The Gospel of John
Darkness is a complex and important subject. But as The Apostle John writes his narrative of the life of Jesus Christ he deals with it in the first person. Chapter one falls into 3 parts: His introduction,” in verses one through eighteen, His “introducer” in verses 19 through 34, and The inception of His Ministry” in 35-51. Those first 5 verses deal with the Word sent by God, which we talked about in our two previous lessons. There we saw that this is another name for Jesus Christ. So in this lesson we want to begin talking about verses 6 through 9, which talk about the witness that God sent to prepare people for Jesus Christ, the word, who, as we have seen was the Lord Jesus Christ. The verses that we looked at last week touched on the spiritual conflict between the “light” of God that the “word” of God brought into the darkness of a sinful world.
Now, in verses 6 and following we are going to see God preparing the world to believe in Christ by first sending John the Baptist as a witness to Jesus Christ, the light. And the first thing we read about is his mission” in verses 6 through 8
(6) There was a man sent from God, whose name was John (7) This man came for a witness of the Light, that all through him might believe (8) He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
First notice that he was “sent from God.” Even though the focus of this whole introduction of the book in verses 1 through 18 is God’s work in bringing light into the world, there is also this reminder of His use of men to accomplish that purpose. This shows God’s use of men even in accomplishing the supernatural (hard as it is to believe.) Then notice how carefully John specifies that John the Baptist was not “the light” himself, but only a “witness” to the light. And verses 29, 35, and 36 bear that out. There is a sense in which we, too, are witnesses to the light which God has sent into the world. Jesus Himself “commissioned” us in Matthew 28:19, 20. And we need to be very careful that we do not let ourselves or others think of us as “the light” itself!
So that is the mission that John the Baptist as “the witness” had, but in verse 9 we see His message.
That was the true light that gives light to every man coming into the world.
A quick reading of this verse might give the idea that every man coming into the world has the light of Jesus Christ. But if that is true, then there would be no need for John the Baptist or any other witness. But we know from experience and from other passages of scripture that not every man has the “light” of Jesus Christ. So what does this verse mean?
Most commentators believe that the phrase “coming into the world” at the end of the verse speaks of Christ coming into the world. That is, that by coming into the world Jesus made light available to every man and woman in the world. We could get the sense of the verse in that way by simply inserting the word “by” – so that the verse then would then read “this was the true light which gives light to every man by coming into the world. Jesus is the light of the world. And this light, the gospel of Jesus Christ, is for every man since every man was created by Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16 and I Timothy 2:4-6.)
Now we have looked at “the word” in verses 1 through 5, and “the witness” about the work that the word of God came to do. So in verses 10 through 13 John begins to talk about the work that the Word came to do. The reality of the situation is in verse 10. And it might be surprising to you.
He was in the world and the world was made through Him and the world did not know Him.
This word “world” is one of John’s key words. It is used 77 times in this gospel. In almost every case, (including this one) it refers to the “system” of society or sphere of human life which chooses to live apart from God. And John calls it “the world” because in every age, the majority of the human race lives in alienation from God. Now into “the reality” of that situation comes the revelation of the Savior in verses 11 and 12. First there was the revelation to His own in verse 11.
He came unto His own and His own did not receive Him.
The words “His own” refer to Israel, the nation to whom God entrusted His revelation in the Old Testament. But when Christ appeared to that nation, even most of them said “we will not have this man to rule over us,” as Luke puts it in chapter 19:14 of his gospel. But there is a present sense in which these words “His own” could apply to any person who because of birth in a “Christian” country or Christian home or because of church affiliation, has some link with the people of God and knowledge of the gospel. Could these solemn words “He came unto His own an His own received Him not” be applied to you? Have you, too, chosen not to receive Him as the center of your life by refusing to make time in your personal life to read His word, to pry to Him, to serve Him and to be involved with other Christians?
When “His own” rejected Him He turned to the outsiders as described in verses 12 and 13
But as many as received Him to them he gave the right to become children of God, to those who believed on His name (13) who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God
The record of the gospels is that although the Jews as a nation did not receive Jesus as their Messiah, there were individual Jews and even many non Jewish people who did receive Him. And verse 12 says that as many as received Him” whoever they were, Jew or Gentile, He gave the right to become His children.” Thus the church of Jesus Christ is made up of individuals who by their own personal choice deliberately receive Jesus Christ as God’s unique Son, the light of the world and the only Savior from sin. And verse 13 reminds us that no matter what the outward circumstances look like, this was entirely the doing of God. “Not of blood” (Jewish background) “Nor of the will of man (diligent good works) but of God.”
Now in this “introduction” of Jesus Christ, we have seen Him described as “the word” of God in verses 1 through 5, we have seen “the witness” to that word in verses in verses 6 through 9; and we have seen “the work” that the Word came to do. In verses 10 through 13. So now we want to look, finally, at the walk in life that the Word pursued, described in verses 14 through 18.
First, notice His location in verses 14 through 16
And the word became flesh and dwelled among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (15) John bore witness of Him and cried out saying, this is He of whom I said, “He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.” (16) And of His fullness we have all received and grace for grace.”
Here is the climax of this 18 verse introduction. In verse 14 the eternal past (“the word”) is linked with mankind on earth (“dwelt among us”) and the result was that “we beheld His glory” in (verse 14) and “of His fullness we have all received. (Verse 16)
We are not dependent on weighty theological treatises for our knowledge of what God is like; He
Has revealed Himself to us. And He has done it in such a way that there can be no question about it. Paul gives us this same idea in II Corinthians 4:6, where he says,
For it is God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Now having seen “His location” (dwelling among us) in verses 14 through 16, verses 17 and 18 tell us about His communication.
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (18) No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten of Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
God’s law for human life was revealed to Moses, but sinful human nature was powerless to live by it. But “grace and truth” came by Jesus Christ. “Grace” is the undeserved favor which God showers upon us because of Christ. And the “truth” demonstrated in sending Jesus Christ is the standard by which that grace is given – His punishment in our place. And in that whole demonstration we see God in a way that would never have been possible otherwise.
The purpose of these studies is to help you come to know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.
Romans 3:23 says that “All of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”And Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” And Romans 10:9 &10 say that “”If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. If you already know Him as your savior it is my hope that these lessons will help you grow in grace and bring others to know Him as well.