So I have to say, these first chapters of John were not anything unfamiliar to me, however I have never spent that kind of time pouring over every word, and number, and miracle, and I have grown within these last few days. So firstly I wanted, to let you now how I approach scripture when I am reading. As you see above, the first step is always, always to pray; ask God to show you something that you haven’t seen or experienced before. The next step is top put myself outside of the knowledge that I already have, Jesus is my savior, he bled, he died, he rose again, and he allowed me to experience life with him in heaven. But in order for me personally to experience scripture in an organic way, I have to forget about all of that and allow this story and this book to be completely new and organic to me. If I already know how the movie ends then the story doesn’t matter to me all that much right?
It’s believed that John’s book was written to new and non-believers. Remember we said in class, the bible was not written to you, but it was written for you. So it’s important for us to know that John’s letter was intended for those who did not know Jesus in the hopes that they would come to know him and that there is no other way for eternal life except through Jesus.
John is known as the disciple whom Jesus loved, some biblical scholars say that John was most likely the closest friend to Jesus. Now in the beginning chapters of John he speaks a lot about John the Baptist, he is a different John entirely, don’t be confused, he isn’t constantly speaking about himself in third person. He’s talking about Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist, I just wanted to make that clear as we jump in because even I had to do a double take.
In the introduction of John 1, John wants us to realize that Jesus was not a joke. He also wants us to realize that Jesus didn't just show up. He illustrates in his introduction that Jesus was there even during the foundations of the world. He tells us that Jesus is the word, he became flesh and dwelt among us which illustrates that all of the Old Testament scriptures, and promises, and teachings, they were about him! It was the most ferocious and romantic rescue mission that there has ever been!
God sent his son to be the tangible representation of all the promises that he made the Israelites through thousands of years of prosperity, and famine, slavery, betrayal, dissatisfaction, everything! God knew in order for his justice to be served he sent the most perfect and pure sacrifice he could, his son. In the moment that Jesus paid the ultimate price for our sin, he remedied all the sin for all of mankind, and gave us the opportunity, to spend eternal life with him in heaven.
And in John 2 it opens on the very first miracle that Jesus performed, he turns water into wine at a wedding he was attending with his disciples. John is so up front with wanting the readers to know that no one else can do what my Jesus is doing, he is a miracle worker and there is no one else like him!
Then immediately after we get a glimpse into the reality that Jesus knew who he was and he was one with his father, he overturns tables and drives people form the temple in Jerusalem because it had been turned into a marketplace and gambling den. This to me is a representation for how jealous Jesus is for the full attention of our hearts, when in today’s world it seems like we sell pieces of ourselves off to the highest bidder and we’re so captivated by what a cheap thrill can give us in a moment. But Jesus cannot dwell amongst the sin that we allow ourselves to be governed by. He wants our attention and he wants our adoration but he cannot double date with the sin that we allow to live in our hearts. He can be the only thing because he should be the only thing.
In John 3 Jesus has this discussion with a Pharisee named Nicodemus who is pretty much convinced that Jesus is the real deal but he wants to know where to go from there, he needs direction. Jesus tells him that he must be born again. What a weird thing to say, but I believe his saying that the only way to experience life on earth with me, and life in heaven with me, is a personally relationship with me; a devotion and willingness to deny yourself and follow Jesus. He then goes into John 3:16, probably the most well known verse in all of scripture. “Everyone who believes may have eternal life with him.”
Also in John 3 there is another moment where John the Baptist’s disciples start to notice that Jesus has amassed a greater following than John has, but John says, “The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.” John is so accepting of the fact that it’s not about him and his accomplishments; it’s about the preparation that he made for Jesus when he arrived. So often we rely so much on ourselves and our following or what we’re doing or how spiritual we are we forget that everything that we’re doing should constantly be pointing people right back to Jesus.
In John 4 there is this amazing encounter where Jesus sits with a Samaritan woman at a well, and asks for her to get him a drink and it turns into an encounter where Jesus tells her that he is living water and all who come to him to drink will never grow thirsty, but they spring up with living water, welling them up to eternal life. And this woman does not get it, she says, “I’m waiting for my messiah I’m sure he’ll explain all these things when he arrives.” And Jesus says, “I am he.” This is another moment where John really wanted the reader to know, your searching and yearning for a savior is over! He’s here; he’s walking among us, he’s working and preaching and performing miracles, John is so adamant that we notice that Jesus is the real deal!
In John 5 we see another one of Jesus’ first miracles, he heals a man at the pool of Bethesda, at this time in Jewish tradition they believed that this pool had special healing properties and if you bathed in it you would be healed of certain physical ailments and afflictions. So this man has been afflicted for 38 years and has not been able to climb into the pool because people pass him by and he is unable to reach the pool before it is full of other people. Jesus asks him if he’d like to be made well, and immediately he says, “I have no one to help into the pool, people pass by me while I try.” Jesus says, “pick up your mat and walk.” Immediately the man is healed, and what that says to me is that there are so many times in my life I’m telling God what I need to make myself healthy rather than just trusting in the healing that only he can give. He’s begging for us to look to him in those moments because all he wants to do is make us well.
And then at the end of the chapter we get pretty much a verbal download of who Jesus is through his words, he explains himself before the Pharisees. He calls them all out basically saying you have all the head knowledge and the scriptures and the law memorized but yet you don’t believe me, all the things you’ve learned never let them make that jump from your head to your heart, and you don’t trust me for who I am.
So we’ve seen so far in these first chapters of John that he wants us to see and know that Jesus is exactly who he says he is, he is everything we’ve been waiting and hoping for and he came to save the world, and that through his ultimate sacrifice we could spend eternity with him in heaven.
I really hope you’ve grown during your time reading and getting to know the book of John, I can’t wait for us to meet again so we can see how much we’ve each gained from this weekly reading. Know that I love you and I believe in your journey as a follower of Jesus. Next week Meghan will be unpacking the next five chapters; happy reading.