The Word of God; personified in Christ Jesus, Amen.

In The Lord’s last supper The risen Christ imparts Himself in body and blood, given up for all, through His Word of promise with bread and wine; … we proclaim the death of Christ through which God has reconciled the world with Himself. We proclaim the presence of the risen Lord in our midst, Amen.

COVID huh? As many of our favorite activities and pass-times have been cancelled, we have been forced to find ways to entertain ourselves and occupy our time. Reading and Netflix to name a few, so I ask you, what makes a story good? Better question, what makes a good story great? Strong characters and a good storyline can go a long way, but to be truly great, a story needs a hook; a point where the plot thickens. Cinema has long since made use of the Reveal. When used well, along with a good storyline and strong characters, these elements create instant classics. This is the point where the audience is given new information which had been previously unknown, creating suspense. The reveal changes the nature of the plot, often pushing it from mystery to thriller. A character is revealed as another character’s father, a secret suitor or an arch-nemesis, maybe an alter ego is exposed.

Today we look at the biggest reveal in history. The identity of the second member of the Trinity. This passage of Scripture is literally at the center of our beliefs and has been the subject of every council and heresy since its writing. Our understanding of it is crucial.

You might ask, then, if it’s so crucial, why incorporate dramatic device? Why allow division around its understanding if particulars matter? Was God tricking us?

Well, if you think of it as a plot, God created mankind perfect. He calls us “good,” but in the rising suspense, we are deceived by the serpent. It is here the serpent, not God introduces new information, to Adam and Eve. The serpent acquaints them with the idea of self-interest, leading them to consider what would benefit themselves versus what God desired. Acting on this new information led to their ultimate rebellion against God in the Garden of Eden.

The arrival of Jesus isn’t the plot twist, rather, its un-twist. From the very beginning, God launches the rescue mission, and in the nativity narrative we’re told about the prophesied messiah, and that’s what John is doing here. Now John doesn’t give a family tree, those already exist, John is the most recent of the Gospels. His Gospel does something else. Matthew focuses on Jesus as the King of the Jews; Mark cast’s Jesus as the suffering servant; Luke focuses on Jesus as the savior; but John doesn’t concern himself with Jesus’ earthly heritage—that isn’t what his Gospel is about. All those things are true, but John focuses on Jesus’ heavenly heritage. His focus here is interpreting the life and works of Jesus as the acts of love from our creator—more than his fulfillment of the law and the completion of redemption, John illustrates how none of those things were possible, simply by any man. John’s overarching message was the revelation of the divinity of Jesus.

You see, the Jews are a very religious people, their culture and religious practice intertwined; their historical events are their religious events, their national holidays are religious observances, their laws are literally those of Deuteronomy; they know prophesy! The big ‘reveal,’ is that Jesus, this man; and the messiah are one and the same! Not just that—true they were waiting on a messiah, but they didn’t expect their messiah to be their God! Talk about a reveal! The point John is trying to communicate in his Gospel is that Jesus is God. And that this is not a re-writing, rather a retelling.

This is the ultimate plot twist—not a twist on God’s story, a return to that, but a glorious reveal of defeat for the one the devil tried to write for himself, his hijacked story. Resulting in a wonderful new ending of glorious reconciliation, redemption, and eternal blessing, Jesus came to right the wrong, exemplify holiness, and atone, with his death, the purity sacrifice none of us were able to pay. He came to earth with a divine mission in mind: to seek and save the lost and share the truth of God’s amazing grace and love so we might be set free from this broken, selfish world corrupted by sin.

Don’t let the message be diminished because we already understand what people in his time repeatedly misunderstood. Simply because we’re on this side of history doesn’t make it any less important!

“All Scripture is God-Breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and in training righteousness” [1 Tim 3:16]. But, somehow, this one more! The opening verses of the Gospel of John, are the most significant and theologically influential passages of Scripture, not simply amongst those within the New Testament, but in all the Bible. The implications of this passage laid the framework for all theology. Any concession or compromise here directly diminishes the power of the cross. Look with me at verse 1:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

When we think of the Word, if you’re like me, you think of your Bible. And you’re usually not wrong, but for today the difference could not be underscored enough. Let me pause there—not only do we have a profound gift of revelation here, but this verse also, through misinterpretation, has fathered more than its fair share of heresy. So, let me be clear, what you do not hear is me telling you that your Bible is not the word of God—because it is! But it’s not the Word, who is God. I don’t think any of us believe that our Bibles are worthy of worship. Definitely a focal point of the protestant tradition, certainly authoritative; but not the incarnate Word, the second person of the Trinity who is God.

The second person of the Trinity because in verse 2:

2 He was with God in the beginning.

Meaning he is differentiable from God the Father. Also, later on in verse 33, it says he will baptize with the Holy Spirit; the third person of the Trinity.

So, why ‘Word’ anyway? That’s very confusing. Well, John’s giving us his testimony, he’s telling us from his perspective—painting a picture of Jesus, as Chaplain Minietta said last week, in a manner that was very familiar to the Jews. This parallels the first three verses of the Torah and calling Jesus the ‘Word,’ communicates something about him. Something that by drawing parallel through both verse 3’s, Genesis and John, he tries to evoke understanding.

So, first Genesis verse 3:

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Now John verse 3:

3 Through him all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made.

Do you see what he did there? The Jews did. John is referring to Jesus as the ‘Word,’ through which all things were made. Genesis states that everything that exists only came into being after being spoken by God.

Communicating just how critical this point is, John doubles down on this in verse 14, leaving no room for misinterpretation, he says,

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

He made that connection, but only by simply referring to Jesus in such a way that resonated with the people he was speaking with. But John also calls Jesus the ‘Word’ because he is trying to link the words of Jesus and the truth of God in that the person of Jesus, through his coming, and through his works, and by his teaching, and death and resurrection was the message of God. John calls him God’s ‘Word,” because he calls himself the ‘Truth’ in John 14:6. And we can know he was the ‘Truth,’ because more than what he said or did, he accomplished what he said he would accomplish. He was the heir of David; he was the sacrifice promised to Abraham on Mount Moriah. His incarnation brought clarification to himself and his work. But his work, to this point, was unfinished.

In verse 4 we’re told:

4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

The reason this passage is so heavy is because the Jews were expecting a King, which he was; they were expecting a prophet and a savior, which he was also, but the identity of this person was anything but clear and they certainly weren’t expecting their God. In his testimony, John himself, writing in hindsight is trying to convey this to the best of his ability, in chapter 15[:7] he says “Abide in me;” in chapter 8[:31] “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,” and in chapter 10[:25] Jesus says his works bear witness about him.” Throughout his Gospel, John tells us that when we abide in Jesus we are abiding in THE word, THE truth; God.

Friends, we’re called—just as John was—to testify about this truth. We live in a disparaging time—but there is no better time for ministry! We live in an age where fake news and distortions and distractions and fear-mongering and instigation and provocation surround us. In Luke’s Gospel, it is here at the water where John rebukes the Pharisees, he says, “you brood of vipers, who warned you to repent?” We bear our King’s name, it was meant as an insult, but we reclaimed it, we are indeed, “little Christ’s,” and have a responsibility to him—who is himself truth. Ignorance is not an excuse. Pontius Pilot stood face to face with Jesus before executing him and asked, “what is truth?” Instead, he washed his hands, absolving himself of responsibility.

This wasn’t a twist either, in fact, it was spoken by a major prophet. They simply weren’t understood.

In the prologue to the movie “Now you see me 2,” Morgan Freeman’s character, the assumed antagonist delivers an ominous message. It’s perceived as a threat and supports the understanding the viewer has crafted in his or her mind. Listen to it:

When you emerge, and you will, I will be there, waiting. Because mark my words, you will get what’s coming to you. In ways you can’t expect, but very much deserve. Because one thing I believe in is an eye for an eye.

It’s prophetic, and you go the whole movie with this assumption, but—spoiler alert—there is a reveal.

When they’re repeated in the end, they take on quite a different meaning after he is revealed as their patron all along. But they were the same words!

In the same way, after revealing Jesus as God everything makes sense. Verse 5 tells us:

5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

How could a man, born into sin be a perfect, blameless, and worthy sacrifice? Because we all know the wages of Sin is death. If our sacrifice owed the debt of death himself, how does he atone for ours? If he was not fully God, he too owed this debt.

As I said before, we—all of us here or watching, understand that Jesus is God because we’ve had 2,000 years to let it settle in, we’re on this side of history. But how his identity as the embodied Word of God supports both what he claims and what he offers was certainly more paradigm-shifting to a people who worked as hard as they did to live faithfully under their covenant. In verse 17 John affirms this in saying, 17 “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

In Eden we had sanctity, but without the knowledge of good and evil, there was no virtue. After the law was given there was a way to be virtuous, but we were no longer sanctified.

The Gospel, the good news, the Word who is God, became flesh, and is now ever with God, having paid the price for sin. finally: we may be both virtuous and sanctified in him, verse 12:

12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

There is no disembodied way to behold the glory of the Word, to receive God’s life, or to experience God’s love. The opening verses of John show how it is that the Word who is God is also our source of grace.

So, friends, let us walk in the light, that is his example, the righteousness that is the second Adam, in obedience to our original purpose rather than our hijacked storyline; by going forth and baring fruit, 13 not of natural descent…but born of God.

Today we have an opportunity to commune together, to celebrate this Gospel—the good news—That God’s Word, who became flesh and made his dwelling among us was this man, Jesus, who died once and for all for our sins.

It is usually served from our alter, he is our sacrifice, but today it has been placed in the pews in front of us. Please, if you have not done so already, prepare your elements.

For those of you at home, know that what is referred to as the communion of saints alludes to how we are joined to you. We are joined to those who came before us and those yet to experience life who are known to God. We have not forgotten you, our hearts ache to be present with you and it is the prayer of all of us here and churches throughout the world that we will celebrate together soon. I invite you to join us in prayer.

On the night in which He was betrayed Jesus took the bread, and after giving thanks, broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying, “take and eat; this is My body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

In the same way, after supper Jesus took the cup, and gave it for all to drink, saying, “this is My blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for you for the forgiveness of sin. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

Let us pray,

Heavenly Father, our God together with The Son and Spirit, we lift You up in our words and our hearts. Would Your sacrifice purify us when we confess Your name. Bring comfort that wherever Your saints find themselves today, may they know that You are with them. May we remember that Your Love is not in us unless we love our neighbors as You Loved each of us. Would the work of Your people who are called by Your name, be the pursuit of justice and the righting of wrongs for which You gave Your life. For as it is written, by this all people would know that we are Your disciples. May this sacrifice which we remember today through partaking in the eating of this bread and drinking of this cup make us one in communion with You. For it is through the powerful name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Published by Fellowship of Praise: ALL praise to God our Reason, Hallelujah!!!

To God be The glory. Let us praise God together for His ALL in our lives, Amen.

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