Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

Molalla, Oregon

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The Jesus Story Begins

July 26th, 2009 by Vic

John 1:15-51

Something new happened when Jesus came.  Like today when we allow Jesus to come into our lives, He makes all things new.  God becomes visible to humans through our life.

It is interesting that John only talks about grace in this paragraph.  The word grace is used 156 times in the N.T., but John only uses the word in this prologue with the exception of his greetings in his second epistle and the Revelation.

This paragraph provides another interesting fact.  The ‘logos’ word is last mentioned in verse 14 and the ‘alethea’ truth is first mentioned in verse 14.  Truth will be the key word in John.

The word for truth is used 110 times in the N.T.  25 of those are in this gospel and 20 more in John’s letters.  So 45 of the 110 occurrences of the word truth are in John’s writings.

1:16.  “Because of His fullness we have all received, grace perfecting grace.”

The word ‘fullness’ for the Gnostics was heavenly ability beyond what was normal for man.  But for the Christian there has been a fullness given into human events (14) and we receive from that fullness.  The Christian fullness does not come by ritual, by an altered state of consciousness, by a lucky charm, or mental skills.  It is received as a gift or grace by those who are believing.

‘charin anti charitos’ are two different graces.  The second perfects the first, surpasses the first, or fulfills the first.

John says that because we have all received, we are the proof that Jesus came.  We have received because of Jesus.

In 14, John said, “we beheld His glory…full of grace and truth.”  Now in 16 John says “we all received…”  The first ‘we’ is limited to the eye witnesses, but this second ‘we’ is for all Christians.

Verse 12 says all who believe receive of Him who is full of grace and truth.  By believing in His name, we receive Jesus and become a child, not scholars, hermits, angels, etc.  The blessings and grace we receive when we become Christians may be stated in many different ways, but the fullness is Jesus.

Now verse 16 says from His fullness we have all received.  Usually when we receive something, we gain and the giver has less.  When we give our children gifts, they get richer and we get poorer.  That is the normal way things are.  But in Jesus is something new.  When He gives His Spirit, He has not changed.  When He gives grace, He is unchanged.

Of His fullness we have all received and He is no poorer.  He is full of grace and truth.  Unlimited and absolute completeness and abundance dwell in Him.  The whole fullness of the divine nature is in Him and when we receive our portion of that grace, He has no less.

Maybe it’s similar to a well of water.  On our farm we have a well that is about 130′ deep.  The static level of the water is around 40′.  We can run the water all day to irrigate the garden, the grass, or the animals and if we stop for just a little bit the water level returns to 40′.  We used the water to give life to plants and animals and when we stop to check, we have not changed the level of the underground source at all.

In another way it is like love.  You can love a child with all your heart and have no less love for the next child.

What is it that we received?  “Of His fullness we have received.”  We participate in the divine nature.  We receive Him, His fullness, His Spirit, His grace.

Jesus did not come to dazzle us with a great philosophy, or spectacular miracles.  He did not come just to make God more understandable to our minds and more known to our hearts.  He came so we could participate in the Divine nature. He did not come for the scholars or religious hierarchy.  He just came for a walk about with us.

Every Christian has received Him.  Every Christian has received a seed of eternity planted in their spirit.  Every Christian has been born again of an imperishable seed so that the older you get the younger you become.

Knowing about God with your head; knowing about Christ with your head is not enough.  The Devil knows all the facts.  It is not good enough to know about God.

When you were born the first time you received life from God with all the potentials for development placed in you hands.  When you are born again spiritually you receive Him. (1:12)

The last 3 words in verse 16 read ‘charis anti charis’.  The preposition ‘anti’ is rare in the N.T.  When we anti something, we offer an exchange.  That is similar to the Greek meaning here.

1:17 John explains this grace that is exchanged by grace.  Through Moses the law, the word of God was given.  It was a gift of God’s grace.  Now Jesus is the Word given.  The second grace is the truth (14).  The gift that is the truth surpasses and perfects the former gift given through Moses.  This perfection of God’s gift has a name.

Before the story of Jesus begins there is an explanation of what Jesus Christ has done.

1:18 No one has ever seen God except the uniquely born (monogenes theos).  He is turned toward the bosom of the Father at all times during the story that is about to be told.  He has made God known: to tell at length, to relate in full, to recount a narrative.  He has told God’s story and now that story begins.

1:19 This is the first Day in the story of Jesus.  He has already been baptized.  He has already been tempted 40 days.  Now a Jerusalem delegation is sent to John the Baptist and he points away from himself to another.  John has already seen the Spirit come on Jesus as a dove.

1:19-2:12 is a unit speaking of 7 days that climaxes with the glory of God being revealed to the disciples.

2:1-4:54 is also a unit that begins and ends in Cana.  It overlaps the first unit.  This is a common writing technique to make the conclusion of one unit the introduction of the next unit.

The feast of Pentecost was a celebration of the giving of the Law.  It was divided into 4 days and 3 days.  Now here we will read about the first 4 days and then 2:1 it begins “and on the 3rd day there was a wedding…”  This is the day of the first miracle and the glory of God is revealed to the disciples.

Ex 19:7-15

After God had talked with Moses (1-6), Moses came and told the people to prepare for the 3rd day (11, 15).

1:19-28 This is the first Day of the story.  The Jews in Jerusalem send priests and Levites to determine the identity of the Baptist.  The Baptist’s denial is preparation for Jesus’ claim, “I am He.”  The Baptist explains his mission in terms of Isaiah 40:3.  Apparently the delegation was telling John that unless he was the Messiah, he could not baptize.

The task of untying sandals is given to the least and lowest in the hierarchy of servants and slaves.

The Jews were expecting the Messiah to come and baptize in water because that is the proper way to do things.  John reminded them that he was only baptizing with water, but the Messiah would baptize with the Spirit.

1:29-34  This is the second day for the preparation for the gift of glory.  Jesus walks by in the distance and John gives witness to Jesus, but no listeners are identified or described.  He declares Jesus to be the Lamb of God.  The crucial element is “of God”.  Jesus appears in the story as an adult, already baptized by John.  John says the Spirit of God entered the human story by identifying and remaining on Jesus.  He describes Jesus as the Lamb of God and Son of God, but not the Messiah.  No Messianic expectations of man can contain what God is doing.

1:35-42  This is the third day with another set of characters.  Jesus is still in the distance.

The initial response of the disciples is encouraging.  They move toward Jesus and follow.  The word follow must include spiritual as well as physical following.  But their verbal response indicates a lack of understanding.  They use the term ‘Rabbi’ and John tells us that that simply means teacher.  It’s only a term of respect.  They have not understood the majesty of John’s statement.  As a Rabbi, Jesus would have a place where he gathers his disciples for instruction.  They want to see where he is teaching.  We do not know what they discussed.

Notice Andrew’s lie in 1:41.  “We have found the Messiah.”  That is not true.  John the Baptist had pointed Him out and they followed.  Jesus invited them and they did what they were told.  The initiative is entirely with John and Jesus.  Jesus did not correct them about their lie.  They were showing Him respect and following.

Jesus has been identified by the Baptist as the Lamb of God, a unique Son of God, and Lord.  These disciples see him as a fulfillment of their dreams and expectations.  They were not listening to John.  Jesus did not give them a lecture or criticize their expectations.  Love just says, “let Me show you a better way.”

1:43-51 This fourth day could be the first of the 3 days in preparation of the glory to come.

Jesus finds Phillip.  Phillip finds Nathaniel.  He tells Nathaniel “We have found…” which is another lie.  We do not find Jesus.  Jesus has taken the initiative.  Notice that Phillip describes Jesus in terms of his apparent physical and geographical origins.  We tend to define people by the job they have.

Traditional hopes are expressed by Phillip.  But Jesus cannot be understood by our hopes or our description of his origin and address.  John is really telling us to look beyond Nazareth and Joseph.

Nathaniel does not come to believe when he sees Jesus.  There was no halo over Jesus’ head.  He does not greet Jesus with respect.  He just asks a question.  Jesus makes a comment that marked Him as a wonder worker.  Now He has Nathaniel’s attention.

Nathaniel now thinks that Jesus is the Messiah.  He uses Messianic terms to describe Jesus.  But Jesus did not want Nathaniel’s faith to be based on seeing an apparent miracle.  Miracles are never ends in themselves.  Jesus tells him that a different seeing will be required to see greater things.

The expectations of the Jews (19-28) and the disciples (35-50) must be surpassed.  There is need for greater faith so that greater things might be seen.  You will see greater things, but not from your initiative.

The double ‘Amen’ is only in John’s gospel (26 times).  The single ‘Amen’ is in Matthew 31 times.

Seeing is related to Jacob’s dream in Gen 28:12, 16.

God has come.  Do we have eyes to see?

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