The message of the gospel of John can be summed up in one statement – “Jesus is the son of God.” His gospel is full of passages that illustrate that fact, but nowhere is it made clearer than in the language of chapter 1:1-4. John leaves no doubt, as it begins with an echo of the opening of the Book of Genesis:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
This reference to Jesus as “the Word” has meaning throughout the Old Testament. Two of many examples are seen as God brings things into existence by His very Word (Genesis 1:3), or accomplishes whatever His purpose may be by His Word, which He sends out (Isaiah 55:10-11). This is used by John again in his 1st epistle (1 John 1:1-3), as he adds the fact that he and the other apostles had physical contact with this Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Word is also referred to as living and active, for example in Hebrews 4:12. Jesus confirms that He was with God in the beginning in John 17:5; and John specifically identifies the word in verses 14-17:
“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 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.’”)
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. “
John moves swiftly from this powerful and awesome account to the testimony of John the Baptist. In verses 29-34, this John identifies Jesus as the “Lamb of God” – which they would not yet fully understand – and gives evidence of his own special revelation that he received from God, concerning His son. In verses 19-23, John the Baptist,appearing before the priests and then the Pharisees, denied that he himself was the Christ, or Elijah. “The Prophet” that they ask him about could be a misunderstanding by them of the promise of a “new prophet like me” to lead them, which Moses spoke of in Deuteronomy 18:15-16. He leaves no doubt in verse 23 though, that his baptism is to prepare the way for the Messiah, as he clearly states that he is the one referred to in Isaiah 40:3.
The chapter ends with Jesus calling the first of His disciples, some of which He undoubtedly already had a relationship with. But Nathanael marvels that he knows him, and realizes that He truly is the Son of God (verses 48-49) because of it. Jesus tells them that they will see much greater things to come. Verse 51 is a very clear reference to Jacob’s dream in Genesis 28:12.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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