Scripture reading – John 1
An Introduction to the Apostle John
Continuing our study of the Gospels, we turn our focus to the fourth Gospel, “The Gospel According to John.”Unlike Luke who was dependent upon eyewitness accounts for his Gospel and letter to Theophilus (Luke 1:1-4), John was an eyewitness of the events recorded in his Gospel. He was Jewish by birth, and a fisherman by trade (Mark 1:20).
When we first meet him, John was a follower of John the Baptist (John 1:35-40), but departed and followed Jesus when the Baptist declared Jesus to be the “Lamb of God” (John 1:36). He and his brother James became disciples of Christ at the commencement of His earthly ministry. Along with his brother James and Peter, John was a member of Christ’s inner circle, and privileged to see the LORD in His everyday life and ministry.
In his first epistle to 1st century believers, John testified, “1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life…3That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:1, 3).
John was with the LORD for the most momentous moments of His earthly ministry. He witnessed the healing of the sick, blind, deaf, lame, and the raising of the dead to life. On the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:2) he saw the LORD cloaked in His heavenly glory. When Christ was crucified, John was the disciple that stood at the foot of the Cross beside Mary, the mother of Jesus (John 19:26). When he heard the tomb was empty where the body of Christ had been laid, he and Peter raced to the tomb (20:3-7). When he found the grave empty, John “saw, and believed” Christ was risen (20:8).
According to church tradition and early church historians, John is believed to have been the last living apostle. With the exception of Judas who betrayed Jesus and hanged himself, the disciples were all martyred. When John penned the Book of Revelation, he was himself banished to the isle of Patmos, near the end of his life (Revelation 1:1-2).
Who Is Jesus Christ? (1:1-27)
The opening verses of John’s Gospel are some of the best known of the New Testament Scriptures, and need little exposition for the readers of this devotional. Unlike the Gospels of Matthew and Luke that provide rich historical details of the incarnation and birth of Jesus, John’s Gospel opens with a captivating declaration of the eternality and divinity of Jesus Christ.
John declared Jesus Christ to be “the WORD” and Eternal God (1:1-2). He is the Creator, by whom “all things were made” (1:3). Jesus is the Life (1:4), and the Light (1:5, 9). He was preceded by John the Baptist (1:6), whose task was “to bear witness of the Light [Jesus], that all men through him might believe” (1:7). John declared Jesus “came unto his own [the Jews; descendants of Abraham], and his own received him not” (1:11). Nevertheless, Christ came into the world to save sinners, and “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (1:12-13).
Jesus was the “Word…made flesh” (1:14a), and “the only begotten of the Father” (1:14b). Fulfilling the prophecies of a forerunner of the long-awaited Messiah (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1), we are introduced to “John the Baptist” (1:15). Though John enjoyed a great following, he made it clear he was not the Messiah (1:15-20). With the humility of a great man of God who understood his role, John declared, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias…27He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose” (1:23, 27\).
John’s Baptism of Jesus (1:28-36)
By baptism, Jesus identified Himself with the ministry of John the Baptist (1:28-34), and he affirmed Christ, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (1:29). John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him… And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (1:32, 34); “Behold the Lamb of God!” (1:36)
Conclusion – The Calling of the First Disciples (1:37-51)
Our Scripture reading ends with a simple, straight forward account of Jesus calling His first disciples: Andrew (1:40), Simon Peter (1:41), Philip (1:43-44), and Nathanael (1:45-49).
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