As I was studying the book of John this week, I realized I have a tough job ahead of me. I have taught many Bible studies in the past and I always have at least an hour to teach a lesson from whatever we are studying. To share with you my own discoveries in the book of John in a few paragraphs will be difficult. I am counting on the leading of the Holy Spirit to guide me to share the things that my readers most need to ‘hear’.
Hopefully those of you joining me in studying the book of John have already read the first chapter in John a few times and have completed Lesson 1 of our study guide Journey Into Knowing Jesus (JIKJ). This week I have chosen three things in the lesson on which to focus my writing and then I will pose questions for you to answer in your prayer journal. I will also begin a discussion on our Facebook group so that we can see how others answer the questions. (pssstt….answer them for yourself before you see how others answered them…this is a good habit to form as you study the Bible)
John: the author of the book
Reasons I LOVE the author of the gospel John….
1. I love the way John tackles important theological truth in a way that is easier to understand than some authors…in fact this is the same reason I adore my own dad’s preaching and writing….he keeps it simple without shying away from the deep truths of the Bible…I don’t like ‘safe’ writing or preaching….even if I don’t agree with an author or preacher theological, I can always appreciate their willingness to tackle things in the Bible that are difficult for our human minds to comprehend.
2. Okay…if you have never read Mark 3:17, you must stop now and pick up your Bible (or iPhone for those of you who are more high-tech than me!!!) and read what nickname Jesus gave John (the author of this book) and his brothers. Jesus likely gave them that nickname because of the tempers and quick judgments they made as illustrated in Luke 9:51-55. And John seems a bit self-centered. You gotta love the incidence recorded in Matthew 20:20-28 where John’s mother goes with her sons to ask Jesus to allow her sons to have the highest rank in heaven…a bold and possibly ‘stupid’ request.
Why do I love that John likely had a short temper and seems a bit naïve and selfish in his desires? I find it comforting to know that Jesus KNEW his human personality and tendencies and still saw John’s potential. In fact, Jesus chose to allow John to be one of His closest friends during His time here on earth. John, one of the thundering brothers, seems to have been transformed by simply spending time with Jesus.
The Bible does not record a particular moment when John changed. I can only imagine that as John stood there watching Jesus die on the cross and Jesus asked John to take care of His mother, Mary, after He is gone….I have no doubt that John was never the same. In this book, John never refers to himself by name. He simply calls himself, the disciple that Jesus loved. That’s what spending time with Jesus does to a person. It humbles them. It makes them feel overwhelmingly loved. It transforms them. Jesus accepted John as he was and changed him.
The Deity of Christ
John begins his gospels with one of the most difficult theological concepts for human minds to comprehend…the deity of Christ. Put simply, Jesus IS God. As I am teaching my own five and six-year-old , my mind often spins as I try to explain this deep theological truth to them. (by the way…for those of you new to Bible study the term theology just means ‘study of God’)
John does not ease his readers into his book. Boom! The first five verses of his book are a declaration that Jesus (the Word) is indeed the Creator God from Genesis chapter one. Throughout the book, John continues to refer to this important truth. As we read through the book of John, be on the lookout for the times that Jesus says ‘I am ______,’ These statements are important because they have a direct link to the truth of the deity of Jesus. I encourage you to take time to read the event that took place in Exodus 3:13-15. It is in those verses that God gives Himself the name “I AM,” By using this phrase it is clear that Jesus is claiming to be God.
Light vs. Dark and Life vs. Death
As we read through John, you will see that John consistently uses contrasts in his writing. Our Bible study guide JIKJ, gives a great explanation of these two contrasting images. Indeed Jesus came into the world to bring light and life. I encourage you to be looking for and marking these words in your Bible as you study. If you are keeping a journal, make note of how these words and contrasts are used in the book of John.
As I mentioned there is so much more I could write about pertaining to the first chapter of John, but I promised to keep it simple. I’ll save discussions on John the Baptist (I just love that guy!), eternal life, and the grace of God for a later time. Until then I leave you with some questions to ponder. If you are keeping a journal, I encourage you to answer them in your journal. If you are participating in the Facebook group, join the discussion there. Or comment after this post….I love to read the comments!
1. How does the fact that Jesus chose a man like John as one of his best friends bring you hope and comfort (or good laugh 🙂 )?
2. What is one of the most difficult struggles you are facing right now in your life? How does or should the truth of the deity of Christ bring you comfort and peace in that struggle?
3. We all have times in our life when we have a moral decision to make. How should the fact that Jesus is the ‘Light’ guide those decisions? What are some scriptures that you turn to when you have a moral decision to make? How can the truth of Jesus being light guide us in our parenting decisions?
4. When did you come to realize your need for Jesus as your source of life? Record your own personal testimony in your prayer journal. If you are not sure if you know Jesus as your source of life, read page 6 of JIKJ, or send me a personal message and I would love to discuss it with you.
5. Read John 1:4 again. Spend some time today thinking about the significance of this verse. How should the fact that Jesus now chooses to ‘dwell’ in the hearts of His people affect your actions and attitudes towards other people you encounter each day?