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THE WORD WAS GOD (1)

WE’RE GOING TO EXPERIENCE

THE WONDER OF ADVENT TOGETHER

WordBecameFlesh1

Last Advent I encouraged you to memorize John’s famous prologue. You may be surprised, but I am feeling led to go there again.

Let me tell you a story. My friend Greg tells of being taught by Howard Hendricks at Dallas Theological Seminary. The first day of class Hendricks gave the students one passage of two verses and told them to find ten observations. They do. The next day he tells them to find ten more, and with much more effort they do. He repeats the assignment the third day and they are amazed — how can they possibly? Have they not exhausted its depth? No, they find they have not.  They look at every word, they look at cross references, they thoroughly examine the context. When he repeats the assignment the fourth and fifth day they have to really push themselves. They now have the passage memorized, so they ponder it throughout the day. They “draw” the passage. To their amazement they find the Word “inhabits” them, “tabernacles” in them, and is changing them. Hendricks has made his point. God’s Word is as deep as the ocean and as it lives in you, He lives more fully in you, and you are changed. And isn’t that what we long for, especially at Advent?

If ever a passage was as deep as the ocean, it is John’s prologue.

deepasoceanFor those of you who have already memorized, review, until it is part of your DNA. And my questions will endeavor, once we cover the basics, to look at it and to apply it from fresh angles.

Matthew Henry quotes a Plato philospher: These opening words of John are worthy to be written in gold. These words changed his life from “loose notions of religion” to true faith. They were written with such “authority and majesty in style, that his flesh trembled, and he was struck with such amazement that for a whole day he scarcely knew where he was or what he did.”

Matthew and Luke tell us what happened at Christmas, beginning gently, but John thunders down with who Jesus is and why He came.

christmasborderHere’s an application for those Christmas christmaslettersletters some of you will write. Consider, instead of writing what you did this year, telling how God is at work in your heart. Just a few sentences — perhaps a book or study that impacted you and why. Ask for prayer where you are weak. Keep it brief, illustrate with pictures, but let your friends see your heart, including, if possible, your heart for them. If you are snail mailing, add a personal written sentence on why you love them!

twila2You may remember the pivotal conversation I had with my friend Twila (on the left at my home last Christmas). Twila, for those of you who are new, memorizes whole books: Romans, James, Hebrews,word-became-flesh 2 Corinthians….She walks her dog Amos morning and evening. Before she goes on her walk she memorizes her portion for the day, and then she practices and practices as she walks. She also reviews past memory work. She used to memorize in the morning and listen to a book on tape in the afternoon, but she said, “I so loved the sense of His presence during my memory time that I decided I could memorize during both walks!” Twila is the fragrance of Christ, and I believe it is because in a mysterious way Jesus is the Word and He lives and breathes in her. Tim Keller said, “In Psalm 119, that long psalm all about the Word, the psalmist seems to be worshiping the Word, lifting up his hands to the Word. Why? The Word is Jesus. So as you memorize and meditate, you will find yourself wrapped in His arms. And out of your mouth will flow what you have stored in your heart.

Each Sunday write out on an index card the passage for the week. You may want to put it on your phone audibly and in written form so it’s always nearby. Here’s this week’s passage in the ESV, but do it in the translation of your choice.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Here’s the schedule:

November 29: John 1:1-5 (Biggest chunk!) jesus_words

December 6: John 1:6-8 (John the Baptist)

December 13: John 1:9-11 (The Light)

December 20: John 1:12-13 (Children of God)

December 27: John 1:14 (Word Became Flesh)

Jan 3: New study. Maybe the Song –

 

I am convinced that together we will help each other go deeper into this rich passage, and that putting it in our hearts will allow us to be with Him, to experience His presence, and to see His fragrance grow in our lives and pour out to others. Isn’t this what Christmas is truly about? To prepare your heart, listen to this:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ofE-GZ8zTU

Sunday:

1. What stood out to you and why? Are you with us in this?

2. Share one thing for which you were thankful this Thanksgiving.

3. Write out John 1:1-5 on an index card, or for your phone — something nearby.

Monday-Thursday Bible Study

4. Begin memorizing, meditating…

In the Hebrew “the Word” is Logos, which Tim Keller compares to the maker’s instruction manual. How often have I ignored instructions to a product only to have to go back and look at them. I bought a solar lamp to illuminate the sign at the top of my very dark road, but it did not turn on. I finally went back, looked at the “Maker’s Manual” and realized I had not “peeled off the plastic covering on the solar panel.” Voila. That night there was light!

brestinsign

5. Share a time recently when God’s “Instruction Manual,” the Word, brought sense or direction to your life.

6. What do you think God’s purpose for Advent is in your life? How is this different than the world?

7. As you meditate on John 1:1-2,  make ten observations.

Keep memorizing — share any new insights. Soon we’ll ask you to write out what you have done.

who-is-the-word

8. Compare John 1:1-5 with Genesis 1:1-3.

A. What similarities do you see?

B. When you consider Genesis, what might be one reason Jesus is called “The Word?”

C. How do you see the mystery of the Trinity in these passages?

9. Matthew and Luke tell the Christmas story historically. They begin gently with the genealogy or the birth, but this “Son of Thunder” is different. Why, according to John 20:31?

10. Write out what you have memorized so far.

11. Find nine things about God from these opening five verses. Share any meditations on each.

Lightshines

12. How does verse 5 give you hope in these perilous times?

13. Compare this passage to Hebrews 1:1-4. What similarities do you see?

Use John 1:1-5 to pray. Use the ACTS formula if you like. (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.) And do it in secret. Make this an Advent pattern.

Friday Sermon:

15. Choose one or both sermons. The first is by Jim Hamilton and is an excellent overview of the whole prologue. I am also going to give you the option of the free Tim Keller sermon we heard last year, for I know I can listen to him again and again. (By the way, Gospel in Life is having a sale through tomorrow on all sermons — 30% off if you type in thanks in the promo blank.)

Jim Hamilton: Grace Upon Grace

      The Word Made Flesh - Timothy J. Keller

Saturday:

16. Write our your memory passage.

17. What is your take-a-way and why? How is this impacting you so far?

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143 comments

  1. 6. What do you think God’s purpose for Advent is in your life? How is this different than the world?
     
    I’m not sure that much of the “world” understands or thinks about Advent at all. Even some evangelical Christians whose churches do not mention Advent don’t seem to understand what it is. I was fortunate that the first non-denominational church I attended had the Advent wreath in the church, lighting the candles each week, and provided a small booklet for us to use at home, and that’s when I began making an Advent wreath of my own and to incorporate Advent into my own life.
     
    I had no idea what the answer was to this question until this morning as I read the opening to John and a little bit beyond. I believe God would have me focus on repentance this Advent. I really let loose with my mouth last evening, verbally attacking my husband, and in front of my daughter. I understand today that I often just blow-off my sin as not that big a deal, or I had a reason to behave like that. I was reminded of Jesus’ words that I will be accountable for every careless word I speak. That He said that my words don’t originate in my mouth but in my heart. Before I can celebrate the good news of His coming and His birth, I need to deal with the bad news first. My heart is the darkness that desperately needs His light to shine in it. I thought about how John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus by calling people to repentance. So too, I need to prepare my heart for Christmas. My heart needs searched and cleansed.

  2. 7. As you meditate on John 1:1-2, make ten observations.
    1. In the beginning means before anything else.
    2. The Word was with God – they are separate and in relationship.
    3. The Word was God – they are the same, one being..
    4. In the beginning echoes Genesis.
    5. If the Word has been with God since the beginning then He fully knows God.
    6. I remember Keller’s sermon from last year said something about “the word” being a concept of wisdom, fullness of life (?) of that time era (Aristotle, etc) that people tried to achieve (can’t recall specifics….) but John was saying – It’s a person! This prologue was, in part, a rebuttal to other teachings about what to live for.
    7. The Word knew all things if He saw everything begun, but He gave that up to become flesh? (Matthew 24:36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.)
    8. If the Word is one with God, then they must have the same characteristics. In observing Christ I  observe God.
    9. If the Word is separate then He can bring glory and pleasure to God.
    10. The Word is Christ.

  3. 13. Compare this passage to Hebrews 1:1-4. What similarities do you see?
     
    In light of John 1:1-5, many words and phrases leap of the page in Hebrews 1:1-4. 
     
    “Spoke, spoken, word of his power” – these words are all connected to “the Word”.  God SPOKE the incarnation and his Son was. In John 1:1 “the Word was God”; in Hebrews 1, his Son is “heir of all things”, “the radiance of the glory of God”; “the exact imprint of his nature”; makes “purification for sins”; “sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high”; “superior to angels”. All these phrases show Jesus as God’s final and definitive revelation.
     
    John 1:3 “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made” parallels Hebrews 1:2 “Through whom he created the world”; vs. 3 “he upholds the universe by the word of his power”. These Scriptures confirm that the Son of God was the agent of creation. Yet he is more than that; he holds the universe. I love this picture of Jesus holding the universe in the palm of his hand. Both John 1 and Hebrews 1 remind me of Colossians 1:16,17.
     
    Colossians 1:16, 17 says, “For by him all things were created … all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” 
     
    The ESV Study notes say here, “Jesus is not only the agent of creation but is also the goal of creation, for everything was created by him and for him, that is, for his honor and praise. Since Jesus is in this sense the goal of creation, he must be fully God.” Jesus is the goal of creation. It is for his honor and praise. Wow! New thought! Lots to ponder here. 
     

  4. Take away and impact.  Looking at the Big Picture and examining this aspect of it in multiple aspects has been great.  Usually I do the whole blog study in Sunday, but this one had so much to it that it has spread out over six days, and I am loving it!  I am feeling a deeper joy and peace than I have had for a long time.  Thank you, Dee.

  5. Dee, I listened to the Jim Hamilton sermon, but part way through it skips back to the beginning. And later on it seems to skip from talking about verse 14 to repeat something earlier, and then skips to vs 18 and the end. I am not sure why, just thought you should know. it is very distracting from an otherwise good sermon.

    1. Diane–try this–http://www.kenwoodbaptistchurch.com/filerequest/1567.mp3
      I haven’t tried yet, but it’s direct from his site. Here’s the page if that link doesn’t work: http://www.kenwoodbaptistchurch.com/resources/sermon-audio
      Grace Upon Grace by Jim Hamilton 8/18/2013
       

      1. Thanks, Lizzy. I have to try again later. Grandkids arriving soon. It was a sermon jammed packed with good insights. Is he someone you know?

  6. 6. What do you think God’s purpose for Advent is in your life? How is this different than the world?
     
    I think Advent is supposed to be a time of preparation of my heart and focusing of my mind to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  It is a time of reflection and making life more simple and calm.    This is different from the world, because the world sees this time as a time to “make money.”    The commercialism is “over the top” and there is chaos caused by more television and newspaper ads, dangling more wares out there to make everyone want to acquire all the newest technological gadgets.   
     
    7. As you meditate on John 1:1-2,  make ten observations.
     
    1.   “In the beginning” reminds me of the opening words of Genesis 1.  The beginning when God created the heavens and the earth is the same beginning of which John is speaking. 
     
    2. The “Word” was with God, also participating in the creation of the heavens and the earth.  There was a relationship there between the Word and God – we later learn that it is a Father-Son relationship. 
     
    3. The Word is divine just as God is divine.  The Word is God. 
     
    4.  This portion of the trinity is called the Word, and He spans all languages and reaches out to all people, delivering God’s message of love. 
     
    5. In the beginning the Word was not yet flesh, yet He was of some substance (spirit?) So that He could be with God. 
     
    6. The Word has three characteristics: His eternity, his fellowship with God, and his divine nature. 
     
    7.   Thinking about how these verses would have been interpreted by the Jews – probably as blasphemous (The Word was God).  If they understood Jesus to be the Word, and the Word was God, then that meant that Jesus was God and that would have been blasphemous to a non-Christian Jew.   
     
    8.   “He was with God in the beginning.”   The use of the pronoun “He” shows that John was referring to a male – he was talking about Jesus, not some inanimate object.   
     
    I owe you two more observations!   They haven’t come to me yet!
     
                                                                

  7. 8. Compare John 1:1-5 with Genesis 1:1-3.
    A. What similarities do you see?
     
    Both give the time as “In the beginning.”   God was there, Jesus was there, and the Holy Spirit was there.  Everything was created by God, there were no exceptions.   Light and darkness are mentioned.
     
    B. When you consider Genesis, what might be one reason Jesus is called “The Word?”
     
    The “word” for the people to whom John was writing had consisted of the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy).  The Torah contained the law which was very important to the Jews.  John is now writing about The Word, which is greater than any previous word or words  — He is writing about Jesus Christ.   Jesus is the embodiment of not only the law, but of the total and most accurate revelation of God, because He is God.       
     
     
    C. How do you see the mystery of the Trinity in these passages?
     
    Not only are God and Christ active in the creation of the universe, Genesis 1:2 tells us “and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”   

  8. 1.   As you meditate on John 1:1-2, make ten observations.
    Jesus was there in the beginning with God.
    A specific beginning not just a beginning. A beginning of everything.
    Jesus was there before anything else came to be.
    Jesus is Word.
    Jesus is God.
    Verse 2 repeated means it is very important to note.
    Because Jesus was there in the beginning, he saw everything of creation.
    Jesus was His own person being but one with God.
     
    God and Jesus were actively involved with each other in the beginning.

  9. 11. Find nine things about God from these opening five verses. Share any meditations on each.
    In the beginning   Somewhere, Somehow in time, Somebody was so I can be a part of His beautiful story.
    Was the Word      Oh, Jesus I am so glad you were there in the beginning because you will be there with me in the end
    And the Word was with God   Never a better Person to be with!
    And the Word was God    Could it be? The Creators in Oneness
    He was in the beginning with God  Yes, He was! Never a doubt!
    All things were created through Him    All means all, not some, or few or most of it but ALL including me. Lord, you make me weep with joy. Despite of me, in spite of me…you created my inmost being. And since you are my Creator, I can be thankful for me.
    In Him was life   not a life, not even the life but life No other name but Jesus; No other source of life but only Jesus
    And His life was the light of men No Jew nor Gentile nor male or female, slave or free He is the light of the world; Humankind needs light and we can only find it in Jesus.
    The light shines in darkness     Oh how we so need the light to shine in this present darkness
     
    And the darkness has not overcome it   And never will!

  10. 8. Compare John 1:1-5 with Genesis 1:1-3. 
    A. What similarities do you see?
     
    It was the beginning of time.  God made all things.
     
    B. When you consider Genesis, what might be one reason Jesus is called “The Word?” 
     
     Because when he came in the flesh he could explain God to us; with words. 
     
    C. How do you see the mystery of the Trinity in these passages?
     
     In John you get a sense of all three, God the father God the son and God the Holy Spirit. The word refers to Jesus, and God is God the father.  I suppose the spirit could be represented by God making all things. 
     
     In Genesis you obviously have God the father, in the spirit is noted as well. However I’m not sure how Jesus fits in here? 
     
     
     

  11. 9. Matthew and Luke tell the Christmas story historically. They begin gently with the genealogy or the birth, but this “Son of Thunder” is different. Why, according to John 20:31?
     
    They want us to know Jesus and believe; so we may be saved! 

  12. 11. Find nine things about God from these opening five verses. Share any meditations on each
     
    He has always been here.  He is one of three.  He created everything and is light in my life! He is life, and will always be. There will be no darkness as long as we have the light. It will not be overcome by the darkness.

  13. 12. How does verse 5 give you hope in these perilous times? 
     
    There is is light in the darkness.
     
    13. Compare this passage to Hebrews 1:1-4. What similarities do you see?
     
    It describes who Jesus was and is and His relationship with God the Father, just as John does. It says he is radiant (like light).
     
     

  14. I got behind this week, even after declaring that “I am in this.”   🙂   Still trying to catch up.
     
    9. Matthew and Luke tell the Christmas story historically. They begin gently with the genealogy or the birth, but this “Son of Thunder” is different. Why, according to John 20:31?
     
    John states plainly that he is writing so that others may believe and be saved.  He is trying to explain the gospel theologically, so he makes great effort to tell about Jesus’ relationship to God and our relationship to God through Jesus.     John was probably very aware of the accounts by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, as John’s gospel is thought to have been written  85-90 AD but theirs were written in the 60s AD.   I am thinking that John felt the other three had covered the events historically, but he himself felt called to “connect the dots” theologically and say “This was the Son of God!”   

    10. Write out what you have memorized so far.
     
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.   In Him was Life and that Life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness does not overcome it.  

    11. Find nine things about God from these opening five verses. Share any meditations on each.
    1.  God began it all.
    2.  He existed before anything else did. 
    3. God and Jesus created the universe together.
    4. He saw the need for light.
    5.  He created light and separated it from the darkness on earth. 
    6.  He assigned His Son Jesus to be the light of men. 
    7.  He designated Jesus to be the “life,” and by being the life to represent   and reveal God to the fullest.
    8. God is all powerful and his light cannot be overcome by darkness.
    9.  God is eternal and so is Jesus.   

  15. 12. How does verse 5 give you hope in these perilous times?
     
    These times today are truly feeling perilous!    I take great hope that the light cannot be overcome by the darkness — because when I see the evil side seemingly winning, it is natural to wonder if evil is going to triumph.   John 1:5 tells me “No, it can’t.”   God is still in charge, and He will not allow it.   I keep praying, “Please, God, thwart the efforts of the evil-doers!”     
     
     
    13. Compare this passage to Hebrews 1:1-4. What similarities do you see?
     
    The name Jesus inherited that is superior is “Son of God.”   This name given to him by his Father is greater than the names and titles of the angels.     When this passage in Hebrews was written, there were false teachers in the early church who were teaching that God could only be approached through angels, instead of worshipping God directly.  Some thought of Jesus as the highest angel of God.  But Jesis is not just a superior angel.  Jesus is God.    The passage in John bears out this same message:  Jesus is God.  He alone deserves our worship.    He was there “in the beginning.”   

  16. 6. Purpose for advent for me?  
    Well. I am slow here this week.  Took Jill’s idea to set these verses to music and haven’t gotten past that yet. As I ponder advent, I have thought much about “coming”, both His humble infant-coming and His anticipated, iminent , triumphal king-coming.  I’m camped on the word “come”.   That he came, He is coming, and He patiently invites, me to come – often.

  17. I listened to Jim Hamilton about half-way through.   When he began dealing with verses 6-14, I stopped listening, thinking I can go back to it in the coming weeks, because I downloaded it.    

    I had listened to Timothy Keller previously.   I went back and re-read my notes from last year instead of listening to him again.    I am posting my notes on Keller’s sermon here again, because we have some new people who may or may not be able to access Keller’s sermon.  I figure my notes would be better than nothing for those people.   So read it if you want, and skip it if you don’t need it.  Posting below: 

    The Word Made Flesh  – Dr. Timothy Keller
     
    One of the problems with Christmas is that we think we are getting meaningfulness too easily.   We settle for too little because the meaning of Christmas is inexhaustible, but it is filled with theological life-changing truths.  
     
    The Gospel of John does not tell what happened at Christmas, but instead tells what it means. 
    Verse 14 – The Word became flesh and dwelt among us with His glory.  Jesus is the Word of God.   A person’s word gives us the clearest revelation of the person.   Keller likened it to how he related to the people on the subway he rides.  He can infer lots of things about the people, i.e. by how they dress, etc.  However, if he were asked if he actually knows them, if he hasn’t spoken with them, he does not actually know them.    Jesus Christ is the Word, and you can’t know God except through Christ.    You can know all sorts of things about God, but Jesus is the ultimate revelation of who God is.   
     
    Keller referred to a quote from a Bible commentator who said “Jesus is the supreme revelation.  If we are to know God, neither rationalism or mysticism will suffice.”    It is impossible to prove Christianity by means of rational thought.  He said a philosophy professor would tell you that there is no slam-dunk argument to prove anything.   You cannot come up with a watertight reason.  However, we are given a watertight person who is the compelling proof.   
     
    I had been aware of the fact that our word “logic” is derived from the Greek “logos” which means Word.   However, I really loved the way Keller brought it in at this point, that Christ is our Word, our logic, for He is perfect and His life towers over all others lives.   Christmas is not just about the Word, but the Word made flesh.  The Word is made soft.  Divine is made human.   The Word is made vulnerable.  The Word is made killable.   Only Christianity says that the Divine creator of the world has become human and vulnerable.   
     
    Keller reminded us of the 1964 slaying of Kitty Genovese.   She was a 28-year-old woman who was walking home and was assaulted, stabbed by her assailant.   She screamed for help, and people turned on their lights and looked down on the street, but nobody came down to help her, because they realized their own vulnerability and were unwilling to risk their lives.  When the assailant saw the lights come one, he ran; but when no one came out to help her, he came back and killed her.  Keller says when the Lord of heaven heard our cries, He came down.   And He came down knowing it would cost him his life.    
     
    Hebrews 2 tells us the Word became flesh.  This means He understand you, and that He has been where you have been.  At Christmas, we refer to Christ as “Wonderful Counselor.”   The best counselors are the ones who have been through it themselves.   He told of an X-ray technician who changed his style to be much more compassionate and gentle with his patients, after he himself had been on the examining table.  “The God of the Universe has been on the table.”   He has experienced it all – he has been: betrayed, broke, lonely, facing death.   You can go to Him – Wonderful Counselor.   God has also felt abandonment, as Christ prayed for the “cup to pass.”    We must frame struggles with the knowledge that God has become flesh. 
     
    There were many words in Greek that John could have chosen to express “living” or “residing.”   However, he wrote that “the Word became flesh and ‘tabernacled’ among us.”    In the time of Moses, God dwelt in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle (concealed).  Now we behold in Jesus the full glory.    
     
    Jesus Christ is the end of religion as we know it.  Christmas is the end of religion as we know it.   
    Keller told a story of a Christian having a conversation with his pagan neighbor.   
    The neighbor said, “I hear you are a Christian.”   
    Then he asks “where is your temple?”  
    The Christian replies that Jesus is our temple.  
    The pagan asks, “where do your priests perform their rites?”   
    The Christian replies that Jesus is our Priest.   
    Then the pagan asks where sacrifices are performed.  
    “We don’t perform sacrifices, because Jesus is our sacrifice.”  
    The frustrated pagan asks “What kind of religion is this?”    
     
    Keller says, Christianity is no kind of religion at all.   All religions say that you have to do all this stuff and then you will be accepted.  But Christianity says you are accepted through Christ, therefore you do all of these things.  
     
    1. There can be no half-way measures in following Jesus.   It is all or nothing.     
    2. Go to him as your counselor.  Whatever ails you, He has what is needed for your healing.
    3. The real becomes ideal. 
     
    If you believe in Christmas, you don’t have to choose between the real and the ideal.  Ideal has smashed a hole in the concrete slab that separated it from the Real, and the Real has become Ideal.  This means that our lives can be transformed.   This Christmas we should not settle for too little – just the warm, fuzzy feeling with our families – feeling a little inspired.  Instead we should seek for lives to be transformed. 

  18. I am wanting to remind you that I only listened to Hamilton’s sermon up through verse 5.   When he started on verses 6-8, I stopped listening.   Even so,  I have long notes as posted below! 
     
    Notes On Jim Hamilton’s sermon on John 1: 1-5
     
    Hamilton refers to the prologue in John 1:1-5 as a “bomb” in which the realities about God and Christ come exploding. 
     
    The Word – identified with Jesus in verse 14.   Behold the mystery of the trinity.   We can only respond with worship.  God is communicating himself in Jesus.   The Word is a full person.   He is personal.   What God was the Word was: indistinguishable from the Father, yet distinct.  We are left with this contradiction. 
     
    The trinity exceeds our rational capacities, exceeds our powers.   John declares this mystery in the relationship between the Father and the Son in the fewest words possible.  These words invite us to contemplate and meditate on these assertions about God.  Hamilton urges us to repeat these statements to ourselves until they are etched in our minds – until when we think of John 1, these words just spill out and we can’t help but repeat them in the correct order.   Then he would encourage us to ponder them to pray through them, to read about them, and most importantly to respond to them.   How?   By worshiping the incomparable God that these words describe. 
     
    John chose a word that was philosophically loaded  – this word “Word.”   Logos in Greek. John was ministering and writing in a place called Ephesus in Asia Minor.   Even if the audience there was vaguely familiar with this term, Hamilton doesn’t believe that is where we should go to understand what John means by calling Jesus the Word.  Nor does he think, even if some of John’s audience was Jewish, that we need to go to Jewish tradition to understand what John means by the Word. 
     
    There are two primary backgrounds that we should look to, if we ask ourselves “Why does John choose to call Jesus the Word?”   The first background is the Old Testament.   John is obviously linking us with creation.   Then the second background, or second source of information is what John says across this gospel.   Hamilton suggests Genesis 1 and other texts in the OT which reflect God speaking creation into existence.   Then read what John says throughout this gospel.  In Genesis 1, John obviously linked us to that with his opening phrase “In the beginning…” Then look at what he says in verse 3 of John 1.   “All things were made through Him.”  Hamilton thinks John is interpreting for us Genesis 1:3 “And God said let there be light.”   He thinks what John is saying is that God created through Christ who was the spoken word of the Father.   We may be wondering how that works or how to conceptualize that.  Hamilton says he isn’t sure either.  “I think these things are beyond us.   But we can keep thinking about them and keep exploring them.”  John is saying the way God brought creation into existence was by speaking, and that Jesus was the Word through whom God made the world.   He says in the second half of verse 3 “without Him was not anything made that was made.”   John is asserting that God the Father in Christ is sovereign and ultimately responsible for everything in the world.   In other words, there is nothing that has slithered into God’s world apart from God’s ultimate purposes.  Some people find this idea troubling.   Hamilton suggests that it is more comforting than it is troubling.   It says there is not some other force out there that is tricking God and sneaking into His world and perverting it or corrupting it.   It says that the world is not getting outside God’s control somehow.    This is not some other force that is beyond God’s control; and it says that , if God is good, we can trust Him whatever we face. 
     
    John now says that the power that animates all created things was in the Word.  Look at verse 4: In Him (refers back to the Word) was life, and the life was the light of men.   Life was in Jesus.  That life that is inherent in Jesus is not coming into Jesus from outside.  Some other force is not animating Jesus and making Him alive.   That life in Jesus was the source of any light.   What does light do?  Light enables us to see and perceive things, and John is saying Jesus is the source of light that leads to any perception by anyone.   There can be no rapprochement between the idea that God the father created the world through Christ, and the idea that these things spontaneously happened apart from any divine control.   Creation and evolution.   There can no more be rapprochement between these two concepts, creation and evolution , than there can be between purity and defilement, between Churchill and Hitler.  No peace between these two, right?  Between ultimate significance and morose nihilism.  
     
    Hamilton tells a story about Henry Ward Beecher who had a wonderfully, elaborately crafted globe in his study.   A visitor who was an atheist came to visit Beecher, and he admired the globe, and said, “Who made this globe?”   Beecher said, “No one – it just happened.”    (Laughter) We don’t believe that.  We believe that this world exists because God made it.   Now I’m not necessarily making a comment on the age of the earth…I am talking about creation versus evolution.   I’m saying there is no bringing those two things together.  
     
    This passage says God created through the Son, without whom nothing that is was made.  Light comes from the life that is in the Son.   So John seems to be saying the origin of light is the life force that is pulsating in the very Word of God.   And darkness is not going to overcome or comprehend that light.   Look at verse 5: John says the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.   If you are looking at the New American Standard or NIV, the NAS has “comprehend it,” the NIV has “understood it.”   The word John uses can mean both.  Hamilton thinks John is employing a double-entendre here.  He means to communicate both.  We will see, as we continue through John’s gospel,  that Jesus (i.e. John 8:12) is going to say “I am the light of the world.”  And the Pharisees will say, “You are bearing false witness about yourself.”   That is their immediate response in John 8.   We see other instances of the same thing in John.  We are going to see in just a few verses that John says “there is only one way that people are going to comprehend the light – if they are born of God.”    We are also going to see that the darkness cannot overcome the light, even if the darkness and its forces kill Him.   He doesn’t stay dead.   The darkness can neither comprehend or overcome the light.  He rises.  
     
    Has this bomb of John 1: 1-5 gone off in your life?   It’s not only a destructive explosion, it is a life-giving one.   It will kill the old man.  If you understand and embrace the concepts that are communicated here, your old self will have to die, and like Paul, you will consider yourself crucified with Christ.    This bomb brings life.  So Hamilton urges believers and unbelievers to repent of your failure to praise and thank this God who is described here, who made you and gave you life, and is your light, and respond to this God with faith and praise. 
     
    As I said above, this is as far as I listened at this time. 

  19. 13. Compare this passage to Hebrews 1:1-4. What similarities do you see?
    1. God bends down to us-He makes the first move-Always. He spoke to us through the prophets and now through Jesus. He speaks to us through Creation, through Scripture (His Word-Jesus), He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit.
     
    2. He appointed Jesus heir of all things through Whom He made the universe. Jesus sustains everything through His powerful Word: John 1:1-3, Hebrews 1: 2-3
     
    3. Jesus is God: Hebrews 1:3 and John 1:1, John 1: 4a
     
    4. Jesus was with God in the beginning before creation: Hebrews 1:2, and John 1: 1-2
     
    5. Jesus is The Word: He sustains all things by his powerful word-Hebrews 1:3..He is the Word-John 1:1
     
    I see the Trinity too-and see how Genesis 1 fits in with these two passages as well.
     
    Bare-naked here but I feel a bit overwhelmed for how can I not just worship..His Glory is overwhelming in these passages! At the same time I am in a conundrum for Jesus-The powerful One who made the universe wants me and loves me, bent down to me, pursued me, drew me..and yet I can still respond to Him as the Israelites wanting to go back to Egypt..feeling Romans 7: 14-16! I don’t want to be this way and how this week is impacting me like what Twila said-which I will never forget-I want to be Home, memorizing His Word is being Home-being with Him..This isn’t a legalistic thing-but a ‘wanting to be with Him’ thing and that changes everything!  

  20. 17. What is your take-a-way and why? How is this impacting you so far?
     
    I know I am late responding here but I have been puzzling Dee’s question about the purpose of Advent for me. I don’t usually think in these terms. Life just IS. When I answered the question earlier, I said that this Advent is to remind me that Jesus is to be my focus. 
     
    On Friday night I determined to finish a book I read and never quite finished over a year ago, “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy” by Metaxas. I never finished it because I couldn’t bear to face the gory details of his death. I really only had a few pages left and when I did pick it up the other night what I hadn’t read was just a couple of sermons given at a memorial service for him after his death.
     
    The verse chosen for one of those sermons jumped off the page to me, together with the words that this verse characterized Bonhoeffer’s life. “Neither know we what to do, but our eyes are upon Thee.” (2 Chron. 20:12) The message gives a brief of B’s difficult decision not to flee Germany during the persecution and war (WWII) instead of living a life of relative ease in another country. “His place was by the side of his hard-pressed brethren and disciples in the ministry and with his own family which was increasingly drawn into the battle between Christ and Antichrist. ‘We know not what to do, but our eyes are upon Thee.’ The unrest of the quest ends in the discipleship of Christ, the theme of his last book, now carried into practice in his own life.” (p. 530-540) [Bonhoeffer’s last book must have been his “The Cost of Discipleship”.]
     
    I read this, pondered it, and went to sleep. The next morning I picked up “Our Daily Bread” for December and read, “In You do I trust; cause me to know the way in which I should walk”. (Psalm 143:8) The story was about paradogs (parachute dogs) who are trained to jump out of aircraft to assist the troops to sniff their way through minefields. “Dogs are instinctively afraid of doing this [parachute] – … Yet after weeks of training, the dogs learned to trust their masters enough to jump at their command.” The writer goes on “I wonder if any of us trust our Master enough to do challenging things we would never instinctively do or things that might make us fearful. .. Yet Jesus commands us to trust Him enough to do things that may be difficult but that will advance His kingdom.”
     
    Application to me: “We know not what to do, but our eyes are on You.” God has placed me in circumstances I would never have chosen. I have many times shrunk back and pleaded with me Lord, to “remove this cup”. Yet He has not. God, through hard testing, is teaching me to trust my Master, to obey Him unquestioningly. I have not arrived at the point of unquestioning, cheerful trust, but, praise God and let me give Him ALL the credit, I have made strides. Advent is a reminder that Jesus trusted his Father unquestioningly – leaving his glory to enter the darkness of this world to obey his Father’s will all the way to death to rescue us. Amazing grace.