It’s December 3rd, which means we are officially in the Christmas season!
You guys, I absolutely love this time of year and I can be just as indulgent as the next guy during the holidays. It takes intentionality for me to make sure that what I’m really celebrating is the birth and life of my savior, Jesus Christ.
I thought, what better way to stay focused, than by reading through one of the books of the Bible, leading up to Christmas!
Countdown to Christmas Bible Study
So this month I will be reading daily out of the Book of John. This specific book does not tell the story of Jesus’ birth, but in the books of Matthew and Luke, the story only spans a couple of chapters. Therefore, I will share the Christmas story at the end of this 21 day study, on Christmas Day!
The Gospel of John is one of the oldest accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings, told by a man who was an eye-witness to it all. In chapter 20 of his book, he tells us his mission:
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.John 20:30-31 (NIV)
We will read more on this in the days to come, but my hope is that you will consider these words, believe and be saved, if you don’t already have a relationship with Jesus. And if you do, this will be a way for you to listen again to the story that has already changed your life.
I’ve written out the Chapter, word-for word from the New International Version of the Bible, below. I added commentary that I thought might be helpful in blue. Jesus’ words will be in red.
If you’re more of an audio-booker, feel free to read along or just listen. I put the recording of the reading down at the bottom! Let’s get started.
John Chapter 1
The Word Became Flesh
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
I know this part’s a little confusing but stay with me. He is talking about Jesus.
6There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him, all might believe. 8He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
So “the Word” became flesh. I just caught this one recently. Jesus was there at the beginning of time, just not in his human form. He wasn’t created as a baby in Mary’s womb when God sent him down on Earth. He always was and has always been.
15(John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'”)
John had been telling people all about the coming messiah. They were coming to him to repent of their sins and be baptized.
16Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
Grace in place of grace. Receiving the law of God through Moses was grace from God. To know right from wrong and be taught as an imperfect person how to live in fellowship with a perfect God was a blessing beyond compare. But the grace that coming is even greater… you’ll see.
John the Baptist Denies Being the Messiah
19Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”
21They asked him, “Then who are you?” Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
22Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
23John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.'”
In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, there is a prophecy about this “voice” that is to come. Here, John fulfills the prophecy (Isaiah 40:3).
24Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
26“I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
Jesus was a grown man of around 30 years old at this time and had not yet begun his ministry. He had been a carpenter up until this time. Although he had been living amongst them, it was not yet revealed that he was the Messiah.
28This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
John Testifies About Jesus
29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.
32Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34I have seen and testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
Before Jesus begins his public teachings, he went to John to be baptized. The other gospel books give a little more detail about Jesus’ baptism:
When Jesus came out of the water, the Holy Spirit (as a dove) came down onto him from heaven, and the voice of God was heard saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)
John’s Disciples Follow Jesus
35The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36When he saw Jesus passing by, he said “Look, the Lamb of God!”
37When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi (which means “Teacher”), where are you staying?”
39“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
40Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).
Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael
43The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
44Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
The city of Nazareth was looked down on by much of Israel, for the treason committed of once helping to build a Roman city.
See Isaiah 53:1-3, where it was prophesied that Jesus would be “despised and rejected by men”. Nathanael almost rules Jesus out altogether on the knowledge of his hometown alone.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
47When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
48“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
I’m assuming that the men weren’t actually in Jesus’ sight while under the fig tree, and therefore this was mind-blowing.
49Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
50Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”
See you tomorrow for Chapter 2!