Tuesday, September 23, 2014
The Gospel of John begins with a prologue, verses 1-18 which begins and ends with declarations of Jesus’ divinity. “The Word was God” and “no one has seen God except the One and Only (the only begotten) who is at the Father’s side”. John carefully chooses words, phrases and verb tense to convey to us the reality that is Jesus is, Emmanuel, God with us. The gospels of Matthew and Luke begin with Jesus’ genealogy, tracing Jesus’ ancestry back to King David and Abraham, John traces Jesus’ ancestry back to before creation, when there was only the Word and God; together they created all things.
By declaring Jesus the Word, John bridged the worldview gap between the Jews and the Greeks. The Greek understood the word to be both the spoken word but also the unspoken word still in the mind, reason and the creative force. The Jews understood the word as divine wisdom, when the Word of the Lord came to the prophets and that God spoke the world into being. John goes beyond their current understanding; he clarifies the Word as the person of Jesus Christ who was separate from God, “he was with God” and that He is God, “and the Word was God”.
John skillfully interweaves concepts about God through the next few verses that ground our understanding of who Jesus was and is, He was life, He was the light of men, He came in the flesh meaning that he was flesh and blood, a physical being not some spirit, that didn’t feel and understand everything about the human condition. God taking on the form of a flesh and blood human being was a new concept, incomprehensible and crude to Greek mind. God the Father along with Jesus are the source of all life, both living and eternal. This life is also the source of all truth, the light of mankind and this Life and Light cannot be put out by the darkness ever present in our world. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”; John’s Jewish readers would be reminded of the Tabernacle, of the time when God in the form of pillar of fire and cloud was present with the Israelites in the desert.
As the apostle continues he introduces to us to John the Baptist, it can get a bit confusing at this point as both John’s are witnesses about the Light. One of the challenges I have found in teaching, is that there are too many people with the same names Mary, John, Joshua, not to mention people with two names like Nathanael (John) and Bartholomew (Matt., Mark, Luke). John the Baptist, is the 1st witness in John’s Gospel, he was a cousin of Jesus (Luke 1) and was the first prophet to be seen in Israel in 400 years, the people were all astir, there was an intense feeling that the end times and the promised Messiah were imminent. The leaders of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to question John the Baptist, but John was clear, he was not the Christ, he was not Elijah and then John declares Jesus to be “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”. The Apostle John records that John the Baptist personally saw “the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on Jesus”; God had sent John to preach repentance and baptize and to look for this sign from heaven.
The closing verses of this chapter record that when Andrew and another disciple of John the Baptist (John the Apostle) heard John’s declaration they immediately followed Jesus. Then Andrew brought Peter to Jesus; Jesus went looking for Phillip who went looking for Nathanael. Nathanael is the 2nd witness, when Jesus said he saw Nathanael under the fig tree, Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel”.
John ends this section with Jesus saying, “I tell you the truth you shall see heaven open and angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man”. These Jewish men, anxiously awaiting the promised Messiah would understand this picture of Jacob’s ladder as the gateway to heaven, Jesus declares himself as the Ladder. Jesus starts by addressing Nathanael personally, but the second “you” is plural, so includes all of us, Jesus’ disciples as seeing the gate of heaven open by way of the Son of Man.
Memory Verse for lesson 2 is John 2:24
But Jesus would not entrust himself to them for he knew all men.