John 1:19-28: Humility and Belief

Read John 1:19-28

It is no secret that there was a great deal of confusion surrounding John the Baptist. He showed up on the scene, apparently unknown before this time, and started baptizing people. Mark 1:4 says that John was preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin. Obviously, this piqued the interest of the religious establishment in Jerusalem – who was the man out in the wilderness preaching repentance, forgiveness, and baptizing people? So they sent someone to investigate. When the investigators arrive, they ask John, “Who are you?” (John 1:22) John denies that he is the Christ, Elijah, or a prophet of any kind for that matter, as there were many false prophets and false messiahs in those days and Jesus warns against such in Matthew 7:15-20. What he does tell them is that he is the one the prophets spoke about in Isaiah 40:3. He was the voice calling out in the wilderness preparing the way for the Lord. The investigators did not understand this as they were expecting him to cite some sort of authority. Jesus was asked a similar question about his authority in Matthew 21:23-32 and Jesus asked a question about John’s baptism. It was apparent by this time that the people believed that John was prophet sent from God, but they knew the right answer was the John was sent from heaven and not baptizing in the name of some other man.

The problem with the investigators was that they were looking for something that wasn’t there. They came to John with presumptions and when John answered them it violated these presumptions they were confused. When we come asking questions, do we come asking with presumptions? More often than not, we probably do. This excess baggage can create confusion about how we understand Jesus and his message. Jesus encourages us to turn and become as children with humility and with hearts that will believe and be taught (Matthew 18:1-6) rather than presuming to know the answer. It is much easier to believe the gospel when you don’t presume you already know!

Lord, help me to humble so that I may understand and believe!

John 1:1-18: The Word

Read: John 1:1-18

Often times, this passage is called the “prologue” to the book of John, and in many ways it is. This passage is poetic and communicates some basic theology about who Jesus is in relationship to man, the world, and this witness of John the Baptist.

  • The Word present at the beginning (John 1:1)
  • The Word was present with God (John 1:1-2)
  • The Word was God (John 1:1)
  • The Word was present at Creation (John 1:3)
  • All that was created was created through the Word (John 1:3, John 1:9)
    • By implication, man…
  • Life was in him and life is light to man (John 1:4)
    • John the Baptist was a witness to this light. (John 1:6-9)
  • The Light and Word came into the World (John 1:9-11, John 1:14)
  • The Word and Light are the Son of God who is Jesus, full of grace and truth (John 1:14-18)
  • Those that believe become children of God (John 1:12-13)

The word translated “word” in the original Greek is “λογος”. This word in is a rather ambiguous term as it encompasses many things: a literal word, a thought, wisdom, a decree, an axiom, or a doctrine among many other things. In Greek thought Logos was thought of as being pure reason – the ideal or the essence of that which is. In Hebrew thought, the analog to “Logos” communicated the “Word of God” in the acts of creation (Genesis 1:3, Psalm 33:6) and as a manifestation of the mind of God.

What is clear, however, is that John is establishing that the Word is God and the Word is Jesus. He establishes that the Word was God by asserting this directly in attributing things to the Word that only God can do namely create all that was created (Genesis 1:1) and bring life to men (Genesis 2:7). John establishes that the Word was Jesus saying that the Word became flesh, the word was the Son of God – a title attributed to Jesus, and attributing the grace and truth to both the Son of God and Jesus. There can be no doubt here that Jesus is God as it is firmly established here and elsewhere in Scripture. (John 10:30-38, John 20:26-28, Romans 9:5, Philippians 2:6-8, Titus 2:13,  1 John 5:20)

John the Baptist came before Jesus as a witness to Jesus, and John knew this. John the Apostle wrote that John himself was not the light, but came as a witness to the Light so that those who here his message might believe and become sons and daughters of God. John was among the first witnesses to Jesus and saw a number of people repent. Matthew 3:3 establishes John as the witness from Isaiah 40:3 as the one calling out in the wilderness to make a way for the Lord. John did just this.

This prologue sets the stage for the rest of the gospel that picks up with John the Baptist. The Apostles John’s purpose in writing is to so the reader might believe and receive eternal life from Jesus. John testified to the truth about Jesus and the command to Christians today is no different. Jesus before leaving the earth told his disciples that they would be his witnesses to the ends of the Earth (Acts 1:8) the question is this: Do you know God such that you can bare witness to him and lead others to eternal life?

Lord, help be to know who you are so I can tell others about you!

The Gospel According to John

Read: John 20:30-31

The Gospel According to John as it is called in some translation of the Bible is as the title describes: good news from the perspective of the author, John the Apostle of Jesus. It was probably written in the late first century, and a tradition attributes the gospel to John, the Apostle of Jesus and one of the inner circle of Peter, James and John. John is unique among the four gospels in the Bible in that it differs in content and structure. Because of its authorship and the internal differences from the other gospels, most think that the content of the book of John is largely based eye-witness accounts of John himself and the eye witness of others. For more info on the Date and Authorship of John, check out the introduction to the book of John at bible.org.

John wrote his gospel with the intent of spelling out the life of Christ so that people would believe in Jesus and have life in his name(John 20:30-31). The content of the book should therefore point its readers towards faith in Jesus so they can have eternal life through him. John gives glimpses into the life of Christ before the week of his crucifixion. The content of these glimpses almost always attempt to establish some sort of spiritual truth about who Jesus is. Also, John places a great deal of importance on the crucifixion week as well giving it emphasis. The events surrounding the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus are quintessential elements to the Christian faith.

Theologically, John makes several points in his gospel throughout the book.

  • Jesus is God
  • Jesus is the Messiah
  • Jesus is the only way to God
  • Jesus came to make a way to eternal life
  • Jesus’ love compels us to love others

As mentioned, John’s gospel was written so that its reader might believe in Jesus. The testimony of John points to Jesus and we can take his word for it. But when someone experiences Christ for the first time, they become like the Samaritans who heard who heard the woman at the well’s testimony. They were drawn to Jesus by the testimony of another but believed even more so when they experienced Jesus himself (John 4:42).

Your testimony of Jesus’ work in your life (and the lives of others for that matter!) is a powerful tool when talking to people about faith. Think about how you can be like John and communicate spiritual truth of Jesus through the events of your life and others.

Lord, help my life be a living testimony to who you are.

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