I am not the Messiah.

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said. -John 1:19-23 NRSV

The Jews of this day seemed to imagine that the Messiah would be some sort of resurrected prophet. It seemed that they were fixated on some sort of reincarnation of a powerful man like Elijah. I love the way that John responded by denying such claims and not even acknowledging his prophetic gift. It speaks to me of why Jesus called him great.

John seemed to possess a confident humility about who he was and was not. Unlike the religious leaders of his day, he seemed to reject any visions of grandeur. He was the perfect forerunner to the Messiah. Because of humility the Baptist was able to fade into the background when Jesus came on the scene saying that Jesus must increase and he must decrease. He challenges each of us to do the same today as we make straight the way of the Lord.

I am proud Lord. I seem to always be putting myself first. Help me to make straight your way in me.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

No one has ever seen God.

From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. -John 1:16-18 NRSV

Throughout the Old Testament many images of God are presented. Moses experienced his presence on the mountain. It is written that God gave him a plethora of laws that range from admonitions against murder to instructions regarding the killing of disobedient children. The book of Exodus reports that the Lord spoke with Moses face to face as a friend.

Yet despite such ancient revelations there seemed to be a gross misunderstanding of the nature and character of God presented in the Old Testament accounts. In part this is why Jesus came - to show humanity what God is really like. John tells us that "God the only Son" came to present humanity with an accurate and "grace upon grace" image of God.

Come Holy Spirit and show us the Father today that we might be transformed to be like his Son.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

We have seen his glory ...

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) -John 1:14-15 NRSV

Many struggle with the idea that God took on human form when Jesus the Messiah was born. I understand their struggle but I also know why it makes sense to me. If Jesus was not God then his birth, life, teaching, ministry, death and resurrection was not all that different than the many prophets and teachers who came before and after him.

In contrast, both John the Apostle and John the Baptist seemed to acknowledge the uniqueness of the one born in Bethlehem. These men both knew Jesus. They spent time with him. They talked with him. They saw him do amazing things. They heard his teaching. They beheld the grace filled glory of God with their very own eyes.

Show us your glory Lord. Inspire us afresh today with the good news.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

Power to become children of God

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. -John 1:9-13 NRSV

The creator became the created. It is so amazing. Who could have ever believed that God would come to us in this way. It is beyond comprehension that the Almighty would stoop down and become one of us. Yet this is the miracle of the gospel. This is the secret veiled since the beginning of time. This is the beginning of the greatest story ever told.

And we who receive him, who believe in his name, are a part of that story. As God the Spirit fathered the baby Jesus, so this very same Holy Spirit has fathered us. It is not a matter of human will or human power. For God comes to us when we are humanly most weak. He comes in power birthing in us a new creation and giving us power to be his children.

We confess that we believe in you Jesus. Empower us to be like you today.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

A witness to testify to the light ...

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. -John 1:6-9 NRSV

Interesting how John continues his theme of light as he introduces us to John the Baptist. He says that the Baptizer came not as the light but as a witness and testifier to it. As John thinks back over the decades to that time he remembers that the Baptist knew that he was not the light. In retrospect he so understands the missions of both the witness and the light.

Thinking back he also remembers that first time when the true light shone in him and enlightened his soul. I too remember, like it was yesterday, that evening when the light first shone in me. That light defied definition. It changed my life. I will never forget how it illuminated every part of me and allowed me to see things once veiled in darkness.

Drive the darkness from us Lord. Help us to walk in the light as you are in the light.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

The darkness did not overcome it.

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 came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. -John 1:1-5 NRSV

I have heard darkness described as the absence of light. I wonder what it was like before the creation of light? It is hard to imagine an existence devoid of light. Yet many who are born blind certainly understand what it is like. Interesting to note that the absence of light is not the absence of matter - things exist even in the darkness of life.

With that backdrop I find it interesting to ponder the beginning and the end of all things. In these verses John speaks of everything coming into being through Christ - he first brought light into the world. And, interestingly, he is the one who is written of as the source of light in the New Jerusalem. Yet man witnessed a different kind of light at the birth of Jesus.

How hopeful it is to know that darkness will not have the last word. Shine upon us Lord today.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John..