Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World

Gift of Love

December 21, 2020 Pastor Dave Tucker Season 5 Episode 4
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
Gift of Love
Chapters
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
Gift of Love
Dec 21, 2020 Season 5 Episode 4
Pastor Dave Tucker

God wanted to make very clear to God’s people what his word really did mean. God didn’t want there to be any misunderstandings. So, God sent His Son into the world to be a living testimony to the word of God… Jesus was God’s word in the flesh! Put simply, if you want to get to know God better, if you want to know the true character of God, If you want to truly see God’s love for humanity, get to know Jesus… The only way that can happen is by spending time in the gospels and internalizing them. 

Based on John 1:1-4

Show Notes Transcript

God wanted to make very clear to God’s people what his word really did mean. God didn’t want there to be any misunderstandings. So, God sent His Son into the world to be a living testimony to the word of God… Jesus was God’s word in the flesh! Put simply, if you want to get to know God better, if you want to know the true character of God, If you want to truly see God’s love for humanity, get to know Jesus… The only way that can happen is by spending time in the gospels and internalizing them. 

Based on John 1:1-4

GIFT OF LOVE
December, 20, 2020
John 1:1-4

Today’s scripture reading seems like an encoded message from John. Unlike the gospels of Matthew and Luke, John chooses to leave out the virgin birth, and the shepherds and the wise men. Instead, John starts his gospel from a much deeper understanding of the relationship with God the Father and Jesus which existed from before the beginning of time. Today’s lesson is going to be a fun one, to be sure! But first, let’s invite the Holy Spirit into this space to illuminate the word of God for us this morning:  

Loving, gracious, and generous God. As we open your word this morning to study the gift of Love this morning, we pray for the holy spirit to illuminate the passage for us today so that we can have a better understanding of you and your boundless love for us. 

AMEN

Our scripture reading is found in the book of John, verse 1, Chapters 1-4. 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 without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

If I were to create a special theological decoder ring, the gospel of John would be a great place to start. There is a special code that threads itself throughout the entire gospel that is important for us to understand. The first few verses in this book actually serves as a key to help us to understand the rest of the book. This key gives us a better understanding of who Jesus is, what he came to accomplish, and the universality of His love. 

Since this is a gospel story about Jesus, It stands to reason that the Word is talking about Jesus.  In fact a fun little exercise that I like to do is replace the word WORD with the name, Jesus. Suddenly this passages seems less cryptic when we replace WORD with JESUS. “In the beginning was the JESUS, and the JESUS was with God, and JESUS was God. 2 JESUS was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through JESUS, and without JESUS not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in JESUS was life, and the life was the light of all people.

As we unpack this passage further, we realize that we have heard the first phrase of today’s passage before. “In the beginning.” Where have we heard that phrase before? [pause for response]. Genesis 1:1… “In the beginning God created Heaven and earth. So, if we overlay today’s passage in John 1:1-4 on top of Genesis 1:1, we discover two things. First, the Word, or Jesus existed before the creation of the earth. And second, Jesus and God are one. The same substance! This, perhaps is the beginnings of the understanding of the triune God… Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Biblical scholars… who are much smarter than me, argue that the Book of John was written somewhere between 90 to 100 CE. The Christian church didn’t start to have conversations about the trinity until 325 CE. SO, to say that John was ahead of his time would be an understatement! 

The theological implications of John 1:1-4 are astounding. What John is saying here is that until the birth of Jesus, we had the word… little “w.” The written word of God. Inspired people would sit down with pen in hand and would write down their experiences and understandings of God. When Jesus came there were whole subsections of Jews who dedicated their lives to the interpretation of those words on paper… or papyrus to be more specific. I have mentioned some of the Jewish sects here from this pulpit before but by way of review, to name a few, There were Scribes and Pharisees, Sadducees, Sanhedrin, Essenes, Hasmonians, and Herodians… Some of these sects we know more about than others. There are some sects that we absolutely have no information on at all, other than the fact that they existed. Suffice it to say, however, each sect believed different things when it came to the word (little w). 

So, according to John 1:14… Just a few verses down, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” God wanted to make very clear to God’s people what his word really did mean. God didn’t want there to be any misunderstandings. So, God sent His Son into the world to be a living testimony to the word of God… Jesus was God’s word in the flesh! Put simply, if you want to get to know God better, if you want to know the true character of God, If you want to truly see God’s love for humanity, get to know Jesus… The only way that can happen is by spending time in the gospels and internalizing them. Why do I encourage you to journal? Because I believe within my heart of hearts, that knowing Jesus on an intellectual level and knowing Jesus from an experiential level are two very different things! I have books in my literary, just the next room over on the historical Jesus. And while I find reading these books fun and informative, If given the choice between the two, I would choose the experiential Jesus over the historical Jesus every. Single. Time!   

It was late in the night. He was afraid of being seen in the company of Jesus by his colleagues, the Pharisees. The stakes were just too high! So, he waited until the dark of night to approach Jesus… He had a lot of questions that burned inside him. Nicodemus had heard the stories and he was intrigued… little did he know that his late night, personal encounter with Jesus would change his life forever! Nick approached Jesus with flattery “You are a great man of God, because no one could do these miracles outside of God.” Jesus ignoring the flattery went straight to the chase, “Hey Nick, did you know that no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again?” To which Nicodemus replied, “Well, that’s silly, how can a person experience being born for a second time!” Jesus without batting an eye replied, “Awww, come on Nick, don’t act so astonished! Flesh is flesh and spirit is spirit. I’m talking about a spiritual rebirth here!” Nicodemus’ reply, “I’m not quite sure what you are talking about Jesus.” Then, tenderly, and patiently, Jesus responded with a prophecy that he would be lifted up on a cross for the remission of sins… John 3:14-15: “Nick, ‘just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him, may have eternal life.’” Then, the famous passage we read at the lighting of the Love Candle, John 3:16-17: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Thanks be to God, AMEN!