John: John the Baptist’s Final Testimony (3:22-36)

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Part 8: John the Baptist’s Final Testimony (3:22-36)

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Jesus now leaves Jerusalem and heads out into the “Judean countryside”. Here in this little prelude we see Jesus and John the Baptist being compared to each other. This isn’t the negative comparison that world does, but rather it is a comparison of just the facts. Then we come to verse twenty-four and we get a preview of things to come. It tells us that John wasn’t in jail yet.

From this we shift the scene just to John and his disciples. An argument arises between one of his disciples and the Jews about purification, or the purpose of baptism. It is right here in verse twenty-six where the comparison really starts. This comparison is started or stated in a negative way. “Everyone is going to Him instead of us.” This is almost a complaint on the part of John’s disciple. Can’t you feel the thought going through the man’s head and hear his winy tone of voice? He’s thinking to himself: “If you’re really from God as you say you are then why is everyone going to Jesus rather than coming to us?”

John jumps at this question without even flinching. He starts off telling them that anything that anyone has is directly from God. This really is a call for them to wake up and start thinking. From here John again points out that he is not the Messiah and jumps into a beautiful metaphor for his and Jesus’ ministries and how they complement each other. His metaphor of a groom and best man eloquently articulates this point.

The idea here is that a man will pick his best friend to be his best man at his wedding. This best friend is full of joy for his friend’s wedding. How could he not be? The next statement is because Jesus “has come to His wedding” the best man has to step out of the spotlight and allow the groom to take the spotlight. This is natural in its flow. Of course the best man must step out of the spotlight to allow the wedding to proceed. If the best man stole the spotlight would he really be the best man or rather an opponent?

John the Baptist moves her from his metaphor of marriage, or a wedding, onto telling what he means. John makes a statement about Jesus twice, here, but only makes the statement about himself once. “The one who come from above is above all,” he says about Jesus, but the one from the earth (John, himself) can only speak of earthly things. Then John goes on to restate what he had said about Jesus, but this time pointing toward heaven rather than just “above”. John deals with Jesus’ testimony next.

Here John echoes Jesus’ words from earlier in the chapter (verse 11). He starts moving into a grand statement about not only Jesus’ ministry, but who Jesus is, exactly. “The one who does accept His words,” this person will put all of themselves “on the line for this one thing: that God is truth, completely and totally.” This statement points out what we have to do to really say we believe in Jesus. We have to believe “that God is true.” (ESV) If you stop and truly think about this statement you see: How can it be any other way? How can you believe in something that you think is a lie?

John moves onto material that Jesus, Himself, covers later (Chapter 5). John succinctly gives his explanation of who Jesus is. This is how Chapter 3 closes. It started with grand, eloquent statements made by the Son of God and it is ended with statements of the authority of the Son. “The Father loves the son so much that He put everything under the Son’s control.” The WEB translates this verse “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.”

The final remarks of John the Baptist in this chapter reflect Jesus’ own in verse 18. This allows us to see the unity across teaching. So it comes down to one question at the end of this chapter: Do you believe in the Son of God, Jesus, or not?

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John Jesus Teaches Nicodemus (3:1-21)

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Part 7: Jesus Teaches Nicodemus (3:1-21)

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The very outset of this chapter we receive an introduction that is quite different from the others we have seen in John’s Gospel, so far. He introduces a man named Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a teacher of the nation of Israel, and a member of the Sanhedrin. (The Sanhedrin was the ruling council of the Jews, who were in charge of everything from politics to religion.) In other words we could say that this was a man who knew a lot and was in charge with that knowledge.

His interview with Jesus shakes him so radically that he later defends Jesus (John 7:50) and finally helps prepare Jesus’ body for burial (John 19:39). Tradition holds that he became a believer. He starts this conversation with an interesting confession, not just for himself but for all the Pharisees. “We know that You are sent by God.” This deconstructs the Pharisees’ whole stance against Him! The fun thing for me to look at is Jesus doesn’t beat around the bush but jumps right into the heart of His message, almost ignoring Nicodemus’ statement and answering the question that he is asking in his heart. This occurs in verse 3.

Nicodemus was understandably confused. I can almost see him taking a step back. The information Jesus just thrust his way is so vastly different from the rest of his knowledge as well as physically impossible. Nicodemus naturally points that out to us in verse 4. Jesus tries to move Nicodemus’ eyes from physical birth to spiritual birth showing that He is talking about spiritual rebirth rather than anything physical. Nicodemus, however, will have nothing to do with it.

With Nicodemus’ inability to understand comes a radical insight to Judaism and the belief of the Jews. The Jews did not see thing spiritually but rather physically. This comes directly out of their Holy Scriptures (the Old Testament). You can see in the way that blessings and curses are written: “Do this and you will be blessed with that; don’t do it and you will be cursed instead.” The blessing always being something physical (i.e. a long life, much wealth, much land etc.) the curses are also just as physical. It can be easy to see – at least in some cases – then why the Jews (even in many cases Jesus’ own disciples) did not understand Jesus. We automatically think of spiritual things, but the Jews? Religion was always physical to the Jews. One other place this can be seen is in their reverence for a specific location as where God is: the Temple.

In response to Nicodemus Jesus gives quite a strong rebuke: “You’re supposed to be the teacher of Israel and you don’t even understand the simple things?” This direct response is so poignant not only to this Pharisee, but any religious leaders. If Jesus were here teaching us would He say the same to us? “You’re supposed to be the teacher of My people” [the Christians] “and yet you don’t understand the simple things?” Could you answer Him?

This rebuke brings us to one of the most quoted and beautiful monologues that Jesus delivered. In my opinion it rivals the Sermon on the Mount in its content and beauty. He starts off with His iconic statement: “I tell you the truth” in other translations it is translated differently. In the WEB it is “Most certainly I tell you”; in the King James Version it is translated “Verily, Verily I say unto thee”; in both the New American Standard Bible and the ESV it is translated “Truly, Truly, I say to you”. This, in the Greek, is “Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι” which is literally “Amen, amen, I say to you”. This phrase is almost used as a punctuation to point out the reader needs to pay attention to what is about to be said.

Jesus moves onto expressing His deity (Godhood) here. How could He not be God if He is not only speaking from his own knowledge but from his own experience? He is speaking only from His own knowledge and His own experience as God the Son. Still Nicodemus (and many others) refuse to believe His words. His follow up question is blatantly challenging to the way that Jews think and their religious point of view.

From here Jesus moves into yet another expression of His deity: “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven”. He is simply telling Nicodemus that no one has gone up to heaven except for a certain person who was there already. This person is? Jesus doesn’t say “Me, you ninny,” instead He gives a term that He has used to refer to himself throughout His ministry: “the Son of Man”. For Jesus this is as clear a statement of who He is as you are likely to receive. You cannot skirt around this to try and say “Jesus never said He was God” because clearly here, He is saying He comes from heaven and is the only one who can do so.

In the next two verses Jesus moves into a beautiful metaphor. Nicodemus, being a Pharisee, had the entire Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) memorized by heart. Jesus points Nicodemus’ attention back to the Torah by bringing up Moses. Moses was told by God to raise up a serpent on a pole in order to heal the Israelites after they had spoken against God and Moses. Jesus points to this as the same thing that must happen to Him (the Son of Man). This is for us to look to the cross and be saved not just from physical ailments but from eternal, spiritual death.

Jesus now says the most famous verse in the Bible. Many people, Christian or not, can recite this verse from memory. In the King James Version (KJV) it was translated this way: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The meaning of this verse, and the ones following it, resonates deeply in the hearts and minds of not only Christians but people around the world.

These verses, here, point out the eloquence of this particular response and in Jesus’ speaking in general. The next two verses I really like and they have really resonated with me. In the ESV they are translated: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 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.” (John 3:17-18 ESV). These verses point out not just the purpose of Jesus’ Ministry but also point to the freedom from accusation of the believer.

He starts out in verse 17 pointing Nicodemus’ focus back to the Torah, again, in equating His Ministry to the blessing of Abraham in Genesis. In Genesis God tells Abraham (still Abram at this point) that through him all nations (or families) will be blessed. Jesus uses similar verbiage here to explain His own ministry. This is not just His earthly ministry, but the spiritual ministry after His death, resurrection and ascension. He moves from there to explaining the spiritual state of the believer. This is a great statement. We’re not under condemnation! The WEB translates that word (which is κρίνεται – krinetai) as judged and one thing that is just awesome is there is a period after it.

We are not condemned, Period!

Here, in the end of this section, Jesus explains what the judgment is. This judgment shows what exactly the human heart is like. “The Light came into the world, but the people wanted the darkness more than the light because the things they did were evil.” This is exactly the way that the human heart works. We’re given the most amazing opportunity and we turn it down in order to be able to just keep doing what we’re doing. We don’t want to be exposed for how bad we actually are.

For anyone who actually does come to the light. They won’t be scared because their work will clearly be seen for the work of God. That is who we want to be: Those whose work is clearly seen. That is the only place that as a believer we will feel comfortable. God knows that we will mess up, but because of His grace He loves us anyway and there is no condemnation.

That is my hope for my life. What is your?

John Jesus Cleanses the Temple (2:13-25)

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Part 6: Jesus Cleanses the Temple (2:13-25)

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We are now moving into Jesus’ first public Passover. What is the importance of the Passover? To answer this question we must go all the way back to the book of Exodus. Specifically we want to turn to Exodus chapter 12. In this chapter we have what the Passover is laid out in clear language. The Passover was when the Lord passed over Egypt killing every first born man or animal except those of the people who had put the blood of a pure lamb on their door frame. (As we will see later Christ is our Passover Lamb.) God later gave commands about this being a covenant between Israel and Himself, and the lamb was sacrificed to God to fulfill this covenant and cover the sins of the people for that year.

Passover has a special meaning for us because Jesus was the final Passover Lamb. The Passover Lamb was sacrificed for the sins of the people for one year. Jesus as the Passover Lamb, gave Himself as a sacrifice for sin for all time. And so because of Jesus’ sacrifice during the judgment God will Passover our sin and read from the book of life. This is the importance of Passover to us as believers. During Passover Jesus goes to the temple and finds that the Jews have turned the sacred things into a form of business. This brings out His wrath. Why did this make Him so angry?

This made Him angry because these people were bringing sin into the Holy Temple (known as the House of the Lord). They were exchanging money (at a price) and selling animals (probably for more than they were worth). One thing to note here is that Jesus didn’t just fly off the handle, but instead sat down and methodically thought the whole thing out. We know this because in verse 15 it tells us that, “He made for Himself a whip of cords”. This is a task that He would have just done in a few moments but would take some time (maybe as much as a whole day). That means Jesus was thinking it out before hand, then, when He was done is when He “drove them all out of the Temple, along with their animals.” He throws over the tables scattering coins everywhere. Then He delivers the line that exclaims the heart of the issue: “Stop making My Father’s house a place of business!”

The next interchange is the first of many that takes place between Jesus and the Jews. The Jews (as recorded several times in the Old Testament; one specific time is Deuteronomy 9:6) were (and are) a stubborn bunch. They considered themselves right and everyone else wrong. This caused them to argue with everyone, even themselves. This is not atypical for the Jewish people.

They come to Him and demand what His authority for cleansing the temple is. Jesus’ answer is cryptic at first glance. He tells them that if they “destroy this temple,” He would rebuild it in three days. For the meaning of this statement and the following one by the author (v. 21) we must look at three passages. Let’s start systematically by looking at the Old Testament first. The first two passages are 2 Samuel 7:1-17 and its parallel passage of 1 Chronicles 17:1-15. This is where God makes His covenant with David (known as the Davidic Covenant). In these two passages (which some believe to be a Messianic Prophecy) God promises David an heir who will build God a house and whose throne would last forever. You’ll notice that the language of where this house and throne will be is non-specific.

In the time before Jesus there had already been two candidates to fill this position. These two were Solomon – who built the first temple – and Zerubbabel – who built the second temple. Both of these men were direct descendents of David in the Kingly Line. Solomon in fact was his heir who took the throne before he died. Neither of these men, however, had a throne established forever, and both of their temples were destroyed (Solomon’s Temple in 587 BC and Zerubbabel’s Temple in 70 AD). These two men had both been viewed as a completion of this promise until it was seen that they weren’t.

Now what does Jesus say about the place of worship? We find His words in chapter 4 of John. In verse 23 He tells the Samaritan Woman that a time was coming – and had come already – when people would worship God in their spirits. These words turn the believer into the house of God! This fulfills the words that God told David but in a completely different way than Solomon or any other heir of David ever could. This establishes a house for God that all human kind could worship in. So this must be what Jesus is talking about here. Verses 21 and 22 help clarify that really Jesus is saying kill me and I’ll be back in three days.

Finally at the end of this chapter we come to a conclusion about this Passover and one more point to show us Jesus’ deity. We have here a statement that points to Jesus being completely understanding of human nature. We know from other scripture that man only looks at the outward appearance but God knows the heart. In this section many see His miracles and believe in Him, but He is still keeping His own council. It says that, “He knew what was in man’s hearts and minds.” Most translations put it this way: “He knew what was in man.” This is a statement to say what I paraphrased it as. If it was the more literal meaning then it really has no meaning or purpose. But He knew what was in our hearts and minds.

He knows what is in our hearts and minds still He loved enough to come to Earth and die for us. Can you think of anyone who loves more? I can’t.

John Wedding at Cana (2:1-12)

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Part 5: Wedding at Cana (2:1-12)

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Now we get to move into chapter 2. Three days after Jesus calls Philip He is invited to a wedding. Not just Him, but all His disciples as well. This is a really interesting scene. Here we have Jesus, who has started His public ministry and His mother who was apparently helping with the catering of the party. This probably means that it was the wedding of a relative of Jesus. During this party they had drank all the wine and Mary comes to Jesus and tells Him so. This interchange is quite interesting and kind of comical. Jesus’ response to His mother is – at first glance – pretty typical of a parent/child relationship. The last sentence of Jesus’ response makes the reason for His response clear. “It’s not my time yet.” The WEB translates it this way: “My hour has not yet come.” His appointed hour of revelation was not yet here.

His mother doesn’t even respond to this statement, but immediately turns and orders the servants. Her words are simple and she gives the servants a simple order. Have you ever heard your mom make such a simple command but you couldn’t help but do anything but follow it? Mary does that here giving the servants a command to do whatever Jesus tells them to do. Jesus doesn’t question His mother again but moves on to the task that she appointed to Him. There is a lot of imagery and metaphors in the miracle (Jesus’ first miracle). We start out with the first verse (verse 6).

In this verse we have water pots, large water pots. They held about 20 to 30 gallons of water. These pots are important because they were used for something specific: Purification. These were used for rituals of purification in Judaism. Jesus then tells them to fill the six water pots. After they do so Jesus doesn’t make any loud words or calling to the Father. He just simply says, “Now take some to the host of the party.” The scene shifts from Jesus and the servants to the party. We’re told, here, that the wine that comes out was the best of the day. It’s interesting to consider if we look at this miracle through the last supper we see something interesting happing. These pots, which were used by the Jews in their purification rituals, were useless for such rituals. God comes in and gives his perfect Lamb as sacrifice and the Old Testament Laws are fulfilled.

In this metaphor we can see that man through his attempts to fulfill the Law was utterly useless, but we see the sacrificial of Christ (the wine) is miraculously added to the situation and the best thing happens: We are saved from sin and death. How great is that? After man’s attempts to fulfill the Old Testament (the wine earlier in the party) God miraculously sends down the best. Is there anything better?

John adds on a tag here to let us know that this is the first sign that Jesus gave as a glimpse of His glory. This is important as we see many glimpses of Jesus’ glory in the Gospel of John. In fact in the first half of the book there are seven signs that will be presented to us in order to prove Jesus’ deity and His messianic identity. The final statement of verse 11 is key to the premise of the book. It says, “His disciples believed Him.” This is important, because how would we find out about Him if His disciples didn’t believe Him?

This is His first sign to show us His glory. How great is that? What signs can you think of that Jesus performed?

John Jesus’ First Disciples (John 1:35-51)

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Part 4: Jesus’ First Disciples (John 1:35-51)

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Here now we’ve come to Jesus’ Earthly ministry. There is a short prelude to His Ministry. Just as the day before John the Baptist sees Jesus, but this time he is standing with two of his disciples. He – John the Baptist – repeats his words of the previous day and his disciples hear. Now why would these two men trust John’s words so heavily that they would seek out Jesus? Well discipleship – at that time – was not just being a student of a teacher. You gave up everything and lived with the teacher. You would believe them fully. These men exemplified this quality in this scene.

Now these two guys go and follow Jesus. They don’t announce themselves, they just kind of follow behind Him. One of these men we know the name of because it tells us: Andrew brother of Simon Peter. Jesus knew they were following Him, He was just waiting for the right time to talk to them. He finally foes by asking them, “What do you want?” Their answer is interesting in the fact that they don’t answer His question but ask one of their own. They call Him Rabbi – or Teacher – ask Him where He’s staying. His response is so easy and simple: “Come and see for yourselves.” They do. They go with Him and stay with Him for the rest of the day.

One of these two men – as we saw before – is Andrew the brother of Peter. Peter and Andrew were obviously very close because the first thing that Andrew does is go find Peter. He tells Peter that the Messiah is found, and brings him to meet Jesus. When Peter meets Jesus he is not called Peter, yet, he is known as Simon. Here we have something happening in the New Testament that we have seen time and again in the Old Testament. Simon is given a new name! He was born Simon son of Jonah (or John depending on the manuscript) and now Jesus tells him that he will be known as Cephas. (Cephas and Peter are the same name one is Hebrew and the other is Greek.) Name changes are important in the Bible. They mark people who have been called for a specific task.

I can think of a few off the top of my head: Abram/Abraham, Sarai/Sarah, Jacob/Israel and Hoshea/Joshua. All of these people had their names changed as they were called to specific ministries. What was Peter’s task? For our answer we can go back to Matthew 16:18: “and on this rock I will build my church and even Hell and the enemy won’t be able to stand victorious against it.” That’s Peter’s task to be the foundation of the Church. This was not who Peter was when Andrew brought him to Jesus, but this was the man that God grew Peter into. This is a huge lesson for us. Peter was not a courageous man, when asked if he was a follower of Jesus he denied Him three times. Just as Peter was grown into a great man by God, God takes us up out of our mire and sin and grows us into the likeness of His Son, Jesus.

We see Jesus calling more disciples to Him: Philip who goes and gets Nathanael to follow Jesus also. Here at the end of the first chapter we get our first taste of Jesus’ teaching. He shows us an example of His omniscience (all-knowingness) when He speaks to Nathanael. Jesus tells Nathanael things about himself that only Nathanael could have known. From this Nathanael recognizes Him to be the Son of God. Jesus tells Nathanael that He will do things far greater than just tell Nathanael that he was sitting under a fig tree.

In fact Jesus calls their attention back to the Patriarch Jacob and his vision of a ladder (Genesis 28:12). This was to show them that He was the link between God and them. It is not only to them, but also to show us. This is similar to His words in John 14:6. He is the only way! The link between us and God. No one comes to the Father except through Him. With these words of angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man like a ladder chapter one closes.

This is an important transition from introductory material to Jesus’ open ministry. With the statement that Jesus is the only link between man and God Jesus sets the tone for His ministry. What do you think this tone is? What does Jesus being the only way to God mean to you?

John The Testimony of John the Baptist (1:19-34)

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Part 3: Testimony of John the Baptist (John 1:19-34)

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Next we’re going to take a look at what John the Baptist said – specifically – about not only who he was, but also who Jesus was. This section is verses 19 through 34. Here we are going to get to see a lot of exciting things. Though John the Apostle doesn’t actually ever show the baptism he uses the Baptist’s own testimony to show it. We’ll see how the Baptist points out his own purpose on the Earth and then points out Jesus’ purpose. Finally in this section we’ll see the Baptist point Jesus out as the One he is speaking about – who is the Son of God.

Let us get into the text. The Apostle starts off here pointing out that this is exactly what John the Baptist said. The Baptist starts off, here, answering questions about himself and who he is. He tells these Jews (who were priests and disciples of the Pharisees) that he’s not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet. Let’s deconstruct this section for a moment. Why is it so important what this scene is explaining? First let us look at who John’s interviewers are: Priests, Levites and Disciples of the Pharisees (1:24).

Why is this important? Really it is important because John the Apostle is pointing out that these are people who should have known the scripture and known the prophecies. They shouldn’t have had to ask who the Baptist was. They should have known! They ask him multiple times who he is, but there is three important people they’re asking about. These people are the Messiah, Elijah and the Prophet. Who are these people?

First let us start with the Messiah. We know who the Messiah is, but what did the Scripture of the time say of Him? The entire Old Testament is laced with prophecy about Him. Starting with the simple fact he would be born of woman (Genesis 3:15) all the way through His entire life to the crucifixion as a substitution for our sins (Zechariah 12:10–13:1). Even the Psalms have prophecy about Jesus. It’s everywhere. The key point is they should have been able to tell who the Messiah was.

Next is Elijah. Why would the Jews think he was Elijah? Elijah was one of the greatest prophets to ever have lived. He lived in the 9th century B.C. (approximately 875–850 B.C.) and preached heavily against the pagan religions to which Israel had turned. But again why would they think that John the Baptist was Elijah? First it was because if you read the story of the end of Elijah’s Ministry he doesn’t die (2 Kings 2:11). And secondly it was because of prophesied by the Prophet Malachi that God would send Elijah before the “Day of the Lord” comes.

This is important to understand, though, as a prophecy of the second coming of Christ. This is because every use of the “Day of the Lord” is talking about the end times. We can look at several examples from the New Testament where we are shown that the Day of the Lord has not happened yet. Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians is on this very subject and in Chapter 5 he brings up the phrase for which we’re looking. It says “You guys understand completely that the day of the Lord comes like a thief at night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2 emphasis added). Paul is saying it hasn’t happened yet. So we can tell that this is the Second Coming of Jesus. Then why would the Jews think Elijah was coming?

The answer is they don’t see a first and second coming. They only see one coming of the Messiah. So what does the rest of Scripture say about being Elijah? Jesus, Himself, in Matthew 11:13 said that John was Elijah. This can be confusing because why are they contradicting each other? Luke tells us in 1:17 that John “will go out before Him and he will minister in the same way, in spirit and power, as Elijah.” So John the Baptist would come as a type of Elijah and fulfilled the prophecy about the messenger that would go before Jesus but was not Elijah himself.

Third is The Prophet. Where is the prophecy about this Prophet? It actually comes all the way from Deuteronomy. In chapter 18 God is talking to Moses and tells Moses that He “will put in place another prophet and he will come from among themselves. He will be like you, Moses, and I will put My words in his mouth and he’s going to tell them everything I command him to.” This is the Prophet they are talking about. Who was this man to be? John says it’s not him and we already see he fulfilled prophecy about Elijah. Who was he then? The prophecy seems a little open ended. It seems like it could include all the prophets of Israel except for the word is singular.

Peter thought that this was Jesus. In Acts he quotes Deuteronomy (Acts 3:22) and points it out to be Jesus. Stephen thought so as well in chapter 7 of Acts (specifically Acts 7:37) and he also quotes the Deuteronomy passage about the coming prophet. Where would these men get such an idea though? They got it from Jesus, Himself. As we’ll see later on Jesus said in chapter 5 that if the Jews “really believed what Moses said then you would believe Me too, because Moses wrote about Me.” This is Jesus speaking of Moses writing where we get this prophecy.

So the Baptist tells us he is none of the three that the Jews were asking about. Who is he then? For his answer he takes us all the way back to Isaiah, specifically Isaiah 40:3, which is the verse he quotes here. He says “I am the voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Make the path of the Lord straight.’ ” That’s who he is: a forerunner or someone who comes before. A messenger sent before the Lord. The prophet Malachi spoke of him too. In Malachi 3:9 God sends His messenger who will prepare the way before God. This is who John the Baptist is.

These people either didn’t believe him or still didn’t understand because they go on questioning. John the Baptist’s answer points further to his role as a messenger that would come before Jesus. What he tells them is also pretty ironic too. He tells them that they didn’t even know anything. He says to them, “There is One among you and you don’t know Him. It’s Him who comes after me.” The WEB translates this as, “Among you stands one whom you don’t know.” (Emphasis added.) This is a very strong statement being made by John the Baptist. But why is it so?

It turns out to be so strong because John is telling the Priests, Levites and Pharisees that the promised Messiah stands among them already. That is powerful, because he is pointing out to them how ignorant they are. He is also showing them to be fools by their own definition (Proverbs 1:5-7). They’re not listening to instruction. John moves on to tell us that this person who was among them was so great that John was not even worthy to touch His sandals. The Apostle moves on to the next even in John the Baptist’s testimony. Here we have the Baptist specifically pointing out Jesus. The Baptist wasn’t just some exegetical teacher who spoke in riddles about someone who would come after him. He specifically points Jesus out.

First he points Jesus out then he refers back to what he had said previously about Jesus. It is interesting to notice, here, that this is the third time that this statement has been repeated. This is also one of the many phases that the Gospel of John and the other three differs. Matthew, Mark and Luke all show the Baptism of Christ (Matt 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22) but John’s Gospel doesn’t show us the Baptism. Instead he gives the Baptist’s witness of the Baptism.

John the Baptist was an eye witness of the Baptism, as he performed it. Here he points out the Spirit coming down out of heaven like a dove. John tells us that this was to fulfill what the Lord had told him already. John also gives us a summary of Jesus’ post crucifixion ministry. We can see this because John the Baptist tells us of Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit. For now, though, we must look at the Baptist’s final statement: “This is what I have seen and told you, that this is the Son of God.” With these words the introduction to Jesus’ Earthly ministry ends and next we get to look at Jesus on the Earth.

John Prologue (1:1-18)

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OK, let’s take a look at the Gospel of John. John starts off showing us just how educated he is. His opening line appears to give a sense of blended philosophy. “In the beginning was the Word,” (1:1). This calls your attention all the way back to Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God,” as well as it has overtones of Greek philosophy.

But what is John’s point in this passage? “In the beginning was the Word”? What does that mean? He follows this explaining that the Word “was with God, was God.” Wait a minute God is a word? Or was with Himself? … Are you getting confused yet? Should one of the “Gs” in “God” be lower case? Verse 2 summarizes one of these ideas: “and existed in the beginning with God.” But didn’t he say in verse 1 that the Word was God? The English Standard Version (ESV) translates verse 2 as “He was in the beginning with God.” This makes it clear we’re talking about a different person.

To really understand the concept in these verses we must look at the purpose behind them. In John 20:31 John says his purpose is that we might believe that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God. The Song of God then is what we are reading about, right? Since we believe in the Trinity – the God who is three persons in one God or Triune – this makes much more sense.

John is doing several things in these opening verses, because he continues with his look back at Genesis: “Everything was made through Him.” This is again pointing us back to the Genesis story. “In the beginning God made the universe (the heavens and the Earth)” is how Genesis starts out. It moves into God speaking things into existence. So everything must have been made through the Word “without whom there would be nothing.”

After making the universe what did God make? The answer is light, of course! John fulfills this as well. In verse three “Everything was made through Him,” then in verse four “And through Him life was what was made, and that life is a light to all people.” The very next thing mentioned is light. Isn’t our God great? The light He made nothing can put out!

This ends the first section of these verses (1-18) and already John has given us a lot to think about. One key point of these verses as a whole is Jesus, the Son of God, is the Word of God, which is the action of God. Think about it, in creation how did God create? Through speech. He spoke things into being and if He spoke them into being then isn’t it Jesus performing these acts of creation? Jesus, Himself said that He could do nothing by Himself but He did the will of the One who sent Him (John 5:30) and that His food was doing the will of the One who sent Him (4:34).

So if Jesus is active full of actions and doing things then we who are being conformed to His image (Romans 8:29 and 2 Corinthians 3:18) are being conformed to what? We are being called to act! It is just as James (who was Jesus’ brother and John’s cousin as well) said in his letter, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). This is faith without action is dead. Think on that: dead, gone, worthless, useless, all these are terms that convey the same message. We are called to action!

In the next verse John introduces us to his first human character: John. Wait a minute is he introducing himself here? Our answer comes out of a later verse where we get more of a picture of this John. In 1:25 he is asked, “Why are you baptizing?” This is a key to which John we are talking about. John the Baptist was a forbearer of Jesus. He was the one who came to prepare the world for Jesus’ coming. John came to tell about Jesus but was not the promised Messiah himself. His purpose in life was to tell the people who Jesus was and why He had come. Verses six through eight give a summary of John the Baptist and we’ll see later, by his own words, what his purpose was. For right now though we have to contend with just receiving a small summary of what John’s call on his life was.

This moves us on to a new ides taking place in this prologue. The Apostle John has moved from equating Jesus to the Word of God to equating him to “the Light”. This happens not only in this section (vv. 6-8) but the next (vv. 9-13) as well. As we transition to this next section we get to a point that we get to see a preliminary stating of John’s purpose for writing.

Out next section starts off continuing the theme of making a distinction between John the Baptist and Jesus. “The actual light” gives us a clear difference. This “Light” which gives light to everyone was now entering the world. The stage is being set for Jesus’ ministry. Now the Apostle John gives a summary of Jesus’ entire ministry on the earth. He starts out by reminding us that the earth that Jesus – the Light – came to was made through Him. This is important because John is pointing out that the Light is the same as the Word which all things were made through. The big irony is that the world was made through Him but no one knew about Him at all. He even came to his own people (the idea being they out of everyone on the earth should have known Him) and they didn’t even know Him.

John, here, points out to us at the very beginning of his writing what his purpose is. He shows us that, though, no one knew Jesus and His own people rejected Him, those people who did receive Him – believe in His name (you can think of chapter 4 with all the Samaritans and the Official’s household) – He gave the ability to become children of God. This is the “New Birth” not of flesh, but of God. This is understood as – or could be read as – He gave them Salvation, neither by their own flesh nor merit, but from His. This is John’s purpose in writing: that we, too, might believe and gain salvation.

This moves us into the final section of the Prologue (vv. 14-18). Now John points out something that is very important. He starts it so simply: “And the Word became flesh”. Why is this so important? It is so important because there were a lot of people questioning whether or not Jesus really was the “Son of God” or if the Spirit had descended upon Him at His baptism and left Him at the crucifixion or whether He only came as a spirit and His birth and death were some sort of great cosmic lie. John points out here that there was no lie or Jesus was not just a man with the Spirit on him, but He is the Son of God who did become flesh and gave Himself fully for our sin.

John makes a very second point that is also quite important in this verse. This is a statement that points to John the son of Zebedee (John the Apostle) as the author. He says here: “and He dwelt among us”. This is important because it points out that the author is an eyewitness who knew Jesus in the flesh. He continues pointing out the fact that he is an eyewitness as he says that “we have seen His glory”. His glory is shown to appear as that of the only Son of the Father. We can look at this as the only son of a father is showered with love and taught to be an man (adult) through the example of his father. So the Son would shine as an example of the Father. Just as Jesus will later say, “If you have seen the Me, you have seen the Father” (14:9). Then what was Jesus’ glory (or image)? It was full of grace and truth.

The Apostle here comes back to the testimony of John the Baptist. Here the Apostle shows that John the Baptist specifically pointed out Jesus as the One who would come after him. The Apostle here uses John the Baptist to be pointing Jesus out. He will get into this deeper later, but for now he moves onto telling us more about Jesus’ glory.

John tells us now that out of Jesus’ fullness – or abundance – He has given us so much grace that it could never be measured. He puts it “grace upon grace” or “gracious gif after gracious gift”. This is so much grace there are not even words to express the idea to you of how much grace this is. To make his point further he shows us that the Law came through Moses and grace and truth came through Jesus the Messiah.

I want to pause here and discuss words. Something we need to look at is some of the words we use in “Christianese”. Here in most translations this word is left in Greek, just transliterated. Messiah and Christ, however, are the same word, one is just in Hebrew and the other is in Greek. The fact of the matter is the authors of the New Testament were writing in Greek as they would have written (or translated Messiah to) Christ. So here I prefer to use Messiah so we can remember that Christ was not Jesus’ last name.

There is one final verse in the prologue. Verse eighteen gives us one final point about Jesus being the Son of God. This is that no one has ever seen God, but the only Son of God (who is God) who is at the very heart of the Father has explained Him. This is a similar idea to what John wrote in verse fourteen. The same as the John speaking of the Jesus’ glory is an example of the Father because He is an example of the Father. With these words John ends his Prologue. By telling us that Jesus has explained (or made known) the Father, he leads us into Jesus’ ministry. In essence Jesus’ ministry was explaining the Father; cluing us into the Father and the truth of the Father. Just as John said in 1 John 4:8b “God is love” this is what Jesus was showing us. What do you think the most important thing Jesus revealed is?

John Introduction

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Part 1: Introduction

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Let us start out by first introducing our topic of study. We’ll be looking at the Gospel of John and if we are to look at the writing, first then, we must look at the author. John was a young man when called by Jesus. He was the younger son of Zebedee and Salome and the cousin to Jesus. He and his brother, James, were fishermen and partners with Simon Peter and Andrew (Luke 5:10). That is John’s background, fishing, and Jesus used this to tell him his future when he told Peter, Andrew, James and John that He would make them fishers of men (Luke 5:10).

John would go on to become a significant leader of the Believers (Christians) and later – more specifically – of the Ephesian Church. Ephesus is most likely the location from which John wrote this Gospel. He wrote much later then his contemporaries, sometime after 70 AD. Most sources point to sometime at the end of his life between 90 and 95 AD. And he wrote with a specific intention in mind. He was a well educated man who was writing to both Jews and Gentiles. He often translates Aramaic and Hebrew terms to Greek (see 1:38, 1:41 and 42, and others) and explains Jewish customs and Palestinian geography. But beyond this his main purpose of writing is stated in the text itself in John 20:30-31. In these two verses John states quite a few concepts. He starts with the fact that his is not a complete account of Jesus’ ministry on Earth but rather specific occurrences. He then tells us that these specific occurrences were chosen that the reader may believe (or keep believing as recorded by some manuscripts) and through this belief have eternal life.