They say a good story should always start at the beginning – and this Christmas we have heard the story of the baby Jesus, born in Bethlehem to Joseph and Mary – the beginning of Jesus’ life on earth. Matthew, Mark and Luke all begin their Gospels with Jesus’ birth.
John’s Gospel, however, gives us a different viewpoint.
And we see this difference from the very first words in this gospel – “In the Beginning was the Word.” These words mirror the first words of Genesis – “In the beginning” – and this is no accident. John’s aim is to remind us that in fact the beginning of the Gospel does not start in Bethlehem but goes a lot further back than that. John does something quite remarkable – he tells us three things in these verses from a very unique angle:
• exactly who is this Jesus
• what he came to do
• what he came to do for us
1. Who Is This Jesus:
Jesus is the eternal word – the word which was with God from the beginning – who has spent eternity in the Trinitarian relationship of Father, Son and Spirit – this Word was not just with God but was God.
This is the one who became flesh – this is the one who cried in that Manger as a baby. As Paul preached on Christmas Eve – this is the real miracle of Christmas – God became a human being – dwelling with us.
The second person of The Trinitarian God of the universe somehow, willingly, became a baby.
For John, this is where the Christmas Story begins – this is where the Gospel begins, this is where the plan of salvation starts – not in Bethlehem but before the creation of the World in the presence of the eternal trinity.
2. What Did Jesus Come To Do?
He came into the world to be the light and to give us life – he came to show us the way back into relationship with God.
In the first century the aim of worship was to appease the god you were worshipping – you offered sacrifices or offerings to the god of the harvest or of the weather or of the sea so they would not be angry and give you what you need – crops, good weather, fish to eat.
The God of the universe did not demand offerings for appeasement there as nothing we could offer him – instead he gave himself to be offered on our behalf for our sins and to reconcile us to himself. The God of the universe offered himself for his creatures. How incredible.
Jesus became flesh so he could impart life to us. And he could do this because ALL things that exist where created through him and by him – he does not just give life; he is life itself – without Christ and his will we all would cease to exist. Colossians 1 says:
He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation;
16 because by Him everything was created,
in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
17 He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.
18 He is also the head of the body, the church;
We cannot exist apart from Christ – and this is the tragic ness of unbelief. To not believe in Christ is to be disconnected from life itself – to exist on the earth without God cannot, in any biblical sense, be called life.
3. What Jesus came to do for us?
There is a wonderful piece of hope in this reading – and it comes in v12 – it says:
But to all who did receive Him,
He gave them the right to be children of God
To all who received him: those in the first century, those through history and who will receive him in the future he has give them / us the RIGHT to be children of God.
Do you realize what this means? Do you know the magnitude of this statement?
Unlike the Greek philosophies or the mystic cults of the first century, where intelligence or enlightenment, was a necessity to be able to be ‘spiritual’ or accepted by the gods; or even in the Jewish religion of the day where the right pedigree was required to become ‘holy’ – here John says ANYONE could have the right to become a child of the living God – rich or poor, the educated or uneducated – male or female, Greek or Jew. As long as they received him and believed in him.
Now to receive and believe in him is more than just intellectual assent – it is a willingness to let Jesus Christ – God – into your life and allow him to mold you, change you and get involved with every area.
Just pause for a moment – have you received Jesus Christ? Have you believed in him? If so you can call yourself a child of God.
A Child of God. This means more than we were created by God – it means a change in our relationship has taken place with God.
This is no mere honorary title – it is a living title.
Just think for a minute of the image of a good parent / children relationship, how a parent feels about their child? What they would do for them? Think about a parent’s care for their child, their nurture of them, their protection of them and their love of them.
This is what God promises to do with us. He loves us – he nurtures us – he helps us to learn and grow – he gives us good things – the things we need – he is with us even through the difficult times and he guarantees us an inheritance – to be with him forever.
It means that God gets involved with our lives.
In the same way – we are really the children of God. We truly represent our Father fully in his name on earth. In Roman law when a man adopted a child into his family he became a full son. When old enough the son could trade in the full authority of his Fathers name – as if the Father was there himself. We are the God’s representatives on earth – we are his ambassadors – we are to go about God’s business for him – and that business is to make our Father’s name known throughout the world and to help people begin their relationship with their Father in heaven.
So, not only God get involved with our lives – We get involved with the plans God has for us!
Are we about our Fathers business – do we live each day in the knowledge that we have a divine parentage – who is with us?
Do we realize, acknowledge and rejoice that by receiving Christ into our life we have been given the right to be a child of God.
What would happen to us if we fully and humbly and gladly accepted this today? What would happen to our Monday mornings? What would happen to our worries and concerns? What would happen to how we related to our families and to our work colleagues? What would happen when we came to worship?
What would happen? Should it not transform us, & change us?
It should!! And it will.
For by receiving Jesus into our lives, by believing in his name we begin to be transformed into his likeness. 1 john 3:2 says:
Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He is.
Becoming children of God means we begin to share his divine life – It enables us to have life IN HIS NAME and to begin to reflect God’s character – not because WE ourselves become better but because of what God, by his spirit, does in us.
This is what Jesus came to do for us – to give us a revelation of the type of life we are offered as members of his family.
Are you and I today children of God?