THE WORD AND THE WITNESS
The gospel of John begins with words that can stretch the mind to its limits. John repeats the opening words of the book of Genesis, but for the non-Jewish person, it also had a creative connotation. John introduces the reader to the "Word" who was with God and who is God. The Word was the genesis of all things. The Word is eternal and was an active agent in the creation of the cosmos. Jesus is the ultimate cause and reality of all things. It is the "Word" that created the universe and communicates God. The word has life in himself, and his life is the light of men. The light is greater than the darkness because of his glory. John interrupts briefly to explain the prophet who bore witness to the light and the glory. John the Baptist came to prepare the way and testify to the light although he was not the light. Jesus, the creator, became like the creature and he tabernacled with the people in order to display God’s character and show God’s love. The Word that created everything and gives light to everyone was coming into the world, but the people did not recognize him. As a matter of fact, Jesus' people would not even receive him. However, those who received him and believed in his name were given the right to be the children of God. John the Beloved had seen Jesus' glory and John the Baptist testified of his greatness. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ, and although no on has ever seen God, Jesus makes him known.
John The Baptist
God sent a prophet after four hundred years of silence, and he was called John the Baptist. Religious leaders came from Jerusalem and asked John the Baptist about his identity. John the Baptist told them explicitly that he was not the Christ. His answer led to other questions about Elijah and the Prophet. The people knew that God was doing something, but they were not sure what he was doing. John the Baptist kept telling them no until in frustration explained that they had to have an answer for the people who had sent them. John the Baptist explained that he was the one that Isaiah had prophesied about that would prepare the way of the Lord. John the Baptist got his name from his practice of baptism, so they wanted to know by what authority he was baptizing if he was not the Christ, Elijah, or the Prophet. John the Baptist declared that the Word that they did not recognize was among them and his greatness was incomparable. The very next day as Jesus approached him, John the Baptist announces that Jesus is the Lamb of God who will take away the sin of the world and that he was the one that John had spoken of the day earlier. He knew it was Jesus because he saw the Spirit descend on him and he would baptize with the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist saw for himself and testified that Jesus is the Son of God.
The next day John the Baptist declared the same truth about Jesus, and when two of John's disciples heard it, they followed Jesus. Jesus asked them what they were seeking, and they called him Rabbi and asked to accompany him to where he was staying. They spent the day with Jesus and one of the disciples who is identified as Andrew went and found his brother. He exclaimed to his brother that they found the Messiah. Simon is curious, so he went with his brother to see for himself, and when he arrives, Jesus declares his identity and tells him that he will be called Peter. The next day, Jesus went to Galilee and called a man named Philip. Philip found Nathanael explaining that they found the one that Moses and the prophets foretold, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. Nathanael is skeptical and unconvinced. However, when Jesus sees him approaching, he discloses information that would require specialized knowledge and Nathanael believes declaring that Jesus is the Son of God and the King of Israel. Jesus explains that what he will see is bigger than he realizes.
Things To Consider:
- Why do you think John begins his account with the beginning of beginnings?
- What does this passage tell us about Jesus' identity?
- How does John the Baptist point to the Messiah?
- How does John the Baptist connect the Old and New Testaments?
- Why do you think the people did not recognize Jesus?
- Why don't people recognize Jesus today?
- Why is family such an important theme in Scripture?
- Why did Jesus become a human?
- How did becoming like his creation accomplish his saving work?
- How is his incarnation and act of grace toward us?
- How should we speak of Jesus?
- How does Jesus take away sin?
- Who should you tell about Jesus?