I hope you are having a great Friday. It is supposed to warm up beginning today, but it is sure taking its sweet time doing it. Oh well, I have to keep reminding myself that we are in the midst of winter. My wife often looks at me while I'm complaining and says: "It's winter! It's supposed to be cold!" Oh, I guess. Today, however, we are in the Gospel of John. Yesterday, we looked at the beginning of chapter one and discovered that John makes it clear that Jesus was...God. Now, if you recall each gospel writer had a unique style. If you recall, Luke often paired males and females in telling his story. John does something different entirely. John compares and contrasts such things as light/darkness. *We will discover more about this as we do our work. John tells us that "in him (Jesus/the Word) was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it." (John 1:4-5) Later Jesus identifies himself as the "light of the world," then adds "Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (John 8:12)

In the Gospel of John we once again are introduced to John the Baptist. Now, we have looked at John in each of the gospels. If you recall, John came forth dressed in the latest line of camel hair fashion and eating the most decadent locusts dipped in honey. John had the appearance of a prophet. But, John doesn't quite give us this image. John says: "There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light...He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light." (John 1:6-8) Then, instead of all the preaching that John does in the other gospels John is more concerned with pointing out that he is not the Christ. Apparently there were those who mistook John as the messiah.

John is at the river Jordan baptizing just as we saw him in the other gospels. However, John's Gospel is unique in the account that it gives. First of all, John the Baptist gives some insight as to whether he knew Jesus beforehand. If you recall we discussed this in Luke. Luke tells us that John and Jesus were related. But, how well did John know Jesus? John says: "I myself did not know him..." (John 1:31a) Then we discover another interesting matter in John. In the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) John baptizes Jesus. He does not do so in John's Gospel. Instead, John testifies to seeing "the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him." (John 1:32) Then John says: "I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit." (John 1:33) So, John testifies to the Light. While the world in which Jesus entered failed to see him as the Light, John has accepted him. *This will be a recurring theme in John's gospel.

Then John the Baptist identifies Jesus in a completely different way. "The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When hew saw Jesus passing by, he said, 'Look, the Lamb of God!'" (John 1:35-36) Well, first Jesus is the Light, now he is the Lamb. Now, we will need to remember this as we go through John's Gospel. (especially the end) If you recall from yesterday I said that one can not truly understand John's Gospel without understanding the Book of Exodus. We will tie this all together as we continue our work. I also, said yesterday that the timeline of Jesus' death is different in John than in the three synoptic accounts. The identity of Jesus as the lamb will have a lot to do with this.

From here Jesus begins to call his disciples. Interestingly, he takes some of John's followers as his own. I wonder how John felt about this? You know, when folks leave one church for another it is often said, "Oh well, at least they're going to church." I wonder if John said, "Oh well, at least they're...?" Umm, not sure about that. There's something interesting about the conversation between Jesus and the two disciples that do leave John. "They said, 'Rabbi" (which means Teacher) 'where are you staying?' 'Come' he replied, 'and you will see.'" What Jesus is really saying is: "Take up your life with me."

Monday we will look at the beginning of Jesus' ministry. If you recall in the three synoptic gospels Jesus begins by healing people and casting out demons. Guess what he does in John? That's right! He turns the water into wine. I can't wait until Monday! I'll bet you haven't heard too many say that before. Lol! God Bless! -Pastor Rick

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