Introduction: Last week we celebrated the great ‘I AM’ statement, “I am the Good Shepherd”, and took note especially how this ‘I AM’ offers Jesus the perfect opportunity to expound on His relationship with His Father in John 10:22-33. Sadly, He draws the ire of His religious foes, and they pick up stones to stone Him when He claims that, as ‘The Good Shepherd’, He is equal with God (John 10:30). But such offense taken is not unique to John 10. Throughout John’s Gospel, there is resistance among many in the religious establishment to Christ’s claim to be uniquely and eternally the uncreated and eternally begotten Son of God. Since we confess this unique, divine nature as belonging to Christ from before the world was, let’s focus on this all-important reality in John’s Gospel.
Mon/Tues/Weds: read Proverbs 8:22-23 and John 1:1-5. In stark contrast with the Jews in John 10 who wanted to stone Jesus because of His claim to be co-equal with the Father, John opens with no doubt as to Christ’s being, “very God of very God.” For example, John proves that the Son is eternally co-equal with God the Father in John 1:1, establishing that, from the “beginning”, the Son of God was forever in the closest, most intimate relationship with Him. You could say that He was “in the bosom of the Father”, (John 1:18) – from the “beginning”.
But what exactly does John mean by this word, “beginning”? Some have argued that John uses this word merely to say that God’s Son was there “from the beginning” of the creation, set up by God as part of the creation. (But see John 1:3, where it is declared that the Son was there before anything else was made!)
Others say that this word, “beginning”, merely claims that Jesus was there “from the beginning” of the Gospel with Mary and Joseph, and had a beginning like other creatures. But notice that, when we compare John 1 with other places where “beginning” is used, this word is synonymous for “forever” or “from eternity”, referring to the Son of God’s having no start or end. Look for example at Proverbs 8:23. There the eternal Wisdom of God is speaking, as God personified. This Wisdom of God is none other than the Son of God Himself, called the, “Word of God” in John 1:1. (Compare 1 Cor. 1:24 to confirm the Wisdom of God as another name for God’s Son).
Notice especially Proverbs 8:23 in the following translations:
“I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, and before the earth.” (Geneva Bible)
“From everlasting I was established, from the beginning …” (New American Standard)
“I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was ever an earth.” (New King James Version)
The point in all these translations is that the time which John is alluding to when he uses the phrase, “in the beginning”, is equivalent to “in the beginning of eternity”. Since eternity has no beginning, this phrase from John 1:1 means the same as, “from everlasting”. Thus we learn that there never was a time when the Son of God was not!
Meditate and Pray: Give thanks for the precious gift of having your eyes opened to the absolute Divinity of the Son of God. Sing about this awesome cornerstone of the Christian faith, using hymn # 193 in the red Trinity hymnal:
Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.
King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.
Rank on rank the host of Heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.
At His feet the six wingèd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Lord Most High!
Thurs/Fri: read John 1:1-3 and Genesis 1:1-21. It is in the creation of all things that we first begin to understand the significance of the name, “Word of God”, with which John’s Gospel opens. To quote Professor Rita F. Cefalu in a recent issue of ‘Modern Reformation’, “According to John’s prologue, that ‘Word’, which proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord, is none other than Jesus, the Messiah and Son of God in the flesh, God’s full and final revelation.”
Now ask yourselves: Where do we see that ‘Word’ from the mouth of God first active in the Bible? The answer is that in the creation account in Genesis 1, it is this ‘Word of God’ who gives structure to the creation. It is the voice of God through the Word that we hear there! Whether it is the revelation of the light of God on day one, the power to separate the creation into heaven and earth on day two, the power to provide herbage and seeds for the sustenance of the creatures created on days 5-6, or the glories of the lights in the heavens on day 4 – all this was created by the Son of God, who continues to hold together all which He created in the first place! Talk about absolute supremacy over all of creation – that is what the Son of God possesses by Divine right, along with His Father! The Creator God and His Son are absolutely separate and distinct from the creation!
Meditate and Pray: Ask God the Father to increase your confidence in the sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ for all that creation needs in terms of Providence and Redemption! Sing about Christ’s unique glory and competence to run the creation with the words of hymn # 170, ‘Fairest Lord Jesus’:
Fairest Lord Jesus, ruler of all nature,
O Thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
Thou, my soul’s glory, joy and crown.
Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.
Fair is the sunshine,
Fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling starry host;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels Heav’n can boast.
Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
Now and forever more be Thine.
Sat/Sun: read John 1:1-10 and Genesis 3:8-9 – It is astounding to read of the Fall of Man as they rejected God the Father and His eternal Word in Genesis 3. John alludes to this Fall and the willful ignorance of mankind in rejecting the Eternal Word, Jesus Christ, in John 1:5 & 1:10. Of this Fall Pastor William Harrell speaks eloquently in his notes on Genesis 3:
“Our first parents grasped for gain and gained only loss. Man’s fall began when he thought and acted by guidance, not from God’s Word, but from the suggestions of a snake and from his own seeing and desiring (v.6). It is not true that seeing is believing, for seeing apprehends only surface appearance, whereas hearing apprehends the deeper heart of the matter. After man’s fall, the fallout was immediate and radical. Adam and his wife became self-conscious and, being filled with shame, they resorted to desperate and feeble devices to hide their shame. When they heard the Lord coming to them, they sought to hide from His omniscient gaze amongst the garden’s trees. The Lord penetrated the sinful guise of Adam with His Word, when He called to Adam, asking him: Where are you? That question may at first appear to indicate that Adam’s newly gained wisdom had enabled him to hide from God. Yet, the question is really a hauntingly convicting call for Adam to realize that he had fallen from the high place God had made him to occupy… God calls on Adam to recognize his sinful alienation. The Lord is ever asking each of us at any given time: Where are you?”
Meditate and Pray: Thank and praise the Lord, that through His living Word calling out to them, God was able to arrest Adam and Eve, bringing them out of their hiding place of darkness and sinful shame. Thank God that He continues to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment through that same Word, Jesus Christ, active in our day as He was in Adam’s. Give thanks that the Word of God, the Lord Jesus, proves more powerful than our sinful plans to hide ourselves. Adam and Eve come out of the bushes and confess their sin of eating the forbidden fruit! This proves that the Word of God is always more powerful than the lying word of Satan! What good news. Sing about the power of the voice of the Word of God, our Savior Jesus, in hymn # 164:
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and king,
The triumphs of His grace!
My gracious master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.
Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
’Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
’Tis life, and health, and peace.
He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.
He speaks, and, listening to His voice,
New life the dead receive,
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe.
Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy.