Written by Assistant Pastor Jon Herring
Here is a quick re-cap of last time at Go FoUrth where we looked at our first tool in sharing the good news of Jesus. PRAYER
Take a moment to Read Nehemiah chapter 1
Nehemiah looks at his nation and he is distraught! It is in ruins, God’s people look small and weak. And the thought of this leaves him in tears!
v4 “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept”
As we look at our nation and read reports of the church dwindling, as we look out around Fords Farm estate and think, we are reaching so few people. As we think of our friends and family who don’t yet know Jesus, does it cause you to weep?!
It should shouldn’t it!
But, Nehemiah doesn’t stop at tears does he?!
“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. And for some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of Heaven.”
Nehemiah understands, while all looks lost, there is much hope!
The most powerful and effective tool we have in evangelism is prayer. The first thing we must do, if we have a heart to to see people come to faith, is to ask God to have mercy, to ask him to give us the boldness, to ask him to give us the words!
Ans as you pray be reminded of Nehemiah’s words at the end of v11
“Give your servant success today by granting him favour in the presence of this man.”
Nehemiah is about to step up to the most powerful man in the world and to talk to him about his faith. And as he does it he prays continually.
‘I was very much afraid, 3 but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”
4 The king said to me, “What is it you want?”
Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king”
This is God’s work, we go with him!
So lets pray
If you would like a longer re-cap you can read the thoughts I shared from John chapter 1 they are also below:
From a very young age we have lots of questions don’t we!
So Toby has just come through that ‘Why?’ stage…
So I’ll say:
Toby can you eat your chicken please?
Cos its good for you
“Because it has protein and useful vitamins in it? …or something like that?”
“Because… I don’t know? It just does. Because that is how God designed it.”
But as you get older your questions just get bigger don’t they.
And thank goodness for Google!
Apparently the second most Googled news event of 2016 was ‘What is Brexit?’
And the most disturbing thing about that is, most of those google hits came the day after Brexit was voted through!
But what is the most important question we need to answer in this life?
What is the most important question the whole world/all of humanity needs to answer?
Have a think for a moment. How would you answer that?
Some might say global warming. How are we going to stop it?! Because if we don’t then this world doesn’t have a future.
Some might say, world peace. How are we going to put an end to war and persecution and nuclear weapons and terrorism?! Because if we don’t this world doesn’t have a future!
Well of course these things are huge problems that need an answer. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone could step in and give us an answer to them.
But John the author of the book we are going to be looking at during these Go Fourth Sunday evening meetings says:
– The most important question we can ask is- Who is Jesus Christ?
Because the answer to that defines the future for all of humanity!
Now this opening passage for me is the single most mind blowing and sublime thing ever written.
It is the beginning of an account of Jesus life by someone who knew him really really well and who had spent many years with him.
And from v19 onwards John writes a historical account, a narrative of Jesus life.
But the first few verses that we have here tonight, form a beautifully poetic beginning to that account, and it sets us up for the rest of the narrative.
And within it we are told the answer to this all important question- Who is Jesus?
So our passage begins
‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’
As I read this I don’t know about you but I am thinking- who is ‘the Word’? It’s a strange way of describing a person. And I think that is what we are supposed to ask.
And as the passage goes on the suspense grows as we are told more and more about ‘the Word’.
But in v14-17 it all becomes clear because we are told that the Word became a man. v14 The Word became flesh, the Word became a man and then at the end of v17 we see that that man is Jesus Christ.
So the first answer we can give to the question who is Jesus is.
– He is the Word.
Once we know this it completely opens up this whole section doesn’t it.
As we read v14-17 and realise that the Word is a man called Jesus we then want to go back to the beginning and kind of fill in his name where it says ‘the Word’ because then we see that this man is no ordinary man.
Because v1 In the beginning was the Word! Before anything else was created Jesus already was. Everything else has a starting point except Jesus.When time itself was created jesus was already there!
Have you ever thought about a time before time? There was once a time… when time didn’t exist!
We can’t get our heads round that can we. Our lives are run on time. We can’t escape it! But before the beginning of time- Jesus was there. How can that be possible?
Well here is why:
In the beginning was The Word (Jesus), and The word was with God, and the Word was God.
Jesus was with God and was God in the beginning.
First of all we have to kind of get our heads round that sentence don’t we. We looked at this briefly when we were looking at 1 John. How can somebody be with someone and be that person at the same time.
When I introduce my sons or daughter to you I wouldn’t say
“Hi my name is Jon and I hope you don’t mind I’ve brought me along with me.”
I might jokingly call them “mini-me”, because my kids look a bit like me and behave a bit like me. But it would be ridiculous to look at my kids and say, “this is me.”
But God can say this because he is so completely different to us. God is trinity- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One God in 3 persons form all eternity and this is so important to understand in order to begin to understand God.
We see that in v14:
14 …We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Here we see God the Father and God the Son. And later in the gospel we are introduced to God the Holy Spirit.
To know God truly, is to know him as trinity- 3 in 1.
It is a beautiful truth that shows God to be loving within himself. God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit has known perfect love from all eternity. And it is beyond our full understanding because he is God!
And the amazing thing in v14 we are told is that, the Word- Jesus, became flesh.
– God the Son became flesh. God became a man.
You may have thought Jesus was just a man, but this tells us he’s God and that means that whatever Jesus does and says as a man reveals what God is like!
Jesus was no ordinary Man. Jesus is the God man.
If someone wants to know what God is like, they just need to look at Jesus.
Who is Jesus?
Simply- Jesus is God! More accurately- Jesus is God the Son in human form. Fully God and Fully man. He was there in the beginning because he was with God and he was God!
So v2 reminds us, ‘He was with God in the beginning.
and then v3 says– ‘Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made’.
Now you probably know by now I have a bit of a thing about BRIAN COX! I am not his biggest fan.
Illustration- Brian Cox
In his TV program ‘Why are we here?’ he spends the first 1/2 explaining how our world looks like it was designed and then sits on the steps and says “but of course we know this is nonsense!”
Wow! What a staggering statement. He basically says “scientifically, It looks like our world was created but I am going to reject that!”
Later in the program Professor Cox also says these 3 amazing things:
“Before the Big Bang there was nothing in the cosmos but energy”
“Energy is neither created nor destroyed”
“Energy is eternal”- the source of life
You see there are only 2 categories of things:
Made things (created things), and things that are not made (uncreated things).
Everyone is in agreement with this!
But Brian Cox wants to say that the creator is an inanimate, impersonal, chaotic source of energy.
John says, that that uncreated, eternal, life giving source is more than just an inanimate, impersonal, chaotic energy; it is a personal loving God!
2 Jesus 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
Everything that was made was made by him. Without him nothing was made!
In other words you have got created things and Jesus (God and everything else). And that categorises and explains all things in the universe and beyond! You have God, and you have everything else.
If you are talking about something created you are not talking about God.
If you are talking about something uncreated you are only talking about God.
So when Brian Cox says:
“Energy is neither created nor destroyed”
“Energy is eternal” the source of life-
Brian Cox is talking about God
God is responsible for every created thing, every planet, star and constellation. Every solar system, galaxy, and black whole. He created every animal, every human being and every atom!
God is the source of every scientific equation that we know and even ones we don’t know and may never know!
As we have seen Jesus is that God and this is confirmed again when it says in v4 that:
‘In him was life, and that life was the light of all’
Jesus is the source of life itself, life comes from Jesus because he has life in himself. Therefore we also see that Jesus is the eternal, uncreated, creator of all things- the source of life.
So, so far we have seen that Jesus is The Word, he is God in human flesh, and he is the Eternal, Uncreated, Creator of all things.
And so now John moves on to show us why it is necessary to understand who Jesus is as he describes Jesus as the Light. Describing Jesus as the light is a really simple illustration that shows not only who he is but why he has come. Light is powerful isn’t it. It is powerful over darkness.
In May half term, we went on holiday to Wales with Ruth’s parents and during our time there my father in-law, Ben, Josh and me went on a trip down in to the old mines there. It was brilliant, and there were a couple of moments during the trip when they turn all the lights out and you are in absolute pitch black darkness. It is not often you experience that is it! But it was amazing… and also, if I’m honest, a bit frightening!
I wouldn’t have wanted to stay in the pitch black for too long and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to have to find my way out in the pitch black! But thankfully our guide had his torch with him and there were lights lighting up the way all the way round the tour.
Without the light we were lost. We would have been left groping around for something to help us get out. We don’t like the darkness do we because we hate the feeling of not knowing. Not knowing the way, not knowing what lurks around the corner. If we can’t see we are left guessing.
Jesus is described as the light because he powerfully shines light into darkness.
The darkness here refers to the world, the world that is left groping around for truth, a truth that has been lost in darkness because we have rejected God.
And Jesus has come to shine his light into that darkness. In v14 we are told Jesus came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Jesus, as the light, reveals truth to us. In Jesus, God has revealed himself in the world.
In our final verse we are told:
‘No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.’
No one has ever seen God the Father but God the Son came to earth and took on flesh, he became a man so that we could see God and not only that, even more importantly, so that we could know God!
Jesus makes God knowable!
Jesus himself is fully God, he reveals what God is like because that is the beauty of what we have here in the bible. We have God revealed to us.
It is like the moment when the guide turns his torch back on in the darkness.
When you know Jesus, suddenly you can see. Jesus’ words- they bring truth, they bring relief, peace, joy, hope- because suddenly we see the truth- he tells us what we need to know to move from darkness in to light because as we look at Jesus we see what God is like and we also see how it is possible to be in relationship with God.
And nothing is more important.
Jesus, the Son of God knows his Father intimately and he invites the world to know him also! We can know the one who made all things! The eternal Creator. That is not something to take lightly and is not something to be ignored! The Creator of all things, the one who gives us life and breath wants to know us!
So going back to my opening question. What is the most important question in the world? What if they biggest answer to humanity’s most important question is found here in the bible? What if it is possible to know what God is like? John says those who haven’t seen who Jesus is are in the darkness.
Anyone who doesn’t think Jesus is worth worshipping and committing their life to, hasn’t truly understood who he is!
We’re very good at looking like we all have everything sorted in life, social media is dreadful for that isn’t it…! But it is a facade. Most people out there have many questions, and feel lost, confused or in despair at life. Most people are desperately searching for direction in their life, to know what life is all about/ what they should be doing with their life.
I remember as a teenager, lying on my bed late at night wondering what life was all about?! It was always Sunday nights, I don’t know why, maybe it was the thought of going back to school the next day and thinking, what’s the point! or the fact that I was in denial at not having done any of my homework.
But as a young teenager I had no idea who Jesus was until someone pointed me to him in the bible. And it completely changed my life. Those nights of lying on my bed wondering what life was all about were over. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t think I have got it all sorted but I had been introduced to the one who has life in himself. The giver and sustainer of life, and I know him personally.
We need to help people to keep asking those questions, we need to help draw them out, give them a platform to do that and in so doing to point them to Jesus.
That is effective evangelism. Not winning an argument or bashing someone with the bible. But helping people to ask the bigger questions and helping them see that their answer lies in Jesus.
As we look through the gospel of John we are going to see that that is exactly what Jesus did. He challenged peoples thinking and showed that he was the way, the truth and the life. And I hope that as we look at it we will be encouraged to do the same.
As we do it we are going to think about what sort of questions can we use to help people question their beliefs and presuppositions. How can we draw people out of mundane chat and get them to understand their need for Jesus. To point them to Jesus and his far better story!
And hopefully we will see that actually evangelism is much easier that we think and we are all uniquely gifted and uniquely placed to point people to Jesus.
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