James Meehan - Full of Grace and Truth
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All right, very important question for you, do you have that friend or that person in your life that no matter what you do, they find something about you to rag on? That for me is my friend Brandon. He last week was dogging on the fact that my style could best be defined as basic because I wear the same basic outfits over and over and over again, and because I was feeling a little bit insecure, and because he is a friend, I asked him, hey man, whenever we do this next switch message, can I wear that sweatshirt, and it happens to be this sweatshirt, so shout-out to Brandon for making me feel really insecure and then putting me in this really cool-looking sweatshirt. I kid you not, in the last 15 minutes, when I put this sweatshirt on, I have gotten more compliments on my outfit than anything I've ever worn ever. You need to find a friend like Brandon.
Now with that being said, we're about to jump into week five of our series, Who is God, where together, we have been exploring some of the big questions about life, about God, who is he, what does he like, what does that mean for us? This week, the big idea, make sure you are taking notes because everything we talk about today is gonna point back to this, the big idea is that God is the Son, and he came full of grace and truth. God is the Son and he came full of grace and truth. Now, what we're gonna do is read through a pretty large portion of scripture found at the very beginning of John's gospel, chapter one, versus one through 18, and I'm just gonna read this straight through.
And while I read it, the challenge for you is to stay locked in and engaged, because for those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus, every time we have the scriptures opened up, every time we are exposed to the truth of his word, we are being invited to grow closer to Jesus and become more like Jesus. And so, when you feel tempted to check your phone, or get distracted, or do whatever, lean back in, refocus and allow the truth of God's word to speak to you right where you are, so, starting in John, chapter one, verse one. Here's what he says, he says, 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 all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light, he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world and through the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, children born not of natural dissent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, this is the one I spoke about when I said, he who comes after me has surpassed me, because he was before me. Out of his fullness, we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. So what we just read was the introduction to John's gospel, where John is setting the stage for everything that's going to come next, the story of Jesus and everything that he did.
Now, it's one of those things where, I don't know, if you're anything like me, but it can be really easy to read a passage of scripture and just kind of blaze through it, and unfortunately, when we do that, we sometimes miss the significance and the power that God wants to reveal to us, and so now what we're gonna do is that we're gonna go back through that same passage of scripture, those same 18 verses, but this time, we're gonna move slowly to draw out some of the weight, the power and the meaning that is contained within these words so that we can be open to receiving what it is that God has for us, and remember, all of this is going to point back to the big idea, that God is the Son, and he came full of grace and truth.
So in verse one, John says, in the beginning. Now with those three words, what John is doing is making sure we are all on the same page, that this is not some fairytale that starts with once upon a time in a magical land, this isn't some sci-fi epic that begins a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, no, this is the true story of reality, that the story that we are being invited into started in the beginning, and that's actually the exact way that the Bible begins back in Genesis, in the beginning, but the difference between the Genesis version of this and John's version of this is, what comes next, because John follows that by saying, in the beginning was the Word.
Now, what does that mean, the Word? Well, John's Jewish readers would see that and they would think the divine wisdom of God, the creative power that God used to speak all of the universe into existence, and then John's Greek readers would see that and think of the word lagos, that's what that word is translated from, and they would be thinking about this divine reason that governs all of creation. But what John's doing here is, he's talking about not some impersonal force, not some divine aspect that is happening behind the scenes, but a very real person, the person of Jesus. And so John continues, he says, in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. From the beginning, Jesus has been at work in the story that God has been writing.
Not only that, but Jesus has been with God from the beginning, and even further, John goes on to say that Jesus is God, because what we've talked about over the last couple of weeks is this idea that God is a Trinity. That means that God is three and he is also one. He is three persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, but those three persons are one singular being. Within what we call God are these three persons that live together in perfect harmony, the Father, Son, and Spirit. And then John goes on to tell us in verse two that this Word Jesus was with God in the beginning, and through him, all things were made. Without him, nothing was made that has been made. From the beginning, Jesus has been at work as God of the universe creating everything that we see and even the things that we don't see.
And then verse four, we're told that in him was life and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. This is why the gospel is good news because in Jesus there is life and there is light that no darkness or death can ever overcome. If you've ever found yourself wishing that you could just start over in life, that maybe things are currently going in a direction that you wish they weren't, that there could be something that happens to change the course to set you on a new path, a better path, maybe because of the choices you've made, or choices that were unfortunately made for you. The beautiful thing that John is telling us is that with Jesus, a new beginning has arrived, that this new beginning that Jesus brings to all of the world is one that is defined by light and life, not death or darkness, because when Jesus speaks, when he shows up, there is light and there is life that comes pouring out of him, and it's something that we've been invited into.
And then in verse six, John does something that I think is really, really important. He talks about this man sent from God whose name was John. Now, the John that John is talking about is not himself, he's talking about John, the baptist. The John who wrote this gospel is John, one of Jesus's disciples. He was John, the gospel writer, but he's talking about this John, the baptist, who in verse seven we are told came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. What John, the baptist, came to do was to prepare the world for the arrival of Jesus. John's life was supposed to be a sign pointing to the one who is to come, the true light of the world that was getting ready to enter this story.
And then in verse eight, John tells us that John, the baptist, was not the light, he came only as a witness to the light. What John's doing is he's setting up this distinction between John, the baptist, who is an ordinary human being, and Jesus, who is God in human form. But the thing that's important for us to not overlook is the fact that John, the baptist, an ordinary human being, a person like you and like me, is included in the story that God is writing, that literally, he goes from talking about Jesus, who is God in human form, who has been with God working in creation from the very beginning, and then he starts talking about this man, John, the baptist, who allowed himself to be used by God.
This is the beauty of the story that God is writing. It's a story that all of us have been invited into. There is a part for us to play if we are simply willing to say yes to Jesus and step into opportunities and the things that he has set before us. We might be ordinary people, but God wants to invite us into the story of redemption that he's writing. John picks up in verse nine, and he says that the true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world didn't recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
Have you ever wished that somebody would just notice the talents or the passions or even the effort that you put into things, that somebody would just recognize that you're doing the best you can to do what God's asked you to do, to stay faithful to Jesus, to make it through this crazy complicated thing that we call life? Have you ever wished that there was a group of people who would receive you just as you are, that you wouldn't have to put on a show or pretend you're somebody you're not, that you could just be real and you could just be honest? If you've ever felt that, I need you to know that Jesus understands, because Jesus, the Son of God, God in human form, who is the author of creation, when he showed up in history, there were so many people who didn't even recognize him, and there were more people who didn't even receive him.
Not only that, but there were people who straight up rejected him. And so if you've ever felt rejected, unrecognized, or wished that there was a place you could belong, or a group of people that could make you feel like you're at home, Jesus sees that, he understands it, and that's what's so powerful about what he came to do. He came to invite us into God's family, to be adopted as his sons and daughters. In verse 12, John tells us that yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, children born not of natural dissent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
This is the good news of the gospel, that no matter what we've done, no matter where we've been, the choices we've made, when we receive Jesus, when we believe in his name, committing our lives to him, we are welcomed into God's family as sons and daughters because God is our Father, and he will never stop loving his kids. He will go so far as to become a human being named Jesus, to live on this earth, to allow himself to be killed on a cross so that we could be forgiven of our sins and made right with him. That is how far God is willing to go to bring you and me back to him, and that is really good news.
Then in verse 14, John tells us that the Word, Jesus, became flesh. He put on skin and bones and he made his dwelling among us. He lived among us as human beings, and we have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Who is God? God is the Son, and he came full of grace and truth. Now, what I wanna do is take a second to just define those words, grace and truth, because they're words that sometimes can get thrown around so much that we sort of forget the true meaning behind them, so what is grace? Grace is the unearned favor of God. It is this gift God offers to us, that we cannot earn by working harder, we don't deserve by simply being good, it is a gift that is purely based on God's generosity and kindness towards us.
A way to illustrate it that absolutely falls short of how good and gracious God is, is to think about this, imagine you are walking down the hall of your school, and all of a sudden, somebody who you've never met before comes up to you and says, hey, I've got a brand new PlayStation 5, and I want to give it to you. And you asked them the question, why me? And they said, well, I just had this PlayStation 5, and I wanted to give it to somebody and I saw you there, so I figured I would give it to you. You didn't earn it, you didn't deserve it, it wasn't something that you did anything to win or anything like that, it was simply this individual having something that they wanted to give as a gift to somebody else, and you saying, yeah, I will take that PlayStation 5, right.
That's not the best analogy, but here's what we cannot miss, is that grace is a gift. It is not something we earn, it is something that God offers, not because of what we've done, but because of who he is, because to the core, God is loving and he cares for us. That's what grace is, the unearned favor of God. But what about truth? For something to be true, it must be consistent with reality. For something to be true, it must be consistent with reality. It has to be really real. The way that I like to break this down is with a simple math problem. If you have two fingers here and two fingers here and you add them together, all of a sudden now, I have four fingers, so I had two, I added two, and now I have four.
That is how we know that two plus two actually equals four, because it is consistent with reality. And this is what's so beautiful about Jesus, is that he came full of grace and truth, he is consistent with reality. Not only that, but he is actually the author of reality, and so when we look to Jesus, here is where we can find some confidence knowing that he is true through and through. There is no lie in Jesus. There is no deception in him. He doesn't say one thing and mean a different thing. He is a exactly who he says he is. He does exactly what he says he is going to do. And the thing about Jesus is that he's not just grace, or just truth, but he is grace and truth. Not a little bit of this and a little bit of that, not sometimes this and sometimes that, but he is full of grace and full of truth all the time.
And that is really good news, because that means that Jesus sees us as we really are, flawed and imperfect human beings. And he still offers us grace. He still looks at us as people loved by God knowing that there are so many of us who would reject him, that so many of us have hurt others because of the things we've said or done. None of that got in the way from Jesus doing what he came to do, to make a way for us to be forgiven of our sins and made right with God because God is the Son, and he came full of grace and truth. Picking up in verse 15, John tells us that John, once again, this is John, the baptist, testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, this is the one I spoke about when I said, he who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.
Out of his fullness, out of the fullness of Jesus, we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Jesus, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and his in closest relationship with the Father. He, Jesus, has made him known. So who is God? God is the Son, and he came full of grace and truth. And Jesus, the Son of God, has made God known to anybody who wants to know him. So when you look at Jesus, really the question that we all have to ask is, do we recognize him? Are we willing to receive him? And will we believe in his name? Let's pray:
Heavenly Father, we thank you so much for the goodness of your Son, Jesus. We thank you that before the world was created, you've loved us, and you had a plan to rescue us from sin and restore all of the world to the way it has always been meant to be. Thank you for Jesus, thank you for grace, and thank you for inviting us into your family. We pray all these things in Jesus name. Amen.