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Lesson 2: Jesus is the Best *

Introduction: If you were writing an account about the life of Jesus, how would you begin? Most people would begin chronologically: with His birth. Others might start with His most exciting miracle and then tell how Jesus came to that point. Still others might begin with the cross, and with that introduction go back and tell His entire story. John does none of these things. Let's jump into our study of his gospel to find out how John introduces us to the greatest story ever told!

  1. "In the Beginning"


    1. Read John 1:1-2. What do we learn about "the Word" in these verses? (The Word was present in the beginning. The Word is unique in that He was both "with" God and at the same time was God.)


      1. How does this work: how can a person be "with" someone and at the same time be that someone? For example, "Jim was with Bob and was Bob." (John introduces us to the concept of the Trinity right at the very beginning. It is the mystery that Three (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) can at the same time be One.)


      2. In my example I used two ordinary names (Jim and Bob). "Word" is not the name of a person. Why does John use the noun "Word" for a Member of the Godhead? (Words convey an idea. They represent something. Our lesson (Sunday) points out that the ancient Greeks had this generalized belief that "logos" (word) was a deity which both created and sustained life. Merrill Tenney's book on John tells us (p.62) that "logos" referred to the "controlling Reason of the universe." It conveyed the concept of "that ultimate Intelligence, Reason, or Will that is called God.")


      3. Using the term "logos" rang a familiar bell with the Greeks. What familiar bell is rung in your mind when John starts out "In the beginning?" (This sounds like Genesis 1:1.)


    2. Read John 1:3. At the same time compare Genesis 1:1 with John 1:1-3. What catches your attention in this comparison? (They are covering the same subject. It seems that John is a commentary or fuller description of Genesis 1:1.)


      1. What does John 1:1 teach us about Genesis 1:1? (That this "Word" was both with and was God during the Creation.)


    3. Read and compare Genesis 1:3 and John 1:3-4. What catches your attention about this comparison? (They are both speaking about light. Again, John is tracking the concepts of Genesis 1. He tells us that the Word is light.)


    4. Remember we learned last week that John wrote his gospel last and we considered John's thinking as he was inspired to write. Why do you think John decided to start his gospel in much the same way that Moses started Genesis?


      1. What concepts did God want us to learn through these inspired writings? (In Genesis we learn that our God is our Creator. This teaches us an important lesson about our relationship to God. In John we learn more about the identity of our God: that the Word is our Creator.)


    5. As we will see in the balance of this chapter, John identifies Jesus as the Word. Why does John begin his account of Jesus with the Creation? (In the introduction I speculated that most people, given the task of writing the story of Jesus, would begin chronologically - with Jesus' birth. John takes the same approach. However, John tells us that the story of Jesus goes back a long time before Jesus' birth as a human. John begins the story of Jesus at the beginning of our time. He begins it with our birth - the birth of humans.


  2. Light


    1. Let's look at John 1:4 again. John has used two words to describe Jesus: Word and light. What do you think John is trying to teach us by using those words? (Light reveals. Words describe. Jesus came to open our understanding of God.)


      1. Notice verse 4 also teaches us that life was in Jesus and Jesus' life is our light.


        1. How is Jesus life? (Right out of the gate John makes the point that Jesus was both our Creator God and the One who could give us life again. The hope of life again is "light" for our life. As we learned last week from John 20:31, teaching us this is the goal of John's gospel.)


        2. How are life and light related? (The Bible often refers to God and right living as "light," and Satan and wrong living as "darkness." (For example, see John 3:19-21.) Jesus came to bring us life by teaching us about righteousness. He came to reveal the "God side" of things.)


    2. Read John 1:5. In John's story about Jesus, he makes this remarkable statement by the fifth verse. What concept is John introducing us to in his account of Jesus' life?


      1. Is John suggesting that Jesus' life work was not a complete success? (Jesus' purpose, at least in part, was to eliminate darkness in the life of humans by the light of His own life. John is saying that sinful humans didn't get it. We did not understand. I think John is saying, "I want to help you to understand this. I'm writing this account so that you will `get it'.")


    3. Read John 1:6-9, 29. Who is this John? Is it the writer of this account? (No. This is John the Baptist. We get a fuller picture of John the Baptist in John 1:15-36. Since we will not be studying most of this account of the Baptist, I recommend that you read it on your own.)


      1. Why do you think John introduces us to John the Baptist now? (Remember John has started this theme "you didn't get it?" John is telling us that heaven was working hard to help us to get it. Heaven sent an advance witness to Jesus. Our lesson (Thursday) reveals that in Jesus' day John the Baptist and Moses were the "two greatest human figures." John is telling us that Heaven sent this great messenger to announce the coming of Jesus.)


  3. Comprehending the Light


    1. Read John 1:10-13. How would you say that John feels about the fact that the world did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah? (Verses 10-11 show that John believes this is a great irony. Those who certainly should have recognized and received Jesus did not.)


      1. Was the failure to recognize and receive Jesus universal? (By no means! Verse 12 tells us that some believed.)


      2. What is the result of recognizing and receiving Jesus? (You become a child of God.)


      3. What does it take to recognize and receive Jesus? What must we do to become a child of God? (This is a very important message: if you believe in Jesus, if you receive Him into your life, you are given the right to become a child of God.)


    2. Read John 1:14. What has the Word done? What does this mean to us? (God took a human form and came to live with us. The concept boggles the mind!)


      1. How does John say can we know this is true? (He says that he has seen this glorious thing: God in human form.)


      2. What does the "One and Only" mean? (Jesus is an "only child." The battle between light and darkness is centered on our little planet.)


    3. Read John 1:15-18. Let's focus in verse 17. Have we seen this parallel between Moses and Jesus before? (Yes, John begins his gospel just as Moses begins Genesis. Moses gives us the story of the Creation and the Law. John gives us the fuller revelation through Jesus.)


      1. What does verse 18 tell us about seeing God? (No one has seen God. But, God the Father is revealed through Jesus. If you want to know what God is like, then learn about Jesus.)


    4. Friend, would you like to know God better? Would you like to have a deeper understanding of the Mastermind of the Universe? Would you like to separate yourself from the darkness that does not understand? If so, John invites you to take this journey with him to learn more about our God. Will you continue with me on this quest?


  4. Next Week: Something Better.
* Copr. 2004, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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