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Day 258 – Thru the Bible
Today we start John. We’re going to skip over Luke, but then return to Luke as Luke and Acts are connected storylines. Here’s the overview video for John 1-12.
Video – Read Scripture: John 1-12
How does this video help you understand the first part of John?
John 1 – The prologue of John’s Gospel is like the opening movement of a grand symphony. It is meant to grab our attention and draw us into the story—the story of all stories. The apostle sets the stage for the presentation of the gospel by highlighting the main plotline and central themes of the entire Bible—creation (vv. 1–4), the fall (v. 5), and redemption (vv. 9–13), all of which point to the Person and culminating work of Jesus.
Who is Jesus? This is John’s main question and the quest of discovery that he bids us enter. John’s Gospel helps us understand how to look for Jesus in Moses, the Prophets, and all the Scriptures (5:39–47). He wants us to see how Jesus is the “Yes!” and “Amen!” to every promise God has made (2 Corinthians 1:20) throughout the history of redemption.
Jesus is eternally one with the Father—the very Word of God, God’s agent in creating all things. And as He spoke light and brought life into the dark void of pre-creation chaos, so Jesus brings light and life into the dark world of sin and death. His “new creation” order is none other than the long-promised epoch of redemption and restoration of which Israel’s prophets spoke, and angels longed to see (1 Peter 1:10–12).
To receive Jesus is to be born from above and to become a member of God’s family, all of which comes to us as a gift of God’s grace, not at all of our own doing.
Even as John’s prologue affirms Jesus’ deity, so also it celebrates His humanity. The Word became flesh—God became man, yet Jesus never ceased being God. He came to us as the greater Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15–19), to bring a greater exodus. Moses provided the tabernacle; Jesus “dwelt” (the Greek word literally means “tabernacled”) among us (1:14), revealing God’s glory and grace.
The law, which came through Moses, necessitated the grace and truth which came through Jesus, for the law could never save us, only drive us to Jesus (Galatians 3:23–24). While Moses hid his face from God, Jesus “exegetes”—that is, reveals—the Father to us, as only the only begotten Son could do (the Greek word for “has made known” is exegeomai).
John the Baptist is a central character in John’s Gospel because of the unique role he played in the history of redemption. John straddled the Old and New Testaments, like a redemptive bridge. He was the last of the Old Testament prophets, and at the same time he was the first herald of the arrival of God’s promised kingdom in Jesus (Isaiah 40:3).
Elijah is mentioned by John not only because Israel expected someone to come in the “spirit of Elijah” before the day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5), but also because he is representative of all of Israel’s prophets. This is why Moses and Elijah appeared together with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–5). The whole Old Testament (the Law, represented by Moses, and the Prophets, represented by Elijah) points toward and is fulfilled by Jesus.
Not only does Jesus fulfill the law of Moses and the hopes of the prophets, He also completes the worship of Israel. In Jesus, old covenant types give way to the new creation antitype—shadow is supplanted by substance. To “Behold, the Lamb of God” is to see in Jesus the arrival of the suffering servant of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 53:4–12), who took the punishment we deserve to give us the grace we could never earn.
To see Jesus is to celebrate the end of the sacrificial system, which was central to Israel’s worship. For the blood of Jesus cleanses us from our sin, once and for all (Hebrews 10:10). This good news is so central to John’s message that he spends 40 percent of his Gospel describing one week—the most crucial week of our Lord’s life, the week of his death and resurrection (John 12:1–20:25). John wants us to see Jesus not just as a moral model but, far more importantly, as the substitute sacrifice for our sin.
As the Messiah, Jesus was anointed with the Spirit without measure (Isaiah 61:1–3; Luke 4:14–19), and He gives His Spirit without reservation to His people. By the Spirit’s baptism, Jesus unites us to Himself and inaugurates us into life and service in His kingdom. With Jesus, eternal life begins before death; earthly death is not the final chapter for those united to Jesus eternally. The new age has broken in on us, and all are welcomed into it, by resting upon Jesus’ provision and resisting the urge to make our way to God with the merit of our obedience.
Like the other Gospel writers, John shows us the paradox of service in Jesus’ kingdom. As His first disciples and trusted servants, Jesus chooses unlikely men, mostly fishermen, all of whom will fail Him at one time or another. God chooses the weak in order to exalt His name (1 Corinthians 1:26–27). This is good news for all of us who recognize our own weaknesses and sin. Our failings do not disqualify us from Jesus’ kingdom. Spiritual heroism is not what qualifies us for heaven. There is only one hero in the gospel story: Jesus!
The most important qualification for Jesus’ disciples is to know His name—that is, to be absolutely clear in heart and mind about who He is and what He has done. Thus, the first disciples were given an immersion course in Christology. In the span of 16 verses, Jesus is identified as “the Lamb of God,” “the Messiah,” “the Son of God,” “the King of Israel,” and “Son of Man”—all messianic names that take on a fuller meaning throughout John’s Gospel.
At the heart of all these names is the truth that Jesus has come to save—to be the ladder from heaven to earth of which Jacob dreamed (Genesis 28:12) and to which Jesus alludes in John 1:51. But we do not climb our way up to God; God in Jesus came down to us.
How does this epic story fill you with peace and joy?
John 2 – The miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee is the first of seven “sign” miracles that John chose to record in his Gospel. Also included are the healing of the royal official’s son (4:46–54), the healing of the paralytic at the Bethesda pool (5:1–17), the feeding of the 5,000 (6:1–14), the walking on water (6:16–21), the healing of the man born blind (9:1–41), and the raising of Lazarus (11:1–46). Signs, for John, answer the question, “Who is Jesus?” They do this in part by affirming one or more of the titles ascribed to Jesus in the prologue (1:1–18).
What is revealed about Jesus in this first sign? Through Jesus all things were created; He has power over the material universe. Who is Jesus? He is the Messiah who has come in the fullness of time, to usher in the longed-for messianic age—in which wine (evidence of blessed fruitfulness and provision) will flow in overwhelming abundance and the mountains will drip with the best wine for the joy of God’s people (Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13–14; Jeremiah 31:12).
Who is Jesus? He is the One who takes what is meant for purification and provides blessing through it. In doing so, He shows that He transforms the daily Jewish purification rites by the power of His perfect life (Hebrews 9:12; 10:10).
Who is Jesus? He is not merely the guest at our weddings but the great eschatological (ends time) bridegroom who makes us His bride, by the cost of His life (Ephesians 5:22–33). He clothes us with the wedding garment of His own righteousness (Isaiah 61:10) and prepares us for the great wedding banquet of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6–10).
Who is Jesus? He is the Lord of glory, who calls us to believe in Him and to put our trust in Him.
In Israel’s history, the temple represented God’s gracious dwelling among His covenant people. By His own initiative, He provided for a restored relationship with His sinful people (Exodus 25:8–9). Unfortunately, however, ritual replaced reality, and pride was more obvious than humility; the “worship of worship”—and, as seen here, the desire for financial gain—took precedence over the worship of God.
Jesus’ cleansing of the temple was much more than an act of moral outrage and judgment. It was also a sign of end-time fulfillment. The temple was never given as an end in itself. Like the tabernacle, the temple was essential but ultimately temporary, for its abuses exposed just how broken God’s worship and God’s worshipers had become through sin. Something better was promised, and that something arrived with Jesus, the true and final temple. As the embodiment of the temple (the place where God was present among His people in the Old Testament), Jesus is God with us—Immanuel—and God for us (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18–25).
By Jesus’ death and resurrection, the temple-less worship of the garden of Eden will once again be realized in the perfected worship of the new heaven and new earth. On that day, God Himself and the Lamb will be the temple forever (Revelation 21:22).
Ultimately, the gospel is not about us establishing a relationship with Jesus; it is about Jesus establishing a relationship with us—not simply as a consequence of our believing information about Him, but more by Jesus “entrusting” Himself to us in His revelation of Himself. Jesus never did “signs” to impress anyone but to reveal Himself as the Messiah and to redeem those He came to save as they recognized who He was and received what He was doing for them.
We know God only because we are known by God (Galatians 4:9). Until God reveals His Son to us and in us (Galatians 1:15–16), we remain spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:5). Salvation, from beginning to end, is all of grace. This becomes clear as John now records for us the coming-to-faith experiences of a wide range of people.
Who is Jesus?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s video and reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
Videos produced by www.TheGospelProject.com.
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