Morning Devotion: John 1 – The Word’s Witnesses
Morning Devotion: John 1 - The Word's Witnesses
Good morning! It is half-past five for me. It is Day 1 of lockdown and this morning I'm hoping that you have woken up well and hope that you wake up to a good fresh cup of coffee. I'm going to start my day each morning of lockdown reading a chapter of God's Word. I'm reading from the book of John.
I've chosen the book of John for at least two reasons. The first of which is that it has 21 chapters and we're going to be in lockdown for 21 days. But the main reason is because of the purpose of this gospel. This gospel is written so that you might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him, you might have life in His name. The key words throughout the entire book are: believe, Jesus, Messiah, the Son of God and then life.
Life is something that we really need to be celebrating and enjoying in the person of Jesus Christ at this time and so, I'm going to read the chapter, beginning with chapter 1 this morning and then I'm going to very briefly, maybe five minutes explain the meaning of the chapter and then I'm going to apply the chapter in about five minutes or so. The idea is to kick start your day with the Word of God.
John Chapter 1 reading from verse 1,
John 1 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In him was life and that life was the light of men. 5 That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but he came to testify about the light. 9 The true light that gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was created through him, and yet the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, 13 who were born, not of natural descent, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God. 14 The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified concerning him and exclaimed, “This was the one of whom I said, ‘The one coming after me ranks ahead of me, because he existed before me.’”) 16 Indeed, we have all received grace upon grace from his fullness, 17 for the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The one and only Son, who is himself God and is at the Father’s side—he has revealed him. 19 This was John’s testimony when the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He didn’t deny it but confessed: “I am not the Messiah.” 21 “What then?” they asked him. “Are you Elijah?” “I am not,” he said. “Are you the Prophet?” “No,” he answered. 22 “Who are you, then?” they asked. “We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What can you tell us about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am a voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord—just as Isaiah the prophet said.” 24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 So they asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you aren’t the Messiah, or Elijah, or the Prophet?” 26 “I baptize with water,” John answered them. “Someone stands among you, but you don’t know him. 27 He is the one coming after me, whose sandal strap I’m not worthy to untie.” 28 All this happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I told you about: ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me, because he existed before me.’ 31 I didn’t know him, but I came baptizing with water so he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and he rested on him. 33 I didn’t know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The one you see the Spirit descending and resting on—he is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” 35 The next day, John was standing with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this and followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and noticed them following him, he asked them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” 39 “Come and you’ll see,” he replied. So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. 40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John and followed him. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated “the Christ”), 42 and he brought Simon to Jesus. When Jesus saw him, he said, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which is translated “Peter”). 43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. He found Philip and told him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law (and so did the prophets): Jesus the son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” 46 “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael asked him. “Come and see,” Philip answered. 47 Then Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said about him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” 48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you,” Jesus answered. 49 “Rabbi,” Nathanael replied, “You are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus responded to him, “Do you believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” 51 Then he said, “Truly I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” amen just that far that's the first chapter.
Briefly, what does it say?
John opens up his gospel account by giving a witness to who Jesus is. That really takes up the first 18 verses. What John is wanting the readers to know is that, Jesus Christ is the Word, that He is God and that He came and dwelt amongst us. He is the fullness of deity, glory be held, and that Jesus wasn't like another man. John is wanting to testify to whom Jesus is.
This opening chapter has got five witnesses and five testimonies to Jesus. If I gave it a title I would say; The Word’s Witnesses.
The first witness is John himself. You remember in verse 14, John says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.” We observed, we saw Him. In another book he says, we saw Him, we touched Him and we heard Him.
The second witness is John the Baptist and his story is picked up from verse 19 and following. In verse 19 it says this is John's testimony; that John was testifying to the people around him. John himself was a witness. A witness is somebody in a court of Law who gives an account; a version of the truth.
The third witness is Andrew. Andrew is Simon Peter’s brother. We read his story in verse 39 to 40. In those verses he says, ““Come, and you'll see,” he replied. So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon.” Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of those who heard John and followed him. He heard John and he followed him, he was one of John's
Disciples, but he became one of the disciples of Jesus Christ. He became a witness to the truth.
The fourth witness is Philip. Philip is spoken about in verse 43 and verse 44. “The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and told him, “Follow me.” Philip was from Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew and Peter.” Again, you've got one of these disciples following Jesus Christ.
The fifth witness is Nathanael. The man that was sitting underneath the fig tree, which I'm sure many of you that are cooped up in your homes are going wish that you were sitting under and he becomes a witness in verse 45 and 46. “Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law, (and so did the prophets): Jesus, the son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”” And he says, “Can you think good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael asks him. ““Come and see”, Philip answered” and so he sees Jesus, he becomes a witness to Jesus Christ; the manifestation of God the glory of God revealed.
What I want you to notice is that all five of these witnesses, very quickly start testifying to the truth of who Jesus Christ is in this chapter.
The first testifier is the Apostle John, the writer of the book. In verse 14 he says, “We observed His glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” He observed, he saw, but now he tells you what he saw. He saw glory; the glory of God. He saw the glory of God manifest in Jesus Christ. And he calls Him the Son of God and then he says of Jesus: that Jesus was full of grace; the unmerited favour of God toward men. And truth; the living word Jesus Christ.
The second witness was John the Baptist. John has a lengthy testimony in verses 29 to 34. He says, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” A little bit later he says that, Jesus Christ existed before me, and even later, he says, “He is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit”. He closes off by saying, “I have testified that this is the Son of God”.
John wants his hearers to know that Jesus is the Lamb of God and that Jesus will be the sacrifice of God for the sin of the world. John wants you to know that Jesus Christ is eternal. He's not like other men that are born; come into this world, exist and then die. He wants you to know that Jesus Christ existed before time began. John the Baptist wants you to know that He is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit and that He has a peculiar anointing from the Spirit. He wants you to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. God from God and a Light from light.
The third witness, Andrew. In verse 41 he says, “We have found the Messiah” which is translating the word, Christ. In the Greek; Christos, the Hebrew word; Messiah. This is really speaking of The Anointed one of God. The one who had come and redeem God's people, both from their bondage in the world but also ultimately, as is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, from their sin.
The fourth witness, Philip. In verse 45 says, “We have found the one that Moses wrote about in the law”. It's very important to recognize that the Bible is not made up of two Testaments, but really of one Testament in two parts: an older part which explains all the events that happen up to the point of Christ's birth, and then a second Testament which explains the birth of Christ, the death of Christ, and the subsequent establishment and building of the Church. These two Testaments are one Testament. So, as Philip is speaking of Jesus Christ, he says, the older Testament, Moses and all the prophets spoke speak of this one that is to come; Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
The last witness testifies almost immediately. Nathanael, lying underneath that fig tree comes to Christ and Christ says, I saw you while you were lying underneath that fig tree, and Nathanael recognizes that this is a man like no other man. Jesus Christ can look into his heart and look into his soul and even discern his thoughts. So he testifies, “You are the Son of God” in verse 49. “You are the King of Israel!”, and that Jesus Christ was the long-awaited King in the Davidic line. He was coming to establish a
Kingdom. Nathanael at that stage wouldn't have understood everything that that meant, he wouldn't have understood that the cross stood between Jesus Christ and the ultimate fulfilment and establishment of that Kingdom. But Nathanael saw something in Jesus Christ that he had to testify to.
Because God's Word must change us, let me apply this first to an unbeliever. If you are an unbeliever, you need to hear that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God. In that phrase, in that word, in that title, is a promise that Jesus died for your sins. He died because you could never pay the price of your sins and your sins have elicited the wrath of God and future judgment against you. Jesus came into this world to seek and save the lost. He died for the sins of man. He rose from the grave in proof that God accepted that sin payment. He lives and reigns and rules from on high and one day, He will come again to judge the living and the dead. What will separate the living from the dead on that day, is those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ in this life; those who have believed upon His name. They will have abundant life, eternal life, and everlasting life.
Secondly if you are seeker here, looking for Jesus, maybe you reading this devotional because you are looking for God, if you're seeking after righteousness and you can find Him in the person of Jesus Christ. He's the fullness of deity, existing in bodily form. He is the glory of God revealed, the fullness of God is found in Him! He came into this world and tented, tabernacled and dwelt amongst us, that we might know God. If you want to know God, you need to know Jesus Christ and put your faith and your trust in Him and you too will live.
Thirdly if you're a backslider, if you are a professing Christian who is living in sin and you've got the next 21 days to think about that. Let me remind you if you are a believer that you have been baptized not just by Mark in water, or by somebody else in water, but you've been baptised with the Holy Spirit of God and that is the Holy Spirit. A Spirit which sets you apart from the world, which sets you apart from sin, which gives you freedom from sin so that you might not sin. I would exhort you and encourage you to turn away from your sin again this morning, to repent and to confess and again place your faith and your trust in Jesus Christ, trusting that His Holy Spirit will sanctify you.
If you're a new convert, there is so much to learn in this chapter and take time to listen to sermons, read good books, and deepen your knowledge and your love for Jesus Christ from this chapter. I want to just very briefly point you to two locations that you can find sermons on book of John. The one is Grace to You. Grace to You is a ministry from the pulpit of Grace Community Church. John MacArthur (Pastor at Grace Community Church) has preached, systematically and expositionally through the book of John. If you want to understand more about some of the things that we've read today, go to that website and check it out. The second resource that I want to offer to use sitting right in front of you is your Bible. Read your Bible over and over again. It takes me about two hours to read the book of John, and I like to read the book of John once a month, every day of that month. It is the kind of book which builds believers up and it's a deeply and richly theological book which is very accessible. I'd encourage you just to read the Bible and allow the Holy Spirit to deepen your knowledge and love for Jesus Christ as you see Him in God's Word.
Believer, for you and for application, notice how quickly these men who witnessed Jesus Christ and discovered who Jesus was, testified to who He was. Friend, you need to testify to Jesus Christ. You are His representatives here on earth. You are His mouthpiece, His hands and His feet. If your friends, family and neighbours are to hear the truth of Jesus Christ, they should to hear it from you. You are to tell them that Jesus is the Son of God. You are to tell them that if they believe, they can have eternal life in His name. Give them your testimony, tell them what your life was before you discovered Jesus. Tell them the gospel that you believed in and that Jesus died and rose from the grave and that all men must repent for the forgiveness of sins. Tell them how Jesus Christ has transformed your life, how your life has changed, how you are growing in the holiness and love for his word, and love for his people.
Lastly, to the old Saint. We read of glory here. I want to remind you of this glory beheld that awaits those who loved Him. We are not that far from eternity to come and there is one day when our faith will be manifest and be made sight. We will gaze upon the glory of Jesus Christ forever and ever. There is a great encouragement for each and every single one of us who have been walking with Jesus Christ in this life. Let's close in a brief word of pray.
Oh Jesus, even as we pray, we acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the son of God. Would you teach us to love Him more and more each day? This day Lord God we pray particularly for those who are involved in critical services over this lockdown period and we pray Lord God for those who are delivering medical care, particularly nurses and medical practitioners in our church, who may come into contact with many sick people. We pray for the many people who are scared at this time, would you not only give them wisdom as they go about their jobs but would you give them compassion for those who are ill a love for those that they serve. Father God, would you also give them the right words in season that they might minister the truth of the gospel to them. We pray Lord God for those who are involved in security services and we think of police and traffic officers in our church. Would they go about their jobs with diligence and excellence Father God. We also think of first responders, paramedics and firemen and we think of those who are serving in those capacities in our church. We ask Father God, might they do that with excellence. We ask that You to protect them while they are on their jobs Father. For us, we ask would that we use this time that we have been given, a time LORD God for reflection, a time LORD God for those that are around us, a LORD God to reach out to others, and to your praise and glory. These things we ask in the wonderful name of Jesus Christ, Amen! May God be with you.