You might be thinking, “Oh, only one chapter this week. Sweet. They are starting us off easy.” Well, sorry. You are wrong. It’s okay. It happens to the best of us.
The reason there is only one chapter of reading this week is because the first chapter of John is so rich and full of depth we wanted you to have ample time to read through it multiple times and let it soak into your soul. Plus, the rest of John is really built heavily on the words of this first chapter, so we want to make sure you’re familiar with it.
Ok. It’s time. Go read chapter 1 of John and then come back here. We’ll wait.
Now that you’ve read the chapter (at least once) grab a journal and a pen or your notes app. It’s time for some reflection.
John starts his book off with a bang, making some seriously bold claims about this Jesus character. Go back and read verses 1-5 and make a note of these bold statements. John says that Jesus: has ALWAYS existed, was WITH God, WAS God, was the means through which ALL was created (that includes you), gives LIFE, is the LIGHT that shines in the darkness. Whew! That’s a lot. Which of these claims about Jesus resonate with you the most? Why?
Verse 5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” Where in your life have you seen or felt the darkness trying to advance and creep into your life? Has it felt like the darkness has been winning or taking hold? Well, John is VERY clear. The darkness can NEVER extinguish the light. NEVER. Nope. Not gonna happen. Spend a few minutes here, reminding yourself of this truth. If you have found life in Jesus then the darkness NEVER has the last say in your life.
Read verse 18 again. John says that although no one has actually SEEN God, Jesus is the physical embodiment of God. If you want to know the heart of God, simply look at the life of Jesus and what he was all about. I know we are only in chapter one…but from everything you know about the character of Jesus (so far), what does that tell you about God’s heart?
NOW ENTERING THE SCENE: John the Baptist. What an interesting guy. He just keeps yelling things at Jesus as he walks by? Ok that’s a little strange. And John doesn’t even feel the need to mention his clothing and diet choices. (spoiler alert: camel hair and locust and honey). For all the eccentricities of John the Baptist, one thing is definitely true about him: He knew exactly who he was and what his job was. Could the same be said about you? Is your identity defined by your proximity and relationship to Jesus or have you been looking to other sources to find that? John was certain about his purpose here on earth. Are you as certain? If so, does your daily actions and priorities reflect that purpose? I’m sorry. I know these are deep questions. We are praying that through reading John, you’ll be one step closer to answering them more fully.
NEXT UP: The very first disciples. You and I are (hopefully) a part of the long list of followers that have come after these first few. As you read through verses 35-51 try to imagine the scene. One by one, word is spreading throughout the area that the Promised One is here. Can you imagine the excitement? As each man discovered Jesus, they seemed to run out and tell someone else. Do you feel the same excitement when it comes to what you’ve discovered in Jesus? Why or why not? Spend a couple minutes asking God to bring to your mind and heart someone who needs to hear about who Jesus is to you. Will you commit to praying for that person this summer?
When the first two disciples started following Jesus, he turns around and asks them something very surprising, “What do you want?” Imagine Jesus turns around, looks you in the eye and asks the same of you. What do you want? “Why are you following me?” Do you have an answer? Your motivation behind following Jesus will greatly impact your faith and how you live your life in him. Probably good to start thinking about it now.
These first disciples give 7 titles to Jesus. Go back and identify them. If you need a little help, you can (re)watch the Bible Project video about John. Make note of these 7 titles. John is going to come back to them a lot and they will become a theme throughout the rest of his book.
As people are trying to figure out who exactly Jesus is they, are asked to “come and see for yourself.” Have you seen for yourself? Or have you relied on the words and testimony of others to tell you who Jesus is? As each of these disciples are confronted with the reality of Jesus’ existence, they each declare who they have found him to be. Who do you say that he is? I don’t mean to be dramatic (ok maybe I do), but your answer to that question will shape and define the rest of your life and your very existence. (cue the theatrical music) But in all seriousness, this is the question we will come back to, time and time again, as we continue through the book of John. Who is Jesus to you? Is he King of your life? Is he the source of Light in your heart? If so, how have your actions with week reflected (or not) your beliefs?
As John says in chapter 20, verse 31 (don’t worry, you’ll get there), his purpose for recording his eyewitness account of Jesus’ life is so “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” So we’ll come back to this question each week. Do you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God? How are you finding LIFE in him?