The Beginning – John 1

The Gospel of John does not share any similarities with the other Synoptic Gospels, but this unique account of the life of Christ has a completely different purpose. Written by most probably John, the disciple, during the latter half of the first century to a predominantly Gentile audience of the Greco-Roman city of Ephesus, its accounts are completely different than the other Gospels. The author does not care about the timings of these events and does not follow any chronological order. As a result, we read about the marriage in Cana which is described as the first miracle but it is followed by Jesus clearing the temple, which happened much later in the other Gospels. It seems that the author is not only writing down the events that are primarily omitted by the other authors but also leveraging his closeness to Jesus to give us his thoughts as well, making this Gospel feel like a director’s cut edition of a movie.

In The Beginning

The Old Testament (Tanakh) starts with the very same phrase, in the beginning and its no coincidence that the author uses the same wordings. John is establishing Jesus as the one and only Son of God who was not created but was involved in the creation of everything.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

John 1:1-3

God used the Word to create everything. In the Old Testament, word or the word of God always denoted God himself. To his Grecian audience, ‘word’ or ‘logos’ not just meant the spoken words but the very principle that governs everything, making Jesus the creator and governor of everything. Just like Daniel compared the heavenly creatures to their earthly doppelgängers for us to help us relate to his visions. Similarly, John is using the language of those times to explain the Glory of Jesus to his readers. There is no doubt in the mind of the author that God and Jesus are one and the same and that’s why he uses excerpts from the first page of the Bible while introducing Jesus to us.

The Life

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:4-5

When God created Adam, He breathed life into his nostrils and has breathed life into all of us. John is calling Jesus that Life, that powers all mankind. But the world, which only survives because of that light, has not understood Him.

Light in Genesis, separated the dark night from the day. The darkness that John writes about perhaps is the world or the ruler of the world, satan. Neither the world nor satan was able to comprehend the love of God, who willingly offered His Son to absolve us of all our transgressions.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.

John 1:10-11

Even the ‘chosen’ people of God did not recognise Him. The pharisees and sadducees who spent their entire lives in pursuit of righteousness could not comprehend the law being fulfilled before them. The ones who did recognise Him were uneducated fishermen who only did so because of His Spirit that He poured out on them. The wise became foolish and the fools turned wise.

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

John 1:12-13

This book has the famous conversation between Jesus and a pharisee named Nicodemus where Jesus spoke about being born again. We can never do anything to be called children of God because of sin that rules over us. No matter how many times we baptise ourselves or dip in different holy waters, we must understand that it is only God who can wash away our sins. God has given us the right to become His children when we welcome His Son into our hearts.

The Word

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

The Word of God came down and lived among us for more than thirty years. The fact that the author witnessed the glory, could mean that he was present during the transfiguration or the accension of Christ. The discernment to recognise Jesus was also provided to the author and to us by the Father in the form of His Spirit residing in our hearts.

The Law

Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.

John 1:16

The law was given to all through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. God did reveal himself to the people of the Old Testament times, and because of His Grace they received the Laws that helped them sanctify themselves to appear before God.

However with Jesus the former Grace is replaced by Grace 2.0, as we can come to the Father through Jesus with all our burdens. Jesus never came to break any laws that God gave but by Grace He helps us understand their purpose at the same time providing us with everything we need, to adhere to them.

No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

John 1:1-18

The Son

None of us were worthy to see God but through Jesus we have seen not just His back or a silhouette afar, like some of the chosen few from the Bible, rather we have seen the face of God (John 14:9). Before Christ, God was an old almighty judge in the clouds for us, to some even now. But Christ came and bridged that gap, the gap that Adam and Eve had created back in the garden so that we all can commune with our Creator.

This is the central theme of the Gospel of John as the author uses select incidents and teachings from the life of Christ to help us understand the purpose for which He came to this earth, to rebuild our broken relationship with God.

Questions

V1: What is the Word?
V1: Why start with in the beginning?
V4: What is Life?
V5: What is Light and why has darkness not overcome it?
V10: "the world did not recognize him", who was John talking about?
V12: How do we become the children of God?
V16: What does "grace in place of grace already given" mean?

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