Sermon Study - John 1:1-5 (Advent Week 1)
“In the Beginning” from John 1:1-5. You can listen to the sermon here.
The Incarnation is the most stunning miracle in all of Scripture. The Incarnation is the truth that God, in the person of his Son, took on human flesh in the person of Jesus. It is the truth that Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man. That at the same time and without losing any distinctiveness of either nature, Christ is both 100% divine and 100% human. He shares the same nature as God the Father, fully God. And he shares the same nature as us, yet without sin, fully man. This is the stunning truth of the Incarnation of the Son of God, and I would argue it is the most stunning truth of Scripture.
Not only is the Incarnation the most stunning miracle of Scripture, but it is also, you could argue, the most foundational one for us and our salvation. Without the Incarnation, we would have no hope of salvation. If the Son of God did not take on human flesh, then there is no gospel. There would be no payment for sin, because there would no one able to perfectly satisfy the wrath of God, and there would be no one capable of being our substitute before the Father. Only God himself could satisfy his holy demands of perfect righteousness, but only someone with our human nature could possibly stand in our place as our substitute. Without the Incarnation, without the truth that God became Man in the person of Jesus, we have none of those things, and thus we have no gospel. So, not only is the Incarnation stunning, it is also precious, because without it, we are without hope in the world.
The stunning and precious truth of the Incarnation is the reason we, as Christians, can speak of the wonder of Christmas. The world thinks that the wonder of Christmas comes from tradition, generosity, or even some sort of magical spirit attached to the season. But that’s not the reason Christians speak of the wonder of Christmas. Those things, for the most part, are all fine and good, but that’s not where the wonder comes from. The wonder comes from the fact that at Christmastime, during the Advent season, we as the church remember and celebrate the Incarnation. The wonder of Christmas comes not from the generosity of one person to another, but the generosity of the Father in sending his one and only Son to be born as a baby. The wonder of Christmas comes not from a sense of magic that is rooted in myth, but from a sense of awe that is rooted in flesh-and-blood truth. The wonder of Christmas is the stunning and precious truth of the Incarnation of the Son of God.
The truth of the Incarnation is seen perhaps most clearly in the opening verses of the Gospel of John. These verses, known as the Prologue to John’s Gospel, describe how the eternal Word of God, through whom all things were created, entered into history at the birth of Jesus Christ. The climactic verse of John’s Prologue is verse 14, where John writes, “And the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” That verse powerfully communicates the truth of the Incarnation. All the components are there – the eternal Word of God, whom we know to be the Son, the second person of the Trinity; the taking on of human flesh, so that the Word became Man in the person of Jesus. All the truths of the Incarnation are expressed in that one powerful verse.
In verses 1-5, John helps us feel the force of verse 14 by giving us the identity of this Word who became Flesh. John reveals to us the uniqueness and the power of the Word who became Flesh in the person of Jesus Christ.
For Further Study
The truths that John expresses in verses 1-3 are also expressed in other places of the New Testament. Read the following passages and note the similarities between those passages and John 1:1-3:
- Colossians 1:15-20
- Philippians 2:5-11
- Hebrews 1:1-4
In John 1:5, the apostle introduces some of his key themes – light, life, and darkness. These themes show up throughout John’s Gospel, and one of the clearest instances is in John 8:12-59. Read that passage and answer the following questions:
- In your mind, what is the ‘life’ Jesus refers to in verse 12?
- At the end of the chapter (verses 48-59), what is Jesus claiming about his identity?
- How does this claim fit with John 1:1-5?
For Personal Reflection
- What are some practical ways that you can pursue a renewed sense of wonder during this Advent seasons?
- Spend some time in prayer this week, asking God to focus your heart and mind on the truth of the Incarnation. And pray that God would renew a sense of wonder in your heart during this season.