Pastor Walther / In Christ Was Life / John 1:1-4 / July 16, 2017 / Pentecost 6
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
Your lives matter. That’s not just your pastor convincing you that your lives matter, but the world around you wants you to know that your lives matter. You hear about black lives matter, or blue lives matter, or anyone attempting suicide, their lives matter. But, I find this intriguing because of what the world around us believes about creation, or I should say the lack of creation. The world does not believe that God created the world and gave life to all of creation, but instead the world believes that we have evolved, that we as evolved animals are surviving with the weakest being eliminated. My life, then, and its purpose seems bleak, depressing, and pointless. Does my life matter at all? Does anybody’s life matter at all? If the theory of evolution rules, then according to its definition, life has no meaning and no purpose, other than to survive or evolve, and a all other lives are devoid of meaning. Yet, I refuse to believe that theory because everyone has some innate knowledge that our lives do have meaning. Try to comfort a mother who has just lost a child to cancer with, “Well they were the weaker link. We, the fittest, will survive.” You’d probably get slapped in the face.
Christians, from the time that Jesus walked this earth, understood that life was more than just surviving, more than just evolving, devoid of all meaning. Instead, we as Christians have always understood that life is precious and that it has meaning. Yet, Christians often put their very own precious lives at risk because of what they believe in. Christians were killed for sport, burned, thrown into lions’ dens. Today, Christians still undergo persecution. If Christians believe that life is precious, then why risk their precious lives?
The apostle John, the one who wrote the gospel that we read from today for our lesson, was one of the last apostles alive. As John sat in front of his paper, ready to write, you can imagine the tears streaming down his face as he remembered his family and friends who died. Their lives were precious. Their lives had mattered. He thought about Jesus, the reason why everyone was willing to also put their lives on the line. What was it about Jesus that turned hearts and lives around? What was it about Jesus that brought meaning to people’s lives? What was it about Jesus that brought new life to someone’s bleak, depressing, and pointless outlook on life? John knew. The Christians who had died knew. This is what John wanted to convey to us and to the world around us. John wanted to explain to people who Jesus really was and why there is purpose and meaning in our lives in plain and simple language.
Language and the concept of words really is an amazing thing and yet it’s amazing how simple communication is. Words help me to communicate with you. Words also give expression to the inner thoughts of a person. They help us express what is happening in our heart and mind. There are only a certain amount of emojis that can express emotion in a phone text. Eventually, words need to be used.
God in his ultimate love is absolutely busting at his seams to have a conversation with you. God wants to reveal himself to you. Unlike eastern mantras that you have to make some unintelligible sound to find meaning or clarity, God uses words and simple ones for that matter. He wants to talk with you with simple communication. Through these words of John, God is literally coming to you. We don’t have to search for God in the far corners of the galaxy or even in the far corners of our mind. God comes to us in his Word. In his Word, we see just how awesome and powerful our God is. We see that our God is a just God and a God of order. In his word we have immediate gratification because we begin to see what our purpose is in this life. God has given to us His law to follow and obey. However, you know these laws aren’t easy! Have you read the ten commandments? I can’t even keep the first one every day, let alone the other ones.
But these laws that God has given to us demonstrate our real issues. These laws that God has given open our eyes to the world around us. I begin to see the world for what it really is and why it suffers. I see how my failing to keep the commands of God hurts me, hurts the people around me, and hurts my relationship with God. I may think that it’s fun to break God’s laws, I may think that I feel free by breaking away from them, but I truly see from God’s word and his laws that I am ruining the good things that God has blessed me with. My sin does not make me feel free, but it burdens me. God wants to speak with me, but I would rather do anything else than to sit and read a devotion to hear what he has to say. God wants to listen to me but I would rather struggle to take care of my issues than to pray to him for help. God simply wants to be that good friend that wants to sit with us as we are about to have an emotional breakdown, and we’d rather walk away from him. I see how my selfishness leads me closer to the grave, every day. My walk away from God only brings me back to thinking that my life bleak, depressing, and devoid of meaning.
What the apostle John brings to our attention today is how God reveals himself not as only a God of laws, but as a God of love. His Word voices his love to us, He expresses his love and even more, His Word demonstrates that love. His word is not just communication, but his word is also action. His Word literally became flesh. God became one of us. The “Word” that is spoken of here in John’s text obviously refers to Jesus. Jesus became fully human. In his life, we see him cry. We see him sleep. We see him eat. We see him in pain. And ultimately, we see him die. He is fully man. But, this is where it gets awesome. John says that the beginning of Jesus wasn’t when he was born but that he has always existed. In other words, he is also fully God. Jesus was there before the beginning of the world’s history. He then created the world. He crafted and formed Adam and Eve. His loving hands brought life to you and me. He guides the universe and its planets. But he also knows the effects of sin in our lives because he took all of our sin and all of our problems, when he became a human. John’s many years of ministry had taught him the importance of believers coming to know Jesus, not just as a man, but also as God. John wrote his book for this purpose: “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” Our salvation, our purpose, our meaning in this life, all depends on this fact: that Jesus is God and man.
That’s crazy, isn’t it? Our minds cannot comprehend it. When we try to rationalize it, though, we end up stripping God of his glory. If Jesus wasn’t true God, then we are doomed. Then we really are just trying to survive. Then our lives really are meaningless. If Jesus was not God but was merely like you and me, then his suffering and death bring me nothing. That is why John, who was a first hand witness to Jesus, writes these words. John gives the facts about Jesus to prevent us from claiming that Jesus is something that he isn’t. John writes these words because all the other teachings in the Bible are supported by this fact.
John continues a precedent here that all of Christendom would follow: he gives a public confession about Jesus. From the second century on, Christians have expressed the biblical faith in creeds. The apostle’s creed developed in the early Christian church because people felt a need to have a brief summary of what they believed and to confess their faith with one another when they met for worship. The apostle’s creed was also used in the early church to teach children the basic gospel truths of the Bible. When some false doctrines about God and about Jesus arose in the early christian church, these creeds were used to reject the errors, because those errors attacked the centrality of the gospel.
There was a man by the name of Irenaeus who lived during a time where people were trying to deny the reality of Jesus, and this was only a couple hundred years after Jesus. They denied the full humanity of Jesus. They believed that he could not have died a physical death on the cross, because they believed him to be an enlightened spirit, or some form of lesser deity. They couldn’t believe that Jesus was both God and man. In their minds, it was an either or. But for Irenaeus, he saw the clear words of John 1:1-4. Although Jesus being both God and man is beyond our understanding, these are the facts. This was John’s confession and therefore this was Irenaeus’ confession. This is where he stood because of the Bible. In fact, Irenaeus said these words, “If the revelation of God through creation already brings life to all living beings on the earth, how much more will the manifestation of the Father by the Word bring life to those who see God.” In other words, Irenaeus was saying that not only does physical life come from God, but God gives something even better through Jesus: He gives spiritual life. Human beings are fully alive when they find life in Jesus who reveals to us what God is really like. We cannot know God without Jesus, the Word. If you want to see God, look to Jesus. If you want to come close to God, come close to Jesus. If you want to know what life really is, see Jesus.
God’s words bring life because God’s words bring action. He didn’t just say the words “I love you,” but he gave everything for you, including his life. That kind of action speaks volumes to the value and meaning that each and every person has. God died on the cross for you, but also for your family member that you struggle to forgive. God died for you but also for your co-worker who you wonder how God could love filth like that. When we see the life and the action that God’s word brought into our lives, all of a sudden Christ is the one who breathes life into our relationships.
Each and every single person’s life matter because God created you. Your lives matter because God died for you. Your lives matter because God wants you to walk together with him so that you might be in heaven with him. Would an evolutionist be willing to die for their beliefs? I highly doubt it when they’re trying to survive, which doesn’t make their argument very enticing. Your life is more than just surviving, more than just evolving, devoid of all meaning. We know that life is precious and has meaning because God gives us worth and meaning. In Christ, we are fully alive because of His life and His forgiveness that He has given to us. Amen.