05 Jun 2017
John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word Pastor Chee Keen 04 June 2017 "In the beginning was the Word. " John began with these famous words in his Gospel. Why did John begin like this? What led him to decide to begin from the very beginning of the universe? It is almost as if John had said, "I want you to consider Jesus in His teaching and deeds. But you will not understand the good news of Jesus in its fullest sense unless you view Him from this starting point in time. Each of the Gospels presents Christ with a distinctive emphasis. John is unique in his powerful presentation of Jesus as the great Creator-God of the universe. Come and consider who Jesus is to you through the opening words of John’ Gospel today!
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I understand that in the English service, Pastor Jason has started on the Gospel of Matthew and the Lord led me in the Chinese service to begin on the gospel of John. So, I'd like to share with you a simple message this morning from the Gospel of John. Actually, the very first message that I thought has been a blessing and encouragement to many hearts. And as I begin this message, I'd like to ask you a simple question, to think with me for a moment, so that we can get into the message of the day. Now, this is a question I have for you this morning: how would you introduce yourself? Imagine if you meet someone at church or at work, or you know, at dinner, at meals later, after the service, how would you introduce yourself? Now, this is a simple question but it actually requires a lot of thought, isn't it? Would you introduce yourself, for instance, by where you live, where you come from? Let's say you're from another country - that's based on geography. Would you introduce yourself by your occupation - what you do? I'm sure you'll be more than just a name, right? You need to explain a little bit about maybe what you do. Or some people, they would introduce themselves by who they know. "Oh, so-and-so brought me." It's my sister, my brother, my cousin, etc. But actually, if you really give it a bit of thought, it is kind of stressful sometimes, to think about how to introduce yourself, isn't it? So most of us will just go, "Hi.". That's enough, right? Well, we take the easy way out. "Hi", you know, and hopefully, you know, you don't want to ask too much and we could slowly perhaps get into a conversation where it gets a little easier to talk about yourself.
Matthew - The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ
Now, the authors of the Gospels in the New Testament don't have that easy way out. So, they had to think really hard. How are they going to introduce the person of Jesus Christ, whom they are writing about? And so when you open your Bible to the Gospel of Matthew, that many of you are familiar with by now, you would read that Matthew introduced Jesus and said, "These are the generations of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and he is the son of David. He is the son of Abraham." Why did he do that? Because Matthew wants to introduce Jesus as the promised King of the Jews. And up to this day, if you want to go on YouTube and search and listen to some of the testimonies of Jewish people who came to faith in Christ, you will realize that when they read the Gospel of Matthew, it speaks to their heart and they are amazed that Jesus is so Jewish. "Hey, I know Abraham!", "I know David!" and "He is a Jewish Messiah!" - and that is exactly what Matthew wants to do.
So when we come to the gospel of Mark, he wants to write to the Romans. So, he thought about the Romans and how they were people of action; they were people have activity. And so he didn't really go into all this lengthy introduction; he jumped straight into the action. And so one of the most common words in the Gospel of Mark is the word 'immediately'. So you see Jesus in action; he is the action figure. He's the action hero; he is always at it and doing something. And he is introduced to the Romans as the servant of God. Not much of a background, but all about what he does for God and for us. That's the Gospel of Mark.
Luke - The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ
Then when we come to the Gospel of Luke, you will notice that Luke actually goes a little into goes a little bit into the biography, the background. You read a bit about the pre-birth stage, the pregnancy stage, the visit of Elizabeth to Mary, etc. Why would he go into all these at length, in the background of Jesus? It is simply because Luke is writing to the Greeks. Greeks are concerned with humanity, with the perfect man. And that's exactly what Luke wants to do. He wants to introduce Jesus Christ to us as the perfect man. And so he went into great detail to explain how Jesus came to be born.
Now, most scholars believe that these three gospels were written before the Gospel of John. So, by the time John was written, it's about 30 to 40 years after the crucifixion and ascension of the Lord Jesus. By that time, the gospel has spread far and wide. Many have come to faith in the Savior. Nany churches are built. Many have believed in Jesus for decades. Many new ones are coming to faith and the elderly apostle, by that time, John, could have sat down, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and he will be thinking, "what does the church needs to know about Jesus? What do I need to introduce Jesus as in my gospel that would complete the picture that would help everybody know who Jesus really is on top of everything else they have known about him?" And so as he sat down and thought about long and hard in the Gospel of John. He came up with these words that are the words of the title of my message to you this morning.
John 1 - In the beginning was the Word
And this was found in the Gospel of John, chapter one, "In the beginning was the word.". Now, these are amazing and powerful words that introduce Jesus to us with a massive, eternal concept, and the reality of who Jesus is. You see, all the other gospels begin at a point in human history. But John went back beyond human history. He went back to the very beginning of time. Why did he do that? What does he wish to accomplish? How does this complete the church's understanding, the believers' understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Let's turn in our Bibles now to John, chapter one, if you have your Bibles with you. If you have it on your iPad, on your phone, on your smartphone, do turn there and take a look for yourself because these are powerful and wonderful words.
Let's see, together with me. "In the beginning", the Bible tells us in John, chapter one, verse one, "was the word". Now, when you read this word, for those of you who are familiar with the Bible, what does this remind you of? Where else do you find these words? Any guesses? First one to guess can go first for lunch. I'm just kidding. Alright, anyone? Anyone at all? Exactly! Well done. You see, John is intentional. He is not any how, just write, because he feels like it. He chose these words, “in the beginning”, because these coincide exactly with Genesis, chapter one, verse one. He is linking the person of Jesus Christ, the Word, with God. Now, when he wrote this, he used this word in English, which we read as past tense: "In the beginning was the Word". Now, if you're like me, when you first read the gospel of John and read ‘was’, immediately you scratch your head. You know why? Because usually, when you say, ‘John was’, you know what you're saying? He no longer is. What does it mean? He's dead, right? And so that's immediately the conclusion. You're thinking, ‘his past is gone’ but how could John write like this? Jesus is alive! How could he use ‘was’? But you say, ‘was’ is in the English. In the Greek, it is the past perfect tense. Now, what does it mean to be in the past perfect tense? And this is the beauty of God's word - I have to share with you. It simply means that Jesus was continuing to be God. You see, there never was a time, John is telling us, that the Word did not exist. In the beginning was the word; in eternity past till now, He continues to exist. Now, this cues was into exactly how he is now going to introduce Jesus. This cues us into something that is bigger than this world, bigger than what we know of human history. See, he wants us to understand who Jesus really is. And he chose a very interesting word. He chose the word ‘word’. Now, have you thought about that? Have you ever asked yourself when you read the gospel of John? You know, you always encourage new believers to read the gospel of John, read the gospel of John. And when they do, they read about ‘the Word’. Now, how many of you name your child when he's born, ‘Word’? It is like, what does that mean? It doesn't mean much, isn’t it? You give him a nice name but why? Why ‘Word’? What does it mean to the readers, to the listeners, when they first open the parchment of the gospel of John? What does it mean to those early church believers when they first heard these beautiful words? Well, when we go back, we're going to find something very rich and I want to bring you with me on this journey. So bear with me, alright? I promise that once you have worked through all these, you will begin to see, ‘Wow, this is beautiful’. It is beautiful because the Word of God is beautiful.
Now, the word in Greek is ‘logos’. Some of you may be familiar with that already. The word ‘logos’ in Greek can be used to explain a person's thoughts. Okay? That’s how the Greeks use it. It can be used to explain a person's speech. That's ‘logos’. It is also used by Greek philosophers to describe the rational principle that governs the universe. So philosophers use the word ‘logos’ to talk about something that is up there, out there, great and wonderful, but distinct from their material existence. Let me give you an example of a Greek philosopher by the name of Heraclitus, who lived 500 years before Jesus Christ. And this is what he said. He said, “He who hears not me but the logos will say: all is one”. Huh? What does that mean? Well, I don't know. And my point is not to tell you what that means. Maybe some of you are philosophy students and you know and you could figure that out. But I'm just showing you that this is not an uncommon word. This is a word that the Greeks often used to talk about speech, about thought, about a rational principle that governs the universe. And so when they heard, “hey, this is interesting, why is John describing this person named Jesus as the Word?”
Now, you know, in the ancient world, there is another group of believers. They're not Greek, they're Hebrew people. And the Hebrew people, when they hear the word ‘logos’, they think of their own Hebrew word ‘dabar’. Now, of course, I'm not making you linguists out of this. Alright, so don't worry, we're not going to spend the whole session talking about words here. But I just want to get you into the run of things here. Now, the Hebrew word ‘dabar’ represents the Word or is translated as ‘the Word of God’ in our English Bible. This is the same word that the Greek Old Testament uses to translate into ‘logos’. So that means dabar and logos are the same thing to the Hebrew believer. And so when the Hebrew believer hears the word ‘dbar’, they think of ‘logos’ (they think of it) and immediately there will be reverence in their hearts. Why? Because in their Old Testament, they would think of how God made the world with His Word - “By the word of the Lord, the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.” (Psalms 33:6). So there would be this response of reverence, of awe, because they know that this is what God used to create the world. There is something mysterious and powerful about logos, about dabar. Not only that, in Isaiah they read, we read, that “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8). So when they hear logos, when they hear dabar, in the Hebrew tongue, it refers to something eternal. So it is almost, almost close to referring to God, but not quite. Almost, but not quite. In fact, because they are not to use the name of the Lord in vain. In their 10 commandments, they will not dare to use ‘Yahweh’ or ‘Jehovah’ in their writings. And they often substitute logos or dabar to represent God. So it's very, very close, but not quite. This is exactly what the early believers will be thinking when they read or when they heard, “in the beginning was the word”.
Now, this is what they thought when they heard this phrase. But what did John really mean? What does he intend to communicate to the early believers and to us today? Now, whatever our ideas may be of the word, John is going to clarify. He's going to tell us exactly what he means and so let's follow him and allow him to give us the insights that he wants to communicate to us through the opening verse of his gospel. Let's look at the next verse. He says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God” (John 1:1). Now remember, I told you just now that the Greeks when they heard of logos, they think of a rational principle that governs the universe; the Hebrew would think of the word of God, almost close, but not quite God. But here, John is saying something quite different from what the Hebrew and the Greeks would have thought. You as Christians today may be thinking of the Word of God, the Bible. But John is saying, “Hey, I'm telling you about not a concept, not a truth, not an object. I'm telling you about a person.”. Because when he used the preposition ‘with’, in the Greek pros, it's always used with a person. Let me show you what I mean, alright? Now, in Mark, chapter six, verse three, this same preposition, ‘with’ or ‘pros’, appears, and it says, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters (people - not concepts, not objects, not items, not thought, not principle; people) here with us?” So you see when pros is used the Greek New Testament, it is used with a person. Now, are you connecting with me here? You have to, alright? Otherwise, lunch will be late. Okay, I'm just teasing you folks so that you can come along with me because this is going to unfold something really beautiful that blessed my own heart as I studied it. You see, John is not talking about concepts. He's not talking about an inanimate word. He's talking about a person and he is hinting, telling us that this is what you need to know about Jesus. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God” (John 1:1). He's talking about a separate person. You see in 2 Corinthians, chapter five, verse eight, the scripture says, “Yes, we have good courage, and would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord”, with God, with a person. Again, ‘with’ works with a person, not an object, not a concept. And let's look at another final verse, Philemon 13. If you're familiar with the Scripture, you know that in Philemon, he had a runaway slave; his name is Onesimus. And Onesimus converted to Christ and Paul is ready to send him back to Philemon and ask Philemon to forgive him because he has trusted the Lord and now he's a changed man. And this is what he wrote to Philemon about Onesimus. “I (Paul) would have been glad to keep him (Onesimus) with me” - again, you see the preposition ‘with’, ‘pros’ in the Greek and again, this is with a person. So who is John talking about here when he talks about the word? He's not talking about a concept, he's not talking about a rational principle, he's not talking about the Word of God. He's talking about a person, the second person of the Godhead. As we see His gospel unfold, the Word was with God. From eternity past, to eternity present, to eternity future, this is a person who co-existed with God. This is something that has never quite crossed the mind of the Jewish believer, something that was introduced to us through the gospel. Now John says, ‘Okay, let me clarify to all of you believers; let me clarify to those who are going to believe in the Gospel generations after, that we are not believing in an angel. We are not believing in a mere prophet. We are not believing in a king, a human King alone. We're not believing in simply a suffering servant. We understand His humanity, but you need now to understand His deity.” And so in his final phrase in John 1, he blew away all the previous reservations and blew the mind of the Hebrew believers because he said to them, “the Word was God”.
Now, sometimes we try to do a cop-out when we read the Bible - we say, “Okay, fine. ‘The Word was God’. There is only one God. And so we're saying that there may be other names for God. Right?” So we think, “Okay, so ‘Jehovah’ is the name for God. ‘Almighty’, ‘El Shaddai’.” And so we say this is just another name for God. But you see the second sentence that I took some time to show you doesn't allow for that. The second phrase, sentence, says that there is a distinct person who was with God and this Word was God. So what is he saying here? He's saying that in every way that God is God, the Word is God. And this is the one I'm talking about now. And this is a person that we need to get to know. And this is a person who is at the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, friends, you have read and heard about him as the King. Yes, you've heard about him as the servant. Yes, you've heard about him as the perfect man. But you know what? These pictures are true and good but it is not complete. You need now to remember, you need now to know that He is God. And then in verse 14, if you look at your Bibles and drop down a little, he is going to blow away the minds now of the Greek thinkers because remember, I told you that the Greek philosophers consider it to be a powerful rational principle, logos. But he is not, you know, in the material universe. He is not associated with the physical. But in verse 14, he says, “The Word became flesh”. This person who is God, He came into our world and He dwelt among us. And this person that John is talking about, ‘the word’, He is someone whom he loved, whom he saw, whom he heard, whom he knew, whom he followed.
Who do you believe in?
Friends, today, who are you believing in? It is not, “what are you believing in?”. Sometimes, we think of Christianity as a set of beliefs or as a system of theology. Sometimes you may think of Christianity as a set of rituals, you come on Sunday to a building in Punggol, you sing a few songs, you listen to the word and you go home feeling happier. But John is saying, “You know what? I want you to understand this, He is a person. He is God. I saw him, I felt him, I heard him, I followed him, I loved him.”. And he's saying, “Friends, this is the Jesus you need to know. He is real and He dwelt among us.”. You know, in three simple sentences, in John, chapter one, verse one. I know that, you know, sometimes we read our Bibles, we kind of go, “Okay, what does that mean? I don't know. Okay, let's move on.” Right? But in three simple sentences, to the discerning listeners and readers in Greek and in Hebrew, and to those who study the Scripture, John is saying something very powerful. He's trying to introduce you and I to a massive, eternal view of God that has changed countless lives that will continue to change the lives of those of us who embrace him and worship Him as who He is.
You know, in the story of Narnia, some of you may be familiar. It is written by CS Lewis. There is this scene in which the little girl, Lucy, one of those who constantly go back out of the real world into this magical world called Narnia. And in this storybook that CS Lewis wrote, the lion, Aslan, his name, represents Jesus. One day, when Lucy went back into Narnia, into this magical world that CS Lewis, the author created, she met Aslan and she thought, “wow, Aslan, you look really big today.” And so she said, “Aslan, you have grown bigger!”. Aslan looked at her and said, “No, I have not grown bigger. You have grown a little older.” Lucy was a little confused. She said, “What? Aslan, you mean you don't grow bigger? Aslan said, “No, I do not grow bigger. You have grown a little older.” And so she thought about it for a moment and she was still a little confused. And so Aslan explained to Lucy. He said, “You know, Lucy, every time you grow a little older, you will find that I have grown a little bigger.” Think about that. Friends, every time you grow a little older, spiritually speaking, you are going to find that Jesus is a little bigger. And so, friends, this is a truth I want you to bring home with you this morning. ‘The greater your understanding of who Jesus is, the more accurate your faith in Him will be.’ You see, most of the time when we come to faith in Jesus, we want to follow Him, we want to see him solve our problems, our issues and so on and so forth. We think of how strong our faith should be, how good we feel when we have faith. But have you thought about this? Your faith needs to be accurate! Your faith needs to be accurate! How could it be accurate? If you get to know that He is truly greater and greater and greater. That means we need to grow. We need to grow spiritually. We need to read the word. We need to understand who Jesus is. We need to take steps of faith. Now, I understand that this seems like, “Okay... I mean, who doesn't believe that God is great?”I believe God is great. You say God is great; I believe that. But the only thing we believe, “God is great” until it's put into a context. Right? When our faith is put into a context, then our faith is really challenged. It reveals how great we think God really is. Then our faith can get more accurate. What do I mean? Let me show you a picture taken about four years ago. Got it, right?
Now this is a picture taken; as you can see Pastor Jason there with his wife and myself, Pastor Kay Hong and our children. We were even having a picnic. Guess where we were taking this picture? Anyone? Any correct guesses? Oh, somebody is pointing. You’re right, you're right. Geniuses, all of you. Oh, you got it all right on the spot. Yes, we took the picture of the land this building is built on. This was in year 2013, October 8, as far as I remember. I remember that morning. The three of us, Pastor Jason, Pastor Kay Hong and myself, we went to HDB to ballot for the land. And we didn't really think we would get the land. We didn't think we will get the land because there was another church that has been balloting every round and getting second. So we thought this church, if they knew of this land, they would come in and throw in everything they've got to get this land because qi gek, you know? Buay tahan already, cannot take it. That is a Hokkien slang, I think. And so we thought if they walk in, it is over. So we went in at eight o'clock, the moment the doors were open. We sat down there and for some strange reason I can’t explain, Pastor Jason believed that he needed to sit there and stare at the ballot box. So we sat down there beside him and looked at the ballot box. That was the strategy. Okay? That was a strategy. You know, but we sat there for an hour and after an hour, we thought that it was really tiring. Shall we go and get some coffee? You know, there's a Ya Kun upstairs... Have some toast and we can come back and continue looking. But he was very serious, “No, I'm not going”. So Pastor Kay Hong and I, we couldn't dissuade him. So we decided that well, instead of all three of us staring at it, why don't you stare at it yourself and we'll go up first? So later I heard he shared in his messages that he felt so betrayed by the two of us. But anyway, that's what we did. We went up to Ya Kun - we had some coffee, we had some toast, we chit-chat about life, you know Pastor Kay Hong and I. After about one hour plus when we felt like we kind of rested and refreshed ourselves, we went down and we looked at him staring at the box. “Anyone came?” He said, “no”. Okay, so we sat down there chatted with him and waited and finally, two more churches came and then we got really excited because that church that was supposed to come didn't turn up. Shhh, we're not going to tell them! You know, so we waited and past 12 o'clock, close deal! We dropped in the check and everything is a done deal. We had a chance of getting this land! !e couldn't believe it. True enough, that day at 5pm, Pastor Jason called me up and said, “You know what? We got the land!” Yay! We got so excited so we all drove down and there, this picture was taken. See all the smiles on our faces. Look at how happy we were. But that's just a front. Alright, now I tell you an inside story. Between the phone call and this picture, I was thinking to myself, “wow we got the land”. Context of faith, remember? Do we have the money? How much did you write on the check again? 14 million? My goodness, even if I sold my house, all my shoes, also no use! What am I going to do? 14 million suddenly! Oh, my God is great but is He that great? And then later when we did the calculations, the whole project will cost 40 million! Oh, my goodness. How are we going to come up with the money? Do you not realize that it's so easy now that this building is built, the bills are paid, the loan is not drawn down, to say “of course God is great”. You know how we say that in Chinese? Ma hou pao. Know what is Ma hou pao? That means, after all the canons are fired and the enemy is defeated, you stand down there and say, “Yay”. Of course! Oh, you know the Chinese have another phrase - shi hou zhu ge liang. Do you know what that means? That means, before that you say, “Don’t know whether can or cannot” but after everything is over, “You see, I told you! Sure can one.”. Of course, everything is over and everyone is very wise, right? But think with me. Go back and rewind to 2013 when I was driving down to the land, I was thinking to myself, “My goodness. How are we going to make it? Do we have enough workers? Well, even if we had the people, are we going to have the right ministries? Do we have the right philosophy? Do we have the staff? How are we going to make it? Are we biting off more than we can chew? Did God make a mistake in giving us the land? Oh, what am I or are we going to do?” And so of course, when we come here, we still smile. But for the next three years, our faith was stretched. Right, church? We prayed. We heard our pastors, we saw our board of elders, you know, wisely planning and doing whatever they could to make it happen. But if you have journeyed with us, you will know that the church did not manipulate anyone, did not stress anyone out. We challenged, we prayed. We didn't throw charity dinners, you know, pay $200 for, you know, a meal with us and you can donate to the church. We didn't do anything like that. We just trusted God to provide and we thank God that three years later today, as we stand here, in the fourth year, we can say, “God, you are great”. Now I realize that what didn't seem possible, what didn't seem doable, You were able to accomplish! And so you see, our faith was stretched and now we believe in a God who could raise the money - over 40 million to build this building without drawing down a bank loan. That is the context of our faith. Isn't it true? I don't know about you but every time I walk into this building, I think to myself, “wow, He did it”. God did it. We didn't. We did our part but God, You did it. And so my understanding of who God is became a little greater.
Now it's easy to talk about how great God is in theory, you know. It's easy to talk about in words but it's very hard when you actually have to live it out. And so now that we are here, we saw God bring people into our church. He built this building and then He brought people in in Christmas. We saw so many people come in and we are happy. But here's the question: are we simply happy that we are filling the seats? Is this the aim and goal of our church? If you know the mission of our church, it is to lead generations into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. And that means that we need to see people on fire for the Lord. We need to see people living out transformed lives and bringing others along. Can this happen? You know something, this is another context for our faith. If you believe that God's gonna do it - yes, there will be stress, there will be some anxiety, there will be some struggles, your ministries may be lacking, people may not be as mature, but you know, you're gonna trust that God, You are going to do it. And every time you grow a little older spiritually, you will find that Jesus is a little bigger. “Wow, God, You can do this ministry!” I thought it is over; I thought I can't handle it but God, You did it. And then, you have grown. You see, I talk about all this because it's something we can connect with and identify.
What is the context for your faith today?
But now I'm going to turn it around on all of us this morning. What is the context for your faith today? Let's not talk about the building. Let's not talk about ministries. You may feel that it's a bit separate and foreign. Let's talk about you. What are you struggling with today? Perhaps for many of us, it is financial concerns. And you think, you know what? I feel like I'm a slave to my job. I can never earn enough and meet my ends and pay my bills. Perhaps God is just using that to help you see how great He is. Yes, you know Him as your Savior. You know that He is a suffering servant. You know that He is the King of kings. You know that He is the perfect man that you should emulate. But do you believe that He is God, that He is the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us, that He made the heavens and the earth, that He can deal with those economic woes? The context of your faith.
How about, maybe, it is your marriage? Difficult relationships? An unsaved spouse, perhaps? Someone who has not, you know, really bothered with the claims of Christ and you know, you are really going crazy. Just thinking about how you are going to bring the family together because my wife or my husband is not a believer. How are you going to deal with that? Are you going to play the Gospel on the radio every day? Are you going to stuff the track in his sandwich? Are you going to preach to him or play Pastor Jason's message in his car? Are you going to do all these things to try to manipulate him or are you going to trust God to work? Maybe it is your children, difficult years, an ailment or disease.
The Greater Your Understanding of Who Jesus Is, The More Accurate Your Faith In HIM Will Be.
I do not know what you may be struggling with right now but the very things that you may hate the most in your life, that caused you the most heartache, that makes you feel that life is impossible even though I'm a Christian. You know, I love Jesus and I believe He is the King of kings but I do not know why this is happening. Maybe that is the context of your faith! Maybe that is where you and I need to grow a little older spiritually so that we can see that Jesus is a little bigger. Why? Because there is a connection between the greatness of your understanding. I'm not talking about theoretical understanding, I'm talking about real understanding and the accuracy of your faith. You see, it's good to have feelings that God is near - wonderful. It's good to have great thoughts and understanding about the study of Scripture - beautiful. But we're talking here about a practical living experience of the Word. Who was ‘in the beginning’? Who was ‘with God’? Who was God, always, always existing? And this is the Savior that we are proclaiming in our gospel.
You see, when John wrote his gospel, he took this simple but powerful truth and he wove it throughout his gospel so that people can begin to understand how great Jesus is. And sometimes when we think of greatness, we think of him doing great miracles that would stun everyone. But no, what he did was he entered into different contexts of faith and there, showed the people who He is.
For example, we read of how Jesus went into a wedding at Canaan and then they ran out of wine. Now, if you run out of wine at your wedding, are you going to ask Jesus to come and give you more wine? No, I don't think so. You'll probably call the manager and say, “Please, I got money here.”. Right? But for the poor villagers at Canaan, they don't have the money. This is the context for their faith and it's so embarrassing. In fact, I read that in the Jewish culture, they could even sue the wedding couple for running out of wine. And that is how serious this business was. In other words, this thing that seemed to be so small to us today was a very big deal for the wedding couple. And Jesus entered into that context and showed them that he could turn water into wine. This seems like a no big deal but it was to them and to the disciples who saw him. And the scripture says, ‘there they beheld the glory of Jesus’.
And we read later of another incident whereby an elderly man, who had no problems financially but he had problems intellectually and he had problems spiritually. He had been a ruler, a teacher all his years but he couldn't quite figure out and be sure how he could enter the kingdom of heaven. So he came to Jesus in the night. His name was Nicodemus and he said, “Rabbi”, talking to Jesus, “I know that you are a teacher who came from God”. And Jesus there met his needs and told him, “except you be born again, you will not see the kingdom of heaven”. Right there and then, Jesus dealt with his need, revealed His grace and His glory. Why? Because He is God. He wants to bring Nicodemus to an accurate understanding of who He is so that his view of the Word will expand to an extent that it could embrace him and usher him into eternal life.
And then we read of Jesus going into Samaria. I'm sure you are familiar now that I'm talking about John, chapter four. And there, he meets another person and in this woman's world, she was in a relational, in a moral desert. She had five husbands. She's not dealing with wine and beverage. She is not dealing with great theological truths. She's just not making it in her relationships. She's dried out. She's frustrated with her life. In fact, the man that she's living with right now is not her husband because she has given up in her marriage. She's getting ready to run. I do not know what is going on in her mind but she is really failing relationally and morally. And right there is a context of faith. And there, Jesus told her, “If you know who it is who asked you for water, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water”. You see, right there and then Jesus opened her mind to see that what she really needs is Jesus because Jesus alone is great enough and good enough to meet all her needs.
You see, Jesus constantly enters into different contexts of faith for our life to meet us right there and to show us how great He is. And that's how we need to grow. The Christian life needs to grow to the extent whereby our vision and our view of God is greater and greater and greater. And there are so many things that He could do that the next time you meet with a problem, you know that you don't have the answer but you know, my God does and I trust him with it. And that's why Jesus showed us some incredible miracles whereby he healed a man who was lame or paralyzed for 38 years, he healed a man who was born blind. And right before he entered into his Passion Week, the Bible tells us in John that he even called a man named Lazarus, out of the grave, out of death’s crutches, to expand everyone's understanding of how great He is.
Now, is your faith accurate? Or does your face stop short when Sunday ends? Does your faith evaporate when the Monday morning alarm bell rings? Does your faith simply become nothing when you go to work? You see, I don't know what the context of faith is for you but God does and He wants you to see that He is a great God. And just in case we didn't quite get it, you know, John, in verse two goes on to say, “He was in the beginning with God”. I know i threw in the word over there, “in the beginning was the word” and you may get a little lost but I want you to know that this word is a person and he was in the beginning with God. Have no doubt about this - He is God. I'm talking about God here, the second person of the Godhead. And to reinforce this further, he goes on in verse three to talk about how all things were made through him. Now when we come to this description, it is a clear description of the Creatorship of God. No one else in the Bible will be assigned the powers of creation except God. Now I understand in other myths and legends, there will be different deities who could do different wonderful, incredible things. Yes, in other myths and legends. But in the Bible, the only person who will be assigned creatorship is God. And in line with this, the New Testament tells us that “by him (Jesus) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through him and for him (that's Jesus Christ) (Colossians 1:16). That's the Word we're talking about and this is exactly what John meant. He said, ‘You know what? I understand your love Jesus. You follow Him, you understand all these wonderful truths of His sacrifice on the cross. It's all true and good but don't forget, he is God. Don't forget that He made you. Don't forget that He holds the universe in His hands. This is the God whom we are worshiping!’. In Hebrews, chapter one, verse two, “but in these last days, he has spoken to us by His Son (that's Jesus Christ, that's the Word), whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world”. Once again, the New Testament altar in Hebrew points to Jesus as the creator and that is the One whom we are worshiping.
One more verse: 1 Corinthians, chapter eight, verse six, “yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist”. The altar, Paul tells us here, that our very existence came into being through no other person than the person of Jesus Christ because he is God. Now, the whole idea of creatorship needs to be put in perspective sometimes so that we can see how grand and glorious this is. So allow me to use the example of the stars. Now, we are told or at least I am told as I read and studied this, that there are 100 billion stars for a galaxy. Okay, so now we're going to do a bit of Math. And there are about 100 million galaxies. Albert Einstein tells us that with our largest and most powerful telescope, we have scanned at most 1 billion of theoretical space. What does all this mean? It means that, they are about (scientists estimate) 10 octillion stars in our universe. So you may be asking, so what is 10 octillion? Now I need to refer to my notes because this gets really complicated but I'm sure you can handle it. Alright, so follow me - don't fall asleep on me. One thousand thousands equal a million. Are you with me? Okay. One thousand million equals a billion. Alright? One thousand billion equals a trillion. One thousand trillion equals a quadrillion. Are you lost already? Are you drifting? Okay, one thousand quadrillion equals quintillion. One thousand quintillion equals a sextillion. One thousand sextillion equals a septillion. One thousand septillion equals an octillion. When I got to this point, I googled and found out for myself, ‘What is an octillion in Chinese?’ Because I was preaching to the Chinese conjugation, right? And guess what? They don't have a word for octillion in Chinese. So they told me that an octillion is ten to the power of 27. So this is the number of starts scientists tells us - 10 octillion. Okay? Ten to the power of 27 in the universe and God made every one of them. Could you imagine what John is telling us when he said, “in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God”? Don't talk about Jesus merely as a nice guy. Don't talk about our Lord, our Savior, as if he was some poor weakling who lost out and thus, he was crucified because he couldn't, you know, he was deceived and betrayed and he couldn't fight for himself. He could have done anything he wanted and yet he chose to die on the cross for our sins. And he's the one who breathed this universe into existence and made all these stars. And look at what John says next. He says in John, chapter one, verse three that “without him was not any thing made that was made”. In other words, even the invisible micro universe of the atom was made by him. Everything you could see, everything you can’t see, all the laws that you have in the physical universe, everything in this world is made by Jesus. Now, this is a very massive part because John is going massive. But let me put it again in perspective with a little story so that we can understand what John is talking about. Over 100 years ago, there was a man by the name of Henry Ford, who made cars. And those of us who are familiar with the history of the car industry, this is the first Ford Model and he had a friend who is an engineering mechanical genius. His name is Charles Steinmetz. Charles Steinmetz is said to be able to imagine in his mind the exact engine he is going to build and then build it to precision and it runs flawlessly. And so he helped Henry Ford build his assembly line as well. One day as Henry Ford was building his car through the assembly line, something broke down and all his workers and engineers came together to try to fix it and they couldn't. So, in desperation, in frustration, Henry Ford called his friend and asked him to come down and take a look at it. So when Charles Steinmetz, his friend, arrived, he tinkered a little here and tinkered a little there and finally, flipped a switch and everything was running flawlessly. So everything went back to order. And a few days later, Charles Steinmetz wrote a bill to his friend Henry Ford and it cost him $10,000. Henry Ford was a little taken aback because he thought, you know he just tinkered here, tinkered there, flipped a switch and $10,000 is a little too much. So he wrote back to Charles Steinmetz and said, ‘Hey, Charles, don't you think $10,000 is a little too much for a bit of tinkering?’ So Charles Steinmetz read that note and wrote back to Henry Ford and said, “$10 for tinkering. $9,990 for knowing where to tinker.” You know, friends, when we say that “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God”, we are talking about a person who knows exactly where to tinker. And that's why we must trust Him, we must follow Him, we must expand our understanding of who He is in our lives because He knows where to tinker. You and I don't! We can come up with theories. We can come up with prescriptions. We can go, many Chinese say yuan wang lu, that means unnecessary paths. But when we follow our Lord, when we understand that He is God and we trust Him, we would find that He knows exactly the path we have to take. So I challenge and encourage you this morning, as we enter into the middle of the year, come back to a refreshed understanding of who God is. Perhaps in the business of your life, in the stress and anxiety of all that you're struggling with, you forgot a little about how great God is and how great our Lord Jesus is. Come back to that massive understanding because the greater your understanding of who Jesus is, the more accurate your faith in him will be. You and I need to continue growing a little older spiritually, so that our vision and understanding of God is a little greater. And I pray that our faith will grow from strength to strength accurately.
Let us pray. Our Heavenly Father, we thank you so much for Your work this morning. We thank You for Your truth because it's so easy, we realize, to get lost in the daily grind of our lives, as we struggle with our routine, with our children, with our friends, with our work, and to forget who it is that we worship, to forget that He is God, the Creator God. And we ask that You help us this morning to be still and to know that You are God, to give you the honor, the reverence due to Your name, to remember that our suffering servant who was a perfect man, who is now the reigning King, is the Creator God of the universe, and that we can place our trust in You completely. Show us the context of our faith this morning. Show us where we need to step out and trust You with our lives so that our faith will not just be a mere matter of words and concepts but will come into our lives with power, with grace and glory.
Hey, thanks for watching. We hope it has been a blessing. For more of such content, do check out our website and our YouTube channel and do subscribe for weekly updates. May God bless you.
More Episodes from Pastor Chee Keen Seethor:
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