Jesus in John 1: Behold, the Lamb of God

But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name.

John 20:31

As stated in the above verse, John’s purpose in writing his gospel is to demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God. And he wants you all to know this so that you may believe on Christ and have everlasting life. Through Jesus, God clothed Himself in humanity so that we might be clothed with His righteousness. Let’s now open our hearts and minds to see the evidence of the deity of Christ which John presents in his gospel, beginning in chapter 1.

1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.

When you read the phrase “in the beginning,” did your mind immediately go to Genesis chapter 1? The verb was emphasizes the preexistence of the Word (that is, Christ). In other words, when time began, the Word was already here.

John used the Greek word logos [Word] to relate to both the Jews and the Greeks. To the Jews, this word represents God’s powerful self-expression in creation (Gen. 1:3; Ps. 33:6), wisdom (1 Sam. 3:1; Isa. 28:13), revelation (Gen. 15:1; 1 Sam. 3:21), and salvation (Ps. 107:20; Jer. 31:10). To the Greeks, logos represented the rational principles of “divine reason,” “mind,” and “wisdom.” With this one word, John connected with his audience, expressing truths about Jesus in terms that they well understood.

“The Word was with God….” The Word, as the second Person of the Trinity, was in perfect fellowship with God the Father throughout all eternity. Yet He willingly gave up His status—though not His deity—to become man. Even as man, He was still fully God, but He chose to refrain from exercising His power as God.

3 All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.

In Genesis chapter 1, the Hebrew word translated “God” is Elohim, which is plural in form, referring to the triune God. In verse 26, God says, “Let us make man in our image.” Here is another indication that Jesus existed long before His birth, and that He took part in the creation of the world. But now we learn more. Now we learn that Jesus Christ played the principal part in creation.

4-5 In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

“Life” and “light” are two key words in the gospel of John. He uses the word “life” 44 times in his gospel, and the word “light” appears 24 times. When considering the entire New Testament, we find that John’s gospel is indeed saturated with these two words, with roughly 25% of all occurrences of each of word coming from this one book.

6-9 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

John the apostle never names himself in his gospel. The man he refers to as “John” is John the Baptist. John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin, the child born miraculously to Mary’s older cousin Elizabeth. But John the Baptist is much more than that, for his purpose was to be the forerunner of Christ. In other words, his ministry preceded that of Christ, and he prepared the way for men to believe and accept that Jesus is the Messiah.

10-13 He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name….

Rejection of Jesus as the Christ is not a new concept. He was rejected by many of His own people, the Jews, during His earthly ministry. He came to them, to present Himself as their Messiah, their Redeemer. They rejected Him. So then He made Himself available to all men everywhere, so that anyone who believes on Him can be a child of God. Here, salvation is referred to as birth (“born…of God”). In chapter 3 we will see that Jesus describes salvation as a “new birth.”

14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Again, John refers to the term Word. The Word (Christ) was made flesh (Jesus). Christ as God was never created, but He took on humanity so that He might identify with us. He had to become one of us in order to redeem us. There was no other way. Man had sinned. In fact, all men have sinned. And the only payment for sin is blood—the blood of a perfect, sinless, innocent sacrifice. The blood of lambs, bulls, and goats, etc. did not take away sin; it merely pointed toward the ultimate sacrifice, when God would offer Himself as our ransom. This is why Jesus had to become a man. He needed a body of flesh and blood because no one else was perfect; no one else could meet God’s requirement for the sacrifice.

“He dwelt among us.” The term behind “dwelt” here implies living in a tent. The Jews would easily identify with this because their Old Testament fathers lived in tents, which suggested that they were just passing through the land, but did not own it. Not only that, but the first official place of worship was the Tabernacle, which was nothing more than a huge—and sacred—tent. There Moses met with God, and the glory of God shone on his face. Now the Tabernacle has come to live with men in the Person of Jesus Christ, and again we see the glory of God.

15 John bore witness of Him, and cried, saying, “This was He of whom I spoke, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me: for He was before me.’”

John the Baptist corroborates John the apostle’s statement that Jesus is eternal. Here John the Baptist asserts that though Jesus came (in birth and ministry) after John, He existed long before him. This can only be true if Jesus existed eternally.

16-17 And of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

“Grace for grace.” What does that mean? I’m no scholar, and I’ve read a variety interpretations from those who claim to be. One interpretation is that this expresses the abundance of grace God has bestowed on us through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Another view is that although there was a certain measure of grace available in the Old Testament, the grace that Jesus brought to us completely overshadows what the Old Testament believers experienced.

Truth came by Jesus Christ as well as grace. Consider these verses:

For the word of the LORD is right; and all His works are done in truth (Psalm 33:4).

Your Word is true from the beginning: and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever (Psalm 119:160).

I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your loving-kindness and for Your truth: for You have magnified Your Word above all Your name (Psalm 138:2).

18 No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

The Father and the Son (and the Holy Spirit, for that matter) have an intimate relationship with one another. They literally are One in every way. Jesus came to earth in human form so that He might show us the character and nature of God the Father.

19-28 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”

The religious leaders wanted to know why John baptized and spoke with such authority.

“I am not the Christ.” The terms “Christ” and “Messiah” are the same. Christ is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name Messiah.

“Are you Elijah?” Malachi 4:5 promises that Elijah will return before the Messiah establishes His earthly kingdom. The Jews of Jesus’ day believed that Messiah was ready even then to set up His kingdom and free them from the Roman oppression. They rejected Him when they discovered that such was not His mission at all. They didn’t want a Messiah to deliver them from sin; they wanted a deliverer from Rome. Jesus will return as King someday, and Elijah will come before Him. Many believe Elijah will reappear during the Tribulation.

“Are you that prophet?” This refers to the prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:15-18, which predicted that God would raise up a great prophet like Moses, who would function as His voice. Some in John’s time thought this referred to John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ; but the apostle John makes it clear in Acts 3:22-26 that this prophecy was fulfilled in Christ Himself.

“I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness…” Here John quotes Isaiah 40:3 to answer their question.

29-34 “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man which is preferred before me: for He was before me….’ And I saw and bore record that this is the Son of God.”

John the Baptist affirms on another day, to another crowd, the identity of Jesus as both the Messiah and eternal God.

35-37 “Behold the Lamb of God!”

It was not normal for a leader to send his disciples away to follow someone else. Then again, John the Baptist was not normal. He was a humble man. He knew that his ministry was not about him, but about Christ. He had proclaimed all along that Jesus was the Messiah. Now it was time for him to begin to step aside and let Jesus take preeminence.

38-51 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following….

Here the apostle John gives us some background material, describing the calling of some of Jesus’ key disciples, those who were part of His inner circle. They would play a role in the unfolding story of Christ, so John brings them into the narrative.

This week’s reading

John 2

This week’s memory verse

His mother saith unto the servants, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.”

John 2:5

Photo taken at Princess Beach in Destin, Florida, 2019

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