Before we jump in, it”s important we know John…his heart, his perspective, his background.
John and his brother, James were fishermen when Jesus invited them to leave their jobs and follow Him…do life together. John became one of the 12 disciples and would later become one of Jesus’ closest friends and confidants. He became a constant companion…even at the cross. While in agony, Jesus entrusted this beloved disciple with the care of Mary, His mother.
After Jesus death and resurrection, John served the church in Jerusalem for many years before moving to Ephesus to serve. He endured beatings and imprisonment. The emperor considered John a threat because of his fierce loyalty to Jesus so he exiled him to the island of Patmos.
And finally, John would outlive all of the other disciples.
We can read John’s gospel knowing that he was an eyewitness of the person and ministry of Jesus. He knew that He was deeply loved by Christ and because of that we see him respond with immense love that extends to others.
John begins his gospel with the fundamental truth of who Jesus is. He starts with existence before “the beginning.”
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made, without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (Vs 1-5)
Jesus is God. Part of the Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One God in three persons.
Jesus is the uncreated Creator. He is eternal. He gives life. He creates beginnings.
Divinity and humanity. Both found in Jesus. The Holy Creator stepped into His creation. The One who created time and space stepped into established boundaries. The One who created all of the laws of physics agreed to abide by them. The One who always existed without needs would subject Himself to hunger, thirst, pain, temptation, and even death.
Jesus reveals the unseen God.
This is who Jesus is.
To effectively engage, everything we read in John’s gospel must be read through this filter. The meaning will be rich and profound through this powerful lens. If we want to know God, we need look no further than every word Jesus speaks and every deed He accomplished.
I’ve pondered why Jesus is called the Word. Theologians will tell you that Jewish rabbis often referred to God with this term so John was speaking their language, stating Jesus is God. But I think there is more. I believe it is because He is our communication with God. His life expresses the mind of God, just as our words express our thoughts. To know Jesus, is to know God.
And then, before we even get into the storyline, John reveals a conclusion. Thankfully, he also declares the assurance we have as believers.
“He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God–children born not of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (vs 10-14)
He came to us!
God’s story of grace and truth.
So much packed into a few verses. But if we wrestle with it until we capture it, we can read the rest of John’s gospel in a new fresh way. Not as recording of the life of Jesus, but as God’s heart and mind on display.