John 1:15 : John testified about him. He cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me, for he was before me.'”
I really appreciate this verse. I like to make parenthetical comments when I write (so I really appreciate this part of John). We kind of get around the use of parenthesis today on the web by using hyperlinks. Here John puts in a comment in the text to make sure that we hear it even though it is in the middle of something else.
This particular comment is about John the Baptist testimony concerning Jesus. It is interesting that he mentions it right after his own testimony about the glory of Jesus he saw. One thing to keep in mind is that according to the law of God, a testimony had to be ratified by two witnesses to be acceptable (Deuteronomy 19:15, 2 Corinthians 13:1). John who writes expressed his testimony in verse 14, and then, in verse 15, John the Baptist’s testimony is presented. There will be more about this testimony on verse 19.
If you read more in the Bible about John the Baptist, you learn that he was Jesus’ relative. It is interesting to note that John was older than Jesus in regard to his birth. (Luke 1:36-45) John states here that “He existed before me.” This is a clear statement that he knew that Jesus existed before He was actually born on earth and was not just a man. This truly is a mystery. I don’t know how a person could have existed before they were born, but here we have it. I also realize that I understand very little about how the spiritual world works. If I consider it a little more, I don’t really comprehend many common physical events that occur in our world such as why the heart starts beating or how seeds germinate.
When we really consider this, we realize that we really understand very little in this great world that God made. This is one of the things that causes me to realize that just because I don’t understand something, doesn’t mean it isn’t real or doesn’t exist. This really is a foolish way to think. I am thankful that God challenges my thinking and causes me to be humble about what I know.
As you can see, in the Bible, even the parenthetical statements are very important and that makes sense since these are the words of God.
John 1:14 : The Word became flesh, and lived among us. We saw his glory, such glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Since it’s so easy to look things up in the Bible these days, I encourage you to look up the verses that are listed by reference in these lessons.
Here we read that Jesus became a real person. He wasn’t a ghost or some kind of spirit. He was a real “flesh” and bone person. John, in I John, talks much more about the physical reality of Jesus. Some people say that Jesus was not a real person but a non-physical entity. It is very clear from the Bible that Jesus was “flesh.” He really lived on earth and he really displayed His glory. I think that the glory he is talking about here is the glory that John witnessed at the transfiguration; a time when Jesus appeared to His disciples in his heavenly glory while he was on earth. There are accounts of this event in the Bible (see: Matthew 17:1-6)
This verse also says that Jesus is the only son of God. This may be confusing because he just got done writing earlier that we are God’s children too. It is important to realize that we are not children like Jesus is. The Bible says that we are children of God because of what Jesus did. Jesus is a child of God because He is God. In that sense He is the only one who is a Son of God in the way He is. We, on the other hand are God’s children because of Jesus. You can read more about the fact that you are a Son of God by reading more in I John 2:28 – 3:2.
Jesus is “full of grace and truth.” I have been a believer for long time and I am still only beginning to appreciate this. The grace of Jesus is His favor for us. He likes us, just because He likes us. He doesn’t like us because we are so good or beautiful or popular or anything else. He just likes us because he decided to. On top of this, he gives us truth. He didn’t just give us commandments. He gave us truth. When you know the truth, you get to believe, not just follow orders. We know that when you believe something you do follow orders because you want to. Someone who does what they want all the time is free. Logically, I can see that the truth is connected to freedom, but only when I believe in Jesus.
John 1:12-13 : But to all who did receive Him, But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become God’s children, to those who believe in his name: who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
A Child of God; That’s what you are when you believe. It’s worth concentrating on; you really are a child of God. This is one my favorite things to think about as a Christian. I really am a child of God because I “believe in His name” like it says right here in God’s word.
“Believing in His name” may sound kind of odd, but Jesus’ name actually does have historic meaning. It is actually the same as the Hebrew word, “Joshua”. Joshua was the leader that established Israel in the Promised Land in the Old Testament. Moses was not allowed to go in. It is very interesting that Moses represents the law and Joshua represents Jesus. The law is not able to save us. Only Jesus can.
We need to believe that Jesus will lead us into Heaven. No man on earth can save us. If you think a man will save you other than Jesus, you are not a child of God. If you think anyone else will save you, you are not a child of God. If you don’t think anyone needs to save you, you are not only seriously mistaken, you are not even a child of God. Only Jesus has the ability to make you a child of God. This makes Christianity exclusive. Unlike popular belief today, Christianity doesn’t believe that there are many ways to God or to Heaven. It clearly teaches that Jesus is the only way (John 10:1, John 14:6).
When you are born of God, you are born in a special way (read John 3:3-8). God has given birth to our spirits making us alive like His Son. This was entirely God’s doing. No man had a choice in any part of it. God decided to have you and now you are His child and no one can change that. I find it very comforting that my future depends on God not on myself (John 10:27).
John 1:11 : He came to his own, and those who were his own didn’t receive him.
Jesus was a Jew. His parents were very careful to make sure that they practiced the things that God wanted them to in regard to their special Son. Jesus was sent to save his Jewish people, but they refused him as their national Savior. Obviously, many Jewish Christians believed individually and were saved, but as a nation, He was rejected.
This is not to say that any other nation was eager to see Him come either as I mentioned earlier. The light of Jesus shows how much we love living in the dark and aren’t naturally willing to have anyone be God over us.
The fact that Jesus was rejected really bothered Him; He cried about it. I think that it hurt Him and He knew that what was going to happen to them after this would be terrible. You can read about this in Luke 19:41-44
People who reject Jesus today will find themselves individually in a bad position later just like the Jews were going to be in as a nation. This is a great example for us today and how important it is that we influence and pray for those around us so that they will not reject Him.
One of the most difficult things to face in life is the rejection of your own people. This happens to many people who become Christians. A wonderful thing is that we have a new family in Christ that will last forever. As believers in Jesus we have the ability to love each other in a way that we couldn’t in our own natural families. This makes our new family better than our natural one.
John 1:10 : He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world didn’t recognize him.
When we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate what should have been celebrated when it actually happened. The one through whom the whole world was made came to earth. It says here that “He was in the world.” This is an amazing thing that the one who created us was in the world with us as one of us.
Although God told some shepherds and some wise men from far away were watching, most people didn’t know that anything happened. Jesus was unrecognized. It is pretty obvious by the fact that he had to be born with the animals. This disrespect and disregard was common in Jesus’ life as John mentioned earlier. God had prophesied that he would be coming into the world. We know that this is true because the wise men from far away were expecting him. Some believe these wise men were those who learned from Daniel when he was alive in Babylon many years earlier.
We have already heard that John the Baptist was there to tell people who Jesus was. But there were two others who were expecting Him that we are told about in Luke. When Jesus was taken to the temple for circumcision as Jews were required to do, these two individuals were ready and waiting in expectation.
One of them was named Simeon. He was there in the temple and was “looking forward to Israel’s consolation.” The other was Anna. I encourage you to look up Luke 2 in your Bible and read it for yourself.
Both of these people were used to spending time in the temple. They expected big things from God. I am not saying that we should spend all our days at Church. We should be aware that the Church building is no temple. The Bible says that God now lives in the temple of our hearts and that we will live together with Him in his temple, but what is important is that these followers of God were doing exactly what God wanted them to do and they were really ready for Him unlike most others.
We can take a lesson from this. Jesus says that he is coming to take those of us who believe in Him to Heaven to live with Him. Lord willing, we will study more about this when we get to it in John 14:1-4. We should be living in expectation and doing things that are good in because He is coming again soon. When He comes next time, He comes to take us to be with Him where He is and that is something we should be watching for because we really believe.
John 1:6-9 : There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. The same came as a witness, that he might testify about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but was sent that he might testify about the light. The true light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world.
It’s good to note that the “John” in this passage is not the one who is writing. This is talking about the one known as “John the Baptist.” He was the a prophet just like the Old Testament prophets that God sent. His special purpose was to point the way to Jesus and John talks quite a bit more about it later.
The John who writes makes it clear that John the Baptist, was not “the light.” In other words, John the Baptist should not be confused with Jesus. John was not the light, he was just a man. It’s very important for all of us to remember that we are not the light either. We are just people. If we want to “shine” we need first to come to Jesus and then rely on His power as believers every day.
It’s worth noting that God likes to send people to “testify” about Jesus. As Christians we have been given a similar duty. Jesus sent all of us, much like God sent John.
We also read that the light of Jesus was meant for everyone. It really is a great thing to think about because up to this point, Judaism was only for Jews and those who were willing to become Jews. I think that many assumed that the Messiah would only be for the Jews. God had a plan for the whole world to see the light and this is truly one of the most surprising and wonderful aspects of this new light. It was certainly good news to those of us who were Gentiles.
John covers all of these things in more detail later.
John 1:5 : The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness hasn’t overcome it.
The light of Jesus is shining in the darkness. The Bible says that there is darkness and Jesus is shining in it. This tells me that the world around us is not full of light. This is something that challenges our thinking as Christians. Because of the way people act around us, it’s easy to think that the world has everything together; that it has the light, but the Bible says that it is Jesus who has the light and the world has the darkness.
The world’s darkness has not been able to overcome the light that comes from the life of Jesus. When we have Jesus life in us, our light cannot be overcome by the darkness either. It is very interesting to read that it use the present tense: “That light shines…” Jesus is still alive today inside of us. The light still shines.
I think that as history, this verse is specifically talking about the fact that even though Jesus came at a very dark time in history, the evil at that time could not destroy Him or his purpose here.
The things that happened to Jesus before He was born weren’t that great. His mother and father were forced to go all the way to Bethlehem just to be counted so that they could pay taxes when they were nine months pregnant. He was forced to be born in a town that was so crowded, the guest rooms were all taken and the animal lodging place had to be used. After the baby was born Herod, their leader, became jealous when he heard that a king had been born somewhere in his region, so he ordered that all children put to death under the age of two. Joseph was warned in a dream and immediately left to Egypt. Jesus was constantly pressed by the darkness in this world and ultimately put to death by it. But even in this, he overcame. I doubt that it really was a “Silent Night” the day Jesus was born. The good part is that Jesus was shining in this dark world and nothing could stop it.