And I mean, He really looks like and you got all these different people saying I think He’s the Messiah. You got to come and see what this Guy is doing. You got to come and see Who this Guy is. And that’s what we see throughout the Gospel of John is Who Jesus is really.

And you might be thinking to yourself, well, why John? We’ve already got several other Gospels, and John does write from a little bit of a different perspective.  But John, I’ll tell you about John, the book of John is so simple. In fact, first year Greek students can translate the whole Gospel with no problems. It’s a very simple, almost like a third-grade level Greek, but yet the content is so incredibly deep that you can ponder it and think about it and study it for a lifetime. One of the church leaders of his day, Augustine, said the Gospel of John is shallow enough for a child to wade in, and yet deep enough for an elephant to swim in. That is what we’re going to be studying for a really long time, for several weeks.

Now John, at this point in his life, is an old man. John has outlived pretty much everybody who was his peers, his contemporaries. He’s lived long enough to see it all start. He’s lived long enough to see the church grow and blossom and develop. As a young man, John was a wild stallion of a guy. John left his privilege as a fisherman and followed John the Baptizer for a while.

And then one day, John the Baptist baptized Jesus and John decided to leave John the Baptizer, and he went to follow Jesus. He was there from the beginning. He experienced three years of personal, up close, ministry and conversations. He was there at the cross.

Remember, Jesus is going to say He looked at the disciple whom He loved, and that’s how John refers to himself in the book and he says, mother, this is your son. Son, this is your mother, paraphrasing that. John was there at the feet of Jesus at the crucifixion.

He was there when he saw Jesus resurrected and the hope of the resurrection. He was there to see the devastating hopelessness of the crucifixion be completely restored during the resurrection. He witnessed Paul and Barnabas and Silas and Apollos and Luke and Timothy and Titus and a host of others plant churches across the known world. He saw these people expanding God’s territory, but John was an anchor to the foundation of the early church.

As critics began to bash the church and impostors began to subvert the truth of the Gospel, John was there to call out the false teachings. And he did so in his first three letters – first John, second John, third John. It’s what he wrote first.

As he outlived his peers, he was exiled by Emperor Domitian to the Isle of Patmos, where he recorded the great book of Revelations. And after his exile ended, as an old, old man he returned, church tradition believes, to Ephesus where he lived out his days as an elder, that grandfather-like shepherd, pastor to that church.

I’ve always found it quite interesting. Paul started the church in Ephesus. When you read Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, you don’t find any problems. The church in Ephesus is a really good church. They got things going on. And yet, while John is on Patmos, he writes a letter to Ephesus as well, and he says that they have a great reputation. It’s a great church, but they’ve lost their first love, that all this ministry that that church is doing and all that that’s going on, they’re just doing it to be doing. They don’t love Jesus.

That’s where he goes to spend the rest of his life – to this church – pastoring a second generation of Christians and helping them to reclaim and remember their first love. During this time, John is compelled by the Holy Spirit to write his account of the Gospel.

Now make no mistake. As John’s in Ephesus, I’m sure he’s teaching Paul’s letters. I’m sure he’s using Matthew, Mark and Luke, and he’s teaching those things. I’m sure that John is bringing his own perspective to the conversations as an eyewitness. And yet at his old age, he feels compelled to write this gospel. It’s a very different gospel, or a very different account, a very different perspective than the other ones.

One commentator says that Matthew essentially says, this is the Messiah – this is the King – worship Him.   That’s what the book of Matthew is talking about regarding Jesus.

Mark says, this is the Servant Who serves humanity. Follow Him.

Luke is saying this is the only Man among men without sin. Emulate Him and follow Him.

But John comes along and says this is God in human flesh. Believe in Him. And that’s the purpose of the whole book. You can read at the end, John 20:31. “These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”

The invitation to come and see is given so that you would believe, believe Who Jesus really is. John focuses on different things than the other Gospel writers. In fact, we would say that he starts his Gospel with what we call, this is just kind of a big word, Christology from above. You see all the genealogy. You see the birth narrative. John says, you know what, I’m going all the way back to the beginning, not the beginning of Jesus’ birth, but the beginning of time. That’s where he starts, the beginning of everything, and he works his way methodically, and you see it in these first 18 verses. But he works his way methodically through.

Jesus is in heaven. Jesus becomes human, and then the rest of the book lays it out. It is built around seven major miracles and signs and wonders. We see those great I AM statements. 23 times, Jesus will use an I AM statement. 7 main ones. I am the Bread of Life. Believe in me. I am the light of the world. I am the door for the sheep. I am the Good Shepherd. I am the resurrection and the life. I am the way, the truth, and the life. And this is the climax of the whole book in Chapter 8, before Abraham was, I am.

And what John is saying is believe it. Believe it. So, who is Jesus? It’s a question we’re going to spend several weeks looking at as we look at the first 18 verses, the prologue. You know what the prologue is, right? I’m going to give a shout out to Star Wars.  Any Star Wars fans? Like 3 of you, OK, but everybody knows this, though.  At the beginning of the movies is like the scrolling scene. They’re setting the stage like a long time ago in a Galaxy far, far away. That’s the prologue. It’s setting the stage for the rest of the film. These first 18 verses are the prologue. We’re going to spend three weeks there, probably. And we’re just going to set the stage for the whole Book.

We’re just going to look at 2 verses today. So, if you have your Bible, John 1:-1-2 – answering the question, Who is Jesus? Now, as you’re turning to John 1, there’s a few things I want to tell you.

Jesus has been called a witty teacher like Buddha. John Dominic Crossing says Jesus was a wandering philosopher Who had His body eaten by dogs after His crucifixion. Marcus Bourque says He was just a charismatic faith healer. Bart Ehrman, who actually attended UNC Chapel Hill, says that He is the 1st century apocalyptic prophet. Islam says Jesus is a prophet inferior to Mohammed.

A quick Google search will tell you that Jesus is just a good teacher. He’s just a good guy. He’s just a good leader. Some say he’s just a crazy man walking around like John the Baptist. Others call Him an advice giver Who gives us the best way to live life.

It doesn’t matter where you go in the world, even atheists have a picture of Jesus. They may reject the notion that He’s God, and they may reject He ever existed. Everybody got a picture of Jesus. A lot of people have the bobblehead Jesus. I’m talking about the little bobble head Jesus that sits in your car as you’re driving down the road. He’s always shaking his head yes. It’s like, can I get road rage at the guy who just cut me off and tell him he’s number one and Jesus is like yeah. Yeah, we all have a picture of Jesus.

We have the genie in the bottle approach. Jesus oh, I really need this truck. I want people to come and see my truck. Genie in the bottle. We all have a picture of Jesus.

But who is He? Who is he? And when we answer that question based on the Bible, we’ll better understand how to respond because He’s not a genie and He’s not a bobble head. He’s not just a prophetic, apocalyptic prophet. He’s not just a charismatic faith healer. He is the Son of God.

John 1:  1-2 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

Right in the beginning, long time ago, in the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God. And the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Now, if you’re a Jewish reader in this day, the next thing that’s going to come out of your mouth is in the beginning, God. Yeah, a Jewish person would have just instantaneously filled it in because they’re thinking Genesis 1:1, right? In the beginning, God. John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Now what is the Word? What’s he referring to? Just to give you the short answer, if you look at it versus 14 and following, you see how it says, “The Word became flesh.”

And then John calls the name of the Word. The word is Jesus. Make no mistake about it. The word is Jesus.

And so, in these two verses we learn two very important things. First one is that

1 – Jesus is eternal.

Jesus is absolutely eternal. There has never been a time in history – known history, unknown history  – when Jesus did not exist. He was always there with God because He is God, but He is eternal.

There’s a preacher one time having a conversation with a guy and the guy says preacher, I know that God always existed, and I know you’re saying that Jesus was with Him, but I just got to ask a question. What was God doing before He was creating? You ever had that question before? Now that’s a serious question. I mean, I pondered that. We don’t know the answer to that question, but the pastor, this particular pastor, not me, this particular pastor got a little frustrated with the question cause he didn’t know how to answer it. He says well, what he was doing is he was creating a hill to send people who asked the question.

I would never say that. But the point is, I say that’s a little joke, a pastor joke. I say that to say it’s a very complex thing to know that Jesus has always existed and though our minds cannot really comprehend the fact that He has never, there’s never a time when Jesus wasn’t.

So that’s a little bit of faith, but John makes it very clear.

In the beginning. Jesus was there. That word, there’s two big words in this one that are very important. The word “was” and the word “with.” Very important words in this passage. The word “was” is kind of this continuation. Jesus was continuing or Jesus has always been existing, or I love the way this person put it – in the beginning, Jesus was was-ing. He was always doing it. He was always a part of it. And we have to understand, we have to grapple with this, that He is the Alpha and the Omega.

He is the beginning and the end. That before, in John 8, before Abraham was, because Abraham is like the greatest in the Jewish culture, before Abraham was, Jesus says I am. Now I got to be careful. We’re going to get into that I am statement when we get there, but that goes back to the Old Testament. But Jesus has always existed. There’s never been a time that He is not.

The second thing we learned is

2 – He’s divine. It says in the beginning the Word was with God and the Word was God. He is fully divine. Jesus is God. The Trinity is one of the hardest, most complex things about our faith. I mean, we don’t worship multiple gods. You know the Jehovah’s Witnesses read and translate this verse – In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God. The word is a God. That’s their translation of the Bible. Very problematic, OK, because it’s not even in the Greek. It’s very problematic the way they do that, but they put Jesus and God as two separate gods.

But that’s not what we believe. We believe in one God who has three persons. And it’s also important cause it’s a really popular book called the Shack, and it’s actually a pretty good book. Except it’s theologically messed up. OK, the shack promotes a view of God that says there’s one God who puts on masks. So it’s essentially the Shack says there’s three different gods. He just puts on masks to represent the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.

That’s not what John says. John says that there is one God. And that in the beginning, Jesus was with this one God, and that word “with” is this idea of face to face. They’re facing each other. They are literally in complete harmony with one another, so we would think of it like this. The Father is God. Jesus is God the Son. But the Father is not the son. The Son is not the father, but both are God.

And it is a perfectly harmonious relationship. Everything that comes out of Jesus’ mouth is God’s Word. Every action that Jesus does is the actions of God. God sent Jesus to reveal Himself to us in a very special way. And so Jesus, now you have to understand He is completely 100% fully God in everything that He does. They’re in perfect, lockstep harmony with each other and you might be thinking well, why is this even important?

Here’s why it’s important. We are all sinful people. We have all rebelled against God. And we owe God a heavy price for our sins. We are in debt to God. The only way that for that debt to be forgiven is for God to forgive it. The way God chose to forgive that debt was to become a human and die on a cross for our sins.

Another reason it’s important is these miracles we’re going to look at in the Gospel of John. You’re going to find yourself, or some people find themselves going, I don’t know if Jesus really did that. That’s hard to believe. How could He do that? Nobody else can do something like that.  He’s God.

The lens in which we read the gospel starts here. We have to understand that Jesus has always existed. Jesus is divine and when we accept that and embrace that, then everything else in the gospel makes sense. All these miracles that seem unprovable or improbable or they can never happen, it makes sense when you say He’s God, because only God can do these things.

So, Jesus is eternal, and Jesus is divine.

There’s one other thing I want to talk about.

One of the first questions I wrote down when I studied the Gospel of John is why didn’t he just say in the beginning was Jesus? Ever thought about that? He could have just said in the beginning was Jesus. Jesus was with God. He could have said that. Why did he choose to use that phrase, “the Word.” By the way, in the Greek it’s a word called logos. John is doing something incredible, and I don’t want you to miss what he’s doing.

John’s in Ephesus. That is the birth place of this idea of logos. It is a Greek concept where these Greek philosophers.  In fact, in 500 BC, a Greek nobleman was in Ephesus or that area that became Ephesus. This philosopher taught that the universe operates according, don’t miss this, according to a rational structure, a unified ordering principle.  In 500 BC, this guy is walking around like I don’t know what it is, but something running everything. Because I don’t know what it is, but something’s creating all this. There’s an ordering principle. He called it logos. He said it is the word that is the ordering principle. He didn’t know what that word was. He didn’t know what it was. It was just his philosophy. That idea would be built on by the Greeks over and over again where they would come to a point where the Greek culture would say all of physics, all of mathematics, all of reason, all of morality can be traced back to the one ordering principle – logos. That was what they believed was running the world.

Now for the Jewish person, it has significance too. Throughout the Old Testament, the Word of God is how God revealed Himself. When God spoke, it was with power. It was with revelation. God did things through His Word in the Old Testament, and so John, in this very simplistic way, but yet this complex idea, is tying in the Old Testament with Greek culture and He says, Jesus is the Word for the Greek culture in Ephesus.

He’s like you’re searching for answers, you’re searching for a creator. You see that there is a creator. You see that something is doing something for something, and John says it’s Jesus. It’s not some random ordering principle. It’s Jesus.

Jesus is the giver of life which we’ll see next week. Jesus is the originator. Jesus is everything. And so he says in the beginning was the Word. He’s pulling that idea. He is like, you guys are searching for an answer. And the answer is Jesus, Who died on a cross for you. That’s the Gospel message of John.

That’s the message that we see throughout this book. Do you believe? Do you believe in the Son Who came to Earth. Have you surrendered to Him? Have you confessed Him as your everlasting, never ending father? That’s Who the real Jesus is. Eternal, divine, He’s the Word. He’s the Word.

Let’s pray together. Father, we thank you for the Word and the truth that it reveals to us. It is my prayer as we begin this study, as we begin to slowly walk through this Gospel that it would truly transform us. That it would provide for us a strength that we need when we are weak. That it would teach us a deep theology that we can believe, but at the heart of our theology has to be action, that as we learn it, as we come to understand who Jesus is, that we would believe in, that we would respond in, that we would follow Him.

And I pray that as we experience the Jesus of the Bible, and as we begin to believe in Who He really is, we would invite others to come and see, to come and experience, to come and have the transformative life that only Jesus gives. We asked this in His Name, Amen.