Who is Jesus? – Sermon 7th February 2021 (Colossians 1.15-20; John 1.1-14)

Having just heard that gospel, you’re thinking well those are the words that end the carol service. The final piece of scripture that gives us the image of who this baby is in a universal context.

These first verses of John’s Gospel have been proclaimed, scrutinised and wondered over for many a century and today it is our turn to look at it closely.

Every person who comes to the Christian faith, has to make a decision about who Jesus is?
This question is the challenge of evangelism, confirmation preparation, Bible study, and many a sermon. Who is this Jesus?

Around 70 years ago the author and theologian CS Lewis widely known for his Narnia stories, “the lion the witch and the wardrobe”. He was also a great speaker, and this is part of one of his most famous quotes about who Jesus is “many people will say they are ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher but not his claim to be God. you must make a choice either this man was and is the son of God, or else a madman or something worse.”

Those words have been quoted many times to make people think that there is more to Jesus than being a human being, to being more than a gifted teacher, who did more than have a legacy of miracles.

But the question is for us- who is Jesus?

For a moment we will look at the first reading because the background to this reading is that Paul had to do a lot of thinking before he became a missionary.
Yes we know of his Damascus Road conversion, when he was literally stopped in his tracks of persecuting believers in Jesus. He did not the next day start out as a missionary for Jesus. No rather he spent three years away from the Christian people rethinking his Jewish theology, for all his learning and his authority as a Jewish man he had to start over to think of Jesus as the Messiah the saviour, the promised one who fulfilled all the Old Testament promises.

It is quite likely that the first reading we heard today could be Paul’s conclusion about who Jesus is, which is almost like a declaration of faith, a credal statement of belief.

If we were to read it again thinking of Paul struggling to understand who Jesus is.

In these verses you can hear the logic of Paul’s thinking, if he is this, then he must be that and if he is that then he must be this.

These five verses set out that Jesus is something far beyond our understanding yet he is part of our created order.
And the final line is that through him he will reconcile all things to himself by making peace through his blood shed on the cross.

We have to remember that for the first believers to see the cross as a sign of victory rather than punishment and defeat was a major step to take. In our lives accepting the cross is something we also have to work at, that Christ died that we might live, that our sins are forgiven by the sacrifice of the sinless one. For Paul to accept Jesus as Lord was a significant transformation in his life.#

Moving back to the gospel, for John as a gospel writer and as the devoted disciple –  he starts his gospel with these wonderful verses describing how the heavenly and creative force “the word” being beyond our comprehension has become human. As we are told in verse 10, “the word became flesh and dwelt among us“

So while John describes this amazing idea of God becoming a human, he also uses the whole gospel to illustrate the ideas of these first few verses.

In these opening verses are themes which John expands in his gospel, the divinity of Jesus is expressed in the seven I am sayings of John’s Gospel.

The theme of light and darkness is in chapter 8 and the hearing of the blind man.

-The theme of testifying and witness of Gods presence is explored through the seven miracles. —–The theme of coming to the world and the world rejecting him is in chapter 15.
And there is the recognition that Gods own children, the Jewish people will reject him, and the Gentiles will become children of God is illustrated in chapter 20.
The final two points about being spiritually born-again is illustrated in the third chapter of the story of Nicodemus and finally the glory of God being revealed through the cross and Christ sacrifice.

So what are these verses are beautiful, challenging and full of meaning they are also an Overture to what is to follow in reading the whole gospel of John.

I think the challenge for us today in hearing these two Bible readings is to make us think once again how big is our image and understanding of who Jesus is?

Because we are presented with two awesome sets of verses that illustrate for Saint Paul and for Saint John how Jesus is unique not only in his life and ministry but also in his birth death and resurrection.

Let us make time this week to reflect on our image of Jesus, and his impact on our lives.

Alterative ending

I want to finish reading some words from 1926 a sermon by Dr James Francis called one solitary life.
He was born in a little obscure village, the child of peasant woman.

For three years he was not itinerant preacher, he never wrote a book, never held office never had a family or owned a house.

He didn’t go to college and he travelled no more than 200 miles from where he was born. He did none of the things one usually associate with greatness. He had no credentials but himself.

He was only 33 when public put opinion turned against him. He was nailed to the cross between two thieves. When he was dead he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

19 centuries have come and gone and today he is the central figure of the human race, the leader of mankind’s progress.
All the armies that ever marched,
All the navies that ever sailed,
All the parliaments ever sat,
All the kings that ever reigned, put together- have not affected the life of man on Earth, as much as that the one solitary life of Jesus.

Let us make time this week to reflect on our image of Jesus, and his impact on our lives.

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