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A Journey through the book of Genesiswith Willow Creek Community Church

Read John

DAY 1 // GOD MADE KNOWN

Willow Creek Community Church

 

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.

- JOHN 1:18

 

LISTEN


COMMENTARY

The book of John begins differently than the other gospel accounts of Jesus’ life. Rather than beginning with a genealogy like Matthew, or with a few brief comments from the author like Mark and Luke, the book of John begins with a poetic reflection about Jesus. John tells us who Jesus is and what His purpose was in a style that is as beautiful as the message he’s sharing.

John starts this reflection by identifying Jesus, whom John refers to as “the Word”, as someone who is distinct from God, and at the same time as someone who paradoxically is God: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

John then goes on to tell us that one of Jesus’ primary purposes as the Son of God is to reveal, in a clear and unmistakable way, what God is like. In fact, this is one reason why John refers to Jesus throughout chapter 1 as “the Word.” Just as we might use our words to clearly share about ourselves with another person, Jesus reveals to us what God is like as the Word of God. Through His life, teachings, and actions, Jesus allowed people to see the unseen God (John 1:8, 1:14; Exodus 33:18-23).

This reveals a lot about God. It tells us that God wants to be known. He wants to have a personal relationship with us, so He sent Jesus to earth to make Himself known to us. This also serves as an invitation for us to read on in the book of John. If we want to know more about what God is like and to personally know God in relationship, there is no better place to start than by exploring how Jesus makes God known to humanity through the stories recorded in the book of John.


SCRIPTURE

JOHN 1:1–34

THE WORD BECAME FLESH

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

9 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.

JOHN THE BAPTIST DENIES BEING THE MESSIAH

19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”

21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ ”

24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.


REFLECTION

1. The phrase “the Word” is mentioned repeatedly in the first chapter of John as a way to draw readers to a reference they would understand. While we may find “the Word” slightly confusing today, it was a reference known by Greeks and Jews as the source of God’s message, His standard of holiness, and a principle of reason. What do you think John is trying to say about Jesus in John 1:1? Why do you think this is important to open his gospel?

2. In John 1:12-13, John states that all who welcome Jesus as the Lord of their lives are reborn spiritually, receiving new life from God. This is why many Christians describe themselves as being “born again” after deciding to follow Christ. How would you describe the “new life” you receive when you are reborn through Christ? If you are a follower of Jesus, describe your own personal decision to invite Jesus into your life. What prompted you to do it?