Monday, 3 September 2012

John 1: The Light, the Word, the witness in the wilderness

Do you remember when I was reading Mark with Duncan and I wrote my responses to each and every chapter? No, nor do I. Since then Duncan and I have read Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians and Galatians together, without a hint of a blog post about it. We're now looking at the Gospel of John. Again, read the passage beforehand, and I'll try and post some (hopefully) helpful and thought provoking questions before ploughing into my response. I'll be posting them every weekday morning.

John 1
  1. What do we learn about Jesus in this first chapter?
  2. What sort of questions were people (e.g. the Pharisees) asking at the time? What are your questions for Jesus?
  3. Look at the different responses to Jesus. Who is Jesus to you?
John 1 starts like some epic fantasy novel. It's full of mystery and some really confusing names and terms. There's the Word, which is also the light of men. The Word/light turns out to be a person. This person was hanging out at the with God at the beginning of everything; but he also was God. This person also created the universe. So at the moment we have

The Word = the light = a person = God = creator of the universe.*

In verse 14 this Word/light/God/creator becomes human and made his dwelling among us. The Message version puts is as 'moved into the neighbourhood', which I think is awesome. This Word/light/God/creator who became human and moved in was sent by God, full of grace and truth. In verse 17 we finally learn his name, Jesus Christ, which is lucky because those who believe in his name become children of God. Verse 18 reminds us he's God, the One and Only (but God is also something distinct), and he hung out with God the Father. We're then told Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and a bit later we're told he's the son of God who will baptise us with the Holy Spirit. He also happened to be the Messiah, the one Moses and the Prophets wrote about and lives in Nazareth.

So to recap, Jesus is the Word; the light; God; the Son of God; sent by God; the creator of the universe; the One and Only; the Lamb of God; the Messiah; the one Moses and the Prophets wrote about; who is full of grace and truth and will take away the sin of the world and give those who believe in him the right to become children of God and will baptise us with the Holy Spirit, who was at the beginning but also from Nazareth. Confused? No wonder it says 'the darkness has not understood it'. It's amazing that in one chapter we learn so much about who Jesus is, what he came to do and how we should respond. There is so much wrapped up in this one person and it seems that there is a lot at stake.

We also meet this guy called John. The Pharisees ask him a load of questions that suggest that everyone is waiting for this Messiah guy to turn up. It turns out that John is a witness to the light but he wasn't the Christ (but we already knew that from verse 17), he wasn't Elijah and he wasn't the Prophet. John 1 doesn't give us many clues about him, but we meet him later in the book and the other Gospels tell us he's a pretty strange dude. He's Jesus' cousin and he lived in the desert eating locusts and wearing clothes made from camel hair.

This chapter ends with a statement that really gets me wanting to read on, to find out more about this mysterious Jesus chap. Nathaniel didn't think Jesus could be everything people were saying about him-he was from Nazareth, after all. Nate became convinced when Jesus was able to tell him what he was previously up to (probably praying in private: sycamore trees provided really good shade for that sort of thing). Jesus then basically says, "if you thought that was amazing, you ain't seen nothing yet."

*The Word/light/person is fully God but God is not just the Word/light/person. Just to make myself clear!?

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