Expository preaching from John 1:3-5, delivered on August 30th
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, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)
This morning I want to talk about life. Life is a gift that is given to people, to you and to me and to all others who have ever lived. To all who have lived a few moments, to those who have lived many, many years. Life does not just happen, it is given. It is given by a Creator who forms each and every life according to His will. The Psalmist declares this so eloquently…
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:13-14)
This morning I want us to worship our Lord, Jesus Christ, as we look at John 1:3-5, and see and understand His power as Creator, and consider this life that He gives, and talk through some implications of the truth that this gift of life from our Lord is one that we should all give thanks for. I also want us to consider how we can respond to Him as a good steward of life.
So this morning let’s look at verses 3-5 together. I want you to see how John presents Christ Jesus as the one who is truly at the center of all things, and of life in particular. And to see how He is unsurpassed as the preeminent God over all. We will see this in three ways this morning. First we will see Jesus as the Creator, second as the giver of life, and third as the giver of light.
So let’s begin by looking at our exalted Lord as Creator, beginning in verse 3, “All things were made through him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made..” John adds emphasis to his statement in verse 3 by first stating it in the positive and then repeating the same thought in the negative. This is common throughout Scripture. We see it often in Paul’s writings, and John uses that same method here to drive home his point.
Now remember that we are here speaking of Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity. We are speaking of Jesus. And John says, “All things were made through him.” It is not simply that Jesus was present with the Father at creation. It is not as though He had some minor role in creation. He was not just standing by watching and wondering what the Father might do next. No, John says, “All things were made through him.”
This is really profound. Most would say that Jesus was an influential person in world history. My Hindu friend would even agree. It is an obvious point. Ask anyone you know, “Who is Jesus?” and they will know something about Him. Probably no one would say, “Jesus, I have never heard of Him, who is that?” Even unbelievers would say that He was a moral man who taught good things. Most would acknowledge that He is somehow related to God, most in our society would know that He was a religious man, and that He is spoken of in the Bible.
Yes, this Jesus was an influential person. His influence was widespread. But He is much more than simply an influential person. This Jesus of whom John speaks is not merely influential in this world. He is not simply one of many influences that have shaped our world. No, all things that we see, all things that surround us, all things were created by Him! And Paul continues with that very thought and adds “and for Him.” Paul says to the Christians in Colossae, “For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him.” To say that He has merely had some cursory type influence on our world is to deny Him as God, it is to deny His glory. He created all things.
Listen to what the Father says of the Son in Hebrews 1:10 – “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.” I just want to expand your view of Jesus Christ this morning. I want you to see His majestic position as Creator. We know that He is great and majestic and awesome, in part because of His creative abilities. We know that He is mighty because of His works that we see. I mean what is greater than the beauty that we enjoy all around us? What is greater? The one who created it! The Creator. The writer of Hebrews continues in verse 11 of chapter 1 and says this: “They [speaking of the heavens and the earth] will perish.” You think creation is really something? Well, it is passing away. If it were the ultimate, it would last. But it is not, it is all passing away. The passage continues and says, “but You remain,” speaking of our Lord. All that we see will be gone, but the Creator, our Lord Jesus Christ, will remain. He is the majestic one. The writer continues, “And they will all grow old like a garment, like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.” Creation, no matter how grand, is not above nor greater than the Creator, Jesus Christ our Savior.
And this very one of whom we speak is the one who came and died for your sins and mine. The one sitting on His throne that we read of in Isaiah chapter 6. He is the one who came. And isn’t that the mystery of the gospel? The Creator giving Himself for the creatures. Does that not blow your mind? Does that not leave you in awe?
So we see Jesus as one through whom all things were created. He was not created, He was in the beginning, as we see in verse 1. He existed before time began as we know it, and it was through Him that all created things came into being – Jesus the Creator.
But John in his great effort to communicate the divine nature of Jesus Christ does not stop with that argument alone, although he could. I mean wouldn’t that be enough? He was in the beginning and He created all things! But John continues to attempt to elevate our thoughts even further in verse 4, and it is here where we see Jesus as the giver of life. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” In Him was life! He was not only the source of rocks and mountains and dirt and metals and water and space and planets, but He is the source of all life as well! All life came through Him, He is the source of all life.
What John is telling us is that apart from Jesus there would be no life. Life came from Him and through Him. Do you think that Jesus has just had some minor role in your life? How absurd to think so. He gave you life. I would say that is pretty significant. You are alive because He chose to give you life, and that life came through Him.
I believe here in this passage we need to interpret John’s use of the word “life” in a very general sense primarily. Sometimes John uses the word life to mean spiritual life, but here we need to view it in a broader sense, as I will show you in a moment. Physical life comes only from Jesus. “In Him we live and move and have our being.” He gives life, He gives you life and He sustains it. Colossians 1:17, “And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” All of creation and all of life is held together by Him. And apart from Him there would be no life; no Jesus, no life.
What would happen if Jesus removed His sustaining hand from creation? Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with a fervent heat, both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”
You think you can go through this life apart from Christ? Do you think anyone can go through this life apart from Christ? Many try, many think they can, many desire to do so, but let me tell you it is impossible. No matter how much one tries, they cannot help but be sustained by Him. Because apart from His hand one’s life would be extinguished.
It has to do with what we call common grace, life does. God gives common grace to all for His own purposes. It is clear that this is so. Jesus said in Matthew 5:45, “For he makes the sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” So it is with life, it is a gift from God.
Isn’t it ironic to see men and women blaspheme and profane the name of Christ as we begin to know and understand that the only reason that they exist is because He chose to impart life to them. He gave them life, their life came through Him. Jesus is life, He is the source of life, and nothing or no one lives apart from the life that came through Him.
And isn’t it ironic as well that we who know these things fail to live the lives that He gave us for His glory? What a stinging indictment when we fail to live our lives to the fullest for His glory. We know that life comes with purpose. Jesus does not just throw it around haphazardly. He is not a careless God, just giving life here and there in some random, chaotic way. It would not be His nature to do so. “We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which He prepared beforehand,” says the Apostle Paul. “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God,” Paul instruct us. But instead, “Be imitators of God as dear children.” That is God’s will for our lives. We were created for Him, walk in such a manner, pleasing to Him.
With life comes purpose, and it is in fulfilling that purpose, in harmony with the will of God, it is there that we find our greatest joy in life. Are you using what He gave you, your life, in a way that is pleasing to Him? Or are you content with lesser things?
Thirdly John shows us Jesus as the giver of Light. Verse 4, “and the life was the light of men.” What does John mean by that? What does he mean when he says, “and the life was the light of men?” He is saying that the life which is in Christ flows through Christ and is the light of men. Or that He is their light, our light. And notice that this is in relation to all men. He is not here speaking of believers only, John is saying that Christ is the light to all men. We know this because in verse 9, look down at verse 9, John says, “That was the true light which gives light to every man coming into the world.” He is speaking of something which has been imparted to all human beings, this light which is from Christ Jesus.
In what way then is Jesus the “light” of all men? The answer is, “in that which renders every man accountable as creatures before God.” In other words, every rational man is morally enlightened. Now stay with me here, this is really important. All rational men “show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness,” Romans 2:15. It is this light which lightens every man that comes into the world, that constitutes them responsible human beings before their Creator. Again, all people are responsible before God. From the vilest murderer to the South American native who has never heard of the name Jesus, to the most educated man in the western world. All are held responsible before God. And they are held responsible justly because of this light of which we are now speaking.
This light which originates in and illuminates from Jesus Christ is so great that it has been spread across all of the world, to all people in every age, in every tribe, in every nation. We have spoken of the influence of Jesus Christ in our world, this light has moved every man in every age. This light is so pervasive that it has penetrated every life. And it is the law written in man’s heart and upon his conscience that bears witness of this great light. And it comes to man through Jesus.
Now, I need to be very careful here. I do not want you to misunderstand what I am saying. I do not buy into the lie or the unscriptural theory that there is in every man a divine spark, which only needs to be fanned to become a flame. I do not believe that every man has it within him to simply believe apart from the awakening of the Holy Spirit. Scripture says and teaches us that by nature all men are spiritually dead in their trespasses and sins. Yet, the natural man is still responsible before God, to whom he must some day give an account of himself. How can this be so? He can he be held responsible? Because the work of God’s law is “written in his heart and his conscience also bearing witness,” and it is this light referred to here as well as in John 1:9.
This is important to remember when sharing the gospel with others. As you reason with non-believers, remember this truth. Remember that there is the law of God written on their hearts, remember that the conscience bears witness to the light. Appeal to those things in their lives. You do have a point of reference with them, appeal to that. Reason with them as did Paul with the pagans of his day. They have in some measure been affected by the light of Christ, appeal to that light.
The problem is that those who are in a state of enmity with God, although they have these gracious influences in their lives, are on a course of rejection and denial. Think about it. A man has been created by God, he has been given life which comes only through Christ Jesus, he owes his very existence to Jesus. He has been shown at least in some measure the grace of God, and has even been influenced within his heart and mind by God’s truths, His moral laws. You would think that such a man would be quick to embrace Jesus Christ. But what we see instead is the depth of spiritual darkness and the total depravity of the heart of man, who in some cases will spend his entire lifetime trying to snuff out whatever light has invaded his being. Thus the need for the quickening of the Holy Spirit who can awaken a man to spiritual truth. It is this rejection of the light of Christ that ultimately condemns a man, He is condemned by His unbelief, by His rejection of Christ, His rejection of the light of Christ.
So in verses 3 and 4 we have seen Jesus as the Creator, and we have seen Jesus as the giver of life, and we have seen Jesus as the giver of light. We have seen that to say He simply had some influence in history is to speak quite recklessly. Because we see Him here as God, as the one who is preeminent in all things, not simply when He walked on this earth but even before time began.
And as we begin to understand His role and His power and His might and His dominance in the created world as God, then when we get to verse 5, we should not be surprised at all to see this example of His preeminence over all things. Look at what it says – “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
We have the great conflict of the universe. The battle of all time. It is between light and darkness. The light being ultimately Christ Jesus, and the darkness all that is evil and vile, all that is under the influence of the prince of darkness that is in our world. This is the battle, this is the battle that we see all around us, and the battle that we have all experienced.
Thinking about life, and Christ as the giver of life, there are some implications for us to consider…
First, we must think of all of life as precious. This would include days-old babies in the womb, and people with special needs, whether physical or mental, and elderly in our societies whose bodies are beginning to fail, and all others in between. We as a church, as God’s people, should be those who are championing life, and especially the lives of those who may be most vulnerable and unable to protect themselves. Our aim should be, as best we can, to protect life. It shouldn’t take undercover videos of Planned Parenthood aborting babies for any of us to be convinced that abortion is murder and is wrong. I hope that each of you are settled on that, and that you act and vote and speak according to the truth that life is sacred, and it is from God, in whatever way you have opportunity to. The reason it is wrong, abortion, is because Christ is Creator and Lord. It is because there is a holy Creator that abortion, or taking other innocent life, is wrong. He says murder is wrong, and so it is wrong. That is our argument. Let’s not leave the Creator out of the argument. Ultimately that is why it is wrong. It is not wrong simply because it is a gruesome procedure and baby parts are sold, it is wrong because Jesus is the giver of life, and He says we are not to take it away. If the videos are helpful and abortion hampered because of them, then I’m glad, but what I am saying is that as Christians let’s exalt Christ in our arguments and speak truthfully about Him as Creator.
I want to say something else about these horrific videos. I have seen most of them, not all of them by choice. Let’s be careful and sensitive toward those who have been exposed to these videos who have had abortions and have repented of it. Many people, believers now, have aborted their babies in their past, and are seeing the truth of what may have happened to their babies. For some, old repented of sins are being relived through the media. That can be hard and painful, consequences, yes, but hard and painful. For them, the message is confession and repentance which brings forgiveness. God is a God of forgiveness, even for horrific sin. If He was not, we would all be bound to hell. God forgives and God redeems. Let’s be quick to shout that message as well.
And here is my last point about life. It is easy at times to get mad, and upset, and rightfully so at times, but just to get mad and upset over how other people are abusing life that is given by God. What I mean is we can sometimes get fired up about how others are doing wrong, and be really disgusted by it, and at the same time fail to see how we are personally not living these lives given to us for God’s glory. If Christ gave us life as a gift, are we using it with thanksgiving for His name’s sake? He gave us life, what we doing with it? As we are speaking out against wrongs around us, are we also dealing with wrongs inside of us? It is sometimes easy to do the first while ignoring the second.
Life: are we honoring Christ, the giver of life, with our lives?
3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:3-5)
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