1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
"The Word" existed in the beginning. It was with God. Which implies that it was separate from God, somehow. And yet it says that it "was" God. So somehow it was, at the same time, God and apart from God. Or maybe it is saying it was a "part" of God. And yet it was totally God. It doesn't seem necessary to say both it "was with God" and it "was God". For some reason God thought it was necessary to make that distinction. To me it would have been enough to say that it "was God". I don't think I understand … no, I know that I don't understand what is important about the difference.
Many bibles, if not most, claim that this use of "the Word" is just a reference to Jesus. I don't really know how they make that claim. But perhaps I'll learn that from some other part of this book or some other part of the bible. Or maybe it's not Jesus, or maybe it's trying to say something important about Jesus. We'll see. After all, God is the master teacher and communicator.
I wonder what's important about "the Word" existing "in the beginning"? It could stem from the fact that God created everything by His spoken word. I'm sure there's more to it.
God's definitely making a connection between "the Word" and Himself, a big one. I wonder why that's important?
Also, since God says in other parts of the bible that He doesn't change -- since it "was" that way, "the Word" must still be God, and with God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
So, He says "the same" was in the beginning with God. On the surface it sounds like he's just reiterating part of verse 1. Maybe this is just a way to add emphasis. Or maybe it's how he is linking verse 1 to the following verses. So, the same "Word" is the same as the "Him" in the following verses. Maybe all of that; probably even more. I don't really know.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
He made everything. And then it says that without Him, nothing was made. Which seems to say the same thing. So, it seems to say the same thing twice, but in a different way … why twice? Or, is it really saying something different, though seemingly only sightly different? Maybe it's saying that not only did nobody else make anything, but he didn't make anything any other way. It was all made only by "The Word". It was not made through anyone else or by any other means. It sounds like a statement made for clarification.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
It says that life was in Him. Does that mean life itself was in Him, or all of life, the life of everything and everyone? It seems rather pointless to say that He was alive. However life happened to be "in" Him, it was the light of men. I'm not sure about the meaning of that either, the light of men. What kind of light would you say is "the light of men"? Is that visible light? The light that helps generate vitamin D in our bodies? The light that helps plants grow? The light that provides part of the process that generates the ozone layer that protects the planet? The many other forms of light and radiation? My guess is that they are all necessary in one form or another, to promote or protect life. So I guess "the light of men" is all light, in its many forms.
One could certainly argue that this has some metaphorical or descriptive meaning. And it would appear that the next verse lends some credence to that. But it was not my initial thought. Although, I would imagine the next verse will lead me to other ideas. All the same, I do like my original thought about "the light of men".
One more note … it says "the life" was the light of men. It does not say "He" was the light of men … interesting, that.
A question: Does it say anywhere in the bible that life is "in" man? Or only that man "has" life? i.e. is life "in" Jesus only?
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
It says the light shines in darkness. It seems to be saying that it is shining in darkness, currently. And it says the darkness did not comprehend it. The darkness didn't understand it. A note in my bible says it could also mean that the darkness didn't "apprehend" it, or lay hold of it. This seems to imply that "darkness" tried to comprehend or apprehend the light. Is this a reference to Satan's attempt to seize control? Lucifer definitely did not understand. Odd how he could have thought that he could overthrow his own creator.
I feel like I'm missing something; something in relation to the light or how it relates to God and/or man. The light was in Him; He who made all things. And this light, that was in Him, shines in darkness. It doesn't say that it is no longer in Him, so I would take it that it is still in Him. And it is shining.
Lord, I pray that you will open the eyes and ears of my heart. That I may understand this statement about the light.
6 ¶ There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
It says there was a man. And God sent this man. The main's name was John. So there are men who are sent. God sends men. Which means they are sent to some place, to some person, or people (like Jonah to Niniveh). So it's possible that God went or will send a man to me. He makes a point to record this man's name, John. He may send me.
7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
It says this man from God came as a witness, to give testimony and/or evidence of the Light, so everyone might believe. Well, it says so that everyone, through him, might believe. So God uses people to show other people about Himself. And evidently, a person can come to believe in God through another person, or another person's testimony, or the evidence of their life or their actions.
I guess, since the Holy Spirit had not come yet, God took one man and in some way taught him and showed this man about God, so that he could be a witness. Maybe God sent the Holy Spirit to John the Baptist. I don't know.
It strikes me as interesting that it says: "so that all men might believe". So it is possible that all men might have believed through him … all men, through one man. Maybe that's why God made a point to include the words "through him", instead of just saying "that all men might believe".
Another interesting thought: I never really thought about God's power being so great that, even when it is "funneled" through just one man, it is able to change the whole world.
8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
This just says that John the Baptist was not that Light. He was sent to only bear witness of that Light. This statement just seems to be here to avoid confusion. Jesus is the one in whom is life. And the life was the light of men. John the Baptist is not the Light.
9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
It says that Light, of which he was sent to bear witness, it was the true Light. That Light lights every man that comes into the world. Saying that it was the true Light implies that there is a false light, or more than one false light. And the true Light lights every single person that comes into the world, whether they become a Christian or not, whether they're a murderer or not, from the nicest little old lady to the most evil terrorist.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
He, the true Light, made the world. And He was in the world, yet the world didn't know Him. So, even though He was the one who made the world, when He came into the world, they didn't even recognize Him. Even the religious leaders, who, I would have assumed, were supposed to recognize Him, didn't. It's amazing that we don't recognize the God of the universe. It would appear that even Cain (the brother of Abel) didn't really grasp it, who God is.
Lord let me see who you really are.
11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
He, the true Light, came to his own, but they didn't accept Him.
So, there are some people He calls "His own". And despite the fact that there is something unique about them -- that He calls them His own -- they did not accept Him. Their uniqueness was related to Him -- since they are "His own" -- but somehow they lost sight of how they were related, or relating, to Him.
I imagine that their uniqueness was only because He made them so. And they probably started to believe that they were special because of themselves, because of who they were, and not because of anyone or anything else. They lost sight of the truth. And they paid a heavy price.
It uses the words "they did not receive Him". Like He was a gift, to be received. He gave Himself, a totally amazing gift. But, tragically, they didn't even recognize the gift, right in front of them. The one they had been waiting for, hoping for, and watching for, for so long; and they missed it.*** *** ***
I'm not sure to whom I am writing this, at the moment, but … my prayer for everyone out there …
When the God of the universe comes to you, I hope you recognize Him and accept Him.
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Even though His "own" didn't receive Him, many people did. And those that did, He gave them the power (or authority) to become the children of God. He gave this power even to those who believe on His name.
Does this mean that, even though He gives me the power to become a son of God, there is something left undone? Does something else need to happen to actually make me a son of God? Verses like John 3:16 make me think that is not true. That seems to say that once you believe, you have "everlasting life".
This verse also indicates that it takes power to become a child of God. Since, god being all powerful, no one can force God to accept someone as His child, this power can only come from God. It also indicates that there are many sons of God, all those who receive Him.
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Those who believe on his name are born of God, not of blood, not of the will of the flesh, and not of the will of man. I think it is interesting that it says these children of God are "born". It doesn't say "adopted". So the children of God are indeed born again, apart from their physical birth in the flesh.
It seems to be trying to make some kind of distinction between will of the flesh and the will of man. Maybe it's trying to make sure it includes the will of the man who's child would be born, and the will of other people, like, say, his parents. This may have been much more significant back in that day. Although, I might be missing something here.
So, I am born of God, however that works. I am a child, a son, of God. Think about that one for a while.
Thank you Lord for letting me be your son.
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
"The Word", which was with God and was God in the beginning, was made "flesh", was made a man. And He dwelt among them, in John's day. They saw His glory. His glory was like glory from the only true progeny of God the Father. This man was full of grace and truth.
It doesn't say that He "walked" among; he "dwelt" among them. I wonder if that is significant?
From this we know that "the Word", which in the beginning "was God", became flesh, became a man. And he lived on this earth. So God became a man and lived among men.
15 ¶ John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.
John was a witness to those people, and now to us, of that man who was God, who became flesh. It says John "cried" and told them that this man is the one that he told them about before, when he was saying that "He that comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me."
So John had already been telling them about this man who is God in human flesh. And that now here He is, standing there with them, live, in the flesh, God Himself, God of the universe! That seems way over-the-top to me. It must have really felt that way to them, standing there with this guy, this "God, in human flesh".
And what must they have been thinking about, the way he was telling them that "He was before me", like that. Were they wondering "what does that mean?" Just like I am now? It seems to be extreme. Either extremely silly, just to say that He was born before John. Or extremely deep, saying that He was before … before what?
Is there some significance to say that "He is preferred before me?", other than just the obvious? Or maybe it isn't even obvious?
And why does it bother to say that John "cried"? So, he is yelling so everyone can hear, not just discussing this privately in his home. Is it only to say that this was important to John, this information, this knowledge? If you are telling the world that the God of the universe is standing here in front of you, that would be extraordinarily important, whether they realized it or not.
16And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
It says we have all received of His fullness. Then it says "and grace for grace". I'm not sure what it means by "grace for grace". I've heard grace referred to as "unmerited favor". But I'm not sure it helps much if I reword that to say "and unmerited favor for unmerited favor". I'm not sure why it says "for". We have received grace … for what? Maybe it means we have received grace, for the sake of grace.
I went and looked up the definition of the word "for", just to see if anything could make sense here. A few do make some sense. It could be grace for the purpose of us giving others grace; like you run for exercise, or give someone a coat for winter. Maybe it's grace for us to be filled with grace, or it's grace because of Him being full of grace; like you shout for joy.
Of course, it could be that I don't truly understand the word "grace". Which is highly likely.
There is probably a whole lot you can say about there being an aspect of "fullness" to Jesus. Full of grace, is just one.
Lord, thank you for your grace and mercy.
17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
The law was given (to Israel, the people) through Moses. Grace and truth came through Jesus.
So God gave the law to the children of Israel. And He used Moses to do it. But it says grace and truth "came" to us. And it came through Jesus.
I wonder if that means it came to us when Jesus arrived on earth? Or did it come before that? Or was it at the cross? Certainly the law is full of truth. So truth came before Jesus' birth in Bethlehem. So, it makes sense that grace and truth came through Jesus, even from the beginning.
I wonder why He makes a distinction between "giving" the law to man and having grace and truth "come" to man?
Both "the law" and "grace and truth" came from God. And in a sense He used a man for both. He used the man Moses for the law and the man Jesus for grace and truth.
18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
It says no man has seen God at any time. Jesus has declared Him, Jesus being the only begotten son. Jesus is in the bosom of the Father.
It is interesting how God, Jesus, and the Father are all mentioned separately in that one statement.
A couple of people have come close to seeing God. Moses on mount Sinai saw the "back parts" as the glory of God passed by. And in a similar way, Elija was in a cave, afraid for his life, and God got his attention by passing by, outside the cave.
Jesus has "declared" God to us. So this is how we know what God is like.
I wonder how many different people in the bible state that Jesus is the only begotten son?
When I read verses that say that a person is in the bosom of someone else, I sometimes picture that person standing in front of that someone, wrapped in their arms … safe, loved, just the way they are.
19 ¶ And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
The religious leaders sent priests and Levites out to wherever John was. Evidently, there was something noteworthy about John the Baptist. So much so, they felt compelled to send somebody out there to find out who he was. Which also seems to infer that they didn't really know for sure how to recognize the Messiah. Or they just didn't trust their own judgment when it came to the Messiah.
Why did God put this "record of John" in the bible? What is important about what John the Baptist claimed about himself and about the Messiah? Maybe it is just the simple fact that John the Baptist, somebody that was significant even to the religious leaders, claimed that Jesus is the Messiah.
20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
John the Baptist confessed that he was not the Messiah. And it says that he did not deny it. I wonder why the Word tells us that John the Baptist did not deny it? Would the meaning change if it did not tell us that? Maybe someone could have claimed that John the Baptist had, at some point later, denied this confession of his. Or maybe someone might later try to claim that John the Baptist was the Messiah.
Someone else in his shoes might not have admitted it, nor denied it, letting the people wonder. Perhaps to gain some notoriety or fame. This someone could have been dismissed as being crazy, or possessed.
It doesn't look like telling the truth did John any good here. And lying or just avoiding the question could have had some benefit, at least from the world's viewpoint.
Again, John is putting Jesus before himself, when he could have been out for himself, instead. Definitely something that makes him unusual in the world -- even today. Something that people tend to make note of.
21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
It says they asked him "So what, then?" Like they're saying "You have to be somebody!" They evidently recognized that there was something special about him; somebody as significant as Elijah or some special prophet; and not just any prophet, it would seem.
Even then he denies being Elijah or "that" prophet.
They are almost insistent that he is somebody special, even in the face of, or maybe partly because of, his denial.
It must have been evident to them that he was blessed by God.
I pray that it would be that way for all who believe. That it would be that obvious that we are blessed by God. That it would be a witness of the Lord's grace and mercy.
22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?
It says they asked him "Who are you?" so they could take an answer back to the leaders that sent them. And they asked, "What do you say about yourself?" or maybe "What do you have to say about yourself?"
Between this verse and the previous verses, it sure seems that they are very insistent. Does this mean that John the Baptist was reluctant to give them an answer? And if so, why? Or is it just trying to show that they did a thorough investigation into who he was?
Again, another indication that they really didn't know for sure how to recognize the Messiah.
Maybe John did not give them an answer right away because he didn't trust them. Trust them in what way, I wonder.
Why was it important to find out what John had to say about himself? Were they going to trust whatever he told them? Or was this partly just to gather evidence that they could use against him?
Does the Lord want us to have an answer to give those who ask?
I pray that we all would have an answer to give those who ask. So that we may give them a reason for our hope. And share with them what Jesus means to us and what He is doing in our lives. By this answer I hope the Lord can use me to reach others, to connect with Him and be saved.
23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
It says that John replied to their questioning using the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord'".
John seems to say this in a very definitive manner. It's something he knows. It's not just a feeling or something he thinks or has decided to just 'believe'. There is something in his life, maybe an event or maybe a series of events, maybe what his parents told him about the time around his birth, probably several things combined, that has brought him to this knowledge.
I wonder if he really understood his role. God chose him for a very unique and very public position in history. He probably had no idea of the full significance of his role. His role also made his life, or his daily living, seem to be very isolated. He didn't seem to have a normal life. He definitely did not have normal clothes and normal meals. Even without knowing the full significance, he was obedient, even though it led to his execution by Herod.
I pray that I would be that obedient.
24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.
It says the guys that were sent were Pharisees.
It looks like the leadership thought John was so significant that they decided it was important enough to send representatives to find out who he was.
What was it about John that was so significant? Why send priests and Levites of the Pharisees to John? Was it just what he was saying? Or was it how he lived, how he treated people?
If we live our lives with Christ, walking "in the spirit", will our lives be as compelling as John?
25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?
They asked John, "Why do you baptize if you are not the Messiah or Elijah or 'that Prophet'"?
It seems as though they expected the Messiah, Elijah (now evidently he's come back to life), and some Prophet to baptize, but not anyone else. And baptizing seems to be some kind of significant activity. I wonder where they got the idea that baptizing was special? Why do they associate baptizing with the Messiah and Elijah and that Prophet?
Maybe it's just, because of what John was saying about God and the Messiah, that is what made baptizing special, because of what John was associating with baptizing. Naturally, if God is involved with something, it is special.
Certainly anything that God is involved with, that is something I want to be a part of.
26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;
John's answer to their question, "Why do you baptize?", starts by him saying that he baptizes with water, but there stands someone among them that they don't know.
John's answer sure starts out in an odd way. They ask "why" and he answers by clarifying the type of baptizing (water) and declaring to them that there is someone, who is nearby, that they don't know. It's as if John is saying that, to know why, you have to know this somebody.
Maybe the next verse will help explain this.
27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
John says that this someone, that they don't know, is the one, though he was coming after John, is preferred before John; his shoelace John is not worthy to undo.
Well, this doesn't do much to help with the answer to why John is baptizing. He just gives more info about who this is that they don't know, and that he feels that this someone is way over his head. And I'm not sure how to take this statement that this someone is "preferred" before John. Preferred in what way, and by whom?
So, they ask why and he seems to almost minimize his work, and he certainly minimizes himself. And he sort of announces and builds up another person. So he seems to say that the cause for him baptizing is "not himself" but this person coming after him. The cause is a person. In later verses he states that this person is Jesus. So it would appear that John is saying Jesus is "why" John is baptizing.
How is a person a 'reason' for someone's actions? Why am I doing this, "Him, that's why". It sounds odd. Not that it is that surprising that something God does or says sounds odd to us.
Maybe Jesus should be our reason for everything we do.
28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.
It says the Pharisees questioned John in Bethabara (Bethany) where he was baptizing.
Here is another case where God gives us some facts about the events. Evidently God wants us to know this. So there is some important reason to know this.
Maybe it just provides context. Maybe it helps make it more real for those of us that have no way of really knowing what it was really like there at that time. And maybe it even helps those who were living at the time. Maybe there is something significant about the distance that the Pharisees traveled, since it says it was beyond the Jordan river. Was it such an important issue to them that they traveled a long way?
29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
It says that the very next day, after the Pharisees questioned John, he sees Jesus coming toward him and he says, "Look, it's the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world".
The thing that struck me the most was the word "takes". At first I was reading this verse as if it were saying that Jesus was going to take away the sins of the world; like it was some day soon, like when He dies on the cross. But that felt kind of odd; and I realized that it says "takes", not "is going to take" or "will take" or anything else. It's like it's saying that anytime there are sins to be taken away, no matter who it is, anywhere in the world, Jesus is the one who takes them away.
I wonder if there is something significant about the fact that this happened the next day. Also, John doesn't wait for Jesus to get there; he starts while Jesus is still approaching. And it seems like John says all this like it's an announcement. But it doesn't say he "cried out" or anything like that, he just says it.
It says that Jesus is the one who takes away the sin of the world. Several places in the bible talk about sins being taken away. Are sins ever given back or brought back? I can't think of any verse that mentions it or even implies it. Though there are verses that talk about someone still being in their sin. And some that say that someone's sins remain.
This verse makes a direct link between Jesus and a lamb, the Lamb of God, specifically. Referring, I assume, to Jesus being a sacrifice, or "the" sacrifice.
The main things I take from all this is that our sins can be taken away; and Jesus is the one who takes them away.
Thank you Lord Jesus, for taking away my sin.
30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.
John declares, in the presence of Jesus, that this is the man who John said was to come after him, who is over John, or has surpassed him, or is preferred before John. And John says that this is because Jesus was before him.
So John is basically saying, here is the guy I've been telling you about, that is greater than I am. I notice Jesus doesn't correct John. I also find it interesting that John says Jesus comes after him and yet was before him. That seems to echo the thought that God has always been, and will always be.
So it would appear that this is the greatest announcement of all time; "here is the Messiah", "the Lamb of God". It's not exactly a huge fanfare, is it; some guy out by the desert dressed in wacky clothes, dunking people under water.
I find it significant that John says Jesus "was before me". Even though John would know that Jesus was born after John (if only by a few months). It makes the "he was before me" statement stand out.
I wonder why John wasn't born much earlier, like 10 years before Jesus was? Is there a larger impact this way?
So here is perhaps the greatest announcement of all time, "here is the Messiah"; and it would appear that nobody really gets it. Lord, we most likely miss far more of You than we realize. Please open our eyes; help us see You in our lives.
31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
John says he did not know Jesus. But john has come baptizing with water so that Jesus would be revealed to Israel. So John is saying, out loud, to everyone around him, that he doesn't even know this guy Jesus; but God has John Baptizing with water so that Jesus would be revealed to Israel. So basically, God has John announce Jesus' arrival, the arrival of the Messiah.
This seems to be a continuation of his answer to the question (in v25) from the Pharisees. Or he's clarifying or emphasising the answer, or both.
I wonder how much of a ripple effect this had; how much rumor spread from this announcement, "the Messiah is here"! I don't get the feeling that it was very huge. Maybe they had heard it all before, and this is just another kook, claiming to be the Messiah. It does seem like that would be a deception Satan would use.
Lord Jesus, protect me from the deceptions of the devil. Open my eyes that I may see the world the way you see it.
32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
It says that John went on the record that he saw the Spirit coming down from heaven, like a dove, and the Spirit came and rested on Jesus, and remained there.
It's like John is testifying at a trial or something, that he saw this event.
And he says "the Spirit" like he's talking about a specific Spirit, and the audience would know what he's talking about.
It's interesting that he includes the visual that it was like a dove. So, was it flying with that kind of motion? Like with a bit of a fluttering, similar to something that would be flapping its wings? And did it have a bit of a flurry as it landed on Jesus? And why did he even include this visual comparison to a dove? What is significant about that? Does this have some reference to something in the Old Testament?
So, the Spirit comes down upon Jesus. And John notices that it doesn't leave again. It just stays there. I can imagine John just watching and waiting to see what would happen. I wonder how long he watched Jesus?
The next verse certainly makes this statement very significant. It is yet another part of the declaration that Jesus is the Messiah. I don't think I realized that there was so much that clearly stated, to those in Israel as well as us, "this is the Messiah"! Or how so many just … missed it.
How many things, that are clearly from God, have I missed?
Lord, please open my eyes and ears. Let me see the way you see, and hear what you want me to hear. Thank you Lord for your clear word. Thank you for giving us the truth.
33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
It says that John did not know him, this guy upon whom the Spirit came, like a dove. But the One that sent John to baptize with water, He said to John "Upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, he's the one who baptizes with the Holy Ghost."
I wonder why John says he did not know Jesus. They were related. And if their mothers were actually first cousins (see Luke 1:36), that would make Jesus his second cousin. Well, I guess that's not really a sure thing. I don't know any of my second cousins either. And there is no guarantee that they were really second cousins.
So, God sent John to baptize with water. And God said, 'this is the guy who baptizes with the Holy Ghost'. So John is telling how he knows that this is the Messiah. He's presenting the evidence he has.
This is one of those times when you have to decide, do you believe John? And since it is in the Bible, and the Bible claims to be the word of God, you have to decide, do you believe God? And that is a fundamental question of faith; do you believe God? Do you believe what God says?
John, like so many others in the Bible, is telling others what God has shown him. I'd like to think that if God showed me something clearly, that I would be bold enough to tell others, whether they believed me or not. But that leads me to an even more important question. When have I heard anything clearly from God? Do I pay attention to Him enough? Do I listen closely enough to hear from Him? After all, He is the master communicator. If I really want to hear from God, I have to believe that it just isn't very hard for Him to reach me. I imagine that I just have to take the time to actually listen. Which I'm sure includes things like getting rid of the noise, including the mental noise, as well as the distractions.
Lord, help me to listen. I truly want to hear from you. Help me block out all the noise and be still, so that I can hear your still small voice.
34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
John says that he saw it, and he is now going on the record that this guy is the Son of God.
So he is saying, that what God told him he would see, he saw. So since God told him that when he saw it, that this would be the guy who baptizes with the Holy Spirit, he is testifying that this, Jesus, is the Son of God. Because that's what God told him.
It seems like the past eight verses or so have been leading up to this declaration, that Jesus is the Son of God. And in verse 31, John states that the whole reason he has come baptizing with water is because God said that Jesus should be announced to Israel. And this final verse certainly fits the bill as the clear declaration that Jesus is the son of God, the Messiah.
I guess it was easy to dismiss a kook like John, seemingly a social recluse who dresses weird and lives out in the middle of nowhere. Or at least it was probably easy for the religious leaders to make him look dismissible to the common people. Even though the leaders obviously thought he was somebody significant, since they sent priests and Levites out there to do some fact finding.
So, God had the Messiah announced. I must admit, I'm a bit surprised; I never realized that the announcement of the arrival of the Messiah was so readily apparent.
35 ¶ Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;
It says that John was again there, with two of his disciples.
The bible always seems to provide so much context. I wonder how much context is given in other religious writings. Do they give much, if any? How much historical info do they give? Or do they mostly just give spiritual guidance? I haven't given it much thought over the years. I wonder what the significance is. What does that say about the bible … and about God?
I know there are places in the bible where I was more surprised by the situation than by the event or, for example, the decision made by some prophet. I am reminded of the story when Jesus heals this guy who is lying by a pool. It is easy to skim over this as another miracle healing by Jesus, if it were not for the situation. This guy is lying there, it says, along with a multitude of other people. They all want to be the first into the pool, right after the angel disturbs the water, so they will be healed. Jesus walks past, or around, this multitude of people. I imagine He could have been stepping around and over many, just to get to this one guy. And he heals that one guy and then, apparently, he leaves. The multitude of sick and crippled are just left there. The circumstances seem to say far more than the actual event.
So what is it saying here by telling us that John is there again with two of his disciples?
Lord, please open my eyes and ears, so I can hear what you are saying. Show me, so that I understand.
36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
It says John was looking at Jesus as he walked, and John says "Look, the Lamb of God!"
So here it is, the following day; and John is once again announcing to everyone that Jesus is the Messiah. The Messiah has arrived.
It occurs to me that John always looked at Jesus, seemingly from a distance. He doesn't ever seem to get any time to spend with Jesus. I wonder why. Do you think he had a strong desire to spend time with the Son of God? Do you think he was so awed and intimidated, that he just couldn't approach Jesus? After all, he's not even worthy enough to undo Jesus' shoes (John 1:27). Always talking with others about the Messiah, never talking with the Messiah.
John has now lived around 30 years, and he has devoted them, particularly the last few years, to preparing for the Messiah, trying to get the children of Israel (his people) to understand, to turn away from their sin. And now, finally, here is the Messiah.
How would it feel, to reach the culmination of your life's work preparing for the Messiah, for God. And suddenly here He is, standing in front of you, in the flesh. And for some reason you can't go to Him, talk with Him, spend time with Him.
Lord, may I always take advantage of the opportunity to spend time with you.
37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.
So the two disciples heard what John said, "there is the Lamb of God", and they followed Jesus.
You would think that, sure, here is the Messiah, whom all of Israel has been waiting for; of course they follow Jesus. But I wonder if there was a little hesitation to leave John the Baptist, out of some sense of loyalty. John the Baptist would appear to have a pretty strong moral and spiritual authority, particularly with his disciples. So when he points out Jesus and says "there's the guy you want", that means something.
Do you think, for many of the same reasons, we should work to build that kind of moral authority so we can point others to Jesus? There are many reasons to have integrity in everything we do. But I can't think of a more important reason. What can compare to this, having eternal consequences.
Lord give me the grace and strength to be obedient in everything I do. To do everything with integrity, today, and every day.
38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?
It says that Jesus turned and saw the two disciples following Him. And He asked them "What are you searching for?" And they asked Him, in answer, "Master, where are you staying?"
So it seems, the first thing on their minds was, 'where is the Lamb of God staying' or 'where does He live'. I imagine this says something about their culture, to want to see where and/or how He lives. I wonder what kind of answers they were expecting to get at His dwelling place.
Also, was Jesus' question a bit of a surprise, or did it seem perfectly normal? It seems reasonable enough, to see some guys following you and ask them "what are you looking for?" But He did not ask them "What do you want?" or "Can I help you with something?" though there's not much of a difference. But He asked a question; He didn't start by telling them something. So here is the God of the universe, stopping to hear from them, what it is they are looking for. In a way, He's meeting them where they are, instead of expecting them to come up to a point where they take Him for who He is, and treat Him that way. Basically, He starts building relationships.
Lord, give us the grace and strength to curb our selfishness, to put away our own agenda enough so that You can use us to bring others into a relationship with you. And that we would not be a hindrance to others in their walk with you.
39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.
It says Jesus replied to their question, "Come and see." And they came to where He was staying. And it says they stayed with Him that day, since it was about the 10th hour (about 2 hours before sunset).
So, the Son of God invites them to where he is staying. Does it seem like the Lord is always inviting us to spend time with Him?
It doesn't seem to me that it's such a big surprise that they went to his place. In fact, I imagine that is what they were hoping for … at least, to be able to spend some time with Him. That would be really cool, to spend some time, physically in the presence of Jesus. What would that have been like. :-) What will it be like. :-)
Lord, help us make time, in our seemingly too busy lives, to spend time with you.
40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.
Of the two men that heard John the Baptist speaking, and followed Jesus, one of them was named Andrew. And this is the Andrew who was the brother of Simon Peter.
I always find it interesting that God includes this kind of detail in the bible. I wonder why it is important for us to know that one of the guys who followed Jesus was named Andrew, and that he was actually the brother of Simon Peter. There is probably some reason, that if you think it through, the inclusion of all these many details makes a major statement about the bible. It is not clear to me at the moment. I'll have to think about that one day.
I imagine that it would have been significant to those people who knew Andrew and/or Simon Peter.
41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
It says that Andrew first finds his brother Simon, and tells him that they have found the Messiah.
Interesting that it was the first thing Andrew did. What did they talk about that made Andrew go first thing to find his brother? It must have been rather impressive to Andrew, to actually claim to his own brother that they had found The Messiah.
(a side note) Do you think that means Andrew and Simon were close? Or maybe that Andrew looked up to Simon?
Something tells me that if we spend enough time with Jesus, we'll find Him pretty amazing too.
42And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.
It says Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus. And when Jesus looked at him, Jesus says, "You are Simon the son of Jona; you will be called Cephas", A Stone.
So, Andrew brings his brother Simon to see Jesus. I'm not sure there is anything surprising about this. If your brother comes to you with some compelling story about how he has found the Messiah, the most significant being in prophesy, and possibly of their time, then you are quite likely to at least go meet this guy to decide for yourself.
And the first thing Jesus does, when he looks at Simon: He tells him that his name may currently be Simon, but he is going to be called something else. He is going to be called, A Stone. So what do you do, or what do you think, when you meet the Messiah, and the first thing He does is give you a new name? You could be pretty skeptical, since there have been others that have claimed to be the Messiah. So you might feel kind of weird, having this stranger "Messiah" give you a new name. But it would certainly be significant later, when you realize this guy really is the Messiah.
I wonder why Jesus gave him a new name. What is significant about giving someone a new name? Is it prophetic in some way? Abraham was given a new name, as well as Sarah. Israel was given a new name. It talks in Revelation (2:17) about the Lord giving a white stone with a new name. It doesn't happen a lot in the bible. Mary, the mother of Jesus, wasn't given a new name.
It seems to be related to some significant aspect of that person or something about their life. It's like it says something about who they truly are. I imagine that God knows who we really are, far better than we do.
Lord, please show me who I really am. Let me see what you see. Help me understand what I see.
43 ¶ The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.
It says that, the next day, Jesus goes into Galilee, finds Philip, and says to him "Follow me."
Does "find" mean Jesus happened to just bump into him, or did Jesus go search for Philip? It doesn't say Jesus did anything else, as if Jesus went straight to Philip. Although, it doesn't really say he went straight to Philip. And why now? Was it some kind of signal, when Andrew brought Simon to Jesus? Well, it's not that important, but it's interesting.
So Jesus finds Philip and says to him "Follow me". Does Philip know Jesus? Has Philip seen him around? And even if he has seen Jesus around, what does that mean to Philip? At this point we don't know how Philip responds.
Even given what I know about Jesus today, what would I really do if Jesus walked up to me and said "Follow me"? Would I really drop everything and follow him? I mean really? I'd like to think that I would, without any hesitation. But I'm not sure.
In reality, anyone who has heard a clear presentation of the Gospel has been, in a sense, asked to follow Jesus. The God of the universe wants to spend time with me … with you.
Lord, give me the strength and the courage to follow you, no matter how it looks.
44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
It says Philip was from the city of Bethsaida; and so were Andrew and his brother Peter.
So they are all three from the same city. Again, God has decided to include more of these kinds of details. I wonder if this is significant in some way to some other part of the bible. Like, some verses later have a much bigger impact if you know that they are all from the same city.
Bethsaida can't have been very large. So I would assume they either knew each other, or at least had seen and knew of each other.
45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
So after Jesus has found Philip, it says that Philip goes and finds Nathanael and tells him that they have found Jesus. And Jesus is the one who was foretold in the law and the prophets.
So, one day Andrew and another guy follow Jesus to where he is staying. Then the next, Andrew finds Simon and brings Simon to see Jesus. Then the next, Jesus finds Philip. And then Philip finds Nathanael. Seems like a pretty significant chain reaction. There must have been something very compelling for each of these guys to go and find somebody else to come see this guy Jesus, and claim that Jesus is the Messiah.
46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
It says that Nathanael asked Philip if anything good can come out of Nazareth. And Philip simply replies, "Come and see."
It would seem that Nazareth has a pretty bad reputation, at least, in the circles where Nathanael hangs out. And Philip doesn't bother with any real explanation. Philip seems to be confident that once Nathanael sees for himself, he'll understand. It's like there's no doubt; just being in the presence of Jesus for a while is enough to convince anyone.
I bet it is just as true today. If you spend enough time in the presence of Jesus, it will be enough to convince you, or anyone, of the truth that Jesus is the real deal; he is the Messiah.
Lord, I ask that you have mercy on me. Please give me the grace, and the discipline to spend time with you every single day. So that I, too, can get to know you in a real way.
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!
It says that Jesus sees Nathanael coming to him, and before he gets there, Jesus says that Nathanael is an Israelite indeed. And that there is no guile in Nathanael.
So, before Nathanael even gets to Jesus, Jesus declares this about him. It's as if Jesus is announcing Nathanael, or introducing him, by way of this compliment. Evidently it was something that Jesus thought was important to say out loud, for the others to hear.
And Jesus says that Nathanael is an Israelite, for sure; as if there is more to being an Israelite than just being born a descendant of Jacob. It's like being an Israelite is more of an attitude or a way to behave … a way to live.
I looked up the meaning of guile … insidious cunning, or, crafty or artful deception. So Jesus is announcing that there is basically no deception in Nathanael. He can be trusted.
I wonder if Jesus will do this kind of thing in heaven, saying things about people out loud. I wonder what he'd say about me. It would be nice to be somebody whose worth saying something.
Lord, please give me the strength and courage to be who You want me to be.
48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.
It says that Nathanael asked Jesus if he knows him from somewhere. And Jesus answered that he saw Nathanael under the fig tree, before Philip called him.
Nathanael's reaction seems natural enough, since Jesus talks like he is familiar with Nathanael. But I'm not sure of the significance of Jesus saying that he saw Nathanael under the fig tree. I would think that it would be very easy for Jesus to just walk by and see Nathanael. It doesn't strike me as anything unusual.
49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.
It says that Nathanael replied to Jesus, calling him Master, saying Jesus is the Son of God; that He is the King of Israel.
This seems like a very strong reaction. Nathanael is saying to Jesus, to his face, that You are the Son of God, the King of Israel … You are the Messiah; the one the entire country has been waiting on. And all Jesus said was that he saw Nathanael under a fig tree. I think I'm probably missing something.
Maybe Nathanael has some info I don't have. Maybe there was no way for Jesus to know that Nathanael had been sitting under a fig tree when Philip came calling. Maybe the fig tree is in some private courtyard, and there would be no way for anyone to just walk by and see the fig tree, much less Nathanael. But I don't know.
Anyway, for some reason Nathanael basically declares, for them all to hear, that Jesus is the Messiah.
Even from Jesus' birth, there sure seem to be a bunch of people saying, out loud, that He is the Messiah.
50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.
It says that Jesus replied to Nathanael, sort of with a question, asking if he believed just because Jesus said that he saw Nathanael under the fig tree. And Jesus tells him that he'll see stuff even greater than this.
It's sounds a bit like Jesus is surprised that Nathanael would believe, just because of what Jesus said to him.
And you'll notice that Jesus does not deny any of Nathanael's statements, that Jesus is the Son of God and the King of Israel.
Lord Jesus, let me see clearly that you are the Son of God.
51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
It says that Jesus said to Nathanael, that later, Nathanael will see heaven open, and he'll see the angels of God going up and coming down upon the Son of man.
So Jesus tells him that, at some point, he's not only going to see heaven open, but he's going to see the angels of God. And they're not just going to be standing around, they're going to be interacting with Jesus himself.
I wonder why Jesus tells him this. I doubt Jesus is trying to impress Nathanael. He, no doubt, knows that Nathanael is going to see plenty of amazing miracles. What is Jesus really trying to get across? What would you think if you were standing there and Jesus told you that?
Some side notes:
- It's not clear whether he is referring to one event where heaven opens and angles ascend and descend, or if it is two or three events, where heaven opens on one occasion and angels descend on another.
- I don't know the bible well enough to know when Nathanael sees heaven open.
- This is the first time, in the book of John, where Jesus uses the title "Son of man". From later verses, we find out that Jesus is referring to himself.
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