Posted by: Barbara Wilbur for ElysJoy Church | July 23, 2015

John Chapter 1 Sermon Notes

The gospel of John is one of four gospels that outlines the life and ministry of Jesus.   Unlike the letters of Paul or the recording of the Acts of the Apostles, the gospels focus solely on the ministry of Jesus.   The first three gospels, Mathew, Mark and Luke are called the synoptic gospels.  Put simply they are all recording the same events through the lens of the specific author.  Mathew focuses on the kingship of Jesus, Mark is a believed to be Peter’s firsthand account of this tie period and Luke is a chronological version of the events that took place.

The book of John however is different than these others.   John’s  focus is on the love of Jesus for his people, the fact that the Lord is coming again and the awe of being in the presence of the One that created the world.   John’s Jewish roots show through in this book and we see the humanness of the disciple’s and their relationship with each other.

Chapter 1 opens with the same words that open the book of Genesis….In the beginning. .. John is clearly showing us that God is God then and now.   He clarifies the relationship of the Trinity and tells us the Word – The message of Jesus has been alive since God created the earth.   He makes sure the reader is clear that Jesus in the form of the Word was there at the beginning.  In Him was life and this life is the light of men.

When God created the world in Genesis we see light being called to the formless void of darkness that was the earth.  John wants us to understand clearly that this light IS JESUS!  The sun, the earth’s physical source of light isn’t created till day three (verses 14-19 of Genesis) of the creation story.  John wants us to understand as in the beginning, Jesus was and is light of the world!  God separated light from darkness, good from evil, day from night and he continues to do that today.  These passages at the beginning of the Scriptures that we often take for granted are a map for us to understand the entire counsel of God through His Word, including the New Testament.

This focus of light from darkness can be found throughout the entire book of John.  John shares with us in Chapter 1 that Jesus came to call his own, the Jews into the Light that was him through the Word, but they wouldn’t listen.  They rejected him as a man but praise God the ones that were born of not of blood but of adoption would receive his word and are continuing that today.   Jesus didn’t forget about the Jews, quite the opposite, he sent Peter and James and John and others to continue the ministry to them long after his death.  This happens through the Holy Spirit and continues in many ministries today.   I see more and more as I study, watch Christian television and read reliable Jewish on line publications that the Jewish people are accepting Christ today in record numbers.   We must never forget that Jesus was a Jew, sent to the Jews for God’s purpose.  The Jewish people were created by God, set aside by God and chosen by God.  That never changes and the sharing of the gospel to them is more important than ever.

The gospel of John doesn’t cover the birth of Jesus like Mathew and Luke but instead begins recording Jesus’ ministry with the John the Baptist calling that one is coming that is greater than He.   He doesn’t record the history of John the Baptist or how John the Baptist got to where he is.  He leaves those details to the other gospel writers, we instead show John being confronted by the religious leaders, the priests and the Levites asking him to define who he is.  John the disciple of Jesus, states clearly that John the Baptist has come to fulfill prophecy that was written in the book of Isaiah chapter 40 verse 3.
“A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the Lord I the wilderness, make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.”  NASB

John the Baptist was using the Scriptures these Jewish teachers and upholders of the law would understand.  The Jews were waiting for a Messiah, and John was telling them that he was headed their way!

In verse 21 the Pharisees ask him if he is Elijah.  We know based on the other gospel accounts of John the Baptist’s ministry that he came from the wilderness, eating only locust and honey and that he wore a coat of camel’s hair.  If nothing else we know he kind of looked like what Elijah is described as looking like in 2 Kings 1:8

They answered him, “He was a hairy man with a leather girdle bound about his loins.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.” NASB

 They also knew that according to Deuteronomy 18:18 there would be one that spoke what God told him before the Messiah would come…

‘I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.

Malachi 4:5 also tells us that Elijah must come before the day of the Lord.   While this may be a prediction of the words later penned by John in Revelation 11 about the two witnesses, John B certainly thought he met that criterion.

“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. Malachi 4:5 NASB

Interestingly Critics say that Scripture contradicts itself here because Jesus clearly tells us in Mathew 11:13-14 that John is Elijah if you care to accept it. But John 1:19-20 tell us that John himself tells us that he was not truly the reincarnation of Elijah which would have been against the Scriptures written by Moses.   This is reconciled simply in Luke 1:13-17.   The angel of the Lord is speaking to Zacharias about the conception and birth of His son John the Baptist.

Verse 17 says “and it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.  Luke 1:17

John the Baptist was sent in the spirit and power of Elijah.  If we accept that we accept Jesus as the Messiah…..if we don’t, maybe we will when Elijah comes again before the great and terrifying day of the Lord when he once again comes to the earth.  Will we see Elijah as one of the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation?  Maybe, since they are sent to turn people to the Lord as was John the Baptist.  Both would fulfill scripture and accomplish the same purpose.   God is unchanging and throughout scripture we see Him do the same things over and over, just with different players.   We must understand the next coming of Elijah, the witness may look as foreign to religious leaders and John did to the Pharisees of Jesus day.

You see many churches today have become like the Pharisees where there isn’t really a relationship with Jesus, but a list of thing to do or not do. It has become ritualistic worship.  Don’t misunderstand me; there are many Christians in love with Jesus just as there were many Jews in love with God.   John was called to allow them to hear and understand what was coming and they did!   We will be called again to see that the Lord is once again coming and we must be actively looking and waiting without preconceived notions of what that may look like.

If God follows the pattern, at least one witness won’t be dressed to the hilt, neat and tidy or in a priests robe. We must be aware of the great and terrible day of the Lord….It is coming!  While I don’t know when, I want to be ready as Jesus has called us to do!

John’s gospel doesn’t walk us through the actual baptism of Jesus but he does tell us that John testified that the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove at of heaven. (Verse 32)  He reminds us that although John was Jesus’ cousin, he didn’t recognize him as the son of God till the Spirit of God descended on him and stayed!  Remember this was not typical.  The Holy Spirit didn’t stay with any but David for any length of time.   This was a new idea; one that only God’s chosen can have happen.  Aren’t we incredibly lucky that we are god’s chosen and once the spirit of God descends on us it stays because of the work of Jesus at the Cross!

The remainder of the first Chapter of John is the calling of the disciples.   Andrew first, then his brother Peter.  John and James are called and were likely partners with Peter’s family in their fishing business.  At the very least they were working together and following John the Baptist, looking for the Messiah to come and save them from the Roman oppression all around them.

Phillip from the same city of Bethsaida as Andrew was then called and he went and got Nathaniel. Isn’t it cool how the sharing of the good news of Christ started on its own without any direction….They simply knew what they had and wanted to share it with the ones they loved.  We are called to do the same today.

When we are in love with our savior, we can’t help but spread the good news.   I challenge you to think about that.  The disciples spend their life fulfilling the great commission of sharing Jesus with the world, long before Jesus told them in some of his final words that it was their purpose.   When was the last time you shared Jesus with anyone?  When was the last time you told someone about how Jesus changed you and changed the world?  Do you tell of a time when He will return?  A time when we will see him again to be judged worthy through His righteousness or cast from his presence to spend eternity away from the Light and in eternal darkness.   Something to think about huh? If you don’t know Jesus and haven’t accepted him as your lord and savior today is the day!



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