Saturday, December 7, 2013

Jesus’ Gifts to the World

In the beginning there was the Word (Jesus Christ). The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made by Him, and nothing was made without Him. In Him there was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it. . . . The Word (Jesus Christ) became a human (incarnate) and lived among us (tabernacle). We saw His glory (majesty)—the glory that belongs to the only Son of the Father—and He was full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth. John 1:1-5, 14 (NCV)

The Apostle John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; John 19:26), is the author of the Gospel of John as well as the book of Revelation, among others. John begins his Gospel with a profound announcement: Jesus is God (John 1:1, 14, 18; see also Isaiah 9:6). The Gospel explained that Jesus existed originally with God the Father from the beginning of human time (John 1:2). Even more, the Gospel emphasizes that Jesus was not only “with God” but also “was God” (John 1:1). God the Father created the world, set history into motion and made all creation spring to life through Jesus (see also Colossian 1:16). So before anything existed on earth, there was Jesus with God. This statement echoes Genesis 1:1 and links God’s actions in the world through Jesus (John 3:16). Jesus has always been alive and is Himself God. Jesus created everything and nothing would exist without Him. Thus, Jesus is not a created being (John 1:3). Jesus is the eternal God in the fullest sense and He has always existed (see also Mark 1:1; Romans 9:5; and Colossians 2:9). In the Person of Jesus, God’s essences became actual, complete, and historical. Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit).

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we cannot see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him. He (Christ) existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together. Christ is also the Head of the church, which is His Body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So He is first in everything. For God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through Him God reconciled everything to Himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the Cross. Colossians 1:15-20 (NLT)

Through Jesus, God gives light and life to the world (John 1:4; see also Psalm 36:9). Light and life are Jesus’ gifts unto the world (John 1:4; John 10:28). Jesus is the source of all life (John 1:4; John 6:35; John 11:25) and the light of the world (John 8:12; John 9:5) and of every person (John 1:9). In fact, Jesus is “the Life” (John 14:6) and the “Light of the world” (John 1:4, 9). Jesus stated, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12, NKJV). Thus, Jesus possesses life in Him, and this life gives light to all people. Jesus’ life is the light that shines through the darkness. As the Light and Life of the world, Jesus is the "Sun of righteousness" (Malachi 4:2) that illuminates every person (Isaiah 49:6). Jesus gives the world spiritual illumination and wisdom (see 1 Corinthians 1:30; Colossians 2:30. Even more, by His Holy Spirit, Jesus gives us the “breath of life” (John 3:8; John 20:22), the water of life (John 4:10, 13-14; John 7:37-39), and the living bread of life (John 6:35). “From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another” (John 1:16, NIV).

Jesus is the “Word of God” or “Logos.” In Revelation 19:13, Jesus is specifically called “the Word of God.”  In John’s vision found at Revelation 19, the Apostle John sees Jesus as “Faithful and True, for He judges . . . His title was the Word of God. . . . On His robe at His thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords” (Revelation 19:11-16, NLT). Starting with the New Testament, the Word became flesh (incarnated) as a human being to be the light and life of the world (John 1:4-5; 14). As the Word, Jesus was among humanity as the incarnate speech of God. How did the “Word” become flesh? Through the miraculous virgin birth of Mary by the power of God’s Holy Spirit (see Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38), Jesus took upon Himself human nature. Thus, “the Word” was a real Person who could be seen, touched, and heard (1 John 1:1-4). Jesus is “God with us” and He dwelled among us humans (Matthew 1:23; John 1:14). Therefore, Jesus is both fully God and fully human.

Jesus is the one and only Son of God (John 1:18).  God the Father sent Jesus to finish His work in the world (John 4:34) and to make God the Father known (John 1:18). God’s glory was made visible in Jesus. “No one has ever seen God. But God the only Son is very close to the Father, and He has shown us what God is like” (John 1:18, NCV).  Initially, God's glory had dwelt in the Tabernacle during Moses’ era (Exodus 40:34) and in the Temple built by Solomon (1 Kings 8:10-11). However, God’s glory had departed Israel because of the people’s disobedience and corruption (Ezekiel 9:3; Ezekiel 10:4, 18; Ezekiel 11:22-23). Then, the glory of God returned again to earth with the birth of Jesus (John 1:14). Jesus is now the new Temple of God filled with God’s glory (John 2:19-21). In Jesus, the full grace and truth of God is revealed. “From the fullness of His (Jesus’) grace, we have all received one blessing after another” (John 1:16). Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection do indeed glorify God the Father. While on earth, Jesus revealed His glory to His disciples through the miracles or “signs” He performed (see e.g., John 2:11).

Jesus’ words to Nicodemus nicely summarize the central theme of John’s Gospel:  “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NLT). The Apostle John wrote his Gospel to clearly state:  “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name” (John 20:31).  Jesus is the Son of the living God. Everyone who wholeheartedly receive and believe Him will receive the gift of light, eternal life, and membership into God’s family (John 1:12-13; John 12:35-36; John 20:31; see also Isaiah 56:5; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Titus 3:5).

The One who is the true Light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He (Jesus Christ) came into the very world He created, but the world did not recognize Him. He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word (Jesus Christ) became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. John (the Baptist) testified about Him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the One I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for He existed long before me.’” From His abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the one and only Son is Himself God and is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us. John 1:9-18 (NLT)

Life Application Study Bible. Carol Streams, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2005.
Zondervan NIV Study Bible. New York: Zondervan, 2008.
The Amplified Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987.
Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition. Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Book House Company, 2001.
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament. Victor Books, 2001.

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