-Introduction- The Apostle John gives us the fourth gospel on the account of Jesus’ life from his perspective through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. John writes later in the cannon comparatively to the other gospel writers from what most scholars conclude. A date post destruction in Jerusalem could be considered viable. This would make the writing of the text sometime after 70 AD, even as late as the 90s AD. He writes for the purpose of proving conclusively that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of the Living God, and that all who believe in Him will have eternal life (John 3:16). It is primarily written to searching non-Christians or new believers in Christ, which makes this book an excellent starting point for newcomers to the faith in the Messiah. Therefore, the great themes of this book include, but are not limited to: The Messiah as the Son of God, Eternal Life, Belief (Faith, Trust), The Holy Spirit’s Work, Resurrection, and the Battle Between Light and Darkness.
-John 1- “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being (John 1:1-3).” Right off the bat, John jumps into deep theology for us, as the reader, to grapple with. He is the LORD, pre-existent, eternal, and co-equal with the Father. This is Trinitarian theology at its finest biblical extraction. The Word (Logos) is Jesus, and He was from the very beginning with God as the Creator of the Universe. In Him, the Christ, was life, which became the Light of men as He came into the world. He shined in the darkness, but the darkness (the lost world) did not comprehend Him (John 1:4).
-There came a man sent from God by the name of John (John the Baptist). He came as the primary witness in order to testify about the Light, which was Jesus Christ. He made it clear that he was not the Christ, which coming into the world enlightens every man, but a proclaimer that was of lower rank and file. John the Apostle goes on to say that Jesus was in the world, the world that He Himself made, yet the world did not know Him in relationship. Jesus came to His own people, the Jews, but they did not receive Him. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His Name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:5-13).” John will pick up on this salvific theme of the rebirth later in Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus (John 3:1-21).
-Now John specifically states that Jesus, the Word, has become flesh and dwelt among mankind. His glory as the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth, can actually be seen on the earthly-tangible level. This is the One whom John the Baptist testified about as pre-existent and of greater rank. The great thing about all of this is that we, as humans, can receive “His fullness,” and “grace upon grace.” The Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth were actually realized through Jesus Christ, the Savior. Jesus, who is in the bosom of the Father (a Divine Unity), has explained God to us in a way we can understand (John 1:14-18). *Application* This is an amazing revelation that we should meditate on. God’s Law is perfect and valid (Matthew 5:17-20). It reveals the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). However, it simply shows our imperfections and failures. It necessitates the need for Someone to rescue us from our self-induced separation from a pure and holy Sovereign. Thank God today that He has given us mercy rather than justice. He has given us His Son as a propitiation for our sins (Romans 3:25-27, Hebrews 2:17; 10:1-17, 1 John 2:2-6; 4:10). This is the impetus for eternal life.
-John the Baptist’s mission is declared in this next section. As the Jews were sending priests and Levites from Jerusalem out to Bethany beyond the Jordan to the east where John was baptizing his baptism of repentance (Matthew 3:1-12, Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3), he confessed without denial that indeed he was NOT the Christ. These religious leaders persisted in asking important questions concerning him however. Was he Elijah, the Prophet, or who? They really wanted some answers. They needed to be able to report back to those who sent them of the Pharisees what John had to say for himself. John responded by quoting the prophet Isaiah, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the LORD.’” They couldn’t process how he could be baptizing if he were not the Christ, Elijah, nor the Prophet. John reminded them that he could only baptize with water, but among them was the One coming after him, whom they did not know, who would baptize with the Holy Spirit as the true Son of God. John the Baptist rightly considered himself unworthy of this Messiah, or what he called “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John simply testified to this Savior whom he had seen the Holy Spirit descending as a dove out of Heaven to remain on Him (John 1:19-34).
-The next day, it happened again as he was with two of his disciples that John the Baptist testified as to Jesus’ position as He walked by stating, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” This prompted these two disciples, one of which was Andrew, to follow Him and a brief conversation ended up gaining them the rest of the day with the Messiah from about 10am in the morning forward. Jesus’ disciples began to grow from this point in the text as Simon Peter, Philip, and Nathanael come on to the scene as they go into Galilee. Nathanael’s awakening starts with some skepticism as Philip tells him they’ve found the One whom Moses in the Law and the prophets wrote about. Nathanael’s hang up revolved around Jesus’ lineage from Nazareth and being the son of Joseph, which was really the Christ’s step-father. Nathanael point-blank asked, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip simply replied, “Come and see.” As Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, He made a poignant remark about his character, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit (dolos- guile, treachery, cunning, decoy, hypocrisy)!” Nathanael, now intrigued, asked the Savior, “How do You know me?” Jesus noted that before Philip even called him that He saw him under the fig tree implying that He even knew exactly what Nathanael was thinking about. We can see this from the reaction and further teaching of the encounter. Nathanael quickly proclaims Him to be the Son of God and the King of Israel. Jesus told him that this was nothing, but he would see far greater things than these. He reveals Nathanael’s thoughts about the Kingdom by stating, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man (John 1:35-51).”
-*Application*- Are we slow to accept some truths from the Messiah like those in our study today? Jesus desires to take us and make us into His image as children of the One-true, Living God (Romans 8:29; 12:2). How quickly He does that so often depends on our faith response to Him. Turn in repentance towards the LORD and ask Him to forgive all debts caused by the stain of sin. Then realize He has paid the price on the cross to erase all guilt and bestow eternal life to the believer. This opens up the heavens and awakens us to the spiritual reality of connection with the High Power in eternal relationship.
Verses to Memorize: John 1:1, 12, 14, 47