In the beginning was the Word…

Posted: September 14, 2012 in Sunday school
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(On Mondays I will be presenting an abbreviated version of the Sunday school lessons I teach at my home church. We are studying the Gospel of John, verse-by-verse, with the focus of seeing Jesus as the Apostle wants us to…as the holy Son of God, the Messiah prophesied by all of the Old Testament, the fulfillment of God’s plan of redemption.  Once we see Him, we will have to believe, and thus be saved.  Scripture references are NIV unless otherwise noted.)

Prologue (1:1-18) – The Apostle John sets the stage and scope for the story he is about to tell; and in the process crafts one of the most elegant theological statements ever written.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

(v. 1-5) – Unlike the other Gospel writers, John takes us back to The Beginning, in his carefully worded retelling of the Creation Story. John first introduces us to logos, the Word, and identifies Him as co-existing and co-eternal with God, and in fact the Word is God…all that God is, the Word is. He then tells us that the Word was present at the creation, not a part of it, and that He was the active agent for creation, it all passed through Him. This tells us that all that God does, the Word does. John next explains that what the Word does is bring life and light into the darkness. For John, “darkness” is a metaphor for the fallen human condition, lost to sin and death, forever separated from the glory of God.  So absolute is this separation, that we in darkness have become hostile to the light, afraid that it will show us exactly how desperate our situation really is. The light of God’s love is beyond our unsaved comprehension, and so we fear and hate it instinctively.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 

(v. 6-9) – To overcome this fear, God uses men who are receptive to Him, to reach out and spread the message of hope, the coming Messiah, who will bring the light back into the world. John the Baptist is one such man, dedicated to serving God and calling out for repentance in preparation for the One to come. He knew he was not the Savior, he was only a witness that He was coming soon. But it is significant that for there to be a witness, something really had to happen, something for him to witness about…that something is Jesus.

 He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. 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.

(v.10-13) – This passage summarizes the heart of the Gospel message – the Word has come into the world, to His chosen people, but they have rejected Him because they did not recognize Him. This is the key, because all who do recognize Him, receive the blessings promised to His people: membership in God’s family, with all the rights concurrent to that. John also affirms that we are not saved by who we are, or what we do or even what we think, but by the saving grace of faith in the Word of God.

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 testified concerning Him. He cried out, saying, “This is the One I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.’”) Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made Him known.

(v.14-18) – John now makes an even bolder statement: having identified the Word as God, he now tells us that God has come to the earth, living among us in the flesh, and we know who He is! We have seen Him with our own eyes, and His name is Jesus Christ. The apostle then cites The Baptist again, who, after seeing and baptizing Jesus, regularly and loudly pointed Him out to others with these words, fulfilling his mission of making Jesus known. John then makes the same distinction between the Old and New Covenants that Jesus Himself does: the Law (OT) shows us what is required to be holy before God, and convicts us of our failure, and our need for a Savior; while Jesus (NT) brings the necessary grace to forgive our sin, and the truth we need to know to be able to remain faithful to God. Jesus reveals God to a world that has forgotten what He looks like, and when we truly see Him, we truly see God.

Next week we will continue in Chapter One, verses 19-28, with more detailed testimony from John the Baptist about his identity, and that of Jesus.

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