Applying John 1:3-4 to Life
How We Define Ourselves
If we were asked the question, “Tell me about yourself,” we probably respond with telling the person our name, then go on to tell the person whether or not we are married, how many kids we have, how many siblings and where we are in the mix. We would tell them what we do for a living, where we were born and raised. Hobbies, sports and music interests, and what we have accomplished in life. We may include who our parents and grandparents are. Some details we would keep to ourselves, such as, what failures we had in our life, the poor decisions we have made, the things we want but don’t have.
There are many things both good and bad that we will recollect when we think about who we are. Primarily what we recollect are things that we know in this world. The things that we can touch and feel. But isn’t there something more to it than that? Isn’t this just half of the picture? I believe it is, and it is not even the important half. We can get so focused on this world that we lose touch with what is truly important.
Jesus Defines Our Priority
In Mark 12:17 the Pharisees ask Jesus whether or not Jews should pay taxes to Rome, and He responds, “Give to Caesars what belongs to Caesars, but give to God what belongs to God.” This was a response to thwart the efforts of the religious leaders to trap Jesus, but this response clearly defines what our priorities should be in life – do not dwell so much on this world, but dwell upon our inheritance, which is the Kingdom of God.
Another example. Jesus clearly states that we must focus on the Kingdom of God more than this world in Luke 12:4. Here Jesus is speaking out against the Pharisees, and he warns people to fear God’s ultimate power more than the religious leaders worldly power. “…don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you who to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell.”
If this life is so important, wouldn’t Jesus’ messages be that we must cling to this world rather than focus on the Kingdom of God? But it is not, so have faith and invest more in the Kingdom of God.
Discovering Ourselves – The Truth to Our Origin
So what does all this have to do with how we see ourselves? We need to take the emphasis from defining ourselves based on worldly guidelines, and put it on how we were originally created. We must meditate upon who we truly are, and what our true origin is.
There is no other information that I have found that deals with our origin as succinctly than the Gospel of John 1:1-5. The Gospel of John was written by the Apostle John, whom was one of the three disciples that Jesus seems to be closest. When Jesus would select apostles from the twelve, He would choose Peter, John and James. (Matt 17:1, Mark 14:33, Mark 5:37)
For this essay I want to only focus on verses 3 and 4, however, as beautiful as this passage is, I think it is a loss to exclude the other 3 verses. And because different versions have different endings, all with the same point, I am listing several here to read. Two for ease of understanding, one for word-for-word accuracy, and one for just out-and-out beauty.
New Living Translation – clarity
1In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He existed in the beginning with God. 3God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. 4The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
New International Translation – clarity (I like this version too)
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
English Standard Version – literal translation
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
King James – shear beauty
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
Later in verse 14, the apostle John states “The Word became flesh, and He made His dwelling upon us.” From this we know John is referring to Jesus when he uses the phrase “The Word”. So from verses 1 and 2 we know that John is stating that Jesus is one with God. One and the same. Jesus is God incarnate.
When it comes to our origin, we know that our creator is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the architect and the builder of life, and He had an infinite supply of resources in God. “Through Him all things were made; And nothing was made without Him.” (I just mashed together the NIV and the NLT.) This includes the sun, the stars, the planet, and galaxies, and all the magnificent creations that are awe-inspiring. As well, He made the minutia. Every particle and atom exists because Jesus created them. So, He created the large and the small, and He created everything in between, which includes you and me.
Application – The Truth about Our Pedigree
I praise you because you made me in such a wonderful way. I know how amazing that was! Psalm 139:14
We have to realize that our true nature is designed and created by Christ. What Christ creates is never imperfect, and never impure. It is righteous and holy, because our creator is righteous and holy and it would be an insult to our Creator to suggest that He is capable of creating something less than what would meet the highest standards. That would be like Ferrari deciding to make a car that is designed to go slow and cannot handle turns. Or, it is like Louie Vuitton taking plastic bags and sticking their logo all over it, and trying to sell it for $500.
Just the same, Jesus would never jeopardize His perfection by creating something so imperfect. Right now you maybe thinking of people you know that in no way meet the description of perfect and holy and therefore think this statement is false. The issue is not the assertion that we are perfect and holy, and that Jesus is incapable of creating anything less; the issue is with your thinking – you are being mindful of things in this world, and we need to move beyond that.
Application – Spirit First
We are spiritual beings first and foremost, then we are people in the flesh. Jesus existed in the beginning with God, but he became flesh and dwelt among us. Being made in his image we too are first spirit then flesh. Jesus’ creation takes precedence over the worldly body we inhabit. This does not mean we can abuse the body given to us. When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians and discussed the topic of sexual immorality he stated “…your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God.” (1 Corinthians 6:19) It does mean that we need to straighten out our thinking, and realize that we are spirit first, and body second.
Application – We Were Planned
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10
Another important point about Jesus being the architect and builder of life, is that He had a vision of what life would be like, what it would include, and how things would work. Like any builder, there needs to be a vision of what is the final product and what it looks like. Jesus envisioned this. He had a concept of each and every component of life, including you and me. He thought of us, each one, individually. Each person was included in Jesus grand scheme of life. And that is amazing – that the creator of the heavens and earth, of the stars and the moons, created us in every detail. A creator infinite in size, age and wisdom, had the time and patience to create each and every one of us.
Application – Inclusion, not Exclusion
One aspect of verse 3 and 4, that will rub people the wrong way is John asserts that there is not one living thing on this planet that was not created by Jesus, and that Jesus gives life to every living thing. “3God created everything through him, and nothing was made except through Him. 4The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.” Notice the inclusion here – “everything” and “everyone”. There is no exclusion. John did not add in any exceptions to the rule. Not because of your race, religious beliefs or lack there of, or for what evil things we have done in this world. There are no exceptions for terrorists, murderers, rapists or con-artists. We are all included in Jesus’ grand design – we just may not have turned out as Jesus had hoped.
Jesus created everyone, so He is the father of every human, past, present and future. He has first claim to each of our lives because He created us. It is unfortunate for some that He also gave us free will, because some people will never accept the truth, that Jesus is their creator and our true father. For some of us, who have awoken from our slumber, we realize the truth and receive Him as our father. But we do have the capacity to reject Him because He designed us this way. Jesus wants us all, but we have to want Him too.
Salvation – Why the Need? I Thought I was Perfect
So, why do we need to be saved if Jesus created us pure and holy? Because we did slip into a slumber. For some of us, the connection we have to God is foreign. It is something some people may never fully appreciate, because they are not willing to fully understand it. They are tied to the tangible, the things in this world, and refuse to open their minds to something more than what we know in this world.
Salvation – Our Dormant Relationship with God
Because of our dormant relationship with God a gap was created between us and God, and the truth. That is why Jesus came, to wake us up and show us the gap, but also to encourage us to rekindle that relationship with God. He also came with instructions – in John 14:6 Jesus explains that he is “… the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Having to believe in Jesus to come to God makes sense since, for one, He is God, and for two, through Him all things are made. He is the gate (John 10:7) through which we entered into this world, and He is the gate we pass through to go home.
Salvation – Rebuilding that Relationship
To have a relationship with any person, you have to know them. In order to know Jesus, we have to be willing to invest in reading Bible. If you try to find other means, you will be no different from a person in an impossible maze – you may think you know the way, and even have convincing evidence, but you never find your way out. You will be hopelessly stuck in maze. Only God’s Word can guide you all the way through.
13Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14
Salvation – All Roads Lead to Jesus
Jesus Christ is the gate (John 10:7), and He is the Life that is the light of all mankind. In this light we come to know the truth. We live in the light rather than in the darkness. It is through Jesus’ life that we are illuminated – purified and clean. Without His life, we are in the darkness and are blind to our sins, where as in the light our sins are exposed. We can lean upon Jesus to sanctify us and present us holy and blameless before God (Colossians 1:22).
Salvation – Only Through Him Am I Validated
2And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll? 3But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to pen the scroll and look inside. Revelation 5:2-4
I know on my own I am not worthy to even say His name. There are days when I think that I have no right to even pray to Him. This is where salvation comes in. Jesus knew that as we live in the dark, or are in our spiritual slumber, that we would sin. We would suffocate the reality of who we are – what Jesus created – with poor decisions, sinful deeds, evil thoughts and malicious intentions.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
When I read that for the first time, I mentally took a red pen and marked each trait with an “X”, because I knew those were characteristics I did not have. Thank God, that through Christ these attributes of love are becoming a part of my character.
Salvation – The Plan
Again, I personally am not worthy to even mention His name, but because Christ is the redeemer, I can. Christ knew that every one of His creations would fall short of their true potential, so He created the Plan of Salvation. In order for His creations to be with Him in Heaven, we need to be blameless and perfect, but it is not something we could not do on our own. Jesus would need to intervene on our behalf. If we came into Heaven just as we are, we would defile the Kingdom. We needed to be cleansed.
To qualify us for Heaven, Jesus had to get rid of our sins, and the only way to do this was for Jesus to take our sins with Him into the tomb and leave them there. Jesus Himself would have to die with our sins on His shoulders, and that is just what he did.
He came into the world that He created as a lowly child born in a stable. He grew up and became a carpenter. When He was thirty and He left His profession and proclaimed the Good News, that He is the Messiah and that He is the means to Heaven (John 14:6). After three years He gave Himself up to the religious leaders to be crucified. After He died He was buried in a tomb with a huge boulder that covered the entrance. It was also guarded by centurions so that no one could steal His body. On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to more than 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:6). Finally, He ascended into Heaven.
Salvation – Jesus Knew My Name When He was on That Cross
You should meditate often about how Jesus thought of us when He was on the cross. He knew the sins that He carried – all of the sins of all those who accept Him as Savior, including the sins we have committed and are going to commit. Jesus knows about each sin, which were accounted for on the day of His crucifixion. When He rose again, your sins and my sins were no longer on His shoulders, because He left them in Hades.
Salvation – The Price, in Simple Terms I can Understand
What a cost He paid for us! The creator of Life gave up His Heavenly authority to become a servant to His children. He sacrificed Himself so we could enter Heaven. The creator of Life sacrificing Himself for us. Couldn’t it have been a cow, or a sheep? Imagine this, you walk into a store to purchase something, and the price is $20. But you tell the store owner, “No, that is much too cheap for such as magnificent widget. No, I will pay you twenty… million dollars!” Well, that is just what Jesus did. Who else is qualified to appraise our value, but the One who created us. Only He knows our value.
He set the price so high no one else could afford it. Jesus’ price? Priceless. Our price? Priceless.
What to Take Away
We are priceless creations of Jesus, who is God. What God creates is holy and perfect. We are spirit first and then human beings, and this is the way we need to define ourselves, and others around us. When we look in the mirror, we can no longer look at ourselves and think, “what I see is all there is.” You are much more than that. You are the child of God. The same being that made the sun, stars and planets, created you too. Jesus Christ is your true father, as he is to all the people around you. Some may not know it yet – because they have forgotten since the gap got so wide – but prayerfully one day they will awaken from their slumber and remember who they are too.
Dwell upon this often, and never think of yourself as a finite being again. You are spirit, and you are a child of Christ.