The Gospel of John – Light of the world

Last posts in this series 

Welcome back to this series on the The Gospel of John. We left off last time recognising that Jesus Christ was present at Creation, Creation could not have happened without Him as it took place through Him, and that Jesus came into the world, as human as what you and I are, to be the light of the world – He came to shine light into the darkness.

Today we pick up from John 1 verse 6 and we will cover up to verse 18.

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The Word Became Flesh – John 1:6-18

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 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.

15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 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.

This is the introduction of John the Baptist. (Careful not to confuse him with John, one of the Jesus’ apostles, this is a different John commonly known as John the Baptist). John the Baptist is Jesus’ cousin, the son of Elizabeth (Luke 1:41-44). John was a spiritual powerhouse, sent by God ahead of Jesus, to call Israel to repentance. Some thought he was the Messiah, but his role was to prepare the way for the true Messiah, Jesus.

John the Baptist’s role is central to the Gospel accounts. He was never interested in fame or fortune. He is the witness who came to testify about the light of Jesus, not just that they would learn to see, but that they would believe. John was converting and preparing others, by witnessing of Jesus coming, baptising Jews, softening their hearts, in preparation for Christ. This is a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 40:3:

“A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare

    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.”

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Light is symbolic of life, knowledge, goodness and used to give us the ability to see. But in the context of this Scripture, the light is not to enable us to see the physical world, but to open our eyes to the fact that Jesus is the true light. Christ is the one and only, true and perfect, light – the only way to see heaven. The best part is that unlike the law of Moses which was intended for the Jews, the light that Jesus is, opens the path, the highway, for all people, Jews and Gentiles, to heaven.

The sad part is that people reject Him. They reject the knowledge brought by Jesus. This is the worldly mindset which rejects God, His Power and His Word. This is why repentance is the core message of the Gospel – to turn away from the darkness and move into the light. There is more than enough evidence in the Bible to make the right decision but there are still so many who reject Him out of pride and arrogance or to push their own personal agendas.

The one group of people, the Jews, who knew God’s Word and the prophecies it contains, who should have welcomed Him, were the ones who called for His death! This is part of the Gospel message: that even when we claim to be seeking God’s will, we tend to turn away from it in order to go our own way.

The good news, however, is that all those who receive Christ, through faith, become children of God. How awesome is that. Regardless of your background, ethnicity or gender, the moment you receive Christ, you are a Child of God! You receive Spiritual honours just by being part of the family. Faith in Christ doesn’t give us magical powers, what it does mean is that you trust in His person, His sacrifice and the salvation He gives, a gift for all those who receive Him.

Being born of God implies a similar physical pain a woman endures during child birth. God and His Son endured much pain at the cross, so we could be born of God. Although there is so much pain spoken of and felt, it is the child who experiences the most change – salvation. God’s pain results in our benefit. Our salvation is not dependent on our works but entirely on the work of God, which is a good thing, because if it was up to us, we’d be lost forever!

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An important part of the Gospel is that Jesus was truly, fully, physically man. Verse 14 makes this explicitly clear by using the name of “The Word,” while saying very directly that He became flesh, living among us. He was a real, living, breathing person, He experienced everything we do as mortal people (Hebrews 4:15). He is the One and Only, and it means that Jesus is of the exact same stuff as God, so fully man but also fully God. John the Baptist makes a very clear point referring to Jesus’ eternal existence; even though he was physically born before Jesus, Jesus existed before John the Baptist did.

How does God ultimately express His love for us? Through the grace He so freely gives to His children. Grace, what is grace? It’s something that’s given that you do not deserve, nor can it be earned, it is given freely. Grace is what God does because He is gracious. Every action of God toward us involves His grace. His creation, His providence, His conviction of the sinner, His gift of salvation, His equipping of the saints, and the future He has prepared for us. All of this is due to God’s grace. It is impossible to adequately describe God’s grace without mentioning His love and mercy. Because of His love, God, who is rich in mercy, saved us by His grace. It is common to see these terms used together.

16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. Grace upon grace. A constant, overflowing gift.  As children of God, we are not only rescued, we’re honored and changed. No matter how much we need, God keeps making us more and more like Him.

Moses’ law shows us how sinful and broken we are (Romans 3:20). Jesus brought us the truth and grace. he didn’t just say we are broken, He gave us a way to fix our broken and sinful selves. We will always fall short, we are all corrupt with sin. Thankfully, we do not have to face this alone, Jesus provided a way for us to experience forgiveness.

Jesus is the definition of God. The fact that God came in human form is critical. Jesus was a human being who experienced our struggles, one to whom we can relate.

Jesus is a message from God, a language we all understand: relationship. Jesus explains God to us in a way we could never understand otherwise.

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