Chad and Jason walk through the first five verses of John 1, highlighting some of the significant connections to other parts of scripture.
Intro (Keith): Welcome to the Kanakuk Institute Podcast, where we continue to equip leaders with biblical skills for a lifetime of ministry.
Chad (00:13): And welcome back into the Kanakuk Institute Podcast. Chad Hampsch here with recent alumni, Jason Lightfoot, and we, Jason, are going to be working through the book of John. So, if you don’t mind, would you read for us. We, if you weren’t with us last time, we through the understanding of the upper story or the big story of the Bible, and how the gospels fit into that story, and, specifically, John’s unique reason in writing the book of John: so that we might believe Jesus is the Son of God. So we’re going to look at the first five verses. Jason, will you read those for us, and then we’re going to just work through the text.
Jason (00:47): Yeah, absolutely. So, reading John chapter 1 verses 1 through 5. “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Chad (01:13): So there’s a ton there, and we’re going to have some fun. What, Jason, as we’re talking about this text, and you’re being reminded of all the tools you’ve gained over the last several years, what jumps off the page immediately? The first phrase that jumps off the page to you as we look at this text?
Jason (01:29): In the beginning would be number one.
Chad (01:33): Yeah, and why, for those that maybe aren’t, don’t have all the tools or haven’t studied their Bible, what are the things about that phrase that make you understand that it’s important?
Jason (01:46): Yeah, the very first verse in the Bible, Genesis 1:1, “In the Beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” It’s an immediate callback to the very beginning of the story as revealed by scripture.
Chad (01:58): Yeah, and what’s fascinating, little insight here is, John, when he quotes the Old Testament, he actually uses the Greek version of the Old Testament, it’s a big word, but it’s called the Septuagint, but they had translated the Hebrew into Greek. And John intentionally uses the exact same Greek phrase as we find in Genesis 1. And so immediately John sprints back to the garden, which is fascinating because Matthew, Mark and Luke don’t start there. Where do they start?
Jason (02:28): They start with the genealogies.
Chad (02:29): Yeah, genealogies, Jesus’ birth, right? The baby story. John’s like, “Nope, we’re going to actually go before his birth. We’re going to go all the way back to the beginning, and there’s some important things that I want to make our audience aware of, because I don’t want you to miss. Sometimes we get into the beginning of a book and we can be like, “Oh yeah, I’ve kind of read the intro stuff before.” But there’s so much there that he wants. So in the beginning was the Word. And we’re going to see seven, eight, nine, ten specific titles that are talked about in the person of Jesus. Now in this first reading, we don’t actually know that the Word is referring to Jesus. So, there’s a tool in scripture we use where we basically say, “Scripture interprets scripture.” So, we’re going to give you a little hint here. Scripture’s going to interpret scripture. Jason, when do we get clarity that the Word is actually referring to the person of Jesus?
Jason (03:26): Just later on in this chapter in verse 14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory. Glory as of the only Son from the Father.”
Chad (03:37): Ok good, so scripture’s going to tell us. Just, maybe as a rule of thumb, be careful if you see, you know, a pronoun capitalized when you’re studying or whatever. Be careful let scripture tell us who this is. Clearly, from verses 14 and on, we see this is the person of Jesus. So it says, “In the beginning was the Word.” So, if you’re taking notes at home, let, just write down the word, “Word.” That’s the first title we see John give Jesus here, and there’s two really significant reasons why he uses the term word. To the Jewish listeners, it would have had massive significant, right? In the beginning, at the creation, how did God speak the world into existence?
Jason (04:19): Yeah, he said, “Let there be light.”
Chad (04:25): Yeah, he spoke words right? He could have done it a million different ways, but he literally chose language, words, to communicate the creation into existence. So, significant to the Jewish, and throughout the Old Testament, right? The Word was held with such esteem, Joshua 1:8, you can go, Psalm
Jason (04:40): Psalm 138:2 “You have exalted above all things your name and your word.”
Chad (04:45): Yeah, so we see this theme, not surprisingly, in the Jewish scriptures, the Old Testament, that the Word is prioritized. But there’s a catchy little play, because the Word also meant a great deal to the Greek philosophers. They felt like that the words were the way they would discover truth claims. The philosophers of the day, they would spend hours coming together, communicating ideas, through language, to come up with new truth claims or ideas about truth, and so, John is doing something here that is well-timed for both the Jewish and the Gentile audience. So, the word is one of the ways that we see Jesus referred, I want to touch on a couple other titles that we’re going to see of Jesus as John kind of lays out this argument for the fact that Jesus is the son of God. So the second one is Jesus Christ. Jason from your experience, when we think about that term Jesus Christ, what are some, maybe, misnomers people have or some ways that we maybe don’t fully understand what that means?
Jason (05:49): I’ve heard, jokingly, people say that Christ is not Jesus’ last name. I don’t know anyone who actually thinks that Christ is Jesus’ last name. I don’t know exactly what misconceptions people may have about it other than that’s just a title without knowing what’s behind the meaning of that title.
Chad (06:06): Yeah, yeah, so, and you hit on it, Jesus is his name, Christ is his title, right? And the word, Christ in the Greek is the equivalent of the word Messiah in the Jewish. And so it’s important for us to understand, essentially, he’s saying “Jesus the Messiah.” Which would be extremely meaningful to our Jewish audience, okay? So, I want to tie this to another passage. If you’re in your bible, flip over to Luke chapter 4, verses 17 and beyond. And, kind of a cool moment in Jesus’ ministry, where he brings some clarity to this idea of the Messiah, or the Christ of God. So, as we know, Jesus, along with Paul and others, when they would go to a new town to communicate truth, they would start in the synagogues. They would go to where the Jewish believers were, not that they believed in Jesus, necessarily, but they believed in the scriptures. And they would go to those synagogues, and they would build an argument. They would make a case for Jesus being the Messiah. And so Jesus gets the opportunity as a Rabbi to go and read scripture in the synagogue. And so this is what happens in Luke chapter 4. Go ahead and read, Jason for us, starting in verse 16 actually. Luke.
Jason (07:26): And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written.
Chad (07:40): So let’s pause there for just a second and then we’ll keep going. So, Jesus comes into the synagogue. He goes and he gets the privilege as a rabbi to read from the scriptures. They give him the scroll from Isaiah, and it says, specifically that he opened the book, and he found a very specific passage that he’s going to read, and then he quotes it.
(07:58): “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind. To set at liberty those who are oppressed. To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. And he rolled up the scroll, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, ‘Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”
Chad (08:31): So this is a mic-drop. So Jesus stands up, he reads this very specific passage, and then he sits down, which by the way, that’s the way the rabbis would do it. They would stand up when they read the scripture and when they would go to teach, they would sit down. He goes and sits down, and what’s he say?
Jason (08:46): It’s been fulfilled.
Chad (08:49); Yeah, “this is me. I am what this passage is talking about.” And so, Jesus the Messiah, right? So, not only is he the Word, but he is also Jesus the Christ, or Jesus the Messiah. Okay? The third thing that we’re going to see John reference several times is the fact that Jesus is Lord. Jason, help us, shed some light on what you’ve learned through your years. What does that title, again it’s a title, what does the title of Lord, or understanding Lordship mean?
Jason (09:16): To put that, I think, as simply as I can. The Lord is the one whom I serve. The one whom I owe my life to. Like every, my Lord is whatever owns me, effectively.
Chad (09:33): That’s good, and there’s an intentional surrender or submission involved in Lordship. We see that in Romans 10, right? Romans 10:9-10, there are two things that he says: we need to confess with our mouth that what?
Jason (09:46): That Jesus is Lord
Chad (09:47): Yeah, that there is something about a verbal proclamation from a believer that Jesus is not simply my savior, which he is, but he is also my Lord. I have given authority over to him in my life. And so, John is going to spend some time in the book of John talking about the Word, about the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, thirdly that Jesus is Lord, and then fourthly, he calls him the Son of Man. Now all kinds of confusion there right? Let’s talk about the confusion, and then let’s allow scripture to kind of clear it up. What is the confusion often about the Son of Man title?
Jason (10:25): I think the confusion comes from the fact that it sounds like, “Oh, he’s just a human because he’s the son of a man, so that’s just a super, extremely human title.
Chad (10:36): Yeah, and what is the reality based on the scripture?
Jason (10:38): It’s actually an extremely divine title based on Daniel, I think it’s chapter 7.
Chad (10:43): It is.
Jason (10:44): Daniel chapter 7, where Daniel sees this vision of one like a son of man in the clouds and that son of man is described using extremely high, divine, authoritative language. And so when Jesus is taking on that title, he’s claiming to be much, much more than just a man.
Chad (11:05): Yeah, and that’s really the confusion, right? It’s almost like people think, “Well Jesus calls himself the son of man because he’s trying to identify with his humanity.” And actually it’s much more a title of his deity. In fact, Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man more than 70 times. It’s his favorite title of himself. So again, here’s four titles, and again that’s not anywhere close to the number of titles that John uses, but he calls himself the Word, he calls himself the Messiah, or the Christ, he refers to himself as the Lord, and here we see this title the Son of Man. So we wanted those to be on the forefront of your mind as we think through this. Jesus is not giving us titles because he’s confused about his name, but he’s actually revealing pieces of his character to us. Why is that, Jason, just as you’re coming off a year at the Institute, why is God’s character so important just as we think about application immediately in the text. Why is understanding the character of God through his name so important just on a personal heart level?
Jason (12:03): I mean you can’ have a relationship with someone you don’t know. So in order for me to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, I have to know the one who my love is directed to in order to actually love him.
Chad (12:18): Yeah, it’s like, I mean, you’re a married man. Like, you can know things about your wife, but until you know her, you know what she feels and thinks and how she operates, how she’s gifted, the way she’s loved, like you can’t, there can’t be a level of intimacy there. And the same is true with our relationship with the Lord, wouldn’t you say?
Jason (12:37): Yeah, absolutely.
Chad (12:38): So, back to the text here, we’re in John chapter 1 verse 1 and it says, “In the beginning was the Word,” and again, we capitalized on four of the names or titles of Jesus, and it says this, “and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” So the two key words there for me are with and was. What stands out to you Jason?
Jason (12:57): Just sets up a Godhead that is a plurality, where simultaneously, Jesus can both God, and also be with another who is also God. So we get the Trinity at least set up in that verse.
Chad (13:15): Yeah, and it gives us an understanding that Jesus has always been, will always be, kind of Colossians 1 as well right? That he has been coexistent with the Father from the beginning. This wasn’t plan B from God. Like the Godhead, we see the Spirit there as well in Genesis 1, has always been, will always be, and is consistent in his character and his nature, which is really comforting as we think about how inconsistent we can be, how inconsistent the world can be, that our God has been never-changing over time. And then he goes on and he says, “In the beginning with God. And all things came into being through him, and apart from him nothing came into being that has come into being.” Sometimes as people dig into this passage, it’s a little bit eye-opening. Did that happen for you or I’m sure for other folks at the institute as well? What’s eye-opening about that particular part of the text?
Jason (14:11): We just don’t think of Jesus as being present in the scriptural narrative until, sometimes until the gospels, or least until we see, maybe like Isaiah 53 or something. But, in reality, Jesus ahs been present as the second person of the Trinity from the very beginning of time.
Chad (14:31): Yeah and not just present, but active. Like he played an active role in the creation account, and Colossians chapter 1 gives us even more insight. It says that not only did he create it, but he also holds it together. And so God the Son, Jesus is actively involved in the ongoing part of creation and its being held together even in its broken state. That’s good. And then he goes on and he says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” So two kind of major things, what jumps out to you just from a key word standpoint there?
Jason (15:05): The obvious words would be life and light, and then even in him, that it’s putting those things based on Jesus.
Chad (15:12): Yeah, so we’re going to spend more time on life, and really light as well. How do we see the word picture of light used in both the Old and New Testament as we think about Jesus?
Jason (15:27): Yeah, first of all, I mean, light was the first thing that God created, right? “Let there be light.” And so you see the Spirit hovering over the waters and this picture of chaos and darkness and God speaks light into the chaos and starts putting order into the world, and the same picture is kind of present here where after the fall, the world has just fallen apart. And the light comes into the world, and that light is going to bring order and going to bring life to the people in the world.
Chad (15:57): Yeah, 1 John deals with this idea s well right? Same author, but he deals with this idea of life and light again in 1 John. So 1 John chapter 1 deals with this extensively. We don’t have time in today’s podcast, but if you get a chance, go back and read 1 John chapter 1, and recognize that Jesus is considered the light that will bring light to the darkness, and darkness cannot stand when light is present. And so, that’s what Jesus does, and by the way, we get to illuminate that light in the World and dark spaces, and so, just by way of encouragement for our audience. While this may feel thick or heavy, you know, when we think about the titles of Jesus. There’s a really practical piece. And it’s really two-fold. Number 1, Jesus came and saved us so that we would have life and that we would have it to the full. And my question, personally, and then to our audience as well is: Is my life reflecting the fullness of life I have in Jesus Christ? And the second question is: Am I living in such a way that my light is actually bringing light into the dark places? Both in though and in practice? And so, Jason, what would be your challenge as we think about those two kind of matching themes of life and light?
Jason (17:11): Yeah, as a believer you’ve been given the Holy Spirit inside of you. We’re called to be lights in the world. And we don’t have to be, you can waste your life, but don’t. I mean why? Why would we do that when we have the word available to us. We can be learning the Word, living out the Word, testifying to the gospel everywhere we go. We can’t throw away our lives and blend in when we have this light that should be shining out from within us.
Chad (17:42): Yeah, that’s good. And I think my challenge would be just simply that is that we have because of the work Christ has finished in our life, we are saints. Now let’s go live like it. And God has given us life that is overflowing, and if you are not spending time actively in prayer, in the word, being renewed as Romans 12 tells us, being renewed in our minds, then your life isn’t going to reflect that light. It’s not going to reflect the fullness of life we have access to and so, we want to go out and make a difference in the world, but it really starts with our own personal intimacy with Christ. We can’t go do it until we be it. It’s trying to be a Mary in a Martha world. And so, just my encouragement to our listening audience is just that. If you haven’t been in the Word recently, dig in. If you have extra time on your lunch break today, go read for depth and for quantity. Go spend time immersed in God’s Word, and allow it to continue to breathe life into you just as God breathed life into Adam in the garden. So that’s my encouragement. Thank y’all so much for taking the time to be a part of this, we love doing this for you, we hope it’s an encouragement for your heart and that it just renews your affections for the Lord today. Have a great one, we’ll catch you next time on the Kanakuk Institute Podcast.