January 2 - John 1
During January 2021 we read through the Gospel of John. Just one chapter a day--first the 21 chapters in John’s Gospel. Later in the month we will also read and study the 3 Epistles (brief letters) of John. For each chapter, I will provide daily highlights, insights, points to ponder, background information and personal application. Pray God strengthens our faith on this spiritual journey in His Holy Word.
Insights, Highlights and Points to Ponder on JOHN 1:
- John 1:1 - “In the beginning was the Word…” This sounds very familiar. It takes us back to the first book of the Bible. Genesis 1:1--”In the beginning God created…” And how did God create? By speaking His all powerful Word! What did God create first? Genesis 1 says God SPOKE: 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.We rejoice as we hear in both Genesis and John that it is God’s LIGHT that scatters all darkness! That Light is our Savior Who will say in John 8:12, “I AM the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
- John’s original Gospel was written in Greek. The Greek term for “WORD” is logos. The logos is the pre-incarnate Christ. John writes: “In the beginning was the logos, and the logos was with God and logos was God...”NOTE: John’s vocabulary and grammar is somewhat simple yet filled with profound Truths. John is the easiest to read of all the Gospels in the original Greek language.
- Question: How do we ever comprehend the profound mystery of the Word made flesh and the doctrine that Jesus Christ is both 100% Divine and 100% human?Answer: We don’t(ha). But a helpful Biblical commentary for better understanding what we read in John 1:1-14 is provided by Paul in Colossians 1: 15- [Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.Here’s my insightful commentary on the above passage: “WOW!”
- John summarizes the entire Christmas story and birth of Jesus with one beautiful, historical and doctrinal verse in John 1:14,“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”In the Old Testament God revealed His presence and glory in the tabernacle (a big tent) set up by the Children of Israel during their wilderness journeys to the Promised Land. When the Word of God became flesh, Jesus tabernacled and dwelt among us to show us the only true way to God’s Promised Land--eternal life in Heaven--is by grace through faith in Him (Jn 1:16).
- As Lutheran Christians we often stress that God’s Word has TWO primary teachings or doctrines: LAW and GOSPEL. (For two of many examples, see Romans 6:23 or John 3:16-17.) Another beautiful, brief summary of God’s LAW and GOSPEL is found in John 1:17, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
- John 1:15-34 records the Ministry activity and testimony of John the Baptist, Who was sent by God to “prepare the way of the Lord.” John the Baptizer said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said” (Isaiah 40:3).+ One could say John the Baptist’s primary job was to POINT--to POINT people to Jesus.+ John’s baptism is one of repentance to prepare people for the coming “Son of God” (v.34) Who will baptize with “the Holy Spirit”(v.32-33).+ John the Baptist is questioned by the religious authorities, but he assures them he is NOT the Christ NOR Elijah NOR the Prophet. He is the servant sent to point us to Jesus, Who will lead us on a new Exodus from the bondage of sin to His Promised Land of forgiveness, spiritual freedom, and salvation.+ It is a remarkable moment when John the Baptist first encounters Jesus and exclaims: “Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!”(1:29). This amazing statement of fact and faith sums up Christ’s mission for us--to take away our sins!
- In John 1:35-51 John records the stories of Jesus choosing and calling His first Disciples, including Andrew (Simon Peter’s brother), Simon (aka Peter or Cephas), and Phillip and Nathanael.+ When He calls Nathanael, Jesus demonstrates that He is all-knowing in 1:48 by revealing He saw Nathanael under a fig tree before Philip even told him to come see Jesus. The Holy Spirit is at work in all of this and prompts Nathanael to make a powerful statement of faith: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”+ In John 1:51 we hear Jesus say “Truly, truly I say to you…” Jesus uses this saying often. “Truly” is a translation of a term used in the original New Testament that is actually from the Hebrew “Aman” (pronouced “ah-main”). It stresses the importance of what is being said (or prayed). When we say the related term “Amen” at the end of our prayers we are in essence saying, “Yes!” or “So be it” or making an exclamation of trust and faith that God hears us.The Lutheran Study Bible(LSB) provides profound comments on Christ’s calling of His disciples--in His day and in our day--to follow Him in our lives (p.1779 of LSB): When Jesus calls His first disciples, He reveals Himself to be the Messiah--the Son of God and Son of Man--the way to heaven. Today, people may still question Jesus’ invitation to follow Him. Yet, Jesus overcomes unbelief through the gospel testimony and graciously opens the way to heaven through His Word.
+Prayer+ Son of God, give me the strength I need to follow You daily and to testify that You are the only Savior. Amen.
John 1 (ESV)
The Word Became Flesh
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.
The Testimony of John the Baptist
19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
24 (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) 25 They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28 These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Behold, the Lamb of God
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
Jesus Calls the First Disciples
35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
PRAYER: Dear God, we give thanks that Your saving Word became flesh and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus. Forgive us when our primary focus in life is on ourselves - our priorities, our activities and our desires - and not upon our Savior. Help us to behold the Lamb of God Who takes away our sin, to follow Him, and to point others to Jesus. Amen.
Pastor Scott Schmieding