John the Baptist, a witness to Jesus
John 1:6 – 18 John the Baptist, a witness to Jesus
In John 1: 1-5, St John tells us about the Word, identifying it as the active principle of creation and the life and light of humanity. But what – or who – is the Word?
In verses 6 – 18, St John reveals more details.
First, he introduces someone he describes as a witness; John the Baptist, the man sent from God to testify to the light.
“There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to that light. (verses 6 – 8).
St John seems to find it important that John the Baptist was sent as a witness. As a writer myself, I am always thinking of the structure of what I read. In St John’s gospel, the early mention of a witness makes me wonder “Is this gospel going to be built like a legal case, with St John presenting a succession of witnesses?” Over the coming weeks, we shall see!
St John then tells us some more about the light.
“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. (verses 9 – 11)
Surely this is a remarkable statement? He is saying that the Word – the active force responsible for creation – came into the world that he had made, and was neither recognised nor received.
That brings me up short. If the Word was neither recognised nor received, why do we believe the story is true? It’s a big claim St John is making. He’s going to need to build some pretty impressive evidence.
But it’s an attractive claim, because St John says
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (verses 12 -13).
I don’t know about you, but to be a child of God sounds good to me.
St John now makes his statement explicit.
“The 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.” (verse 14)
That’s big. God, the creator of a universe which is vaster than we can possibly imagine, came to live on earth, as a man. I don’t think I really have any idea of the magnitude of that claim. It’s huge.
St John proceeds to be more specific.
“Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (verse 17)
The Word who descended and became man has a name; Jesus Christ. To hammer home the reality of this, so that there is no ambiguity at all, St John adds this.
“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in the closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” (verse 18)
So St John has started to provide evidence in the form of reliable witnesses that Jesus Christ, a historical figure, was the Son of God.
Heavenly Father, creator and sustainer of the universe, I struggle to imagine even the minutest fraction of your creation. How much less can I imagine you, yourself. And yet you have said that you love me. You have let me experience that love, and it is wonderful. Thank you, Father, for giving me life, and for letting me approach you through Jesus.