God the Father has revealed His message and person through His only begotten Son, whom the Bible calls the Lamb of God…
An introduction to John’s gospel:
The words “Read This First” have taken an important role in the packaging of modern consumer products.
Most consumers think life is too short for instruction manuals, so the packagers state it plainly:
If you cannot read the manual, at least read this very important part.
“Read This First”—it is for your own good.
The Gospel of John makes a similar claim. It is the only book in the Bible that states its purpose clearly and succinctly:
It was written to tell individuals how to find eternal life (20:31).
Jesus is the Lamb of God…
“Veiled in flesh the godhead see; Hail the incarnate Deity, Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.”
— Charles Wesley
John wastes no time in introducing Jesus to his readers as the Word of God, the Son of God, and the Lamb of God.
Unlike the writers of the three Synoptic Gospels, John introduces Jesus at the age of thirty and includes no information about His birth.
In the first eighteen verses of his book, John introduces the Lord. He begins by proclaiming that Jesus reveals God the Father and tells us that when He came to earth, God’s Son showed the human race what the Father was like—eternal, personal, and the Source of all life.
The word life appears no fewer than thirty-six times in this Gospel along with several other key words.
We could say that life establishes the central theme for the book.
We need only read the first verse of the Bible (Gen. 1:1) to understand the central issue of life, and it centers on the reality of God.
If there is a God (and there is), and if that God has spoken in history (and he has), then the most important thing in the world is to find out what He has said.
The Gospel of John is a loved and familiar book, but many who can quote important verses from its pages have a less-than-satisfactory grasp of its important theology.
Yet John wasted no time in introducing the key question:
“Who is Jesus Christ?”
In his presentation of Jesus as the Son of God, John started out with creation.
Everything that was ever made was made through Him; and without Him, nothing has ever been created.
Jesus was the Source of power in the original physical creation and in the spiritual creation by which people are brought to new life in Christ.
Do not forget that key word life.
John used it frequently in his Gospel, and he also used it thirteen times in his first epistle and seventeen more times in Revelation.
Here in this Gospel we have more than twenty-five percent of all New Testament references to life.
John wanted to make sure that everyone knew life is possible only through the Son of God.
Jesus Christ is the heart and core of the gospel.
Christianity is not a philosophy of life; it centers in a person who is the core of everything Christians believe.
Like His heavenly Father, Jesus reveals eternality, personality, deity, creativity, life, and light.
Some interpreters have translated the opening phrase of this Gospel,
“Before there was a beginning, the Word had been.”
Indeed, the familiar repetition of Genesis 1:1 almost looks as if John wrote a Gospel of two beginnings—a creation account that parallels physical birth and spiritual rebirth.
But it is important to notice that we are dealing with two beginnings, not creations.
The central focus of this verse is eternality.
Like His heavenly Father, Jesus always was and therefore existed at the beginning of time.
It is interesting that John should call Jesus the Word rather than some other name to introduce his book—interesting, but not surprising since the Jews often referred to God in such terminology.
The doctrine at stake here is the deity of Christ.
Jesus is God, and John wanted to make that point immediately.
In fact, this prologue (vv. 1-18) begins and ends with a strong statement of this doctrine.
The term Word (logos) would have been familiar to the Greeks as well.
Their understanding centered on ultimate reason or the rationale of the universe rather than the personal God revealed to Abraham and his descendants.
John claimed that the God of creation, the ultimate mind of the universe, had taken on human form; He had become incarnate.
The Bible allows no place for atheism and no room for doubt about how God has spoken—through the Word.
Before there was a beginning, the Word had been coequal with God throughout all eternity.
But what did the apostle mean by with God?
The Greek word is pros which literally means “toward,” implying a face-to-face relationship.
John would have neither atheism nor unitarianism (which is a form of Christianity that denies the doctrine of the Trinity) .
He told us later in his Gospel that the Godhead consists of a trinity, but here in verse 1 we learn plurality.
So Jesus, the Word, is eternal and personal.
Nothing can separate the heavenly Father from His Son.
Verse 2 merely emphasizes verse 1.
Gary Vanderet puts it this way:
“John intends that the entire book be read in light of this verse. The deeds and the words of Jesus are the deeds and words of God” (Vanderet, Prelude to Deity).
(1:3) Unlike the Gospel writers before him, John tells us that Jesus participated in creation and again states his case twice for emphasis.
Surely this is a deliberate link with Genesis, and it sets the stage for other New Testament Scriptures which show us Jesus’ involvement in creation:
“For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him” (Col. 1:16).
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe” (Heb. 1:1-2).
Creation is a foundational doctrine of the Christian faith.
Virtually every other aspect of theology rests upon our understanding of God as the origin of all life and of the role Jesus Christ, the Word, in creation.
John could hardly say it more clearly: without Him nothing was made that has been made— everything from subatomic particles to galaxies.
Only God who created all things can redeem them.
Creation is the foundation stone of the gospel.
Christ could not have been created, for He created all things.
There was a “historical Jesus,” but this terminology refers only to His thirty-three years on earth.
His life had no beginning, and it will have no end.
In verse 4 we find the first appearance of our key word—life.
The revelation of the Lamb was also the revelation of life.
No fewer than thirty-six times in John, we find the word zoe.
Jesus Christ the Creator provides physical life; Jesus Christ the Redeemer provides spiritual life; and Jesus Christ the Savior provides eternal life.
In this verse John also introduced another key word— light.
The Life becomes the Light of men.
Notice these positive terms. What a wonderful contrast to death and darkness.
In the Word, God’s person and power were revealed to humanity.
Here again we see a reference to creation since, in the Genesis account, light was the first evidence of God’s creative work.
God is always the Source of light and life.
Christ the Son, the Creator, provides life and light to humanity.
He alone is the life-giver and the light-bearer.
John is getting ready to write new lyrics to an old melody,
“With you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light” (Ps. 36:9).
(1:5) In this verse John picked up a common first-century theme, the symbols of light and darkness representing good and evil.
The word understood might be rendered “overcome.”
All the forces of Satan tried to prevent life and extinguish the light—but they could not.
These five verses tell us that Jesus came to the world with a message of hope, and He came from heaven where He had lived eternally with the Father.
The word rendered “understood” in the NIV is translated “seizes” in Mark 9:18 and “overtakes” in John 12:35.
God sent His light into the world, but mankind did not understand it, could not grasp it. But the world will never be able to defeat it.
So what does all of this mean for you and me?
Do you ever feel as though your life is too complex and your problems too profound for God to understand?
Remember, God created the entire universe, and nothing is too difficult for Him.
God also created you, He is alive today, and His love is bigger than any problem you may face.
When God created, He made something from nothing.
Because God created you from nothing, you have no basis for pride.
Remember that you exist only because God made you, and you have special gifts only because God gave them to you.
With God you are something valuable and unique; apart from God you are nothing.
If you try to live without Him, you will be abandoning the purpose for which you were made.
Why does Jesus’ life bring light to everyone?
Because physical death brings eternal darkness and only Jesus’ eternal life (His light) planted in us will keep us alive in His new Kingdom for eternity.
Jesus is eternally alive because He is God.
He came to earth to offer humankind the hope and light of His eternal life.
It can’t be purchased, only received as a gift. But Jesus gives it only to those who want it—those who want to live the way God’s citizens will live in His future eternal Kingdom.
“The darkness can never extinguish it” means that the darkness of evil never has and never will overcome God’s light.
Jesus Christ is the creator of life, and His life brings light to humankind (1:9).
In His light, we see ourselves as we really are—sinners in need of a Savior.
When we follow Jesus, the true Light, we can avoid walking blindly through the spiritual darkness that sin brings.
Jesus lights the path ahead of us, illuminating the truth and clarifying our thoughts so we can see how to live.
He removes the darkness of sin from our lives.
In what ways have you allowed the light of Jesus Christ to shine into your life?
Let Him guide you, and you’ll never need to stumble in darkness.
(1:8) We, like John the Baptist, are not sources of God’s light; we merely reflect that light.
Jesus Christ is the true Light; He helps us see our way to God and shows us how to walk along that way.
But Jesus has chosen to reflect His light through His followers to an unbelieving world, perhaps because unbelievers are not able to bear the full blazing glory of His light firsthand.
The word witness indicates our role as reflectors of Christ’s light.
We are never to present our own ideas as the light to others, but we are always to point them to the true Light, Jesus.
(vv. 10-11) Although Jesus created the world, the people He created didn’t recognize Him (1:10).
Even the people chosen by God to prepare the rest of the world for the Messiah rejected Him (1:11), although the entire Old Testament pointed to His coming.
(vv. 12-13) All who welcome Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives are reborn spiritually, receiving new life from God.
Through faith in Jesus, this new birth changes us from the inside out—rearranging our attitudes, desires, and motives.
Being born makes you physically alive and places you in your parents’ family (1:13).
Being born of God makes you spiritually alive and puts you in God’s family (1:12).
Have you asked Jesus to make you a new person?
This fresh start in life is available to all who believe in Him.
“The Word became human.” By doing this, Jesus became…
(1) The perfect teacher—in His life we see how God thinks and therefore how we should think (Philippians 2:5-11);
(2) The perfect example—as a model of what we are to become, He shows us how to live and gives us the power to live that way (1 Peter 2:21);
(3) The perfect sacrifice—Jesus came as a sacrifice for all sins, and His death satisfied God’s requirements for the removal of sin (Colossians 1:15-23).
Jesus became a human when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb.
He was not part human and part God; He was completely human and completely divine (Colossians 2:9).
Before Jesus came, people could know God only partially.
After Jesus came, people could know God more fully because He became visible and tangible in Jesus.
The two most common errors people make about Jesus are,
(1) To minimize His humanity by disregarding how He identifies with us in our human bodies and
(2) To minimize His deity by rejecting what He has single-handedly done for us in His death and resurrection.
But Jesus is both God and man.
(v. 14) “The Father’s one and only Son” emphasizes the uniqueness of Jesus.
All believers are called “children of God,” but Jesus is one of a kind and enjoys a perfect relationship with God the Father.
God’s law in the Old Testament revealed His nature and showed people how to live His way.
God’s unfailing love and faithfulness also reveal His nature to us.
Moses emphasized God’s law and justice, while Jesus Christ came to highlight God’s mercy, love, faithfulness, and forgiveness.
Moses could only be the giver of the law, while Christ came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17).
Previously, the law revealed God’s nature and His will; now Jesus Christ reveals the nature and will of God.
Rather than coming through impersonal stone tablets, God’s revelation now comes through a dynamic, living person.
As we get to know Jesus better in John’s Gospel, our understanding of God will greatly increase.
God communicated through various people in the Old Testament, usually prophets who were told to give specific messages (Hebrews 1:1-2).
But no one ever saw God.
They saw His glory but not His form.
Jesus is both God and the Father’s unique Son.
In Him God revealed His nature and essence in a way that could be seen and touched.
In Jesus, God became a man who lived on earth.
From Max Lucado’s Life Lessons:
The Greeks and the Jews were familiar with the concept of the word. For the Jews it was an expression of God’s wisdom, and for the Greeks it meant reason and intellect.
Leaving His heavenly home, Jesus put on human flesh to bring us God’s Good News.
For John and Andrew, it wasn’t enough to listen to John the Baptist.
Most would have been content to serve in the shadow of the world’s most famous evangelist.
Could there be a better teacher?
Only one. And when John and Andrew saw Him, they left John the Baptist and followed Jesus.
Note the request they made. “Rabbi,” they asked, “where are You staying?” (John 1:38).
Pretty bold request. They didn’t ask Jesus to give them a minute or an opinion or a message or a miracle.
They asked for His address.
They wanted to hang out with Him. They wanted to know Him. They wanted to know what caused His head to turn and His heart to burn and His soul to yearn.
They wanted to study His eyes and follow His steps.
They wanted to see Him. They wanted to know what made Him laugh and if He ever got tired.
And most of all, they wanted to know, Could Jesus be who John said He was—and if He is, what on earth is God doing on the earth?
You can’t answer such a question by talking to His cousin; you’ve got to talk to the man Himself.
Jesus’ answer to the disciples? “Come and see” (v. 39).
He didn’t say, “Come and glance” or “Come and peek.”
He said, “Come and see.” Bring your bifocals and binoculars.
There is no time for side-glances or occasional peeks.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
The disciple fixes his eyes on the Savior. (From 3:16 by Max Lucado)
If people want to know what God is like, they can look at Jesus.
If they want to know what Jesus is like, they should be able to look at His followers.
Can people see Christ in you?
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
Tuesday, June 21
Daily Verse and Comment
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”
— John 1:12
The word right means “authority” or “power.”
This right applies to us, the called of God.
Jesus came to give us abundant life and ultimately to save us.
We cannot let ourselves feel as though we were behind the door when the gifts of God’s Holy Spirit were handed out.
He has given all whom He has called—all who have received Him—the power to become a son of God.
We have that authority.
God is faithful and true to what Paul writes in I Corinthians 10:13, that He never gives us a trial that is too great for us.
He has granted us the power to overcome.
We have it, but most of the time, we do not use the gifts He has given.
We perhaps lack the patience or the faith, and we back away from the challenge that He has put before us.
But He remains faithful to His promise; the power is there.
After all, we have the Holy Spirit, the very power that created the earth. Though we do not have it in the measure that we will eventually have it, we have enough to do the job that God has given us to do.
John 1:12 also mentions “those who believe in His name.”
“Name” to a Hebrew person indicates what the person is, and not the phonetic sound that is attached to this particular person.
My name is John; that name identifies me.
But to a Hebrew, the name of “Yahshua” or “Jesus” would not just identify the Person of Jesus, but he or she would take the name to indicate what He is—His character.
This principle carries over into English.
When someone mentions another individual to us, we immediately think about that person’s personality, the way he does things, the way he speaks, his mannerisms, his reputation, etc.
If we hear the President’s name, we instantly mentally conjure some of his characteristics. They flash before our minds.
Those who believe in Christ’s name will be saved.
Those who will become sons of God in the fullest sense are those who trust in, rely upon, and conduct their lives according to what God is—what Jesus Christ is.
He is Lord. He is Master. He is Savior. He is Healer. He is Creator. He is Shepherd. He is Lawgiver. He is faithful to His promises.
Everything that Jesus Christ reveals to us about His personality and character is wrapped up in His name.
So, we have to conduct our lives within the framework of trusting in that name.
That is what will lead to eternal life. Because we trust and rely on His name, we will obey. We will have certain godly attitudes. We will submit.
— John W. Ritenbaugh
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