Before He was born in a stable/cave in Bethlehem, Jesus had been around – for a long time. Jesus is the Man who lived before He was born. In fact, Jesus told us so. When he lived on earth, Jesus told us, “In the volume of the Book it is written of me” (Heb 10:5, 7) and He was actually quoting from that Book (Psalm 40:7)!
What were all those things written about Him before He came among men? What did all those holy men of old record about Christ’s purpose in history? What perspective on the coming Messiah did they have? Where did He come from? Who exactly is He? Why is He the focal point of all history? Why was it important to predict His person and work 2,000 to 1,000 to 500 years before He was born in a manger in Bethlehem? Why were the detailed minutia of his life foretold in the prophecies of the Old Testament and prefigured in types and symbols throughout the book? Indeed, when we open the gospels, just as the Apostle Philip told Nathanael, we find “him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write” (John 1:45).
The passage before us today tells us just that – that Jesus lived before He was born, that He was pre-existent, and John does it in a lofty and poetic way.
Key Truth: John wrote John 1:1-18 to teach believers that Jesus the Messiah existed before his Birth, even before Creation, as the Eternal Word, the True Light, and Grace and Truth.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about Christ’s existence before His Birth.
Key Verse: John 1:1
Pray and Read: John 1:1-18
The first Advent of Christ was of vast importance. We know that because of the space dedicated in the Old Testament to the predictions that God would present a new and final revelation of Himself in the coming Messiah, the Lord Jesus. If that is so, then we must study “the more sure word of prophecy.” We cannot account for the Christ of history apart from the Christ of prophecy. The dream and hope of all the prophets was realized in the Incarnation of Jesus, his conception and birth to a young Jewish girl named Mary.
We had to be born in order to live on the earth. Jesus lived before He was born. From all eternity past, He was the Son of God before He became the Son of Mary within the confines of time. The glories of Heaven were His throughout the dateless past. He was came to live in a humble, poor home in Nazareth. Before He had access to all riches of the universe, but for our sakes He became so poor that often He had nowhere to lay that Head which had been adorned with such Glory.
The word the theologians use for what we are discussing is Christ’s Preexistence. As we prepare for and celebrate the Christ Child of Christmas, let us examine the facts of Jesus’ preexistence.
1. Before birth, Jesus was the Eternal Word (John 1:1-3)
2. Before birth, Jesus was the True Light (John 1:4-13)
3. Before birth, Jesus was Grace and Truth (John 1:14-18)
Exposition: Note well,
1. BEFORE BIRTH, JESUS WAS THE ETERNAL WORD (John 1:1-2)
a. The Old Testament is filled with references to the Lord’s preexistence. The first one is found in the Bible’s first verse: “In the beginning, God created (Gen 1:1). The word for God is Elohim, a word that is God in the plural, used about 2500 times in the Bible. English has singular and plural. Hebrew has singular, dual, and plural. When God says, “Let us make man in our own image,” we have a clear assertion of the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
b. Therefore Christ was a Co-Creator, as Paul says that “by him all things were created, . . . all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist (Col 1:16, 17; John 1:3).
c. Also, we were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4). But that is not all. Peter tells us that Christ the Lamb of God without blemish was foreordained before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:19-20). Also, We learn in Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane that the Father had a relationship and loved Christ before the foundation of the world (John 17:24). The prophet Micah says that Christ’s “goings forth have been of old, from everlasting (Micah 5:2). So we understand, then, that Christ existed before Creation, and according to Hebrews, “thy Throne, O God, is for ever and ever” and in the beginning He Himself laid the foundations of the earth (Heb 1:8, 10; Rev 4:11).
d. So when we come to John 1:1, that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God,” we learn that John 1:1 actually precedes in time the beginning of Genesis 1 and its account of Creation of the physical universe. In the pre-Creation beginning, the eternal past with no beginning, Christ the Word of God was with God and was God.
e. John 1:3 – not anything made that was made: This phrase forces the conclusion that either He created Himself or He was the uncreated Creator of all things. No one would claim that He could or did create Himself, there is only one conclusion, viz., that Jesus was the Author and Creator of all the universe of God (Rev 4:11).
f. Has it ever puzzled you as it has me that in that great prophecy of the coming Messiah in Isaiah 9:6-7, that one of the names of deity given Jesus prior to His birth is the Everlasting Father, or Father of Eternity? Names in Hebrew have meaning and indicate being that very meaning. The eternal Son is the revelation and image of the eternal God. Also, Daniel pictures the Ancient of Days sitting on the throne in judgment (Daniel 7:9, 13, 22). This Ancient of Days fits the description of the glorified Jesus the Apostle John saw in the Revelation (Rev 1), and John says in Rev 13, that the fourth beast rising up out of the sea will prevail “until the Ancient of Days comes” (Rev 13:18; 20:4).
g. Psalm 72:17 declares that “His name shall continue as long as the sun.” The NIV reads, “May his name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun.” Both translations translate the meaning of a name in the text. The Hebrew reads, “Before the sun was, His name was YINON,” a name that occurs only there in all the Bible, but a name that the ancient Jewish commentators agreed is a name of the Messiah. What is more interesting is that the second part of that verse, “All nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed” is a key verse in the Psalms, and forms an inclusion with Psalm 2:12 to end Book II of the Psalms. Both verses point to Genesis 22:18, a key Messianic verse of the Abrahamic Covenant.
h. In Proverbs, Wisdom personified is a portrayal of the eternal and coming Messiah, “The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of his way, before His works of old, I was set up from everlasting to everlasting, from the beginning or ever the earth was” (Prov 8:22-23). Solomon continues concerning the eternality of the Messiah, “Then was I by him, as one brought up with him, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him (Prov 8:30).
i. So we join with the Apostle Paul in saying, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Tim 1:17).
2. BEFORE BIRTH, JESUS WAS THE TRUE LIGHT (John 1:4-13)
a. True Light – cf. Isaiah 9:2, for Jesus’ birth, then Isaiah 60:1-5 for Jesus’ Glory.
b. John 1:10-11 – The world was made by him: The Creator was the true light who came into the world, and for John, the historic event of the Creation was a proof that Christ existed before He was made flesh.
c. John 1:12 – Received Him, believed in His name. John says that we must believe that Jesus bears the divine name, the name of God in order to be God (Acts 5:40-41; 3 John 7). He gave the right (exousa) authority to be children of God.
3. BEFORE BIRTH, JESUS WAS GRACE AND TRUTH (John 1:14-18)
a. John 1:13 - John takes the Old Testament prophetic description of the Messiah and takes it a step further. No longer is God’s Word merely spoken. It has now appeared in the flesh as a real person! The Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1; Rev 19:13).
b. John 1:14 – only begotten of the Father: Jesus had glory as the attribute of an only begotten Son (John 1:14; 18; 3:16; 18; 1 John 4:19). He was the Only One (Luke 7:12; 8:42; 9:38; Heb 11:17).
c. John 1:14 – He tabernacled among us in His glory, but in John 1:17-18 – Jesus brings a superior revelation to Moses
d. John spoke of our Lord being distinct from God the Father, yet being in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18).
Herbert Lockyer, All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973), 33-47.