Monday, May 14, 2007

In Search Of Truth, John Chapter 1

The Gospel of John, Chapter 1
This week we are starting our read-through and discussion of the Gospel Of John. Take a few minutes and read chapter 1.

You'll notice that John uses the odd title "The Word", to describe Jesus. He describes "The Word" as having existed before ANYTHING else. The Creator of everything that DOES exist. The giver and sustainer of ALL life, and a being that can NEVER be overcome by evil. He also said that "The Word" became flesh and lived among humans.

Imagine that concept for a second:

If you're a sci-fi buff (and if you're reading this, chances are good that you are) you may be familiar with the science-fiction concept of a non-linear being. A being existing outside the confines of time and the 3rd dimension. Although this concept is portayed in various ways in sci-fi and fantasy stories, ultimately it is portrayed in physical images for our linear, 3rd dimensional brains. In the end, we simply can't comprehend the concept of a non-linear, non-physical being.

Now consider that this infinite God chose, in ways we can't fully understand, to limit himself to the life of a human. Stew on that for a minute and try to comprehend it. God and human at the same time.

Jesus says later in Chapter 10, verse 30, "The Father and I are one." And later on in chapter 14, verse 9, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." Even wilder concepts still. But before your brain hurts too much, let's keep moving forward.

The Hebrews of the time understood "The Word" to be the acting power behind creation (Psalm 33:6) and would also have understood it to make reference to God's law and goodness.

The Greek philosophers of the day would have recognized the Greek word used for "Word" here: logos. In Greek philosophy this word was a reference to the divine source and sustainer of all things in the universe. So John was writing so that both Hebrews and Greeks would clearly understand that Jesus is God in every sense.

Many in American culture will go so far as to say that Jesus was a "good man" or even a "very spiritual person". They may even admit that he was a prophet. But to say that Jesus is God is just as hard for many to believe as it always has been.

So we have to ask the question, "What did Jesus believe himself to be?" Shouldn't his vote be the one that counts? After all, what if his friends thought so much of him that after he died they started writing stories about him, elevating him to the status of mythical legend?

While we don't have time or space (no pun intended) to go into a deep study of the topic(For more, see reading recommendations below), at a glance we can conclude that the Gospels represent what Jesus said. Their circulation was great enough among both those who loved and those who hated Jesus that were they falsified, someone would have spoken up. Yet we have no records to realistically support the idea that these stories were made up. We DO know that people have said from the beginning that Jesus was a madman, deceptive illusionist or sorcerer. But history does not support the idea that these documents were fabrications created by "Jesus Fans".

In this first chapter we can already see a contrast between a prophet OF God and a prophet who IS God. John the Baptist flatly told the Jewish leaders "I am not the Messiah". He also denied being the specific prophet mentioned throughout the Old Testament, who was destined to be greater than any prophet before or after. In everything he said and did, John pointed to Jesus, not himself, because John knew who John was. And John wasn't God.

Jesus, on the other hand, doesn't even seem to blink when he is referred to as the unique Son of God, or the King of Israel. In fact in response to being called these things he said, in essence, "Oh yeah? You ain't seen nothin' yet..."(verses 50-51)

As we'll see in future chapters, Jesus is more humble than any man, in the sense that he is a servant to everyone else. We'll watch him invest in the people of his culture that were judged and cast out by society. We'll see him love and take into his circle of friends, those whom no one else wanted to even be near.

At the same time, we'll also see that Jesus never denied worship, when he was given it. He never denied who he was, saying with false humility, "Who, me? Oh I'm nothing special, really."

We might ask, doesn't that make him arrogant to accept worship? And did he ever really SAY that he was God?

Grab a Bible and come back again next week. Join the discussion and we'll see what we can find out together.

Have something to add, or a question to ask? Join our discussion and leave a comment!

See you next week with Chapter 2!
Additional reading recommendations- "The Case For Christ, Lee Strobel", "Evidence That Demands A Verdict, Josh McDowell"

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