Saturday, February 07, 2015

Reading Through the Gospel of John #1 (1-4)

I am continuing to read through the commentary series The Bible Speaks Today,edited by John Stott, and post quotes from my NT reading 3 times per week on my Facebook page. You are welcome to comment on this post there. In January and February I have been working through the Gospel of John and completed the first major section of the book 1-12 this past week, (I will cut that into two posts here) accompanied by the fourth volume in the series, The Message of John: Here Is Your King!, by Bruce Milne (as always his quotes are in blue font below). Milne sees the theme of John as:

The mystery of Jesus Christ is the theme of this gospel; always beyond us, yet always summoning us to explore it more fully. The exploration and service of the Godhead will be our endless, though blissful, task in the world John Chartto come; but we can begin it now, and there can be no better place to launch out into the depths of it than to study, and expound, this great gospel by John. 27

My message statement summarizing the Gospel would be: Jesus is the full expression of God the Creator in a fully embodied human being, and ultimate communication of God to the world, so that people would put their trust in him and have eternal life and that believers live in intimate connection and dependence on Jesus, through the Spirit, to the glory of the Father and Son.

In the first section of the Gospel, the prologue, Jesus Christ is shown to be the ultimate revelation of the One God who is the Creator of everything. As God in human flesh He calls people into a relationship with him of total commitment.  John the Baptist was the witness that Jesus is this ultimate communication from God (light)so that people would believe and thus, become a child of god. Jesus is the One God come in the flesh to reveal God and dispense His blessings. 1.1-18

Chiastic Structure of John 1_1_18God is always Jesus-like!..The significance of this opening phrase of John is that the God who speaks in the Old Testament, who entered into covenant with his people Israel, and inspired and moved the prophets, was none other than the God known in Jesus Christ. God has not changed or evolved. Jesus Christ was always at the heart of God. John 1.1, 33.

Certainly bigotry is never to be encouraged, and respect for those of other persuasions is always appropriate, but we cannot compromise the uniqueness of the revelation of Jesus Christ merely for the sake of an often vague communal harmony. He alone is God come to us. No other can stand alongside him or take his place. The revelation in Jesus Christ is the final revelation. In acknowledging him lies the seeds of true community. John 1.1-2, 35.

Christianity entered first-century society as a faith for everyone, irrespective of intelligence quotient, age, gender, race or religious background. In our increasingly pluralistic communities, it is one of the glories of Christianity to reaffirm this unqualified universalism—all who would believe may come. John 1.12, 44–45.

The act of self-humbling on the part of God is irreversible; he is eternally ‘Emmanuel’, God with us. God the Son, without ceasing for a moment to be divine, has united to himself a full human nature and become an authentic human person, ‘God with us’. In Jesus Christ, God ‘was made man’. John 1.14, 46.

Chiastic Structure of John 1-12The “public ministry of Jesus” section of John describe Jesus’ words and actions to confirm that He is the Creator God who completes and supersedes all previous revelation of God and calls people into committed discipleship (1.19-12.50) In 1.19-51 we see that John’s witness and Jesus’ calling of the first disciples present Jesus as the ultimate revelation of God who has the credentials to be followed as God.

John now shows the glory of the eternal Word intersecting with ordinary folk in the midst of their everyday lives, people with deep human needs, like John’s readers across the ages. Therein lies the wonder of Christ and the gospel. It brings together the heights of heaven and the depths of earth, the glories of God and the agonies of humanity. John 1.35-51, 56.

The vision of future potential can be a deeply effective means to the realizing of that potential.  John 1.42, 59.

The presentation of Jesus in the first two sign miracles shows that he has the Messianic credentials for people to believe in Him for eternal life in the kingdom of God. (2.1-4.54) The turning of water into wine identifies Jesus as the One who will inaugurate the kingdom “banquet.” (2.1-11) The sign of judgment on the temple showed that Jesus would bring the old era to an end with judgment and inaugurate the new age through resurrection so that people would believe. (2.12-25)

The changing of the water into wine at Cana, and the cleansing of the temple in Jerusalem, establish the terms of Jesus’ ministry. They also anticipate Christ’s future work. ‘To attend a marriage feast and to cleanse the temple were among the first acts of our Lord’s ministry at his first coming. To purify the whole visible Church and hold a marriage supper will be among his first acts, when he comes again. , John 2, 63.

‘The action of Jesus is more than an example of prophetic protest against corrupt religion: it is a sign of the end of all religion. L. Newbigin   John 2.12-25, 70

It is a serious question whether the church in the western world has become so encased in the cocoon of material self-indulgence that the honour of God’s name among the nations has become a matter of indifference, with the result that the burning, ‘violent’ zeal of Jesus, Paul, the Psalmist, or Henry Martyn strikes us as something of an embarrassment. John 2.12-25, 71–72.

Jesus discussed with Nicodemus that kingdom entrance was based on new birth in the power of the Spirit that comes about through belief in Him. This is what gives eternal life and moves people into the kingdom of God. (3.1-21)

Becoming a Christian is always a miracle. The Christian witness therefore will inevitably be a person of prayer, and churches which engage in evangelism with integrity will inevitably be prayerful churches, beseeching God for his intervention to enable dead people to be reborn. Salvation is of God, and no advance in Christian evangelistic methodology will ever eliminate or replace this. John 3.1-21, 79.

The center of this section is the testimony of John the Baptist that Jesus is greater than him and that he was merely a witness that Jesus is the one who gives eternal life. (3.22-36)

Jesus is the one from heaven, come from the loving heart of God to the world to offer salvation to everyone who will believe in him. Believing in him brings eternal life, a rebirth into a new order by the Spirit, the personal reception of the supernatural, endless life of the kingdom of God. Conversely, and there is no third alternative, all who do not come to the Son for this life, but reject him and his salvation, consign themselves to the most terrible of judgments—they will not see life. John 3.36, 82.

Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman shows that He is Savior of the world who will inaugurate the New Age of the Spirit and calls disciples to work in his kingdom. (4.1-42)

Competitiveness is not to be tolerated in the service of God, even if that means one leader moving away. John 4.1-3, 83.

Our failures in evangelism are so often failures in love. Nothing is so guaranteed to draw others to share our living water than an awareness that we genuinely care about them. 4.4-27, 86.

One of the implications of the fact that God is spirit is that no form can ever be made the absolute one. No worship form can, or ever will, meet every need. If it did it would detract from the glory that is God’s alone. The true priority is the content of worship, a worship from the heart which truly exalts God. John 4.21-24, 89–90.

The turning of water into wine and this second “sign” frame this section of John’s Gospel. The healing of the official’s son in Cana is a sign to the Jews that Jesus has the power to bring in God’s kingdom so people should believe in Him. (4.43-54)

Miraculous signs and miraculous answers to prayer, such as modeled here, may have a certain value as a starting point, making us aware of God’s reality, but they remain sterile unless they lead on to a concern for the Christ to whom they point, and whose glory they signify (2:11). Beyond the miracles we seek the Lord who works them. It is in obeying his commands and trusting his promises (50) that true faith is expressed. John 4.43-54, 92.

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