March 28/29

MAIN TEXT: John 1:1-14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The Good News of Jesus comes to us through the form of a story. The story reveals to us the truth of who we are, where we came from, and where we are going. This is God’s story.

If we don’t understand that all the small stories in the Bible actually are part of, feed into and show us one whole story, which points to Jesus, then we will misread the Bible. In order to fully understand the smaller stories, we must grasp the large narrative story of Scripture.

In seeking to understand this story, we also must realize that we have a place within this story. That the story that is told in the Bible is still being played out today. You and I have been placed in the story, by the divine Storyteller. He has a role for you. You are not the hero, but you will realize your purpose as you reflect the glory of the hero of the story in your life.

In week one, we marveled at the creation story and the new creation promised in the future. It caused us to see where we have come from, who we are, and where we are going. Christ’s redemption is comprehensive – all of creation will be restored. Genesis one and two make it clear that human beings were created good. The garden that God placed Adam and Eve was rich, fertile, and God Himself dwelled there. Creation was brimming with peace – the rich relational wholeness that God intends for His creation.

Last week, our focus was on what is ominously referred to as the story of “the fall”. We see in this portion that although everything was created “good” by God, sin was allowed to enter the story. Brokenness came to creation and God immediately declares that He will restore what was broken and reconcile the relationship between God and man.

This week, our focus is centered on the embodying of God’s redemptive work, the Incarnation of Jesus.

We see in John’s Gospel a look back on the creation moment. John says “In the beginning” but instead of Genesis’ portrayal of the beginning of creation, John shines light on the reality that Jesus was pre-existent by saying “In the beginning was the Word”. John starts out his Gospel with a marvelous declaration that Jesus (the Word) was there because he was with God...and he was God.

What does “incarnation” mean? The historic origin of the word itself points our attention to two primary Latin words in (in) and caro (flesh). The literal understanding of the word “incarnation” is “in flesh”. This word draws our attention to the reality that Christ came in the flesh. He came to our level. He set down his glory (not his deity) to take on flesh.

 

Jesus, the Greater ________

From the moment of the fall, the expectation for a Rescuing One had been brewing in the heart of God’s People. All through the Old Testament, we see glimpses of this future hope. It is good to understand the moral value behind the stories we find in the Old Testament, but we must understand that the continuing thread of redemption weaves through all the smaller stories as well. Here are some examples:

Adam & Creation: Adam represented all mankind in his place over all creation. However, through his choice to believe a lie and worship creation, mankind was corrupted and sin entered the world (Genesis 1-3, Romans 1). Jesus is a ‘second Adam’ (Romans 5:12-14) in that, he is a representative of mankind and his righteous life shows us how Adam ought to have lived and his vicarious death shows us that God Himself bears the punishment for Adam’s choice.

Noah & The Rescuing Boat: Noah was faithful to God. God sends a flood to the earth, but spares a family from death (Genesis 6-9). Jesus is the greater Noah and the greater boat. Jesus is perfectly faithful to God and he rescues us by absorbing the full flood of God’s wrath that is poured out on sin.

Moses & The Exodus: Moses goes before Pharaoh pleading with him to let the people go (Exodus 1-12). Finally, God’s People are freed from bondage and slavery. Jesus is a greater Moses, because he sets us free eternally and fully and finally defeated the power that enslaved us to corruption on the cross.

David & Goliath: David slays a Giant, while Israel cowers in the corner, afraid to engage the battle (1 Samuel 17). Jesus is a greater David, because he conquers the giant of death on the cross for us. When we, like Israel, were too weak and feeble to fight in the battle, Jesus fights for us and wins victoriously.

These examples are seen in Scripture as a foreshadowing in some ways of the person of Jesus. We see in each person, attributes that are worthy of emulation and decisions that are to be dismissed. If we allow the cross to overshadow these stories, our eyes will be able to see how Jesus is the greater fulfillment of these stories.

The stories and people in the Old Testament show us again and again that man is helpless to save himself. There was not one person who could live in perfect righteousness until Jesus. Jesus is our only example of humanity as it was intended.

 

Jesus, the Redeemer

In the creation story, we see so strongly impressed upon us is the reality that God brought this creation into being and He created it to reflect His glory. The goodness of God is on display in creation, because we see a God of order, beauty and creativity. In the fall, the order is broken, the beauty is marred and the creativity is shattered because of a lie that was believed (Romans 1:25).

God promises to restore that which was broken. He says that He will put enmity between Satan and the woman (Genesis 3:15). God will do this. He will break the bond that exists between corrupted humanity and Satan. Jesus tells a group of Jews that their father is the devil (John 8:44). The fall not only marred the image of God that is impressed on mankind, but also shows mankind running into the arms of an abusive and evil father, the devil. God says that he will put division in this corrupt relationship and redeem us back to Himself, once and for all.

This is the work that Christ accomplishes for us. He comes into this world as a Rescuer, sent on a mission of rescuing, restoring and redeeming mankind to God. He rescues us by paying the full penalty for our sin. He restores us by adopting us into God’s family. He redeems us through these great works. Not only this, but he calls us to his reconciliation work in this life (2 Corinthians 5:17-20).

 

Our Commission is Incarnational

Jesus said in his high priestly prayer, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (John 17:18). Jesus was speaking in a particular sense of his disciples, but by extension, all who would believe in him. The disciples, and ourselves included, were commissioned to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Our call is to an incarnational style of living. When we think about our lives, we must think about the reality that God has sent us to live for and display His glory.

As a Christ-follower, your life here and now has tremendous purpose. God has chosen to save you, call you, redeem you, to Himself and for good works, which He predestined for you to do before the world was even formed (Ephesians 2:10). As Christ came to us and became lowly for our sake (Philippians 2:1-10), we also ought to prayerfully engage with the disadvantaged, weak, marginalized, voiceless, hopeless, helpless–for the purpose of displaying the glory of God who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.


APPLY TO LIFE

This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.


BLESS RHYTHMS

This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.

Bless
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.

Listen
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.

Eat
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.

Speak
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.

Sabbath
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.

DISCUSS THE MESSAGE

Read: John 1:1-14

As John draws our attention back to the creation moment again, what is he desiring to convey to us about “the beginning”? How do you view the incarnation of Jesus?

Take a moment to share of a time when you restored something back to it’s original purpose. Why did you desire to restore it? What did it reflect in the restored state that it did not in it’s broken/corrupted state? What emotions did you experience through this process?

In what ways does the Gospel show God’s restoration work for all of creation? How is the incarnation, life, death, resurrection of Jesus the very centerpiece of God’s restoration work?