In one chapter of the Gospel of John we take a journey from the eternal Word who is God to Jesus Christ talking to one man who sat under a fig tree. Jesus gets personal.
The Gospel of John opens with lofty words about the Word (John 1:1). This sounds abstract and conceptual. We feel as if we are being transported to another world, without substance, unlike ours and unrelated to our reality.
Then we are told that this Word is God, and that all things were made through him. We begin to find some connection to ourselves. Still the Word remains unnamed, but we are told that we who have names, and bodies with blood and bones, were created by him.
Then comes the truly unexpected. The Word became flesh (John 1:14). The eternal Word who is the Son of God took on humanity, became a man, and now exists as fully God and fully man in one person. And that person has a name, Jesus Christ (John 1:17). In just a few verses we have traveled from heaven to earth, from where the Word lived from eternity to where Jesus lived among us in time.
John goes on to introduce us to Jesus. Another John- John the Baptist- is the voice who announces why the Word became a man. It was to take away our sins, to make us new people in our hearts, and to call us to follow him in this life. The chapter ends with Jesus talking to a man named Nathanael.
Nathanael is one man, sitting under a tree, probably pondering the message and meaning of the Old Testament scripture. In one moment in time Nathanael encounters Jesus Christ. In the conversation with Jesus, Nathanael comes to see that Jesus is what he was reading about in scripture. Jesus is the Son of God (John 1:49). From that day on, Nathanael followed Jesus.
I imagine John 1 cinematically. The opening scene is wide-angle and takes in all of eternity. As the scene progresses, planet earth comes into view. We travel by camera to Bethlehem where the Word becomes flesh through the virgin birth, then to Nazareth where he grows up, and on to Bethany and Bethsaida in Galilee where he preaches, heals, and calls people to follow him. The scene closes with the Word made flesh, Jesus, personally calling one man named Nathanael to himself.
Friends, this scene is played out over and over as Jesus is made known to us. Every time we read of him in the pages of John, he gets personal with us. The purpose for which he was made known to us in John is that we, personally, would believe, receive, and follow.
Don’t stand off at a distance as you read John. Let the words zoom into your soul. Hear Jesus calling you and get personal with him.
This Sunday at Grace we will come to the end of the first chapter of John and consider our first steps in following Jesus.
Join me this weekend praying for our congregation.