The Word Became Flesh (John 1:1–18)
Last week I let you know we were going to start with John and study through the book of John together. This week we are going to start with John 1:1–18. But first we need to give you some background on who John was and the purpose of the book of John. John the son of Zebedee was the one who wrote the book of John. John was also the only gospel written by someone in Jesus’ inner circle. The other gospel writers received some of their information from the three in the inner circle, but John was the only one who recorded certain events that the inner circle experienced. The events were from John’s own perspective and not from someone else’s. Also, by being in the inner circle he knew Jesus in a different way than the other disciples did. His gospel was not written to a particular group, but instead he wrote it to everyone, believers, nonbelievers, Jews, and Gentiles. One of the main things that is unique about the Gospel of John is that it tells the reader the story of the world from beginning to end, but keeps the focus on Jesus throughout the whole book. Throughout the book, John almost always refers to himself in the third person. John was also different from some of the other gospel writers, in that he did not start at Jesus’ physical birth, but rather started by showing you that Jesus has and will always exist. The book of John is always a good place to grow in your relationship with God, whether you are just starting or have been in Church your whole life. But enough background, let’s get to the verses.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” John 1:1–18
Throughout this passage whenever John refers to the Word he is talking about Jesus. The word John uses for Word in Greek is Logos, which in this passage means that Jesus is the Divine Expression of God, when we look at Jesus we see God. In the first verse of John, he and the Holy Spirit start with who Jesus is: He is God and yet was with God in the beginning. See when God made the world Jesus was there, you may say you do not see Jesus mentioned in Genesis, but He is mentioned in Genesis 1:26, he said “let us create man in our image.” We also see the Holy Spirit in Genesis 1:2 and the Spirit of God was hovering over the deep. The next verse in John starts to explain more about the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). We see that though They are different, They are the same, that Jesus made all things and nothing was made without Him. See God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit are the same, but yet different, you don’t have to understand it, because it is impossible for a finite being to understand a God that is infinite. In John 1:4–5, he tells us some of the characteristics of Jesus: that he is life, the light of men, and that darkness could not overcome His light.
John then tells us about John the Baptist who was Jesus’ cousin. He tells us that God sent John the Baptist, who came before Jesus to bear witness that Jesus (the true light) was coming and that all might believe through him (John 1:6). When did God tell John the Baptist that the Messiah was coming and that he was to be the voice crying in the wilderness? The Bible tells us he jumped in Elizabeth’s womb when he heard the voice of Mary who had Jesus in her womb (Luke 1:42–44). So that says to me, that Jesus had something about him that made John think of God, that Jesus had this before he was even born. John the Baptist had knowledge of God at that point and Jesus and John were connected through the Holy Spirit even before birth. Which means that sometime before this point, John had been given a mission from God that he was able to understand even before he was born. Would that not be such a blessing to know your mission or purpose of your life, before you were even born. God has a plan for each and every life born and unborn (Jeremiah 29:11) and it is up to each of us to fulfill it or ignore it. We probably were not given the plan that God has for us as He did John, but if we seek it He will show it to us.
Alright back to John 1 verse 10, which says that Jesus was in the world and the world was made through Him. But the world did not know Him. He came to His own people and they did not accept Him. Jesus was the one that the whole Old Testament was about, but the people who knew the most about it missed the whole point of it, but instead focused on laws and rules. Which they thought if they could keep they would be their own messiah, but no man could fulfill the law (Romans 3:23). Every person except Jesus has missed the mark, whether that is by miles or milmeters. If you break any of the law you are guilty of breaking it all and the penalty is death and eternal separation from God (James 2:10, Romans 6:23). So God sent his son, Jesus who was both God and man. He fulfilled the whole law, so that anyone who accepted Him, who believed in His name (Matthew 5:17–20), was given the right to become children of God. To become children of God all you have to do is accept the free gift that God wants to give you. All you have to do is to admit that you are a sinner, believe that He died on the cross for your sins, and confess Him as Lord of your life.
Verse 13 tells us those who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God. John is explaining the idea of rebirth, you are not physically born again, but born of the spirit. We are connected to God through the Holy Spirit and there is nothing or no one who can separate us from Him and that includes yourself. Now John covers Jesus’ birth in verse 14: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. See God really came down and dwelled with us, but He lived like a man minus the sin, but had the knowledge, righteousness, glory, and truth of God. Verse 15 tells us that John the Baptist cries out, “This was He of whom I said, He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me”. This tells us that John knew and believed exactly who Jesus was and was not afraid to tell everyone. Verses 16 and 17 tells us that the law came through Moses, but Grace and truth comes through Jesus Christ. See God gave Moses the law, so that they could try to adhere to it and be saved, but no one could and in fact the presence of the law caused even more sinning (Romans 5:20). Verse 18 tells us no one has ever seen God, so Jesus came to make Him known. This means that when we study Jesus we are studying God and the characteristics of God. One of Jesus’ goals for coming to earth was to make God known to the world and He wants to know you. In fact, He so wants to have a relationship with you, that He was willing to die for you. So often as Christians we seem to look at going to church, praying, and reading our Bibles as chores, when really they are not, instead we should be excited to have real conversations with the Creator of everything, who so desperately wants to know us that he was willing and did die to do so.
So what does this mean? It means that God came down to us a little over 2000 years ago and showed us who God is by making Himself known to all of us through Jesus Christ and that anyone who believes in Him will be saved. Know, that there is only one way to Heaven and that is through Jesus, so many voices want us to believe that there are multiple ways to find God. Jesus makes clear that there is only one way to find God and that is through Him (John 14:6). I also want to encourage you that if you are not sure that you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior to make that decision today. Remember that God has given us all a purpose and our purpose as Christians is to lead others to Jesus. Remember, that reading the Bible, praying, and going to church are ways we commune with God and he was willing and did die to have that ability. What are we willing to give up to be with Him? Please Remember to read through the first chapter of John with us as we talk about it this week.
Check out the other blog in this series A Study through the Gospel of John