First Presbyterian Church, Bainbridge, NY #233/OH27

First Presbyterian Church, Bainbridge, NY #233/OH27


January 2, 2011 D.O’Hara

Psalm 147.12-20

John 1.1-18

What’s In a Word?

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. Jn1.14

Christians view Jesus Christ as the manifestation of God, something that all Jewish people had long awaited. It was herein that much debate arose, however.

Could someone as ordinary as Jesus of Nazareth be, actually, the Son of God?

The feeling among many was that a sovereign Messiah, omnipotent and omniscient, would be someone enthroned in material wealth as well as wisdom and power.

The son of a carpenter, following in the same trade – how could that be the background for the Christ?

And yet, it could be argued, why not?

If he were to be the expected King, foretold by the prophets, anointed by God to deliver the people from their sinful lives into God’s outstretched arms and forgiving love, would he not do best by living among them and really getting to know their ups and downs?

He would know all these facts anyway, but how much of a difference would it make to the people if they came to know that Jesus Christ lived just as they did and that he must know what life was like for them?

Being sovereign includes being wise, and God clearly demonstrated this through his earthly appearance in the form of Jesus Christ.

Many years ago, a driver – in backing his van across a side street – collided with my car.

There was some serious damage done to the left rear side of the car, and it was arranged that one Sunday afternoon, after church, an appraiser would stop by and estimate the cost of repairs for the insurance company.

I waited a short while and, in time, a stocky man pulled up in a Cadillac. He was wearing a suit and his wife, inside, was well-dressed also.

He did his job regarding my car and then, being the type who loves to talk, talked.

In the conversation he proceeded to tell me that he had one or two other cars older or more beat up in appearance than the Cadillac. Depending upon whom he would be doing business with, he would use a different car.

If he went to look over the car of a blue collar worker, for example, he would take one of the other cars.

His reason for doing this was to make the customer feel at ease with this stranger who had come to estimate the cost of the damage.

He could relate to them by pointing out that his car was of a type that they would be interested in. Likewise, he would dress appropriately according to the situation.

Can we make a comparison between God’s approach in manifesting himself in the form of Jesus of Nazareth, son of a carpenter, and the car appraiser’s approach in meeting with clients?

In both cases, weren’t the customers (for lack of a better word) being thought of?

The big difference is that, were Jesus Christ the ocean with all that is within, underneath and around it, the appraiser would just be a tiny pebble on the beach, part of Christ’s kingdom: God’s kingdom.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Jn1.1

Here, at the beginning of the Gospel of John, we find Jesus Christ being called God. He was the Word that existed in the beginning; he was with God; and he was God.

Looking at the first book of Moses, commonly called Genesis, we find the opening:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

This, then, was Jesus Christ. This was God, but not yet manifested.

Studying Genesis we find a description of God’s creation of the universe, his creation of all things.

This book, be it literal or symbolic, begins with God and nothing else.

Swiftly, there was the creation of the heavens and earth, the lack of form and void, the darkness followed by light (the darkness being night and the light being day),

the firmament dividing the waters (the firmament itself being called heaven), and the waters below the firmament combining with the dry land to form earth.

And on earth – in the waters, the air and the land – there were made living creatures that swim, fly and walk and crawl; and vegetation, plants and fruit trees yielding seed and providing food.

And there were lights in the firmament separating day from night with the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night. And there were stars.

Then there was the creation of man in the image of God and having dominion over all other living things on earth.

Letting them have dominion over all the earth, man and woman were created and told to “be fruitful and multiply.”

And with the heavens and the earth being finished, God “rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done; so God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation.”

To create the universe, the heaven, the earth and all that is therein is certainly one example of the sovereign authority of God. But we have much more that supports this fact.

The manifestation of God in the form of Jesus Christ, the son of Joseph and Mary, also dramatizes the sovereignty of our Savior.

In turn, the work of Jesus – his teaching, preaching and miraculous deeds – could and can only support the belief that he is God.

Who else could do what Jesus Christ (God) did here on earth?

The fact that Jesus gave his own life that all those who believe in him and, in turn, in God the Father, may be forgiven of all their sins and will be accepted in heavenis, perhaps, the greatest example of Jesus’s power here on earth as he lived and died for humanity.

We mortal beings are not without sin; but Christ died – was crucified —as though for sin, yet he was perfect and unblemished by sin.

In fact, he did not die but rose to sit on God’s right side.

To have the power and the will to understand the faults of humankind and to forgive us of those sins – surely that is an example of the sovereignty of God.

This does not mean that all humankind is automatically forgiven. One must admit their sinful ways and be willing to repent in order to be forgiven by God.

If we do not accept the grace and truth of God, found most easily through Jesus Christ, are we to be forgiven?

The Word became flesh. Jesus Christ and God are one and the same, I have said. Perhaps I should say that the Apostle John said this.

John says both the Word was God and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

Jesus and God are one.

In Ireland, St. Patrick, in converting heathens to Christianity, often used a shamrock – a little clover plant with three leaflets – as an example of God.

There are three distinct leaflets just as there is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Just as the three leaflets make up one plant, the three Spiritual components make up one God. God consists of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The sovereignty of God is something that should marvel us.

We should be thankful to God for our place here on earth, and, in turn, we should always strive to serve him as best we can.

To serve Christ is to serve the Father and the Holy Spirit. To serve God.

We must remember that God is sovereign, and we are his servants, living on earth to do as he desires; it is not the other way around.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. Jn1.14

Let us pray.

Lord God, we thank you for this time, today, to gather together and listen to your Word, for in doing so we listen to Christ. May we go forth, and throughout our time may we each remember that ‘in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ This may we do in Jesus’s name and for his sake. Amen