Why worship Jesus, why's He the only Way to God, the only solution to sin? Because of who Jesus is! Before we're told what He did, we're told who He is,
John 1:1 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 came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.
John goes way back in time, even before Genesis 1, to show us who He was before He was borne Jesus. Jesus did not become the Word, He was the Word. Eternal. Invisible. The Maker of all. Yet on that first Christmas day,
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
This shines a light on Jesus.
Have this in mind as you pray, as you worship Him, as you consider whether or not to obey Him. The Word became flesh. This is why He is the only Mediator between God and man. God became man.
This also tells us why He isn't called Jesus before His birth. He was called God, the Word, the Light, the Maker of heaven and earth but He isn't called Jesus.
But some 2000 years ago, when the One who was always God by nature and only God by nature, when the 2nd Member of the Trinity added to Himself a human nature and began to develop human flesh and bone, Jesus was conceived.
This is what makes Jesus, Jesus. God became Man. The incarnation. He alone has two natures, the one eternally God, one with God, infinite, immense, almighty, all-knowing. The other, fully human, having a beginning, limited, in a body, dependent, one with us.
This is the Christmas message. The Word became flesh and dwelled among us.Christ the Savior was born to save us.
How would a fallen world react? How would the powers and the world forces of darkness react? How will you respond to Jesus? John gives four responses, the last of which we heartily recommend.
The first response is mentioned in verse 5,
John 1:4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
The original Greek word for "comprehend" is katalambano which means to seize or subdue, to overcome. So the NIV reads, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
The darkness refers to the dark rule of Satan.
When Jesus was born, the Word became flesh and invaded darkness. He came to rescue us from sin, to deliver us from the kingdom of darkness. And the devil's army tried to subdue Him, to overpower Him but they could not. Not even death itself could overcome Him.
The great news is that the darkness cannot overpower him, but be mindful of the dark spiritual resistance to Jesus that fills our world at every level.
The way we casually approach Christmas with trees and lights, the Grinch and Santa is a lighthearted way to distract us from the dark and dreary state of the world. But Christmas was a direct invasion of the dark forces of the world.
"The Light shines in the darkness," and try as it may, "the darkness did not" and cannot "subdue or overpower" the LORD and His destiny for us.
The second response is that of mankind in general,
John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through Him [remember], and yet the world did not know Him.
The original word for "know" is ginosko which means to know, to see, to experience the truth.
When Jesus was here, God became Man and came into the world that He'd created, and to the very people that He'd made in His image, and He came for our good in order to love and rescue us from sin and death and hell, but the world didn't see the truth about Him; it didn't recognize who Jesus was.
The third response is that of unbelieving Israel, and it's the saddest yet.
On that first Christmas, the God who spoke to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob came to them. The One who spoke to Pharaoh through Moses, who delivered their children from Egyptian slaver. Whom gave David to be their king. The Lord came as promised to those whom He has an everlasting love,
John 1:11 He came to His own, and His own people did not accept Him.
The Greek word for "accept" is paralambano which means to receive, to welcome in, to accept.
When Christ came, His own people did not receive Him. Not as Savior. Not as Lord. Not as King. "We will not have this man to rule over us."
So John starts at the beginning and tells us who Jesus really is. The Eternal God. Our Creator. Who became Man to die. Man to save. Man to reign.
The dark rulers attacked Him. They arrayed their power to destroy Him yet they could not overcome Him.
The world ignored Him. They didn't recognize Jesus' true identity. But when forced to choose, they chose against Him. Jesus was executed by the State.
And even Israel, the very people with whom He'd made eternal covenants, gave the Word, the prophets, and the promises of God's one-way love and future blessing, when He came they did not accept Him. They hated Him.
We see these same responses to Jesus today. Their reaction is not based on the evidence or to some fault in Jesus' character or His promises for this is the choice of the human heart.
People don't want anyone to have authority over us. Our culture rejects any absolute truth claim about God or truth or right and wrong. People don't want to admit that we sin, so they reject any need for forgiveness. If you push Jesus on them it's like they hate Him and join the crowd, "Crucify Him!"
And think of how most of us react when others hate us or harm us? We think worse of them, we want to get them back. But that's not how Jesus is. When people sin against us they prompt us to sin back, when they hurt us, we justify our hatred and try to settle the score. But this isn't how Jesus is...
Know this about our LORD. His grace is always given before we earn it; it's never in response to our goodness. Rather, in response to our sin, the Word became flesh. God became one of us.
Christ came to us, not to point out all our faults and tell us everything that's wrong with us. Jesus came to show us the Father's goodness. He came on the Father's behalf to love and forgive us, to give us new hope and new life. Christ Jesus was sent into the world to save and restore us to God.
Which leads to the FOURTH response, the one that delights God's heart.
This is the one that we hope for when we share about Jesus. For it's sadly true that most people reject Him and shun or attack everything about Him,
John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born [or born again], not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of a man, but of God.
This is the response that opens the door to every one of God's blessings.
But look again at verse 12.
Who become the children of God? As many as receive Jesus, to them God gives the right to be His children.
So, How do we receive Him?
John equates receiving Jesus with believing in His name.
All of the great promises of Scripture tell us Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior and Lord sent by the Father; through His death, Jesus alone forgives YOUR sins; and by His resurrection, Jesus alone rescues YOU from death and hell; He has the authority to grant eternal life with Himself and with the Father of mercies to sinners who can't do any of this, but trust Him for God's mercy.
So, to believe in His name is to accept who He is! It is to have Jesus as "your" Savior. It is to look to Jesus and be assured of God's favor.
God's favor and adoption and eternal life are not given to the deserving but to the believer, to those who trust Jesus for God's free grace that are given the right to be God's children.
And notice in verse 13, we're not simply "called" His children but those who accept Jesus as their Savior "become children of God." It's not in name only but in very nature. It is something we are born again into. It is for "those who were born" or born again through believing in Him.
This Christmas week, like a child that finds his gifts under the bed or the tree and inspects them and cherishes them, may our hearts take full stock of the true wonders and awe both of Jesus Christ and of the gift He's given us.