John 1:1-14 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Word Became Flesh
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 were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,[b] and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son[d] from the Father, full of grace and truth.
We all come to a place in our life where we look at the complexity of life, this blended reality of chaos and order and ask; what is the point? Why am I here? This is called the existential crisis, and it quintessentially human. Every one of us is not happy simply existing; we want something out of this life; we want a purpose. Aristotle; the Greek Philosopher saw this reality in humans and declared that humans are essentially goal orientated creatures. Even the most ardent atheist among us will "create" a reason to live. We need purpose; we need a reason to live!
This question of the reason for life is one as old as humanity itself. At the time when John wrote his gospel and penned these words that we have read this morning; Greek culture had been toying with and arguing about life's meaning. It was a logical outworking of the world that they saw; they would look at the complexity of life and say why? One philosopher put it this way; I see a bowl and until I know the reason for the bowl (why the bowl was created) I will not use it adequately or properly. Therefore it is our sole purpose to discover life's reason; mankind’s reason. They called this concept the logos (or the word) and had argued back and forth for generations about it. The Epicureans had thought that life's logos was the pursuit of happiness, the Stoics had thought it was to simply endure the chaos. The debate raged on and some had argued that life had no logos. It is into this debate that John makes a bold statement; in the beginning was the Logos.
John makes the claim that;
1. Life has a logos (a reason)
There is an eternal reason for existence; and it has been since the beginning. John is making the claim that there is a fundamental reason for all that you see, that life is not a mistake that you are not a blip on a meaningless universe; all that you experience is the product of a Divine Word, a Divine Reason. It is not an idea, it is not a force, it is not a cause. John makes the argument that is a person!
In this person is everything's origins (as we see in verses 3 and 4). He has created everything; this means, church, that there is a purpose to all that we see and experience. Now, for many of us at the moment life seems more chaotic that ordered, and to say that life has a meaning seems more a statement of faith than observation. However, the very implication of there being a "Logos" means that in the midst of the bad I know it has meaning and in the blessings of the good I know there is a reason. There is a reason for everything; for the good and the bad! This is the kernel of the Christmas hope; but it gets so much deeper! And hopefully is what we will be unpacking this morning!
Now, there is a reason; He is personal, next John states that He is God! which is the second point this morning;
2. He is God
John is making sure that we do not miss this; because, humanity so often misses this. The reason for being; the Logos was with God and was God. Oh, if we had the time we could go so deep with this statement; but, for the sake of brevity; John is showing that in all eternity before anything was there existed the reason for everything and this was God. This God is, as John argues one, who exists eternally in relationship with Himself. To put it simply this is a trinity; one God in three persons. Why does this matter? Well, if there were many gods, then the very foundation of the universe is fundamentally chaotic; in other words, there could not be the order that we find.
All of our assumptions of modern science and existence are predicated on there being laws, things we expect to work every time. If there were, however, many forces, eternally in conflict with each other, what would stop, for instance, the law of gravity failing, being done away with? No, we look out into the universe, and we see impeccable order, in other words there is thought and process to the world we see. One of the great arguments for this "mind" behind all we see is DNA, the very code of life itself. It is literally letters that programs everything you are and do. Letters infer intelligence. Now, no one would walk into a forest and pick up a book, written in English and say; wow nature is wonderful to produce this. No, we would know that because it is language it has a creator. Well, all of life is written in a complex language. There is a monotheistic God; but why three persons? Well, this Monotheistic God has eternally existed in a relationship with Himself. You see if God was simply one, as say, Allah, well when he created the world and the first relationship was formed between two people, those two people would have instantly surpassed God in something good. Relationships would be a production of creation outside of the ability of the creator; making the creation less than the creator Himself. But God is one and exists in three persons; meaning that relationship are inherently a part of His makeup.
So, the reason for existence, why we are here is a person; He is God and is a trinitarian God. Now John says;
3. He is life and the light of men
This personal, trinity of being and the reason for all that is, is good and is life. Now, this is where I get excited about the Christmas story! John introduces why Christmas matters, why the eternal God became like us. You see John introduces the idea that the eternal God is Good, He is life, He is light; therefore, the creation should be good, as a good God would make a good world! The world we see, however, is not! it is full of darkness, of evil, of chaos. This idea is called theodicy or “the problem of evil”; it is this idea that we have deep down the expectation of a good world, but experience an evil one. Now, if there was no "Divine Reason" if this world is merely an accident; the problem of evil is even greater; because all the suffering in the world, all the pain and "wrong" is pointless, meaningless and in fact, not even evil. It simply is! it is part of the system. But John and the rest of Scripture give a different picture; the evil in the world; the pain, and suffering is because of the sinfulness of men, compounded throughout the ages to make a world that seems chaotic. John says, however, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (vs5). in other words; God (the Logos) is doing something about evil!
What did God do about the pain and darkness, the evil in this world? Well, this is my next point and the whole point of the Christmas story;
4. He became flesh
The Logos (the Reason for everything) took on flesh! Infinity took on a finite reality! He who created everything, who formed all that there is, became a subject within that creation itself. Now the question is why? This is the point of the Christmas story and celebration. God eternal took on our frailty and our temporality because he loved us! You see as we have established, God made a good world, however, through our own choice we have chosen a life outside of that goodness and have reaped a life of chaos and destruction. We have chosen darkness over light, death over life. On some level we know this; we expect a good world and bad things happen and let me be a little more intimate; we expect good from ourselves and yet we chose what is wrong! Christmas is about God taking upon Himself our nature our frailty, and on the cross our penalty of our sin so that if, as John says, "all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God," (v12)
Many people come to Christianity and say it is unreasonable, God demands all these things from us, He makes all these rules; why can't He just let us be! Well, no relationship works like that; all relationships are people negotiating and conforming to the needs and desires of the other. Think about it; there are many things in marriage that we compromise on because it doesn't change us; like where some squeezes the toothpaste from (well, for some that is a deal breaker) but there are somethings that are core to who we are and so being asked to change would be to compromise on ourselves and therefore the other has to conform to that demand. Relationships put demands on us; it limits us and forces us to change; once you marry you give up on your freedom and your will. And You are bound to the demands of another. Well, someone might ask; “what does God give up in this relationship? what does He change for the sake of us?” He gave up everything; His divinity; His glory, even His eternal fellowship, as on the cross he cried out "My Father, my Father, why have you forsaken me!" He took on our sins, our flesh, our frailty to have a relationship with us!
The message of Christmas; the message of the incarnation is that it took an intervention by God himself to fix our problems. In other words, the message is that our sins are so deep that we cannot save ourselves (we need help). On the other side of that, is although we are so broken, so damaged that we need intervention; we are so eternally loved and cherished that God (the Logos) was willing to take upon Himself our brokenness to bring us back to Himself. This is why the message of Christmas is both humbling and uplifting; it is we are more sinful than we can possibly imagine, but more loved and cherished that we could ever believe! The message of Christmas is that all that is true. 2000 years ago the very reason for existence made himself know, and He showed us deeply what is wrong at the core of ourselves; but He did more, he made away through the cross; that whoever believes in Him, could be counted as Sons of God!
You have a reason for being here! It is bound up in the fact that the Word (The Logos) became flesh! It should be your life’s journey and joy to discover the depths of this!