John 1.10


1.   After the wedding Friday night, and after I had returned home from the reception, I sat down to unwind for a bit and watched a portion of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. There was really nothing memorable, except for a young comedian’s remark during the last segment of the show.

2.   He was a young Jewish guy, who was a huge fellow, standing 6’6” tall. Being two days before Christmas, he naturally did a routine on Hanukah and Christmas.

3.   He talked about how Christians had a really great thing with Christmas. How the Jews came along and tried to get a piece of the action by cranking up Hanukah and trying to make it an eight day celebration, but then the Christians upped the ante by coming up with the twelve days of Christmas. Everyone laughed.

4.   Then he said, “You Christians have the whole package with Christmas. Every Christmas song hits the top of the charts, everything written about Christmas meets with success, the whole culture is swept up in a Christmas frenzy, and you used to even have some kind of religious component associated with Christmas.”

5.   You know, in all good humor there is an element of truth. And that young Jewish comedian struck a chord with his audience when he made that observation. They laughed, but it was not the same kind of funny as his previous comments. When they laughed at that comment it was just a touch nervous laughter.

6.   The problem is not that Christmas has become a secularized celebration and a frenzied justification for splurge buying run amok. The problem is what Christmas reflects; that the entire culture has become more secularized than it has been in centuries.

7.   There has probably never been a time in human history when man has been as secular and anti-religious as he is today. And in the west, where Christianity in some form as been the dominant religion for almost 2000 years, the problem is even more pronounced.

8.   You see, even when Christendom was enthralled by Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Christianity it was far from secular. There was then an acknowledgment of God in almost every area of everyday life. And when Christmastime rolled around, whether you celebrated the western date of Christ’s birth or the eastern date of Christ’s birth, you celebrated Christ’s birth in a profoundly religious fashion.

9.   Not so anymore, for the most part. As the Jewish comedian said, there used to be a religious component to our celebration of Christmas. And even in churches that have full Christmas programs, I wonder if the emphasis is really on the Lord Jesus Christ’s birth at all. It seems to me that the emphasis is on the living Christmas tree, or the full-blown theatrical production, or the cantata, with little to do for the most part with the Lord Jesus Christ.

10. I am not necessarily opposed to any of those things. But each church’s pastor, and the head of each home, needs to take steps to make sure that no matter what observations are prepared, no matter what productions are planned, the emphasis must always be upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

11. Turn, if you will, to John 1.10. My text for today is one that is not frequently associated with Christmas, and not frequently the focus of commentators and theologians. But I think the verse contains truth that speaks to the issue before us, of which the celebration of Christmas is a symptom.

12. If you have found John 1.10, stand for the reading of God’s Word: “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.”

13. The “he” and “him” referred to in this verse is identified as “the true Light” in verse 9, who is also referred to as “the Word” in verse 1. In verse 14, we read that He was made flesh and dwelt among us. So, there can be no doubt that verse 10 refers to the Lord Jesus Christ, Who was with God, Who was God, and in Whom is life.

14. But what about the word “world”? The word kosmoV, which is translated as our word “world,” is used in the New Testament to convey no less than seven different shades of meaning, referring to the universe as a whole at one end of the spectrum and of believers only at the other end of the spectrum. I am persuaded that in this verse the word “world” refers to the whole human race at the beginning and at the end of the verse, but refers to the whole of creation in the middle of the verse. You will see what I mean as we proceed.

15. How has Christmas become such a secularized celebration? Indeed, how has our entire society become so secular? Our text gives us insight into three fundamental particulars:

1A.   The First Phrase of our Text Declares that JESUS WAS IN THE WORLD

1B.   Ask yourself some questions. Who commanded Adam not to eat the forbidden fruit? Who communed with Adam in the Garden of Eden? Who confronted Adam and Eve, and the serpent, after they had sinned by eating the forbidden fruit?

2B.   Who did Enoch walk with after he sired Methuselah? Who spoke to Noah and commanded him to construct the ark? Who commanded Noah to enter the ark with his family and with the chosen pairs of animals? Who spoke and sent Noah forth from the ark when the waters of the great flood receded?

3B.   Who spoke to Abram and said, “Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee”? Who appeared unto Abram and said, “Unto thy seed will I give this land”? Who spoke to Abraham and said, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of”? And as Abraham stretched forth his hand to slay his son, Who said, “Abraham, Abraham . . . Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me”?

4B.   Who spoke to Moses from the burning bush? Who stood before Joshua as the captain of the host of the LORD? Who sat under the oak at Ophrah and appeared to Gideon and said, “The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.” Who appeared twice to Samson’s mother and then appeared to Samson’s father to predict his birth?

5B.   Who did Nebuchadnezzar see in the fiery furnace with the three Hebrews he had cast in, who he said had a form “like the Son of God”? When Daniel was cast into the lion’s den, Who shut the mouths of those lions to preserve Daniel’s life and health?

6B.   My friends, in each of these instances, and in many more, it was the pre-incarnate Christ who was in the world. But each of those appearances, as miraculous and astonishing as they were, pales in comparison to the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. By incarnation I refer to the Lord Jesus Christ leaving heaven’s glory to clothe Himself in human flesh and dwell among men. And how did this incarnation take place? By no less a miracle than the virgin birth.

7B.   If the Lord Jesus Christ could be said to be “in the world” by means of His many and varied appearances before He actually took upon Himself the nature of a man, then it needs to be recognized that after He was born of a virgin He was “in the world” in a way and to the degree no one can really imagine.

8B.   So, when John writes, “He was in the world,” he writes from this side of the resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ to the Father’s right hand. Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ was, before His incarnation, in the world in a very real sense. He appeared numerous times to many different people. But then, in a way not even He had done before, “He was in the world” as an actual man.

9B.   To be sure, He was virgin born, for it could not be any other way for God the Son to become a man and to be in the world in that way. But once that was done, He truly did live and breath and eat and sleep in our midst, participating in every aspect of humanity except for the experience of sin. And when He finally left our company, He did so by becoming sin for us, by suffering the death of the cross, by shedding His blood for sins, and by rising from the dead and ascending to His father’s right hand.

10B. So, He was in the world. He was in the world in one sense from the beginning, appearing to many on special occasions. Then He was in the world in a different sense, being a man rather than just taking on the appearance of a man from time to time. And now He is gone. Oh, if men would just ponder from time to time, especially come Christmastime, that He was in the world . . . but is now gone.

2A.   The Next Phrase of our Text States That THE WORLD WAS MADE BY JESUS

1B.   The Hebrew scriptures of the Old Testament do not distinguish the persons of the triune godhead. That is left to be revealed in the New Testament. The result, of course, is that the unity of God is strongly established in the Old Testament, with the trinity of God’s nature implied in the Old Testament and very strongly established in the New Testament.

2B.   The verse before us does not establish the doctrine of the trinity, but it does form one of the foundation stones for the doctrine of the trinity, that Jesus Christ is the creator of all things. My guess is that most professing Christians who believe that God created the universe and all that herein is, if their mind does ponder which person of the godhead actually performed the creative acts, would say that God the Father is the Creator.

3B.   But consider these verses in God’s Word when you are pondering creation and its Creator:

1C.   In John 1.3, we read, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” But who is the “Him” in this verse? The Word, which became flesh, according to verse 14. So, Jesus Christ is the creator of all things, and without Him was not anything made that was made.

2C.   In First Corinthians 8.6, we read, “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” The last three phrases point out that the Lord Jesus Christ is the One by Whom the Father created all things: “and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” That is, everything was created by Jesus Christ, and specifically we were created by Him.

3C.   In Ephesians 3.9, we read, “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.” Again, the Father created all things by Jesus Christ. Thus, the immediate Creator of all things is the Lord Jesus Christ.

4C.   In Colossians 1.16, we read, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” Read the previous three verses in Colossians and it is clearly shown that this verse shows the Lord Jesus Christ, the One Who redeems through His blood, to be the creator of all things.

5C.   In Hebrews 1.2, we read that God “Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.” The thing is established. This one Who was in the world in one sense, and Who by His virgin birth came to be in the world in yet another sense, actually created this world that He was for a time in.

4B.   So, the next time you read Genesis 1.1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” keep in mind that Jesus Christ was that person of the trinity Who actually did the creating. He spoke and there was light. Let there be no misunderstanding, then, concerning the babe in the manger on that first Christmas night.

5B.   He was no feeble or disoriented child who wondered who he was, and only later came to the self-realization that He was the Son of God. Oh, no. He was in the world before He was born. First here and then there, from the time it was created . . . by Him. This is one reason why Paul wrote to Timothy, saying, “without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.” It cannot be fully comprehended.

3A.   Finally, The Crux of the Problem. “AND THE WORLD KNEW HIM NOT”

1B.   I think you can see why the first time the word “world” is used in this verse it refers to people. “He was in the world.” That is, He was among people. The second time the word “world” is used, it refers to everything in the universe. “The world was made by him.” But this last occurrence of the word has to refer once again to people. Only a person can know someone else in this sense.

2B.   But what, precisely, does it mean to know Him, or to not know Him? “. . . the world knew him not.”

1C.   Remember what Nicodemus said, in John 3.2: “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.”

2C.   Is it sufficient to know things about Jesus Christ? Is that what is meant when John writes “and the world knew him not,” that people simply were insufficiently informed about Him? Would a few more details have solved the problem?

3C.   No. To know Him means a great deal more than to know things about Him, or else the Lord Jesus Christ would not have informed Nicodemus that, despite what he knew about Jesus, he still had to be born again.

4C.   Also keep in mind what the Lord Jesus Christ, in Matthew 7.23, indicated He will say to those who are unconverted at the final judgment, yet still pleading to gain entrance into the kingdom of heaven: “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

5C.   Obviously, there is more involved in knowing someone than knowing all the pertinent facts about them. Nicodemus knew facts about Jesus, but still needed at that time to be born again. Jesus Christ will have perfect awareness of all the facts and details associated with the lives of the unconverted, but will still deny that He never knew them.

3B.   So, while the phrase “and the world knew him not” certainly suggests that at the various times and manners of His appearances His creatures did not appreciate Who and what He really is, we need to understand that even more is involved here than facts and details.

4B.   It is possible to have a theological education concerning the nature and work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and to have a working intimacy of Christ’s life and ministry, and yet not know Him in a saving way. Is there a better example of this truth than Judas Iscariot? On the other hand, it is also possible for someone to have access to a comparatively small store of the facts and circumstances associated with the Son of God, and yet to know Him in a saving way.

5B.   When the pre-incarnate Christ appeared from time to time before His birth in Bethlehem, He was generally not known in a saving way, though it is certain that such men as Enoch and Moses, Joshua and Daniel, did know Him in a saving way. But when the Christ child was born, and as He grew in wisdom and stature, it was generally true that He was not known in a saving way by those around Him.


1.   Men today generally have no recognition of the truth. They do not know that the Lord Jesus Christ was in the world, in one way before His incarnation, and in another way after the virgin birth. What would happen in people’s lives if they got their arms around the truth that Jesus Christ was once in this world of men?

2.   As well, there is little appreciation these days for the Lord Jesus Christ’s role as Creator. “Pray all you want, chaplain, just don’t pray in Jesus name.” That is now what is being enforced in the armed forces. Imagine a country sending people in uniform to risk their lives in combat, yet directing their spiritual advisors not to pray in the name of the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Yet, that is precisely what is happening.

3.   Part of the reason our country is in the secular mess we are in is because we have completely lost sight of Christ having once been in the world and Christ being the Creator of the world. For two thousand years Europe had a grip on those two important particulars, but now has no grasp on those two concepts at all.

4.   Why so? Because of the third particular. If a person does not know Jesus in a saving way, the awareness that person has about Christ’s involvement in man’s affairs, and the awareness of Christ’s role in creating all things, will be lost. And even before it is lost, of what benefit are facts and truths to a man burning in Hell because he never knew Christ in a saving way?

5.   Let us say you have a pretty firm grip on the truths that Jesus was in the world and that Jesus is the Creator of the world. That will probably guard you fairly well against being completely secular. But you will still die in your sins and go to Hell, because knowing facts about Jesus Christ does not save you from your sins.

6.   You actually have to so know Jesus Christ that come judgment day He will know you. And how does that happen? John chapter 3, ye must be born again. That is what Nicodemus needed, though he already knew so much. And that is what you need. You need to be born again. Oh, what a glorious Christmas is celebrated by those who are truly born again.

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