The first 18 verses of the Gospel of John are often referred to as John's "prologue" because it appears he placed it there like a "foreword" to a book. It seems he wanted us to understand the true nature of Jesus so we could appreciate the depth of the miracle he was about to describe. It's as if John were saying, "Before I start this gospel I want to tell you who Jesus really is. He was a man, but He wasn't just another man. He was Israel's Messiah, but He wasn't just the promised Son of David. Jesus was and is more than the greatest man who ever lived because in Him God has become one of us. Let me explain.
"God the Father was not alone when He began to create the heavens and the earth (Ge 1:1). There was someone else with Him, and that Someone was also divine, having the same nature as the Father (vs 1, 2). And that Person joined Him in creating all things (v 3). In fact, that Person was the One through whom He spoke everything into existence, so I call him 'The Word.' He is the communicator through whom the Father has largely spoken to this planet.
"When God created Adam and Eve He breathed life into them, for He is the source of all life. This Jesus who I also call 'The Word' is the One who breathed into Adam's clay nostrils and he became a living being (v 4). This means that the life that animates each one of us is from Jesus. But even more importantly He is also the source of eternal spiritual life. By making us in His image (Ge 1:26) He made it possible for us to know Him and be with Him eternally. Yet sin entered our planet and caused all humans to be born separated from Him, living in the darkness of confusion and rebellion. But like light breaking into darkness Jesus came to show us the truth about God. Through Him God spoke to us and even became one of us to help us understand, yet most people didn't recognize Him as God (v 5). But John the Baptist did. He was a man God sent to prepare people's hearts so they would believe Jesus (vs 6, 7). He was a great prophet, but he wasn't God (v 8). God the Father has only one divine Son and that's who He sent into the world because He loves us all and wants us to come back to Him (v 9). Isn't it amazing that the very Person who spoke the worlds into existence became one of us, yet only a few people recognized Him (v 10). This Jesus is the very Yahweh who Israel worshipped for thousands of years yet when He became a man most of them rejected Him (v 11). Thankfully, however, some did believe what the Father said about Him, and into those God placed spiritual life so that a new kind of human being was born (v 12). They posses not only physical life, but spiritual life as well (v 13).
"In case you missed my point, let me say it again. This divine person who was the One through whom the worlds were spoken into existence became a human being with flesh and blood. You could say God came and camped among us just as He did with Israel during the Exodus, only this time the "tent" He dwelt in was His own human body (v 14). And I, John, want you to believe me. I and others have seen with our own eyes Jesus shine with divine glory just as Moses saw the glory of God on Mt. Sinai (Ex 33:18-23; 34:5-8; Mt 17:1-6). We're sure He shares His Father's divine nature as fully as every human son shares his father's human nature. And like His Father He has the same character as well. Like the Father He's abundantly merciful and faithful to keep His promises (v 14).
"I was a disciple of John the Baptist and remember hearing him say something amazing about Jesus. Though he was a great prophet he said he wasn't even worthy to tie Jesus' sandal. Then he said Jesus, who was younger than he, had existed before him which could only mean that Jesus had lived as God in heaven before being born as a baby (v 15). He wanted us to know that Jesus didn't begin His existence at conception like the rest of us. He was truly a man but He was also much more than a man. And I, along with all true believers can testify to this fact because we have personally experienced Jesus' divine power because from Him we have received the new birth, the baptism with the Holy Spirit and the many daily miracles when we pray to Him (v 16). Moses gave us the Law but it only brought us judgment because we failed to obey it. But when we saw the truth about Jesus and believed it our relationship with the Father was changed. Now we experience a constant flow of God's mercy and blessings (v 17).
"Think about it. Many times God appeared to people in the Old Testament, but it was never the Father that they saw. It was always His only-begotten Son. And now by having His Son born as a human, God has given us the best possible explanation of His heart. We need only to look at Jesus to discover who God the Father really is. But since Jesus has now returned to heaven where He stands close to the Father at His right hand (v 18) I've written this gospel so that you may believe that He is both our Messiah and the divine Son of God, and that believing you too may have life in His name" (Jn 20:31).
1. Compare Genesis 1:1-4 and John 1:1-5. Name some of the similarities you see between the two passages.
2. Why does John call Jesus "The Word"? (Hint: Read Hebrews 1:1, 2.)
3. Why does John call Jesus "The Light"? (Hint: Darkness isn't just the absence of physical light.)
4. If you keep reading to verse 29 (Jn 1:29) you'll find John provides another title for Jesus. What is it? What does this title tell us about Him?
5. He's the Word, the Light and the Lamb. Explain.