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Dec 04, 2016 | Ryan Bleyenberg

John 1:1-5 ~ The Promise Fulfilled: Light and Life

          Every April, there is one day on which either Joshua or myself will make some excuse. One of us will find a reason to walk over to the other’s house. We need to borrow something that maybe hadn’t been a priority or need to use for several months. Or maybe it’s returning something or even just dropping in to say hi. Although this has never been vocally expressed by either of us, it still happens.  Excitement builds within us both to the point that we just have to chat face to face. The official purpose of the visit is fulfilled within 30 seconds. Then there’s a pause… So… Did you see the draft? The reason for the visit is revealed.You see, April is when the NFL Draft happens and our football teams acquire a new class of promising recruits. April is a time of hope and promise. We compare teams and both argue the obvious fact of why our team will win the super bowl. We make our predictions and promises. Empty chatter is what it really is. We’re always wrong.

          Sports are filled with hopes and curses and promises. I know there aren’t a whole lot of sports fans here this morning, and fewer football fans, and maybe just one or two baseball fans. But bear with me for just a moment. Even if baseball bores you to death, you’ve likely heard recent news that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series this year.  The Cubs were supposedly suffering under the curse of the Billy Goat for the last 71 years. There was a man who brought his pet billy goat with him to the World Series. The goat was obviously a disturbance to fellow fans, so the man was asked to leave. World Series tickets have never been easy to come by, so you can imagine that the man was none too happy about getting kicked out. As he was being removed he made a big commotion and shouted out the words “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more!” They lost that series and had been without a World Series victory since 1908.

          Now before the curse, in 1932, the Cubs played in  a World Series against a team and player who had his own connection to curses and promises. The Cubs played that series against the New York Yankees. Perhaps the most infamous player on that team was a man named George. George Herman Ruth, the Sultan of Swat, The Behemoth of Bust, the Big Bam, The Great Bambino, the legendary Babe Ruth. Perhaps his most legendary moment came in game 3 of that 1932 series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. It was the 5th inning and the game was tied 4 to 4. The trash talking and insults were at a maximum. Even though it was the middle of the game, the pressure was on. The Babe came to the plate. He has two strikes against him. He takes a moment to collect himself. He steps out of the batter’s box and does something so bold and brash and even foolish that it had never been done before. He calls his shot. He lifts his bat and points in the air to dead centre field. If you know anything about baseball, then you know that you never try to hit to centre field. Because of the diamond shape, that is where the field is longest, so you have the worst chance of hitting a home run and the greatest chance of getting an out. The pitch is delivered and something even more unbelievable than his prediction happens. The crowd goes silent as the bat cracks the ball to dead centre field. Home run. It’s said that the ball went over 500 field, and it was rumoured to be  the longest home run ever hit out of Wrigley field. His promise came true.

          If you’re ever going to call your shot, then baseball is probably the worst sport to do so. Every player’s statistics are calculated in averages and percentages. In baseball, if you hit the ball and get on base just one out 4 times, you're good enough to be a professional. If you hit 1 out of 3, then you’re amazing. Think about that. The odds are against you in baseball. That means that every player fails more often then he succeeds. It’s a difficult game. So it’s almost impossible to predict any hit, let alone a 500 ft shot to centre field, in a tense moment in the World Series, when you’re facing an elite pitcher. And thusly, Babe Ruth became a legend and was heralded as the greatest baseball player to ever live because he fulfilled his promise.

          Last week Pastor Joshua preached from Isaiah 8 and 9, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;” Jesus is the promise. And rather than calling the easy shot, God calls the hard shot. He didn’t just make one promise. Not just 2 or even 3. Some scholars calculate that scripture makes over 300 prophecies about the Messiah. And they weren’t the crafty predictions of an arrogant 7 year old, “ I predict that you’re going to blink your eyes.” God called the hard shots. “He will be born of a virgin. He would resurrect from the dead. The town he would be born in, the line of his descent, his hands and feet and side would be pierced but no bones would be broken.” The odds of any one man fulfilling just 8 of the major prophecies is so unlikely that his chances are 1 in 100 quintillion. Not a million. Not a billion. Not even trillion or quadrillion. 1 in 100 quintillion. So unlikely that it's the same as if the entire province of BC were covered in silver dollars 1 and a half feet deep, and a man was blindfolded and told to walk out bend down and pick up just one precise coin that had been marked.Talk about hopelessness. That’s like an empty promise. “Oh yeah, I’m totally going to take you to Europe, honey. It’s gonna be great.” And though the years go by, the man shows no action or effort of saving up or making plans or researching. But yet this promise becomes even louder and grand, building up greater hope to distract you from the fact that he hasn’t even begun to attempt to make good on his promise. This can seem like the great and impossible promise that God has made to us to save us and break down the separating wall of sin.

          [READ JOHN 1:1-2] When making a promise, it’s not believed until the spoken promise takes tangible form. Joshua pointed out last week that Jesus is God’s promise. Notice how the apostle John refers to Jesus here. He doesn’t even call him Jesus. He calls him the Word. “In the beginning was the Word.” Two things to notice about this phrase. Number 1, In the beginning was. The exact same words that introduce us to Genesis, the first book of the Bible and the beginning of God’s interaction with humanity. So even then, before anything was created, the Word was with God. And the tense of the word “was” is used in the imperfect tense. We talk about that fairly often. A verb in the perfect tense means that was a concise time in which the action was being performed. The imperfect tense means that it's not concise. The action did not end. It is continuous. So Jesus was not created by God the Father as some sort of easy painless solution to our sin problem. Jesus’s state of being continuously, or eternally was with the Father even before the beginning began. If the Son was with the Father eternally, then the Son was not created. We read in the next sentence that the Word was God. It doesn’t read that God was the Word, as if it was just another name. The Word was with God to distinguish two identities, and followed by the fact that the Word was God. This is the complex nature of the trinity.

          That brings us to the 2nd point of the first phrase; the use of “the Word” to identify Jesus. Say for example that I come home from work. I walk in the door. I put my things away. I walk upstairs. I walk over to Kyla and I just stand there without saying a word. She says hello, but I still say nothing. I don’t tell her I love her or how happy I am to see her, I just stand and stare. She asks me what’s wrong. I don’t tell her that I’m frustrated that she drove the van crookedly into our drive way and ran over our flower bed. I still just stand there with all of these thoughts, and emotions and corrections, but I say nothing. Regardless of how I feel, I communicate nothing to her until three things take place. First, I must will the words. I must form them in my mind and throat. Secondly, my breath must carry the words through the air over sound waves. And thirdly, they must must take audible form. She must hear them and see the truth of what I’m saying in my actions. These three things help us understand the triune God. God the Father is sovereign. He has the Sovereign will. He has the plan. God the Spirit is breath. He carries the Father’s words through the air. He delivers the Father’s message and will. God the Son, Jesus Christ, is the Word. He is the visible and tangible formation, revelation, and fulfillment of the Father’s will. He is the fulfillment that is carried and supported by the breath, God the Spirit, the Holy Spirit.

          Now let’s think about why John as talking about the triune God as he begins to tell us that Jesus was the light. Jesus is light. God promised light. Jesus is God’s promise. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s impossible promises and prophecies. We were separated from God by our sins. God gave laws and made covenants with man to overcome that separation, but it could not be overcome. We could not keep the law. As often as we may desire to have simple rules to avoid the uncertainty of faith, we could not just follow the rules; not a single person. So the Father sent the eternal uncreated Son to fulfill the Father’s promise. And listen to the words spoken by Jesus himself in Matthew 5:17-18, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Jesus was not an easy fix. He was not God’s form of white out to fix his mistakes. God is perfect and makes no mistakes. Jesus came to completely fulfill God’s Law and promises.

          I’m going to pull here from an example that I used in my sermon last Sunday night. I’m not being lazy or cutting corners, the analogy simply fits and is beneficial to help us understand how Jesus fulfills the law. For centuries, many countries used the gold standard in their currency. Currency units were tied to a fixed amount of gold. They held value according to their relation of worth in gold. The currency unit only held value because gold itself was of value. Gold has value for several reasons. It’s rare, has a degree of permanence, and is accessible. Let me explain. There are very rare fish and plants in the world, but the plants and animals die. You take a plant out of the ground or a fish out of the water and all you have is stinking dead flesh. Gold has permanence. Gold is rare, but not too rare. There are other minerals that a more rare than gold, but they are so far down in the earth’s crust that they are not accessible in any amount to be of any great use. Gold is rare and unique, permanent, and accessible.

          So what is God’s standard that His law might be fulfilled? Isaiah 6:3 says God is holy, holy, holy. Holy means set apart. Set apart from what? Everything. And He is holy, holy, holy. The word being used three times consecutively indicates a completeness. God is completely set apart. God is perfectly set apart. He is perfectly set apart in His love. Perfectly set apart in His mercy. Perfectly set apart in His faithfulness. Perfectly set apart in His justice. So God is the standard of holiness. He is what every person measures their holiness and sin against.  God gave man the Law as a means to be Holy, as a means to be set apart from the sin that set us apart from God. So the only way that the holy God’s law could be satisfied and fulfilled was with perfect holiness.

          Ok, so this is where we start putting pieces together. It was absolutely essential for John to inform us that Jesus, who was to be the fulfillment of God’s promise was with God and even was God. Being God, Jesus was perfectly holy as well. Verse 14 says “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. God was already holy. Sending Jesus to be holy on the earth would accomplish a whole heap of nothing unless he was fully man as well. Immanuel, God with us. Fully God. Fully divine. Fully holy. And fully man. Fully weak. Fully tempted. Fully prone to sin, but He did not. Jesus alone accomplished God’s requirements to be holy. Only God could meet God’s holy standard, so Jesus had to be fully God and fully man. That’s what John has just told us in these two short verses.

          Verse 3. “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” It does not say that Jesus made all things. All things were made through him. God the father is the creator, but Jesus is the tangible fulfillment of God’s will. We already touched on that, but this draws out that this truth pertains not only to salvation, but all things. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s will in all things. Jesus is the Word.

          Verses 4-5 [In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.] Life. I’m not going to spend much time here this week except to say it is only through Jesus’ fulfillment of the Father’s Law and promise that life spoken of here becomes more than fleshly existence. It is true life, spiritual life, eternal life, and it  is afforded to us only through Jesus. So if Jesus is the promise, than in him is the promise of life.

          What we’re doing now is walking. Joshua drew out the depravity of sin, darkness. We were surrounded by darkness. But there was a promise, hope. Light at the end of a long troublesome tunnel. As we come to God the Son, we step out of the dark tunnel and into the light. We step into the fulfilled promise of life. Hope revealed and fulfilled. Jesus is the light. He is power over darkness. He defeats it. Jesus was attacked again and again and again. He was tempted again and again and again. The father of lies himself came in an attempt to defeat him and thwart the promise from being fulfilled, but Jesus did not waiver. Depending on what translation you’re reading out of this morning, your Bible might say that the darkness did not comprehend the light. Comprehend is from the word apprehend, to capture. So literally, the darkness has not overcome the light, but Jesus overcomes the darkness. Sin is defeated in us when we walk in the light. The light is revelation of truth. The light is revelation to walk in righteousness.

          Growing up, I was quite the sports nerd. I followed football, baseball, nascar, and even a little bit of basketball. I could tell you every starting athlete on those teams and even a lot of the backups. I knew what team won championships and in what year. My older brother couldn’t have cared less about sports, so he mocked me. If I was talking with anyone about a football game or some amazing play or record that had been broken, then my brother would come up, pause, and say “Nah… You’ve got it all wrong! Babe Ruth is still the best.” I’m pretty sure the extent of my brother’s sports knowledge came from the movie Sandlot. Babe Ruth is a legend because he did what no other man had done. And like any legend, there is a fine line between truth and myth. Facts become not so factual and truth gets slowly washed away. But Jesus did what no other man could ever do. And He is no mere myth or legend, He is the Word.

          Turn with me to 2 Peter 1:16 and we’ll read through verse 21. [Read 2 Peter 1:16-20] The odds were against Him. 1 in 100 quintillion chances of fulfilling just 8 prophecies, but the proof is in the pudding, He fulfilled all of them. Peter saw it.  He is the revealed fulfillment of everything. Christmas is a joyful time of year. But some of us aren’t being realistic. It doesn’t matter how long we’ve lived, we have hope that this Christmas, our relationship will actually work. We will actually achieve all of our goals and feel good about ourselves. We will finally receive all the gifts that will bring us true satisfaction. It’s never happened before, but maybe just this once, for one day, things will go your way and you will be fulfilled. We live for ourselves, but that is living in darkness. The fulfillment you’re seeking has been afforded. It’s not a question of if it’s real, but will you actually receive that promise. Jesus is the promise fulfilled. Surrender to Him. Surrender to Him in every aspect of life and receive fulfillment. Receive the fulfillment of God’s promise.

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