SUMMARY: God has made Himself known in this world in the divine person of His Son, in order to invite us into His family as children
It is said that familiarity breeds contempt – and for some of us, we know a lot about Jesus, and have heard about Him for many years. But that has also meant that we are less excited about the truths about Him, and less fired up in our love for Him, and passion to tell others about Him. It is my hope and prayer that the Holy Spirit will do something about these problems in our lives, as we study John’s gospel this year.
Tonight, as we come to the Prologue, or Introduction, to John’s Gospel – I want to challenge you as you to read this passage, as if you’d never read it before. And do this bible study as if you were a non-Christian coming to learn about Jesus for the very first time. John wants to introduce us to Jesus for the first time tonight and amaze us with Him!
v.1-4: What do we learn from Jesus’ CV about His IDENTITY? How can these verses shape the way you view Jesus?
- “In the beginning was” – Jesus shares in God’s eternal pre-existence. “There never was when he was not” (Athanasius). The echoes of Genesis are unmistakable (“In the beginning… created… light… life”).
- “The Word” – Jesus communicates and reveals the Father’s mind and heart to us
- “was God” – Jesus is one with God, fully divine
- “with God” – Jesus is in intimate relationship with the Father – literally “The Word was face to face with God”
- “all things were created through Him” – Jesus is God the Creator. The seven miraculous signs we will see in John's gospel are the Maker restoring His damaged and defaced masterpiece.
- “In Him was life” – Jesus is the solution to the problem of death in this world
v.5-11: What has God done and what is humanity’s RESPONSE?
- 5-7: Sent His “light” (general revelation in creation) and His “witnesses” (special revelation) to prepare the way and point to the light (John the Baptist represents the last of the OT prophets)
- 9-11: Jesus, the “light” of the world has come – but the “world did not know him” – even His own people in Israel did not recognise Him.
v.12-18: What are the BENEFITS that Jesus makes available?
- 12-13: Jesus extends to us the offer of adoption and inclusion into the family of God as His children, sharing the life with God, is entered into through faith: ”who believed in His name”. The purpose of John’s gospel is to encourage us to enter into this relationship with God through faith in Jesus.
- 14: Jesus became a human being and dwelt among us – showing that there is a way for human beings to walk and live with God again (as it was in the Garden and as it will be in the New Creation), through Himself!
- 17: Jesus brings the offer of the grace of God to us, in fulfillment of all the OT promises of God providing salvation for the world
- 18 Jesus has made the invisible God known, who otherwise is outside of this creation, and shown us what He is like perfectly
“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31). Everything that John has recorded contributes to this purpose. Each passage should be approached asking:
- IDENTITY: What does this teach about Jesus being the Christ, the son of God?
- BENEFITS: What does it mean to have life in belonging to Him?
- RESPONSE: What does a right response of belief in Him look like?
OVERVIEW OF THE PROLOGUE
The way that John has written his introduction (as a chiasm) is meant to draw attention to his three themes of IDENTITY, BENEFITS and RESPONSE
v.1-4: Jesus is God (I)
v.5-8: Witnesses to Jesus: Creation and John the Baptist (I)
v.9-11: Jesus comes and is not recognised by the world (R)
v.12-13: Jesus invites us to become children of God through believing in Him (B)
v.14: Jesus comes and is recognised by the believer (R)
v.15-17: Witnesses to Jesus: John the Baptist and the OT (I)
v.18: Jesus reveals God (I)
A wonderful summary of the implications of this introduction for our understanding of God as human beings:
“For many of us, God is like the Loch Ness Monster. Some people claim to have caught glimpses of him… but all we have to go on are a few grainy pictures that are just enough to keep our hopes up. There’s no proof that it exists… The God of the Bible is not the god within. He is not merely the projection of our hopes and fears. He is the God who is really out there. But he is no Loch Ness Monster. The good news is that God is there and he is not hiding… when it comes to arriving at the truth of what someone might be like, our only hope is for him to come and make himself known to us. John is telling us that that is exactly what has happened… He calls Jesus the Word. He does it to make a point. In the Bible, God’s Word is how he made himself known… John is saying that God has not left us guessing about what he is like. Jesus Christ is the Word that he has spoken…In Jesus we don’t just catch a glimpse of God – see footprints or the flash of a tail – we can look into his face and see God in all his brilliance… Deep down we fear that living for God will make us less human… it turns out that God knows more about being human than I do. And if I knew more of God, I would know more of what it means to be a human… He loves us so much that he comes to us as a man like us – not just to live our life, but to die our death” (Mike Cain)
v.18: In light of all we have been told about Jesus, what do we learn about God the Father? How might this affect the way we relate to Him?
- Jesus has made the heart of God known. We can love Him; we have no reason to fear Him.
- “This truth has major implications for the way we conceive God… God is always Jesus-like. God is Christlike and in Him is no unChristlikeness at all… Jesus Christ was always at the heart of God … there is no God ‘behind the back’ of Christ” (Bruce Milne)
How does the promise of the gospel: “He gave the right to become children of God” (v.12) affect how you think about yourself today?
- We are secure in His love
- We have a certain, meaningful identity that doesn’t depend on anything in us or our circumstances
- We should be thrilled by our privileges: “Eternal life in John is not the Greek idea of the immortality of the individual soul; it is life shared – with God and with the people of God… Eternal life for John is being brought into the divine family… ‘This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent’ (17:3).” (David Wenham)
What difference could this passage make for your evangelism with your non-Christian friends this term?
- The light of God can penetrate the darkness of our unbelieving friend’s minds and hearts
- We have good news to bring of an invitation into God’s family, because He loves us
- Because Jesus came into this world and into history, we can be sure that the Christian faith is true – it has been witnessed by many
- Praising God for who Jesus is
- Giving thanks for what Jesus has done for us
- Asking God to use us in the lives of non-Christian friends/colleagues/family to help them find out who Jesus is (three names to pray for this term) and respond to Him