by Dave Miller
So let’s draw a center circle on the whiteboard, fill it with the letters J-E-S-U-S and walk the Emmaus road for a few moments. Now from that circle we draw an arrow straight back to the beginning, Genesis, where the Apostle John begins.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14)
The first arrow we draw goes all the way to the beginning, actually before a beginning even existed. Here the Apostle John tells us we find “the Word.” The Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God (John 1:1-2).
When John wants to tell the gospel story, he begins before the world begins. He begins with God the Son who would “[become] flesh and [dwell] among us,” “the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” There is an unmistakable connection between the Jesus who walked the earth as a man and God the Son who was eternally with God and was God in eternity past, without beginning. John tells us that the man, Jesus, was God who took on flesh and dwelt, ate, drank, lived, died, and rose from the dead among us. Jesus is the God-Man. Jesus is 100% God and 100% man.
While I was working part-time delivering appliances for a local retailer, occasionally I would assemble a treadmill and such was the occasion. In the hour it took to start with a box full of pieces and end with a functional exercise machine I engaged in a conversation with a Muslim family from Pakistan who now lived in Oklahoma City. I let them share their religion first, so I could have the open opportunity to share Jesus. While explaining the family religion they spoke much of Jesus and his coming return to earth, but assured me that he did not die on a cross. He was instead switched with another person before the crucifixion. God, of course, would not allow his great prophet to die in that way. Instead he was taken to heaven, to await his return.
Considering they spoke openly about Jesus, I then shared of the story of Jesus from the gospels. I explained the difference between what they had been taught Christians believed and what we actually believed as followers of Jesus. They responded with amazement that I somehow believed that God would become a man. I responded in amazement that they would not follow Jesus if they believed he knew how to live forever without dying. Jesus, the God-Man, who walked along the Emmaus road, and stood before the disciples teaching, is the very God the Son to whom all of the scriptures point.
John is not the only apostle who places God the Son, who took on the flesh as Jesus, before the creation as the eternal God. The author of Hebrews wrote:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:1-3).
Through whom he created the world” and “he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” The author of Hebrews places God the Son, Jesus, before the creation as the eternal God of glory. The apostle Paul wrote:
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians1:16-17).
“By him all things were created . . . all things were created through him and for him” and “he is before all things and in him all things hold together.” Jesus, God the Son, is indeed eternal and is very much the Word through whom God the Father created all things. God the Son, has always been and is without beginning. Creation is by him, through him, and for him. He holds all things together.
To grasp just a slight wisp of this incredible power, think for a moment of one scene from the hill where Christ was crucified. The soldiers mock and gamble for the garments that have been ripped from Jesus’ body. While they hurl insults, the short breaths of our Savior pour out forgiveness for the very soldiers tasked with his death. All the while, the very power that holds their being together, the power that allows them to live and move, and breathe, hangs upon the tree. Jesus held all things together while the very ones he holds together crucify him. If in that moment he holds creation in his powerful hand, then what must the beginning look like?
A few connected dots and we can see our Trinitarian God in plain sight before we even get past the first three verses of the Bible. In the beginning God... (Genesis 1:1). But not just any God, our Trinitarian God, three in one, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), God the Father wills creation. “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2), God the Spirit empowers creation. So how did the Father create the heavens and the earth? Verse three, “And God said….” God spoke. When God spoke things that weren’t were. Now that is power. Actually that is the power of God the Son, the Word. God the Son, accomplished creation. Jesus declares and it is done.
God is light. “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:3-5). It is no coincidence that there was void and darkness until through the Word, God spoke and light was released. Light that overcomes the darkness. Light that has no need of a sun or moon or stars to course through the universe to overcome the vast dark expanse. It is through this light that life is sustained. The “word of his power” holds all things together! God the Son is light and life (John 3:19, John 14:6).
Jesus taught this very idea to a Pharisee who came to him under the cover of midnight darkness. Nicodemus was a ruler among the Jews and one night he said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” In classic Jesus fashion, he teaches what we need to know instead of what we ask to know.
He tells Nicodemus, I will tell you the truth. No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. Of course this catches Nicodemus off guard, because this ruler of the Jews asks how he can crawl back up in his mamma since he is an old man. Jesus patiently responds, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.” It is like the wind. You can hear it but you don’t know where it comes from or where it goes. Just like everyone who is born of the Spirit.
Nicodemus, must have been sleepy because he still doesn’t catch on. “How can these things be?” he asks. In this moment you can almost hear Jesus somewhat surprised that Nicodemus doesn’t understand, so he explains the new birth again. “Are you a teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?” He goes on, “Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son go Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” Now that is a lifetime of Old Testament teaching crammed into a few sentences.
Nicodemus came to Jesus as a teacher, not as the God-Man. But Nicodemus knew that Jesus had come from God because of the miracles that had given Nicodemus pause to consider. Jesus knew that Nicodemus wanted to know more, but didn’t know what to ask for, so he tells him he needs a new birth, in other words he needs to be created anew. Who better to accomplish this task than the very one who created him to begin with, Jesus with whom he is speaking! He has now proven his power over re-creation through his miracles, and Nicodemus has recognized this power. Yet Nicodemus still does not connect the dots. He misses the need for the Savior, he misses the need to die to sin and live in Christ.
Nicodemus doesn’t believe the earthly testimony so how can Jesus explain the work of the Spirit, the heavenly things. But never fear, the one who has ascended into heaven is the one who has descended to earth to show us the truth of the heavenly things, the Son of Man, aka the God-Man Jesus. And this Son of Man, will be known as the Messiah, because he will be lifted on a cross to save the dying as a serpent was lifted in the wilderness to save those who were dying.  Why you ask?
God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (John 3:16-17).
Nicodemus needs to understand that the one who created all things is not going to dismiss that creation, he is going to restore it through a new life. The sin that has claimed power over the creation, stolen the glory that is rightfully the Fathers, and has brought death and destruction will be no match for the one who will take that death upon himself and, as we saw on Resurrection Sunday, will laugh in the face of death. Death has absolutely no power over the one who created life with a word! Little did death know when laughing at the Savior, that the dance of joy would be on him by all who come out of the grave with Jesus by faith!
But here stands Nicodemus before this promise of life, as one who is already condemned. The Son of Man, Jesus, did not come to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. For everyone who believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is already condemned. So this is the judgment, the matter of fact truth straight from Jesus mouth. Pay close attention.
The light has come into the world, and the people love the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil (John 3:19).
Jesus is the Light! In Genesis he is the Light that comes into the darkness. The darkness can not overcome him and life comes with him. In the night, talking with Nicodemus, Jesus is the Light. Those who want life must come to the light through faith in Jesus.
The new birth re-creates the old with a transformation through a new life in the Spirit. The same Spirit that empowered the first creation is empowering the re-creation at the Word of Jesus who accomplished the defeat of sin in his death, and overcame death in his resurrection bringing to life to all who believe!
Jesus is in the creation power business and we have only made it through the first arrow. That day on the Emmaus road must have been an incredible journey even before Jesus made it to verse four. But the first four verses prepare us for what is to come.
Until there's #NoPlaceLeft...
Numbers 21:4-9 From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. 5 And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” 6 Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. 7 And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.
 Yes I do know there were no verses in Genesis at the time of Jesus. :)
Sentergy: When Jesus, People, Practice and Theology Collide
Chapter 1: The Glory of God
Chapter 2: The Glory of God in Jesus
Chapter 3: The Glory of God in the Gospel
Chapter 4: The Glory of God in Disciple Making
Chapter 5: If You Love Me You Will Obey What I Command
Chapter 6: Monday Morning Disciple Making
Chapter 7: Monday Morning Disciple Making Part 2
Interlude: The Father's Heart
Conclusion: The Lump In Your Throat