Read: John 1:1-18
The prologue to the Gospel of John is a profound statement that either leaves you in wonder for the rest of the story or drives you away shaking your head. I honestly don’t think there’s much in between. Every time I read these powerful words I’m in awe of the One, the I Am, the Lord of all. I feel inadequate and ill-equipped to explain what it means.
In my mind, I envision an unbeliever stumbling upon these words and looking at me with a puzzled expression and asks, “Do you really believe all of this?” My reply, “Yes indeed! And this is only the beginning of the lesson!!”
As we dive into the Gospel of John take courage and jump in head first. The water is deep, you won’t hit the bottom–I guarantee that! One other promise, I’m not going to answer all of your questions. That’s intentional as much as a confession that I don’t know all the answers. Theologians have invested countless years in unpacking these words, I’m not suddenly showing up with some new revelation, merely walking through the words and listening for the Holy Spirit.
Before you begin, take a moment and pray that your heart will inform your mind. Read these words with faith and let that faith guide your thinking. Add a comment to the blog as we go along to let me know how the words of John (not Dave) are speaking to you.
The Word Became Flesh
The other day I was talking with someone who had more questions than I had answers. It was a great dialogue that I truly enjoyed. In the discussion, I mentioned that I wanted to start a Bible study that would begin with the Gospel of John. He was confused as to why I wouldn’t start with page one, with Genesis. Then I read these words:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
I don’t know if it made sense to him, but I was convicted all the more!
John makes it clear that Jesus Christ is the Word, He was and is and has been from the beginning of time.
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. John 1:4
The Light of the World
John will explain this theme in greater detail. For now, let this thought wander in your mind:
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. John 1:10
I find great comfort in this thought. If the world did not recognize Jesus, we should appreciate that many we meet may not understand the Gospel message, no matter how clearly we explain it. Some will be able to make the leap of faith while others will not. Our role is to be consistent in our desire to learn more, to grow in faith, and keep inviting those who are far from Christ into His family.
Children of God
John lets us know that His own will not receive Him, though they knew better than most, that didn’t include everyone.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:12-13
Years ago, this was a memory verse from a discipleship class. I wrote a jingle, a little tune, to help me memorize the verse, “He gave the right to become the children, become the children of God.” I’m not going to give you a link to the song, it’s a little embarrassing, but it did help me remember that we have the incredible privilege of being adopted into His family. We are fully accepted and part of His family.
An Aside: John the Baptist
The Apostle John makes it clear that John the Baptist played an important role in the presentation of the gospel. He was the one who told the world with clarity and precision that we’ll read about soon enough.
He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. John 1:8
It may not seem that significant to us, but for the early church, especially those who were living with John at the time, there was a lot of controversy about John the Baptist. He was definitely different, baptizing people, calling them to confession. He wouldn’t stop. We’ll read more of that in the rest of chapter 1 and the second half of chapter 3.
There’s that word again: incarnation. God who was and is and is yet to come stepped into time in the physical body of Jesus Christ.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
Why did He do this? For you. For me. For the person you love and the person you despise. Jesus became flesh and walked around with people, rubbed elbows, ate dinner, laughed, and cried because we are that important to Him, to God, to the Spirit.
I just read Bob Goff’s, Everybody, Always, this past weekend. The subtitle reveals the challenge:
Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People.
If you get a chance to read the book, I suspect you’ll be as challenged as I am to love people who are truly unlovable. I can create a list of people I think are unlovable, but I’m trying to become love as Bob explains through story after story in his short book. After all, Jesus said we should love God and love our neighbors and somewhere in there He said we have to love our enemies.
Here’s the thing: if I struggle to accept people where they are, bad attitude or not, isn’t it infinitely more difficult for the Creator of the universe to accept me? If anyone needs a reason to dispose of me, God could list a hundred reasons (per second). Yet He chose the opposite of what is logical. He chose to come and take on human flesh to demonstrate His unending love.
If God is willing to do that, it should be a simple thing for me, a mere mortal, to love others — everybody, always.
- Do you believe what we’ve just discussed? Why do you believe what you believe? Hint: you can’t say, “The Bible says…”
- Study 1 Peter 3:15-16. Do you have a sense of joy, true awe, and wonder, concerning Jesus Christ? Why?
- The NIV Application Commentary suggested this prologue may well have been a hymn sung by the ancient church. The hymn would remind those gathered of these essential truths. Remembering such truths at a time of temptation, trial, or difficulty may be the key to a positive outcome. What song plays in your head during these times?