Friday, June 28, 2013

John 1:33-34

I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”(John 1:33, 34 ESV)
Why did John say that he did not know Jesus?  Surely he did.  They were cousins.  Surely he had heard about Jesus' miraculous birth, about his own calling, about leaping in his own mother's womb for joy at the presence of Jesus.  Surely when Jesus came to get baptized (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22) and John felt unworthy to baptize him, but should have the roles reversed, surely he meant that because he knew who Jesus was... So why did John say he did not know him?

The answer is most likely that, even though John probably knew who Jesus was, the confirmation from God came through this sign that happened at Jesus' baptism. Seeing the Spirit descend on Jesus was what John had been waiting for so that he would know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus was the Messiah!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

John 1:32

And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. (John 1:32, ESV)

Here is John's testimony, his witness.  This is the confirmation sent from God that Jesus was really the one that John had been looking forward to.  This is most likely referring to the baptism of Jesus as reported in the other gospel accounts. John knows that when he sees this that the one on whom this happens is the messiah.
John the Apostle is sharing this with us in order to make sure that any of John the Baptist's continued followers would know that the testimony (witness) was that Jesus was the Christ.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

John 1:31

I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” (John 1:31, ESV)
This passage is a bit more interesting than one might think.  John Calvin goes into great detail on the thought of whether or not John knew that Jesus was the Christ or not.  It seems to make sense that he would know who he was.  Not only was there some relation between their mothers, but we also see (from the other gospels) that when Jesus goes to get baptized by John, John attempts to reject the thought outright because of his unworthiness.  Jesus has to reassure him that it had to be that way, and then after the baptism we see the Spirit of God descending on Jesus.  In John's account, John the Baptist identifies Christ through the sign of the Baptism.  How do these two things work together?

John Calvin tells us that John the Baptist knew who Jesus was, but the Baptism sign offered John a sign to point to for others.  I believe that they call it an a priori argument, or possibly an a posteriori argument.  Either way, John the Baptist most likely knew who Jesus was, but the sign solidified the claim so that John could say that Jesus was the Christ because God had revealed it to him through a sign.

Monday, June 24, 2013

John 1:30

This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ (John 1:30, ESV)

John the Baptist elaborates on this Lamb of God.  He is the one whom he had been saying would come. It was important to John that, even though he was the herald... the predecessor... John wanted all to know that the Christ was pre-existent.  Before John was... He was.

Friday, June 14, 2013

John 1:29

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"(John 1:29, ESV)
Charles Spurgeon is known to have once said this line while warming up his voice and testing the acoustics of the building, when a man who was standing outside of the room heard it, went immediately home and fell on his knees seeking forgiveness.

In a sense, this is what we are all to do, to point to the Lamb of God.  Our individual ministries, like John the Baptist's, is to simply point to Him.  Behold, means to look or to see.  It is written as a command.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

John 1:24-28

(Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. 
(John 1:24-28, ESV)
That first phrase (verse 24) probably should have gone with the previous day's commentary.  The "they" is referring to the "Jews" who were questioning John the Baptist.

John the Baptist's teaching was so bold and had such a messianic flare, that they couldn't help but wonder who he thought he was.  To preach repentance would fall in line with there heritage of prophets that he was inheriting, but to preach the kingdom would be to preach a king.

John is making every attempt to take the attention and the focus off of himself and point it to the one who is coming after him.  In a very real way, we should do something similar, except instead of pointing forward to one who is coming, we point back to the One who came (even though we know He is coming again).

Monday, June 10, 2013

John 1:21-23

And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” (John 1:21-23, ESV)
John the Baptist, already denying that he is the Christ in the last two verses, is now denying that he is Elijah or the Prophet. It had been prophesied by Malachi (Malachi 4:5) that Elijah would return.  There were also prophecies from Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15) concerning The Prophet.  The way John the Baptist was preaching, it seemed like he might be one of these two individuals.

When Jesus was asked who John the Baptist was, his response was,
and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.
(Matthew 11:14, ESV)
Is this a contradiction?  No.  When they were questioning John directly, they were asking him if he actually was Elijah.  They were wanting to know if Elijah had returned, in a literal sense. Jesus tells us that he is fulfilling the prophecy concerning Elijah, even though he is not literally Elijah in the flesh.

What might be more important is what John does consider himself to be.  It is something that we should all consider ourselves to be, in some measure.  We are simply voices, crying in the wilderness.  It isn't about us... it is all about Him.

Friday, June 07, 2013

John 1:19-20

And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” (John 1:19-20, ESV)
At the time of writing this Gospel account, there is the possibility that John the Baptist still had a following.  Part of what the Apostle John is doing is making sure that people understand that John the Baptist was not the Messiah, the Christ.

But neither are any of us.  We are not the saviors.  We are not the ultimate heroes of the story. We are not the ones that people need in their lives. We are not anyone's hope, nor should we be.  What people need is Jesus.  Like John we should constantly point to Him in all that we do.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

John 1:18

No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. (John 1:18, ESV)
In this verse, the one "who is at the Father's side" is referred to as "the only God."  Two persons in this passage are referred to as God.

Even though men like Moses saw glimpses of God in the Old Testament, nobody has seen the full revelation of God, until now.  When God became flesh, the ultimate revelation of God for us humans, He came as the person of Jesus.  The ultimate revelation of God from before time, is known to us as Jesus.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

John 1:17

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17, ESV)
Through Moses came the Law.  And through that Law came our understanding of our own sinfulness. As Paul tells us in Romans 3:19-20, "...through the law comes knowledge of sin."  The deeper problem mentioned in that same passage is that nobody is justified (declared righteous) by keeping the law.  The Law doesn't solve our problem, it only serves to make us more aware of our problem, we are deeply, inherently, sinful.

But through Jesus Christ, the full revelation of God, we are recipients of grace (unmerited favor) and truth (comprehension of reality).

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

John 1:16

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:16, ESV)
I have been pondering this verse for the last hour, and I am still no closer to comprehending its full meaning.

"...from his fullness..." can easily be understood as, the full, complete reality of who Jesus Christ is.  He is God, He is man, He is messiah, He is light, He is life, etc.  His fullness... and it is from this fullness that we are the recipients of "...grace upon grace."  This is where I am stumped. Simply put, we are recipients of God's unmerited favor, but why grace upon grace?

That little word "upon" is normally, possibly 90% of the time, translated to mean in place of.  For example, and eye for an eye.  That is the same greek word, and nearly every time that greek word shows up in the New Testament, it has that replacement meaning.  That is interesting to me because I have always taken this to mean grace on top of grace, a little like saying heaps and loads of grace.  But if this means grace for grace or grace in place of grace, that seems like it means something different.

Is this a significant difference?  Is there some meaning in grace in place of grace?  I have considered the possibility of it meaning that God was gracious already, He was already known for his steadfast love and faithfulness, but now there is a new sort of grace, a completely revealed grace, that is found in Jesus Christ.

I will have to do some more digging into this one.  I pray that God will give me wisdom before it is time to preach this passage.

Monday, June 03, 2013

John 1:15

(John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) (John 1:15, ESV)
At the time of the writing of this gospel, John the Baptist still had a following.  John the Apostle, the author of this book, is addressing this following in several places throughout his writing.  His concern was that John the Baptist's followers had missed what John himself had taught, that Jesus was truly the Messiah.  That Jesus was what John the Baptist was all about.

This verse also reminds us again that Jesus did not find a beginning when He was born into this world.  He is preexistent.  John the Baptist connects this preexistence to the "rank" of Jesus.  John was a forerunner to Jesus, yet the "after" one was actually the "before" one.