Andrew Fountain - From Above

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Sermon notes - From Above

The Christmas Story

  • Where in the Bible do we find the Christmas story?
    • Gospels
    • Matthew & Luke
    • Mark is a much shorter book, so it is not surprising that some parts get missed out
    • But not John?
    • Can anyone tell me how John starts?
  • So why no story of Jesus’ birth in John?
    • John was written much later and assumes you have read the other gospels
    • For this reason, John has the luxury of being able to take time to talk about the meaning of events, not just the bare events.
    • Someone has described John as like a lake that is shallow enough around the edges for children to play in, but so deep in the middle that great men struggle to plumb the depths.
  • Actually, there IS the story of Jesus’ birth in John
    • Do you know where?
    • Right at the beginning!

John 1:1-18

  1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
  2. He was in the beginning with God.
     
  3. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
  4. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
  5. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
     
  6. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
  7. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.
  8. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
     
  9. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
  10. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.
  11. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
  12. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
  13. who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but born of God.
  14. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory—the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father.
     
  15. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”)
     
  16. And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
  17. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
     
  18. No one has ever seen God.
    The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known.

based on ESV & NET Bibles with some changes by amf


1. Jesus came “from above”

  • Two kinds of religion:
    • those that try and reach up to God
    • the one that depends on God reaching down to us
  • We cannot reach up and find him, he has found us
  • This is one of the central themes in the Gospel of John
  • I am going to try and very simply explain to you this theme in John
    • This is his Christmas message:
    • That Jesus is “from above”
    • And we have to become “from above people” in order to be saved from this world
    • So let’s see how John develops this...

2. We must be born “from above”

  • John doesn’t waste any time in telling us this
    • It is this passage in 1:12,13
    • But it is right at the forefront of John 3, the visit from Nicodemus
      • (not “born again” ?)
      • The word ἄνωθεν (anothen) is used many times in the New Testament and it virtually always means “from above”
      • e.g:
        • He who comes from above is above all.
          He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way.
          He who comes from heaven is above all. (John 3:31)
        • Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
          coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (Jas 1:17)
      • Here is my complete word study

John 3:1-19

  1. Now there was man, a Pharisee named Nicodemus, who was a member of the Jewish ruling council.
  2. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “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.”
  3. Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born from above he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
  4. Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
  5. Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
  6. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
  7. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’
  8. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
  9. No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven—the Son of Man.
  10. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
  11. that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
  12. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
  13. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him.
  14. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
  15. Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil.

based on ESV & NET Bibles with some changes by amf


  • to summarize:
    • Jesus is “from above”
    • If we are to be part of what he is doing, we must have some of this “from above-ness” in us
    • This present world is on it’s way out. It’s like a building that is condemned, but not yet demolished.
    • Jesus is the pathway up and out
  • Video of demolishon
    • This is what this world is like
    • We are living in these apartments!
    • They don’t have much of a future!
      • Jesus comes from outside and offers new accommmodation
      • If you haven’t taken up his offer, I suggest you do as quickly as you can
      • Follow him, and he will give it to you!

Themes so far

  1. Jesus came “from above”
  2. We must be born “from above”
  3. Jesus constantly depended on power “from above”

3. Jesus constantly depended on power “from above”

  • The next thing that John wants to show us is that Jesus, although he was God
    • didn’t rely on his divine strength
    • but on the power that was supplied to him moment by moment “from above”
    • Did he need to?
  • Although he could have done miracles in his own strength
    • That would have defeated the purpose of him living as a human
    • demonstrating to us how a human could and should live
    • and fulfilling the requirement as our saviour
  • Jesus didn’t only come from God, but he lived moment by moment depending on power from above
    • Let’s see how John develops this in the next few chapters

John 4:34, 5:30,36 & 6:38

  1. Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to complete his work.
  2. I can do nothing on my own initiative. Just as I hear, I judge, and my judgement is just, because I do not seek my own will, but the will of the one who sent me.
  3. “But I have a testimony greater than that from John. For the deeds that the Father has assigned me to complete—the deeds I am now doing—testify about me that the Father has sent me.
  4. For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me.
  • Now here is something that is slightly shocking:
    • One of the reasons Jesus came was to show us what a perfect human looks like
    • It turns out that a perfect human is not self-sufficient, but lives in dependence, every moment, in God
    • This lead to the 4th point:

4. We need to depend on Jesus, just as Jesus did on the Father

  • Jesus is demonstrating to us a life of dependence
    • We’re going to look now at an argument he had with some of the people who followed him
    • They are trying to get free food from him, and comparing him to Moses… in the time in the wilderness
    • Jesus picks up this image of bread from heaven
    • Moses gave you bread from heaven, but I am the bread
  • Jesus sometimes said some strange things and didn’t explain them
    • What if someone came up to you and said “I am bread”
    • What do you mean “I’m bread”?
  • Why do you think Jesus not explain himself better?

John 6:41-51,57

  1. So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
  2. They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven‘?”
  3. Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves.
  4. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.
  5. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—
  6. not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.
  7. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.
  8. I am the bread of life.
  9. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
  10. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.
  11. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
  12. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.

based on ESV & NET Bibles with some changes by amf


  • (not primarily about breaking bread, but it is a related image)
    • How long can you live without eating?
      • How long can the normal person be productive without eating?
    • breathing? —Jesus could have used this image, because it is actually every moment
  • v.57 is incredibly profound, and is the core of what I want to say today
    • The Father is my food—I depend on him every moment
      • I am going to be like your food—you will depend on me
  • So the message of Christmas is that
    • Not only did Jesus come “from above”
    • But he came to bring us some of that “aboveness” so that we might have his life
  • The way this happens is through the Spirit:

John 15

  1. “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
  • The Spirit is the way Jesus lives in us

How do we receive his life?

  • We ask for it, all the time
    • Every hour you need to ask for more. Ask and you will receive!

5. Now Jesus sends us!

  • Now that we are “from above”, we are sent out.
  • Jesus says in exactly the same way that the Father sent him, he is sending us
    • and we are empowered through the very same Spirit!
    • This is really exciting. Look at this:
  • And then he repeats it with more emphasis two chapters later:

John 17

  1. Just as you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.
  2. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
  3. I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
  4. that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me.
  5. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,
  6. I in them and you in me—that they may be completely one, so that the world will know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me.
  • Isn’t that amazing
  • So what is the Christmas message in John?
    • God has reached down by sending Jesus

Summary

  1. Jesus came “from above”
  2. We must be born “from above”
  3. Jesus constantly depended on power “from above”
  4. We need to depend on Jesus, just as Jesus did on the Father
  5. Now Jesus sends us!
  • Are you living a life that is struggling to reach up to God?
    • or are you recognizing with Jesus your need to depend on him?
    • you are sent out by him!
  • Make this Christmas a joy as you live moment by moment depending on Jesus through the Spirit
    • Let’s ask for him right now…

Updated on 2015-12-22 by Andrew Fountain