Episode 1 – The Word – John 1:1-18

The Context

Welcome as you enter, possibly for the very first time, the Gospel according to John. Turning to the beginning of the New Testament you first come across the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. So, you might then wonder, why aren’t we starting with the Gospel according to Matthew? What makes John’s so special?

Not better, but certainly not worse, John’s Gospel is unique. Of the people who walked with Jesus during his three years of ministry, perhaps none knew him better than John. Where Matthew, Mark, and Luke are very similar in the accounts they record of Jesus’ life, John stands distinct, sharing moments in the ministry of Jesus that you can read of only in this Gospel.      

Through the Gospel of John, we see the story of Jesus on full display as witness the words, works, and wonders of Christ. The good news, which is what Gospel literally means, is that the heart of Jesus is for everyone. He is for us! Jesus is for grace, for new life, and for second chances.

Time Alone

Along with this book, have your Bible and a pen ready. The only person who needs to be on your mind right now is God. The only care that needs to be on your heart right now is to spend this time with Him. God is ready to meet you in this space. Be present.

Read John 1:1-18.
Countless books and papers have been written attempting to grasp the full significance of what John is saying in just the first 3 verses of chapter 1. But there is something here that is essential if we want to really understand the heart of God.

Jesus, who is called ‘the Word’ by John, was with God the Father in the beginning, and is himself God the Son. It is through Jesus that all things were created as God the Father spoke seven times his “Let there be…” in Genesis 1. And when the time was right, John writes in verse 11, “He came to that which was his own…”.

The Creator descended from the heavens to walk with us, as one of us.  “…but his own did not receive him.”      

Jesus clothed his heavenly body with the flesh of his creation, only to have it one day nailed to a cross. This was no surprise to him, an outcome he had already foreseen. And yet, Jesus came so that all who receive him and believe will be saved.

As we pour into the first 4 chapters of John over the next 7 weeks, what do you hope to come away with?
____________________________ (Make a note to come back to this question at the end of this book, using this answer as a point of reference to see God’s work in your life over these 7 weeks.) 
Just in these first 18 verses alone, John makes a number of significant theological statements about the person Jesus of Nazareth.  He is:

  • Eternal
  • Fully God (Son of God)
  • Became fully human
  • Grace and truth
  • Maker of the universe
  • The light of the world

In verse 12 we read that there is offered before us, as one pastor put it, our option for adoption.  To those who receive Jesus and believe in His name, the right to become children of God will be given.
There is no greater question that each of us has to answer, nor one that has a more profound impact upon our lives than this. Who do you believe Jesus is? Is the Jesus that John describes the one you receive and believe in, or is there something holding you back?

Why do you (or do you not) believe that Jesus is who the Bible says he is?

If someone were to ask what you mean by “believing” in God, how would you explain not what you believe in, but what it means for you to believe?

Verse 5 holds a promise for all who believe in Jesus, that he is the light. Now for some, maybe even you, this truth has been a lifesaving source of hope. Darkness is oppressive and obscuring, but the good news is that darkness never has overcome the light of Christ Jesus.

How would you explain to someone the kind of darkness John is writing about?
Has this kind of darkness ever been a part of your story?  Is it still defining your life today, or has the light of Jesus removed such darkness from your life?  If so, how did the light overcome the darkness you were in?

In Exodus 33:18 we read of what is perhaps the boldest demand anyone has ever made before God! Through a series of unimaginable miracles Moses delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, parted the waters of the Red Sea, and was audibly hearing the voice of God as Moses spoke with God in the Tent of Meetings. Even one of these moments are far beyond what any of us can say we’ve experienced of the power and might of God. And yet, Moses hungered for more. 
“Then Moses said, ‘Now show me your glory.’” Exodus 33:18 NIV

No matter what translation you turn to, one thing you won’t find within verse 18 is a question mark at the end. Context is important here, and when you get the time, you really should read all of Exodus chapter 33 to grasp why Moses had the confidence and faith to demand such a thing from God. But that doesn’t diminish the fact that what follows in the rest of this chapter is Moses only getting to see the back of God as God himself passed by Moses as he was hidden in the cleft of a rock.
But in John 1:14 we read that God the Son took on flesh, drank our water and breathed our air, and “…we have seen his glory…” NIV

Later in John 14:9, Jesus says that if you have seen him, you have seen the Father. The fullness of God dwelled among us in the flesh as Jesus. So, while today we can’t look upon Jesus in the flesh, John did, and has written about it so that through his Gospel we might also look upon the glory of God in a way that Moses never did!
Will you commit to praying through these 7 weeks for God to show you His glory?  

Time Together

Whether you are a part of a small group or have decided to get together with a couple of friends to discuss Sunday’s teaching over coffee, this section of questions is provided to help guide a group discussion. Our hope is that these questions, along with sharing from moments during your personal study time, will lead to conversations that are both edifying and life changing.

Before coming into your own faith, who for you was the best example of what it means to believe in Jesus?
Was there anything that this person did, or didn’t do, that really stood out to you?
Have someone read John 1:13
Have someone read Colossians 1:15-17
Much of what John, and Paul in Colossians, write in these Scriptures parallel with each other, but Paul goes one step further with what he says in the last phrase of verse 16.
“…all things have been created through him and for him.” (Emphasis mine) Colossians 1:16 NIV
What do you think Paul means by saying that all things have been created for Jesus?
Does this, or should this, change the way you view things such as your house, your car, your finances?
Does this, or should this, change the way we view ourselves as those who have been created in the image of God?

Time for More

If you are looking to grow in your knowledge of the Bible and desire to have a plan for further reading, here is a list of Scriptures that cross reference to certain parts within this week’s text.  A cross reference is two biblical texts that share similar meaning, and reading these is an effective way to expand your understanding of the Bible as one book, divided into 66 little books, all centered on Jesus Christ.  
John 1:1 < > Genesis 1:1
John 1:1-3, 11-13, 16-18 < > Colossians 1:15-20
John 1:4-5 < > 1 John 1:5-7; 2:8
John 1:14 < > Exodus 33