Studies in John's Gospel -- Part 1
Christ is Indispensable
By: A.J. Higgins, M.D.
Passage: John 1
In a world where little is deemed sacred, valuable, or indispensable there is nothing comparable to the opening chapter of John's gospel. It is something akin to cultural shock that we experience when we read this chapter. This ancient writing has been described by some as perhaps the most profound writing we have. But, considering the subject matter, it had to be. John makes very clear that he is writing about the Son of God, and writing to move men to a life giving faith in Him (John 20:30-31).
We are surprised to learn in the very first chapter of his writing that one of his great themes is the Indispensable Christ. The theme is introduced to us in vs. 3 "Without Him was not one thing made that was made."
Christ Was Indispensable to Creation
The vast immeasurable universe around us and the small planet we call home are all the result of the creatorial power of the Son of God. John's language is strong. All creation owes its existence to Him. As the source of life (vs. 4) He is its origin and object (vs. 3). If John were with us today, he would not argue with evolutionists. He is not giving apologetics here, but revelation. If evolution be accepted and Christ and special creation rejected, men are left with a sobering conclusion. We are the result of a chaotic, purposeless chance of time. Man's existence is reduced, as Nobel scientist Jacques Monod has said to a throw of the dice. Life is meaningless and purposeless. Recognition of the creatorship of the Son of God however gives dignity and value to mankind. It likewise places man in a place of responsibility to His Creator. Could it be that the wish to be free of accountability towards God has given rise to the movement to lock God out of His universe?
But John has more to say. The Lord Jesus is the Light (vs. 4); the Word made flesh (vs. 14); and the Definition of God (vs. 18). So, then, the message is clear:
Christ Is Indispensable to Revelation
Man standing in a position of responsibility and accountability towards God has a pressing need to know what God is like. Paul addressing the intellectuals of his day at the Areopagus in Athens (Acts 17) made it clear that God was above man's confines, concepts, and contribution. The conclusion is obvious: if we are to know God, He must reveal Himself to us. In the Word incarnate, His Son, coequal and co-eternal, He has been accurately declared.
The revelation of God in Christ shows man to be ruined by sin. Neither ritual nor religion fits man for heaven (ch. 2:13-25). Neither sin nor self-will satisfies the cravings of the human heart (ch. 4:5-30). Before succeeding chapters shed further light on man's ultimate need, the conclusion is unveiled:
Christ Is Indispensable to Salvation
John records the words of that fearless prophet of the wilderness, John the Baptist, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." Such imagery, most familiar to his Jewish audience, was suddenly and sharply focused on the person before them: "The Lamb fore-ordained before the foundation of the world." (I Pet. 1:20) Converged in that "Lamb of God" was the answer to the Problem Isaac faced (Gen. 22:7), to the Passsover Lamb (Exodus 12), to the purpose of the Scapegoat (Lev. 16) and the Power of the uplifted Serpent (Num. 21). Here was the great antitype, the fulfillment of all the many pictures and promises of the Old Testament, the once-for-all sacrifice to answer the great sin problem that barred men from God. By virtue of His finished work on Calvary, He is able to confer the right to be called the children of God to all who receive Him (vs. 12). Our calendars remind us that His birth divides history. The cross reveals to us that His sin atoning death divides eternity.