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The Word Has Come

Sermon passage: (John 1:1-5) Spoken on: November 26, 2017
More sermons from this speaker 更多该讲员的讲道: Rev Enoch Keong
For more of this sermon series 更多关于此讲道系列: John

Tags: John 约翰福音

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About Rev Enoch Keong: Rev. Keong is currently serving as a pastor in the youth and young adult ministries, as well as the John zone pastor in Jubilee Church.

Title: The Word Has Come
Date: 26 November & 03 December 2017
Preacher: Rev Enoch Keong

It looks like the bilingual service is in a bit of a rush this year. Advent actually only begins next Sunday, but we’ve already started turning to the gospel this morning. I should correct myself; we are not in a rush for anything, we are ahead of time this year only because of some adjustments that is needed in our scheduling. Still, any Sunday can only be a good time to reflect on the gospel, am I right?

Jubilee Church, as we know, reads portions of the four gospels in turn each year from the season of Advent till Easter. We did Luke for the previous Advent season, so we move on this year to the Gospel of John.

Let’s get to the gospel without further ado.

The opening verses of John’s gospel announce a breakthrough, declaring that the Word of God that created everything had entered into human history and had given unto mankind life and light. That’s great news. And that’s also why these words are dear to Christians. They tell us about the origin of us mankind and that our God has come to give unto mankind his grace and goodness. And Christians are under this good grace.

These words that are dear to our hearts can however be a challenge when we try to understand them in detail. For example, the word was with God and was – at the same time – God. How are we to sort out the logic behind? Another example, John refers to Jesus as the Word or Logos according to the original language. What does he mean by referring to Jesus as The Word? What would the initial readers have understood him to be saying? These and other questions fill the pages of bible commentaries, and they may be our questions as well. But for this morning, allow me to skip over them and not throw at us the long list of Greek and Hebrew background studies. We wanna concentrate on something else.

Why did John begin his gospel by telling us the things that he said in the first five verses? In other words, does the things said in these opening verses clue us on what the entire gospel is about? I believe we can deduce something through unpacking verse 5, which says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

John begins his gospel with “In the beginning was the Word”, went on to talk about creation in verse 3, and then brings in immediately the concept of darkness in verse 5. Doesn’t this sound very much like another familiar passage? “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep…And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light (Gen 1.1-2a, 3).” When we read together these 2 passages, both on the subject on creation, with similar words and phrasings; the similarities might make it look at first that John is referring to physical darkness, as in how the surrounding looked like at the very beginning.

But there is actually more to it when we consider John’s usage of the word darkness. In 3:19, John says, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” And in 8:12, John says that “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." One more verse, John 12:35, “So Jesus said to them, "The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.”

We see from these few verses that when John employs the word darkness, he does not simply refer to a physical or an environmental condition. Although John does not mean by ‘darkness’ an opposing force to the light, with the same strength and intensity, he does use the word to mean something more. In the gospel ‘darkness’ refers to positive evil, and the light is here to wage war against it.

Through this very brief survey, we see that John has laid out a major theme of the gospel with 5 verses. He is conveying to readers that amongst other things, the gospel will be about the conflict between truth and light verses darkness and lies. We read of such conflicts in the account of the woman who was caught committing adultery. The Pharisees and the Scribes wanted to stone her, but Jesus made them spare her life by pointing out their own hardheartedness and evilness. We read more about such hardheartedness and positive evil in the passages that talk about the religious leaders’ readiness to kill someone. The priests wanted to kill Jesus (11:45-57), because he raised Lazarus. And they also wanted to kill Lazarus (12:9-11), because he being alive and kicking will make people believe in Jesus. Against all such positive evil, John says, he who was from the beginning is here to contend with it.

John message on the light contending with darkness remains timely. More than 300 lives have just been lost in Egypt Sinai to acts of violence; a clear example that positive evil is still at work. News on the plea for clemency by Anthony Ler’s accomplice sends a similar reminder, in that positive evil is at work. And not to mention all the new ways of committing crimes and causing hurts with new and updated technologies. In big and small ways, people are still hurting themselves and others by toying and practicing positive evil.

What about us? We had a time of confession a few moments ago, may I ask what were the acts associated with darkness that we’ve just laid down before Jesus’ feet?

We can’t help but to admit that we are imperfect beings in an imperfect world. But into this imperfect world, John insists that a breakthrough has already taken place. And by using the first 3 words of Genesis as the gospel’s opening phrase, John is also saying that the coming of the Word into human history grants to it a fresh beginning. In this fresh beginning the one who has come will give birth to a new human race. A race that will be transformed – by and by – to able to live out that kind of life that we see in the one who died on the cross, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and will return one day to finish his project of eradicating darkness. Until then, we are told that the Word has come, and is at work in our midst.

Since John refers us to Genesis – the Old Testament – when he introduces The Word, let’s check out the Old Testament to see what it says about what The Word does, the functions that it performs. I stand to be corrected, but it might just be John’s idea to have readers to do this very thing when he calls Jesus The Word, so that we will have a better appreciation of the one who has come.

The Old Testament delineates 3 main aspects of the works of the word. First, creation, “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. (Ps 33:6)” These words by the Psalmist affirm the vastness of creation. What he has written describes the present world or the world created according to Genesis. Friends, what about our own world, the world with a fresh beginning? Do we see in it the vastness of God’s work? In our school-work-home-church- shopping malls, cyclical city lifestyle, are we expectant believers? Are we praying and waiting for The Word to do great works in us and in our surroundings? John says, he is here to create something new.

The second thing the Old Testament says that the word does is revelation. “The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken; who can but prophesy? (Amos 3:8)" The prophet Amos insists that the Word of God compels and transforms people. One clear cut example we have in the New Testament on this would be the Apostle Paul on the road of Damascus. In the story where Jesus revealed himself to Paul, we find mercy, good will from the Word and the enabling of a man who was once so blinded to the truth. The same Word of God is our Good Lord.

So, creation, revelation, and here’s the third aspect, deliverance. Again the words of the Psalmist, “He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.” For this one, allow me to share with us some personal encounters that I had with people this very week.

As I am preparing for this morning’s sharing, I had to deal with situations that caused unhappiness in 3 families. All 3 families have at least one Christian, and it is with the Christians that I needed to exercise persuasions. To be sure, none of these families are from Jubilee and none of the situations involves PSLE results released 2 days ago. The 3 cases were either a break in of some sort, a potential break up or pertaining to the breaking down of relationship. And I think to myself, here I am reflecting on a passage that declares a breakthrough; a breakthrough that only God himself could bring about. But what difference would such a breakthrough make for these guys in their situations?

The break in involves a young person who stole the details of a family member’s credit card and used it to make purchases without permissions. The break up is about a Christian brother who is planning to divorce his non-believing wife, and if the divorce would cause him to lose the custody of his child, so be it. The reason he gave was that the wife is neglecting her responsibilities as a spouse and as a mother; not at all a strong reason to followers of Jesus. The breaking down of relationship involves a Christian employer that seeks to make life difficult for the domestic helper. The helper is angry and hurt, and the mounting friction between the two has in turn generated worries concerning safety and stability in the rest in the household.

If I can be so blunt, I was involved in trying to convince a young Christian thief and 2 hardhearted mature Christian adults to choose doing things the Christian way. Of the three, the case on the potential break up was the toughest to handle. We spoke to this brother as a group, all Christians; including a policeman who was able to give a very clear picture of the ramifications should he commence the divorce proceedings. After talking for 2 hours, having made clear the kind of stress and pain that he and the child will have to go through, and having promised him the various forms of help that we will give, should he chose to maintain the relationship, this brother was still finding ways to make us support his intention to divorce the wife. We were at our wits end, we did not manage to solve any problem, and so we choose to close the discussion with an extended time of prayer since we are all Christians. The situation before us was darkness in the form of hardheartedness, and so we went on to do what the book of John tells us to, we call upon the light that shines into darkness. We pray that he will deliver them from going down the road of destruction and work a fresh beginning for this family. In other words, we exercised faith.

The other 2 situations were much easier to handle, as both were willing to make amends after some explanations done. But having to witness criminality in a P6 child does cause quite a bit of worries. But here’s where the believers around this child choose to believe in what this morning’s text proclaims. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The child’s family, including myself, chooses to hope in the light that shines in this young person’s heart, trusting that he will in his time deliver her from going down the road of self-destruction. Also, that he shall keep revealing to her the heart and will of God and replace in time much of the darkness in this child with holiness. In other words, we exercised faith, faith in the Word that has come.

And to encourage trusting and to have faith in Jesus is the very reason for John to write the gospel (20:31).

Friends, as we step into a new year in the Christian calendar, let’s continue to put faith in the one who creates, reveals the will of God, and delivers us from darkness and from troubles. Let our testimonies in the coming year be one that is full of life and light.