Thursday, May 30, 2013

John 1:14

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, ESV)
Repeat those first five words with me again, "And the Word became flesh..."

You might need to say that a few more times to let it sink in.  You could even elaborate on different parts of that statement.  Read back over who "the Word" is. Consider now what all is being dealt with in those next two words, "became flesh..."  Those first five words can give hope, inspire awe, and promote true worship.

Those first five words were most likely even more astounding to John, especially considering the next four words, "...and dwelt among us..." He was there!  God in the flesh!  And John can say truly that He "dwelt among us"!  They walked this world together, conversed with each other, ate food together, and slept in the same houses or on the road.  And yet, in all of that humanity... that flesh ... John can still say, "...and we have seen his glory..."

The grace and truth of God was manifested in the flesh, and John got to see it with his own eyes.  Keep that in mind as we continue through this book.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

John 1:13

who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:13, ESV)
These Children of God were born.

New birth is an amazing and intriguing concept.  We should reserve our main consideration of the New Birth until Chapter Three, but there is one aspect of this New Birth that must be discussed now, because of the teaching in this verse.

Notice first that "born" is a verb, but it is a passive verb.  It is something that happens, but it is passive, which means that it is something that happens to you.  Just like regular birth, nobody makes the decision to be born.  Nobody starts the process.  It isn't by a choice of the will. And so it is with this spiritual birth.  It isn't according to the will of the flesh or the will of man. The implication is then that it is by God's will that someone is born.

This reality with the New Birth stirs up several questions, but instead of dealing with those questions, first consider what it actually answers:  You see, as fallen humans we have this problem.  We are sinners. To our very core we are sinners.  And one of the biggest issues in our salvation isn't just the working of that salvation, through Christ's substitutionary death on the cross, it is also this troubling reality that there is not a one of us who would choose to believe in this Jesus.

Consider Paul's collection of Old Testament teachings on our "free" will:
as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
(Romans 3:10-18, ESV)
Not one righteous.  No one seeks for God. There is not a one of us that is really a "seeker" apart from what God does in us. Paul's description of us in Ephesians 2 is that we are literally dead in our sins.  Nobody takes God up on the offer of this free gift of salvation.

This is where John answers the dilemma.  It is not according to will that one is born again. It is according to God's will.

Like I said, this stirs up additional questions, but it answers one of our biggest dilemmas.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

John 1:12

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, (John 1:12, ESV)
There are a few words in this verse that need some explanation.

Let's think about the word, "receive" first.  It is a word that is quite often translated "take".  It means to grab ahold of or hold on to.   In other words, all sorts of people who grab ahold of Jesus...

What about "believe"?  It is the verb form of "faith".  Sort of like, "they faithed in his name."  Trust is a part of this word, but it also includes perspective.  This is how you see things.  How you view things.  Your core understanding of the universe.  To believe in the name of Jesus is not to simply believe that He existed and that He did the things that He did.  No.  It is to see Jesus for who He is... Lord and Savior of all.  God of very God.  Creator, Sustainer, our only Hope.

How about the word, "right"?  Nearly every other time that this word shows up, it is translated as "authority". So, it is a right, as in a legal right.  It is in their jurisdiction to become children of God.

That brings me to the word, "become".  This is translated in a variety of ways.  One of the most revealing is when it is translated "accomplish" or "be done".  One of the other times it is translated "become" is when Jesus is tempted to have stones "become" bread.  There is a transformation or an accomplishment of something happening.

So, all sorts of people who grab ahold of Jesus, in other words, who have Jesus as the core center of their whole belief system and world view, have been given the authority to consider themselves truly the children of God.

Monday, May 27, 2013

John 1:11

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. (John 1:11, ESV)
God's ultimate revealing of Himself as the Living Word of God, in the flesh, has entered into His own creation.  And now we see that not only did His creation not know Him, but His own people, the Israelites, did not receive Him.

There is a sadness in this for sure.  And I can only imagine a sadness in God's own heart as well.  But it is a sadness that He endured as part of His humanity. A sadness, along with many others, to deem Him the "Man of Many Sorrows" that Isaiah prophesied about.  He truly entered into this creation, not as one aloof from the creation, but right into the middle.  Right into the grittiest, darkest parts of this sin-marred creation.

And yet... without sin.

Friday, May 24, 2013

John 1:10

He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. (John 1:10, ESV)
Nearly every statement from this first chapter of the Gospel according to John is absolutely astounding... He... the He that created the world, was in the world.

...and yet this world did not know him.

We should have.  We should have known Him.  We should have recognized Him.  But we did not.  And we do not (still).

By the grace of God alone, some recognize Him.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

John 1:9

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.  
(John 1:9, ESV)
Most people love the idea of enlightenment or being enlightened.  But if the Bible is true, then true enlightenment doesn't just include things related to God, it focuses in and centralizes on the person of Jesus.  And it is this same Jesus, the true light, the enlightenment for everyone, was coming into the world!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

John 1:8

He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. (John 1:8, ESV)
This is a great reminder for all of us.  We are not the light.  We are not what people need. We are not people's hope.  It truly isn't about us.  We are simply to testify about the light.

One of my favorite aspects of being a witness to the light, and not the actual light itself, is that I can go out into the world and vocalize the truth (be a witness) and leave the "eye-opening" to the light.  It is exciting.  You never know what results are going to happen.  The Spirit goes where it wants to go (John 3) and we don't always know.  We simply speak about the light and then watch the light shine in people's hearts.

What a blessing to be a witness.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

John 1:7

He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. (John 1:7, ESV)
We have learned that in Jesus are life and light.  What is marvelous is that God also sends people to testify to that light. God could put huge signs in the sky, and sometimes He does send us signs, but so often He sends people to be witnesses.

Though I could not even begin to fathom the mind of God, I do believe that at least one reason why God sends people is because it increases the role of belief in the life of His followers. If there were huge signs in the sky, it would be more difficult to deny.

The word translated "witness" is the same word where we get "martyr." You see, these witnesses give of their lives (some literally) for the message, for the testimony.  Faith takes a dominant role as others believe the message of those who are sent.

Monday, May 20, 2013

John 1:6

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. (John 1:6, ESV)
Such a simple sentence, a statement of a fact, but what a powerfully amazing fact!

God is not an uninvolved deity. He sent a man into the world.  That man's name was John. Praise God today for His involvement in our lives.  He doesn't leave us without messengers to know His will.

Friday, May 17, 2013

John 1:5

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 
(John 1:5, ESV)
It doesn't always feel this way.

Much of the time, I feel as if the darkness is constantly overcoming the light. It seems to me that the darkness, quite often, swirls around the light, crushing in upon it. The darkness stamps out the light in most areas of the world, at least that is the way it looks to me.

But this verse sets me straight.

Darkness does not overcome light. When the light shines in the darkness, the darkness does not overcome it.  Darkness, really, is simply the absence of light. Well, at least that is true in the physical world. But it might also be true of the spiritual. The light shines into the darkness.

Some take this to mean that they need to force their way of thought, either politically or literally. But this is not the way of light.  For light to shine, it needs to truly be light.  The light that shines should shine as Jesus did: humility, service, patience, kindness, and most of all, love.

Go shine your light today because the darkness did not overcome the light.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

John 1:4

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:4, ESV)
This same ever-existent living Word, who is truly God, who has created everything, is also full of life and light.

When we say someone is "full of life" what we normally mean is that they are exuberant or energetic.  Sometimes that full-of-lifeness is even a bit contagious. But this is only a glimmer of the full-of-lifeness that Jesus has.  In Him is really Life! It is more than a feeling of exuberance or an attitude change.  It illuminates.  It Liberates.  Truly free to live a life in God. The Life in Jesus will actually give you Spiritual Life and eventually an incorruptible body for your Eternal Life.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

John 1:3

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.(John 1:3, ESV)
In Genesis we can read, "...God created the heavens and the earth..." In other words, everything.  All the stuff up there and all the stuff down here. He made it all.

And in those creative acts that unfold in Genesis, you get these little Trinitarian glimpses.  For example, we see the Spirit of God "hovering over the waters." Or when it came to the creation of man, God says, "Let us make man in our image."

In John, we are given an even deeper glimpse into the creation, and we learn that it was Jesus who created it all. This thought can steer our understanding of the rest of Jesus' earthly, physical ministry. Knowing that He made it all can give us insight into His interactions with what He has made.

We can also understand from this verse that there is a sharp line between created things and the creator.  Jesus clearly falls on the side of Creator.

As you seek to know who Jesus is, remember that He is creator of all.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

John 1:2

He was in the beginning with God. (John 1:2, ESV)
William Barclay says of this first chapter of John:
The first chapter of the fourth gospel is one of the greatest adventures of religious thought ever achieved by the mind of man.
I partially agree with this statement, or at least the sentiment of the statement.  There are verses in this first chapter that leave my head reeling with thought.  The imagination can run away, and I can still not reach the fullness of what some of these verses are hinting at or alluding to.  Right next to John 1:1, which leaves me staggering in my pondering of its meaning is John 1:2, which, if the thought of it is left to bake for awhile in the oven of my mind, it will quite often leave me staring off into space.

There is this time, if we could call it that, before there was time, before there was anything, when it was just God.

In God's Triune Being there was community, fellowship, joy, love, goodness and holiness. We are getting a glimpse, a small glimpse, into eternity past.  You see, when there was a beginning (of all things) there was already The Living Word.

I was going to attempt to wax eloquent on this, but frankly, I can't find the words.  Allow yourself to chew on the concept of Eternity Past, and then marvel that God actually loves you.

Monday, May 13, 2013

John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 
(John 1:1, ESV)
As we will see in the next few verses of this first chapter, John is calling Jesus the Word.

In a very real way, that is who Jesus is.  He is the perfect revelation of God. (cf. Hebrews 1:1-3) If you want to know God, He must be known through the person of Jesus, because Jesus isn't simply similar to God, He is God (in flesh).

Consider this as you go through this week.  God came in flesh to be known by man... and man killed Him.

... but some, only because of the grace of God, believed in Him.