The Real Identity of Jesus Christ
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Sermon Delivered 3/31/04
1 John 1:1
Focus: We will answer the question - Who was Jesus Christ?
In this message we are going to show who Jesus Christ was, how the Apostle John knew who he was, and how we can know that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. As I begin I remind you of a group of people called the Gnostics. One sect of Gnostics, the Docetic Gnostics, denied the humanity of Christ teaching that his human body was only an illusion. The Cerinthian Gnostics separated the Christ from the man Jesus. Hence, they denied the actual deity of Jesus; that is that Jesus was God in the flesh, the Son of God. This message is very appropriate for our day, in light of numerous books like Dan Brown’s THE DA VINCI CODE, which seeks to demolish the deity of Jesus Christ.
Let’s consider the first reason why we can know that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. John knew first hand that…
John starts out with the statement, "That which was from the beginning…" The phrase ap archvv -- "from the beginning" is a reference to the eternality of Christ. That is, before The Word took upon himself flesh, He existed with God the Father. Let me express it this way; before the prophets, before Abraham, and before Adam, and before all creatures, from the beginning of time, and of the creation of the world, even from everlasting the Second Person of the Trinity coexisted with God. This Divine Person, identified as the Word of life, the Word of God, appeared in human nature and body, that he might be the Author and Giver of eternal life to mankind, through the redemption of his blood, and his resurrection from the dead.
John says, "we have heard, seen, looked and handled HIM!" The "we" is likely a reference to the Apostles. He says we heard Jesus Christ talk. He spoke to us personally. He taught us as a group. We walked and talked as we traveled together.
Further, we all saw Him. The word carries with it not only seeing with the eyes but also to perceive with the mind. John is saying that he literally saw Jesus Christ and perceived He was the eternal Son of God. This is important because it showed that Christ was not just imagination on John’s part, not an optical illusion as some Gnostics claimed, for Jesus had an actual human body. He could be heard and seen.
He goes another step further by saying he "looked upon" Him as well. It single word in the Greek (eyeasameya - etheasametha) signifies a more earnest contemplation than the ordinary verbs for "to see." The idea is of being astonished at what your eyes are seeing to the point that you can’t take your eyes off of it. Therefore you deliberately and carefully look at what you are seeing ponder it carefully. What event could John possibly be referring to that so astonished to him that he could not take his eyes off of Christ? Turn with me to John 1:14 "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." Ponder this question for a moment – When did John behold or see Christ’s Glory? Turn to Matthew 17:1-9. You will recognize this one of the accounts of the Transfiguration of Christ. I think it is this experience that the Apostle John has etched in his mind. He had seen Jesus the Son Man and "looked upon" Christ the Son of God.
Not only had John heard, seen and looked upon Jesus Christ, but he also handled (touched) Christ with his hands. Why is this significant? It proved that Jesus Christ was not merely an apparition or spirit. The Apostle John appealed to three senses (hearing, sight, touch) to show the reality of Christ’s humanity against the Gnostics as well as an indicator of the fact that he was God in the flesh. He reinforces the fact that Christ was God Incarnate by referring to Him as "the Word of life."
John identifies Jesus Christ as the Word of Life. What does that mean? That means the second person of the Trinity, the Word of God, Jesus Christ is the personal wisdom and power in union with God. He is God’s minister in creation and the government of the universe. He is the cause of all of the world’s life, both physical and spiritual. This second person of the Godhead, to secure man’s salvation, took on human nature and a human body, lived a sinless life, died for the sins of mankind, and three days later arose from the dead and then forty days later literally, physically and bodily ascended into Heaven where at this very moment he makes intercession for believers (Romans 8:34).
Those who are acquainted with the writings of the Apostle John are also acquainted with the fact that he regularly refers to Jesus Christ as The Word. Turn to John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Slip down to verse 14 "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." Now turn to Revelation 19:11-16. In verse 13, Jesus Christ The Word of God.
I ask you to turn your attention back to the last phrase in verse 1 once again – the Word of Life - tou logou thv zwhv. The word life is a translation of the Greek word zoes which means the absolute fulness of life, both essential and ethical, which originates with God. John, in referring to Christ this way, intends to make the point that Jesus Christ is the source of all life! Without Christ there would be neither physical nor spiritual life. Take your Bibles and turn back with me to John 1:4 "In him was life; and the life was the light of men." Now turn to 1 John 5:12 "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." (see John 10:10; John 11:25; John 14:6).
There is more. Turn to John 1:3 "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." Christ is the creator and sustainer of all of creation. Colossians 1:16-17 "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." Christ was constituted with God, and was God, by whom all things are entirely made; in whom, whatsoever is made, lives, and has life, and being (see Acts 17:28).
So, what proof could John offer that Jesus Christ was the author of physical life? No doubt John witnessed Christ raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:34-43). Then there is Christ’s own resurrection (Romans 1:4)!
What proof could John offer to prove Christ was the author of Spiritual life? I suggest that one sample would be Christ’s encounter with the demon possessed man, often called the maniac of Gadara (see Mark 5:1-20).
What proof could John offer that Jesus Christ was the Creator! The winds and the waves obeyed Him, not to mention feeding the 5,000 with five small loaves of bread and two pan fish (Mark 6:33-44). Obviously food was created, seeing that they took up twelve baskets full of the left-over’s. John knew first hand the Jesus Christ was The Word of Life.
If you do not know my Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of
Life, receive Him as your Savior TODAY!