The True Light | John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, the gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

John 1:1-18 ESV

 

After spending three weeks in the Old Testament studying the hints and promises of Christ’s coming, we now focus our attention upon the incarnation of Jesus. Although the life of Jesus is told four times in the Gospels, each brings a unique and complementary perspective on the long-awaited Savior. John’s Gospel is particularly interested in the glorious truth of Christ’s eternal divinity becoming human. Our text, John’s prologue, turns our attention toward this wondrous mystery.

THE STORY CONTINUED…

In our previous study, we briefly explained the timeline of events between Isaiah’s lifetime and the coming of Jesus; however, it can’t hurt to rehearse them again.

After being used to foretell Israel’s destruction by the Assyrian Empire, Isaiah most likely lived long enough to see the LORD’s promise fulfilled. Known for their terror tactics, the Assyrians left the northern kingdom in ruins with much of the population either slaughtered or forced into slavery. While Judah manages to postpone such a defeat for a few more generations, the Babylonian Empire eventually leaves Jerusalem as little more than rubble.

But just as the Babylonians replaced the Assyrians, so the Persians conquered the Babylonians. Providentially Cyrus the Great issued an edict authorizing many exiled Jews to return to Jerusalem for the purpose of rebuilding the city and the temple.

Soon Persia fell to the military brilliance of the young Alexander the Great. After conquering the known world, Alexander died suddenly without leaving a successor to his throne; his empire, therefore, was divided into four kingdoms led by four of his generals (the Kingdoms of Ptolemy, Cassander, Lysimachus, and Seleucus).

For nearly three hundred years, Jerusalem is captured and recaptured by Seleucids (basically Persia) and the Ptolemies (Egypt). This tug-o-war ended when Rome began its lengthy time as king of the hill. Despite appointing Herod the Great as king of the Jews (although raised under Judaism, his Jewish lineage is pretty questionable), the Hebrews repeatedly revolted against the vastly superior might of Rome.

Yet empires don’t stand for hundreds of years by being nice, and Rome was no exception. To the Romans we owe much of our Western heritage, yet their brutality should not be quickly ignored. Many historians argue that Rome’s endurance was largely the result of two implementations: roads and crucifixions. The cross was as much a warning as it was an instrument of torture, an easily arranged punishment for any dissent against Roman security.

But the massive construction of highways also proved threatening to the Jews. As travel became easier so did the spreading of ideas. Religious pluralism was the sign of the times, one which the Israelites repeatedly rejected to their sorrow.

This was the setting of the birth of Christ. As the Son of God came into the world, Augustus sat upon a global throne proclaiming himself the son of god. Physical and spiritual oppressors circled about them. They were shrouded in darkness. Where was the light God promised, the Savior-King, David’s son? No prophet had uttered even a word in four hundred years. Perhaps God had forgotten them altogether. Maybe the light would never come.

IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD (WHO IS JESUS?)

John’s Gospel is unique to say the least. Matthew, Mark, and Luke bear so many similarities that they are often called the Synoptic Gospels. John is the odd duck of the bunch, and the evidence for this can been seen from its opening words. The Synoptics begin by grounding Jesus in reality. Matthew opens with Jesus’ Davidic lineage. Mark dives straight into the ministries of Jesus and John the Baptist. Luke cites his journalistic intensions for composing a biography of Christ.

John, however, doesn’t so much ground Jesus in reality as ground reality in Jesus. Verse 1 makes this clear by pointedly tying the story of Jesus to the first verse of Genesis. The words in the beginning should ring through our ears with awe at the God who formed all of existence out of nothing. He who made the heavens and the earth must rightfully be worshipped as the Creator of all things.

But that’s the end of that story, right?

Didn’t we, after all, already tell that story?

What more is there to say about creation?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. We could spend an entire sermon (and may one day) attempting to mine the depths of this verse, but let us attempt to be brief at the present.

As John’s Gospel continues, it becomes quite clear that Jesus is the Word being described in this verse. This designation is important in several ways. First, the Greek word for Word is logos, which was an essential concept for many Hellenistic philosophies. Gregory Hays attempts to explain logos as such:

The term (from which English “logic” and the suffix “-logy” derive) has a semantic range so broad as to be almost untranslatable. At a basic level it designates rational, connected thought—whether envisioned as a characteristic (rationality, the ability to reason) or as the product of that characteristic (an intelligible utterance or a connected discourse). Logos operates both in individuals and in the universe as a whole. In individuals it is the faculty of reason. On a cosmic level it is the rational principle that governs the organization of the universe. (Meditations, xx)

Such a belief would be impossible for John to be ignorant of, so there seems to be a sense in which he is pointing to Jesus as the true logos, not a passionless principle but a person.

Second, Jesus as the Word provides greater revelation (although, crucially, not a different one) of how God created all things. In Genesis 1:3, God formed light by speaking it into existence. The pattern continues through day six. Creation is created by the words of God or, as John now reveals, by the Word of God. God the Father ordained an item of creation, which then came into being through Jesus.

What then does this tell us about who Jesus is?

Jesus is both the same as and distinct from the God the Father. That is the paradox of the second and third phrases of verse 1. Jesus was both with God and was God. Before the universe was formed, Jesus existed alongside God as a distinct person, yet He was eternally God as well. Jesus is not the same person as the God the Father, yet He is also not a second God. Only one God exists (Deuteronomy 6:4), and Jesus and Father (and the Holy Spirit) are that singular God. Welcome to the mystery of the Trinity, ladies and gentlemen.

In no uncertain terms, John is magnifying the divinity of Christ. Jesus is God. Period. Any attempt to grasp the significance of Jesus’ life must begin with this fundamental truth. Jesus is the Word through Whom the world was made. He is the Creator, with all its rights and privileges. Jesus is the God we described in Genesis 1.

THE TRUE LIGHT (WHAT DID JESUS COME TO DO?)

Yet John is not content to simply tell us who Jesus is; he also reveals why Jesus came to earth: to pierce the darkness as the true light. Like the Egyptians and the Israelites, humanity has long been under the darkness of God’s judgment because of sin. This darkness can easily be felt, a darkness so thick that it seems to overcome light. We see such darkness in people being left to their own devices. We see it in systematic pillaging and raping of villages and villagers. We see it in the abduction of toddlers for organ harvesting or sex slavery. We see it in the crushed skulls and dismembered bodies of late-term abortions. It’s visible in parents who abandon their families or abuse their children. It floods the Internet with the defilement and slander of God’s images. It cries out of every heart for more, more gossip, more things, more money, more sex, more food, more drink. The world is dark. If you don’t think so, it’s probably because you haven’t glimpsed the light in order to know the difference.

Sin is self-destruction, and God often judges sin by simply not interfering. After all, the fruit of sin is death, and we each deserve it. We constantly reject God in order to follow our own desires. We exalt ourselves as supreme, relegating God to being our sidekick at best and our enemy at worst. We attempt to force the Creator to submit to our will instead of submitting to His. This prideful arrogance is the human condition; no one is the exception. We deserve to be abandoned by God. We deserve death. We deserve the darkness of His judgment.

Yet God did not abandon us. Jesus, the eternal Word and the true light, came to pierce the darkness of sin. He came to give life in the midst of death’s reign. Like God saved the Israelites from the Egyptians, Jesus came to rescue His people. He came to break the rod of their oppressors, to bring joy and peace, to dispel the darkness with His light. Jesus came to save those who committed treason against His throne.

THE WORD BECAME FLESH (HOW DID JESUS DO IT?)

Jesus is God Himself, who came to save those who repeatedly rejected and rebelled against Him. That is gloriously good news, but we must still ask the question of how. How did Jesus save His people from their sins?

He did it by becoming flesh and dwelling among us. The eternal Holy One became human. Divinity became (literally) personified. God became man. Consider the anew the wonder of the incarnation. At His conception, Jesus did not cease to be God. The fullness of His deity was maintained, which is good for us since the unraveling of the cosmos is not exactly ideal. And yet Jesus was also entirely human, flesh, blood, neurotransmitters, and all.

This incarnation was absolutely necessary for solving the problem of sin. Since our sins were against the eternal God, they necessitate an eternal judgment. Physical death does not wipe our slate clean, only an eternal, spiritual death can achieve that. Our doom, therefore, is everlasting, an infinite debt to which we must continue making payments. The glory of the God-man enters this bad news. As man, Jesus was able to do what we could not: live in perfect obedience to God. As God, when Jesus was crucified in our place, His infinite worth paid entirely our infinite debt. This substitutionary atonement pulls us from the darkness of God’s judgment into the marvelous light of His grace. Indeed, from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

Verse 12 gives us the unbelievable application of that grace: those who believe in Christ’s name have the right to be become children of God. Because of Jesus, the only Son of God dying in our place, we are now adopted as God’s sons and daughters. We who attempted to usurp His throne are now welcomed into His family, the family of the Creator! The overwhelming terror of being the sovereign God’s enemy is now transformed into the incomprehensible joy of being His beloved child.

Notice also the emphasis of verse 13. God alone accomplish our transformation, our new birth. No flesh, no blood, and no will of man can save sinners from the righteous wrath of God. Only the broken flesh, spilled blood, and gracious will of Jesus Christ is sufficient. No amount of effort, good works, or good intentions can save us. We contribute nothing; Jesus did everything. This is good news. This is the good news.

But if Jesus did everything for us, why is the gospel so hard to believe?

Why does the world continue to reject the Word through Whom it was made?

One reason is that people love darkness instead of the light. Jesus told Nicodemus this very fact in John 3:19-21:

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.

The sad reality is that we are not forced to sin. We sin because we love sin. We love darkness, not the light. The human heart will often gladly live in hell so long as it bows to no one. We each chose hell, and we continue to do so whenever we sin. We willful reject God’s light in favor of the darkness of our own desires. Many, therefore, reject the light of the gospel of Christ because they will not be parted from their sin.

Another reason is that we want the glory of saving ourselves. Michael Lawrence identifies three ideas that actually form a false gospel: “an optimistic view of human beings, a domesticated view of God, and a view of religion as a means of moral self-reform” (Conversion, 19). Or to say it another way: “I can be good. God will be impressed. Religion will help” (20). Deep down, we desire self-help of religion because we want to save ourselves. Any honest person knows that they are sinful and broken, but even still, we often fail to see the utter hopelessness of our situation. With a little more discipline and control, we can change ourselves. We can grit our teeth and make ourselves good. Of course, we then get the glory of being the self-saved man. It’s the classic story of rags-to-riches only on an eternal scale.

But the gospel rejects that notion fundamentally. We are entirely incapable of saving ourselves, which is why Ephesians describes us as being dead in sin. The challenge of the gospel is to reject self, to lose your life in order to find it, to believe in Jesus’ name and become a child of God by walking away from the darkness of sin and into His light. May we walk in the light of His glorious grace, for it pierces the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it.

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8 Tips for Reading the Bible

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
John 5:39-40 ESV

It is safe to assume that few people have much experience in reading ancient documents like the Bible; therefore, in concluding this series, I hope to provide some advice on how to read the Bible.

First, it is important to understand that the entire Bible has one great theme: Jesus Christ. Even though He is never mentioned by name in the Old Testament, Jesus is the center and purpose of all Scripture. In fact, He said so Himself: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life (John 5:39-40).” In that context, only the Old Testament had been written; therefore, Christ explicitly stated that the Old Testament is entirely about Him.

Second, consider the genre. Though the Bible is a united book, it is also a library of books. Books like Genesis, Samuel, Matthew, and Acts are narratives. They tell history and should be read as such. Psalms and Proverbs are collections of poems and wisdom respectively, so they are unique from the other books of the Bible. Ecclesiastes is a philosophical treatise. Song of Solomon is an epic love poem. Romans and Hebrews are letters systematically explaining the gospel to western and eastern mindsets respectively.

Third, love it, memorize it, and meditate on it. If anything could be said about reading the Bible, fill your life with it. Psalm 119 is the longest chapter of the Bible, and it is dedicated to declaring the excellence of the Scriptures. As you read, pray that God would give you delight in His Word. Make an effort to store it in your heart by memorizing it. Do not read for a few minutes and go on with your day. After memorizing, meditate upon the Word. Roll its words around in your mind, thinking deeply upon God’s thoughts.


Because the Bible is God’s Word to humanity, we should strive to know and understand it more and more. From a human perspective, the Bible is gigantic, so it can be quite intimidating to begin reading the Bible. Here are some suggestions for how to begin your journey in the Scriptures.

First, resolve to read the Bible every day. Even if you find yourself not understanding much, continue to read it. The more time you spend with the Bible, the more you will learn.

Second, begin with the New Testament. The entire Bible is crucial for us as God’s people, but some books are easier to read than others. Start with the New Testament, reading the life of Jesus, the history of the church, and the letters of the apostles.

Third, ask questions about what you’ve read. Paul’s list of the profitability of Scripture from 2 Timothy 2:2 is a good guide. If the Bible helps us through teaching, reproving, correcting, and training in righteousness, ask those types of questions. What does this text teach me (about God, humanity, sin, etc.)? Does this passage reveal any sin or faults in my thinking? How might God use this text to correct me? How might He use it to train me toward righteousness?

Fourth, buy a good study Bible. There are many good study Bibles in book stores, but the best currently is the ESV Study Bible. Study Bibles provide comments, notes, articles, and other resources side-by-side the Bible to help you better understand what you are reading. Other study Bibles worth considering are: the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, the John MacArthur Study Bible, and the Reformation Heritage Study Bible.

Fifth, and most important, pray for God to help you understand His Word. This literally cannot be overemphasized. There is no commentary, study Bible, or sermon that will ever replace the heart transformation of prayerfully reading God’s Word for yourself.

The Narrow Gate | Matthew 7:13-14

Week 14 | Sermon

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

OPENING THOUGHT

Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount to His disciples in order to teach them what citizenship within the kingdom of heaven should look like. He began the sermon with the Beatitudes, which defined the characteristics that ought to mark Christ’s followers. He then clarified the Christian’s purpose on earth and explained how we are supposed to relate to the Old Testament’s laws and commandments. In chapter six, Jesus taught how we give to the poor, pray, and fast incorrectly. He also encouraged us to store our treasure in heaven, not on earth, and when they are secure with God, we can truly live without anxiety, knowing that God is in control.

In chapter seven, Jesus warned us against hypocritically judging others, telling us to first take the log out our own eye before getting a speck out of our brother’s eye. He then encouraged us to petition the Father in prayer. He explains that our heavenly Father will lovingly give to us what we need, so long as we first recognize our dependency upon Him. Furthermore, once we know the loving-kindness of the Father, it will transform how we love and treat the people around us.

Today, we will cover just two small verses, yet they are loaded with meaning and impact. Here Jesus commands His disciples to travel down the difficult path, entering into the narrow gate, which leads to eternal life and to avoid the easy road with a broad gate, which leads to destruction. Our Lord is describing in metaphor the only two ways of living that are available to us. Either we will follow Christ down the narrow road or we will take whatever path pleases us, which ultimately is all a part of the broad path to destruction.

Read verses 13-14 and discuss the following.

  1. Jesus tells us that there are only two paths with two gates, the narrow leads to life and the broad leads to destruction. What is the narrow gate of which Jesus is speaking?
  2. Why is the gate narrow and the path hard that leads to life?
  3. Is God righteous by only providing one way of salvation?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Obey. Consider Jesus’ command: enter by the narrow gate. Take time to prayerfully meditate upon the gospel, coming to God in repentance once again.
  • Pray. Pray for friends and family in your life who are traveling down the broad and easy road toward destruction that they may come to know the truth of the gospel.

The Process of Creation | Genesis 1:2-25

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:3)

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3)

OPENING THOUGHT

Though only one verse into the study, my hope is that even from the first verse of Genesis that you would begin to understand the magnitude and glorious power of our God. Within the span of a few words, we learned that God is eternal, transcendent, and incomprehensible. He stands outside of all creation because He created all of it. Unique and holy, there is no one and nothing like God. And in His infinite grace and mercy, He has given to us His Word that we might know Him as our Father!

Now we read how creation came about. Verse 2 gives a very ominous and foreboding tone. For some reason, the earth was formless, void, and covered with the deep. The deep was an interesting Hebrew concept for viewing the ocean. When they looked upon the sea, they saw everything in nature that could not be tamed. The waters of the deep represented the chaos of nature. God then proceeds to bring order to the chaos through creation.

The days of creation are organized into two groups. The first three days focus on God forming the formlessness of earth. The final three days then center upon God filling the void on earth. Also the days correspond with one another. Day one corresponds with day four, day two with day five, and day three with day six. The first set forms. The final set fills. This process stands in sharp contrast to the chaotic nature of verse 2. Of the many lessons to be learned from these verses, one of the largest is that our God is a God of order and process, not of chaos and disorder.

Read verse 2 and discuss the following.

  1. This verse describes the primordial earth in disorder and chaos, but we are told that the Spirit was hovering upon the face of the deep. God, through His Word and by His Spirit, would soon form the formless and fill the empty. How is this similar to the miracle of salvation?

Read verses 3-5 and discuss the following.

  1. God begins creation by bring light into the darkness. Of course, when light enters darkness, the darkness is dispelled. How does this provide a picture of Christ’s coming into the world?

Read verses 6-10 and discuss the following.

  1. Day two describes God commanding the deep (the waters that covered the face of the earth), creating the sky and the sea. What does God’s commanding of the deep reveal to us about Him?

Read verses 11-13 and discuss the following.

  1. Day three sees God forming land and vegetation, which God did to prepare the earth for the creation of humanity. What does this tell us about the provision of God?

Read verses 14-19 and discuss the following.

  1. In day four, God sets the celestial objects in the heavens. Today, we know that stars are immensely large and full of magnificently powerful chemical reactions; however, their creation is covered in three words: “and the stars.” Why does God place so much emphasis upon earth, even though it is little more than a pale, blue dot in the universe? What do the heavens tell us about the glory of God?

Read verses 20-25 and discuss the following.

  1. On day five and six, God fills the sea, sky, and land with fish, birds, and animals. God commands them to be fruitful and fill the earth, which is a blessing to them. Why are the commands of God always blessings to those who obey?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Consider the billions upon billions of stars and galaxies in the heavens, and then consider if you have a glorious enough view of God.
  • Throughout these first days of creation, God orders the chaos for the purpose of providing a home for humanity. Reflect upon your own faith, and think about whether you trust God to provide in everyday matters.

Jacob’s Vision | Genesis 28:10-22

Week 4 | Study Guide & Sermon

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION 

A he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heave. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! (Genesis 28:12)

Tn Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you. (Genesis 28:20-22)

And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the Angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man. (John 1:51)

OPENING THOUGHT 

The account of Abraham’s descendants is already a bumpy one. Isaac followed in the faith of his father, but he also walked after Abraham’s sins. So far, Jacob and Esau have been less than ideal sons. Their fighting began in their mother’s womb and continued to grow with them. After Esau foolishly sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup, we last saw how Jacob also stole Esau’s blessing. Following Jacob’s deception, Esau was so angry with his brother that he began to actively plot his murder.

Our present text occurs while Jacob is journeying to the homeland of his mother, a significant 500 miles away from home. Along the way, Jacob takes rest for the night and finds himself swept up in a vision of God. He sees a great ladder with the angels ascending and descending upon it. Above the ladder is God, who pronounces the covenantal blessing of Abraham and Isaac upon Jacob. He awakes from the vision awestruck and afraid. The text then concludes with Jacob creating an monument, calling the place Bethel (the house of God), and vowing to serve the LORD.

This is easily one of the most important moments of Jacob’s life. Until now, God spoke to Abraham and Isaac but not to Jacob. He had heard of God but not from God. Now the LORD would not merely be the God of his father and grandfather but his God also. The power of this event is also evident even in its structure. First, God calls to Jacob, promising to bless him, and then Jacob responds to God in worship. That is the pattern for all believers throughout history: God gives grace, and we respond in worship.

Read verses 10-15 and discuss the following. 

  • God appears to Jacob for the first time through an extraordinary vision. Does God still use visions or similar signs to speak to believers today?
  • Jacob’s vision is of angels ascending and descending upon a heavenly ladder while God stands above it. How do Jesus’ words in John 1:51 connect to this vision? Why does Jesus use this imagery for Himself?

Read verses 16-22 and discuss the following.

  • Even after receiving tremendous promises of blessings, Jacob still wakes from the vision afraid, which displays a fear of the LORD in him. What is the fear of the LORD, and why is it important for followers of Christ?
  • Jacob worshipfully responds to God’s gracious blessings by vowing to serve the LORD and give Him a tenth of his possessions. In what ways do you live a worshipful life daily in response to believing the gospel?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER 

  • Obey. Consider the actions of worship that Jacob takes in response to God’s blessings. Do you similarly worship God with your life and finances? Ask the LORD to guide you into sacrificial giving.
  • Pray. Though Jacob received a stunning vision, we have in the Bible the full Word of God; therefore, give thanks to God for His revelation in the Scriptures.
COPYRIGHT© B.C. NEWTON 2016

Jesus’ Revelation | Revelation 1

Seven Letters Week 1

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. (Revelation 1:1 ESV)

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (Revelation 1:3 ESV)

Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. (Revelation 1:19 ESV)

OPENING THOUGHT

Revelation is a weird book. I mean, really weird. Like, demon-locusts and sulfur-breathing horses with snake tails weird. Yet for all of its weirdness, Revelation is a crucial book of the Bible for understanding how the story of humanity will end.

The premise of the book is that Jesus reveals Himself to the Apostle John several decades after He ascended into heaven, leaving behind His disciples to continue His ministry on earth.  Think about it: John was essentially Jesus’ best friend, the disciple whom He loved, and Jesus appears to John again. Surely this must have been a reunion of the highest order, right?

Well, John describes Jesus’ voice as being as loud as a trumpet and that His face was shining like the full strength of the sun. In fact, Jesus’ glory is so overwhelming that John immediately faints from the sheer enormity of it all. Needless to say, it likely wasn’t the reunion that John had imagined.

Nevertheless, as we study the first section of Revelation, Jesus’ seven letters to the seven churches in Asia, let us approach these words with their due awe and reverence. Just as John gave this book for the hearing and obedience of the first-century church, so must we be ready to listen and obey them today.

Read verses 1-3 and discuss the following.

  1. Revelation comes with a promise of blessing for those who read, hear, and obey the words within it. How is this promise similar to Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:24-27?

Read verses 4-8 and discuss the following.

  1. In verse six, John declares that after God loved us by freeing us from sin He made us a kingdom and priests of God. What is the significance of these two things? What do other books of the Bible say on the matter?

Read verses 9-20 and discuss the following.

  1. In his vision, John hears Jesus tell him to write down the words that Jesus will dictate to him. In what ways does this mirror Peter’s explanation of how Scripture is written in 2 Peter 1:21?
  2. John’s immediate response to Jesus’ glory is to fall down before Him. Even though John is likely afraid, Jesus tells him not to fear. Given how often the Bible speaks about the fear of God, how is it possible to rightly fear God but also obey such commands to not be afraid?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Reread the entire chapter, paying careful attention to the glorious descriptions of Christ. Prayerfully consider whether your view of Christ and His glory matches His revealed majesty here.
  • Reflect upon your reading and obedience to the Scriptures and in what ways you may better submit yourself to the obeying the Word of God.

My Lord & My God | Day 30

Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28 ESV)

The account of “doubting Thomas” is a Sunday School classic. Though being one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, Thomas wrestled to believe the truth of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. In fact, he boldly declared that unless he could touch Christ’s wounds with his own hands he would not believe that Jesus was really alive.

Jesus, of course, shows up eight days later to give Thomas the proof that he sought.

Just as the birth of Christ is meaningless without understanding the cross, Jesus’ death is pointless without His resurrection. If on the cross Jesus was bruised, the serpent’s head is crushed during Christ’s resurrection.

By conquering death, Jesus gave us reason to hope in His conquering of death for us as well.

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.  // 1 Corinthians 15:17

Thomas immediately realizes implications of Jesus’ resurrection by calling Jesus his Lord and God.

By calling Jesus Lord, Thomas declares that Jesus is his ruler (or master) and that he is Jesus’ servant (or slave).

Thomas then explicitly calls Jesus his God. For a Jew to proclaim divinity to a man was absolutely unthinkable, so for Thomas to risk such blaspheme can only mean that he became thoroughly convinced that Jesus is God.


Take time to reflect upon the words of Thomas. Is Jesus your Lord and God as well? If so, what implications does that thought have upon how we understand 1 Corinthians 6:19-20?