John 1 | Jan 16-22 | Come Follow Me Insights – powered by Happy Scribe
And I’m Tyler.
This is Scripture Central’s. Come follow me. Insights. This is part one of John, chapter one.
So you’ll notice as we do a quick review, we covered the birth story from Matthew in the last two weeks and from Luke. Notice who’s missing. We missed Mark because his gospel doesn’t even say anything about Jesus Christ. Before age 30, he picks up his his story at the baptism. The other one that we didn’t cover yet is John. So that’s today some of you will remember from the first week’s episode where we talked about this concept called Christology. There’s high Christology and there is low Christology and everything in between. High Christology emphasizes the divinity of Christ, low Christology emphasizes the humanity of Christ and different depictions of the Savior in film, in art, in stage plays, different people will portray Him with different degrees of what we call Christology. To remember that these are just portrayals, they’re artistic representations trying to tell a story, trying to convince people that Jesus is the Christ through different means, different lenses, a different view of Him and different aspects of his character. So John, you’ll notice he doesn’t focus very much in his gospel on the humanity aspects of Christ. He’s focusing on Jesus being divine, God in the flesh.
And that’s the testimony that he’s bearing. So where Matthew and Luke told you about the physical elements surrounding Christ’s first, so they would be closer down to a lower Christology in their nativity narratives. John takes you to the question, what child is this? He doesn’t answer it. Oh, he’s the son of Mary and adopted.
And this is how Joseph adopted him.
Which is what Matthew and Luke did. He says, what child is this? This is a very, very atypical child, different than all other children ever born. And he starts with the eternal parentage of what child is this? So you pick it up in verse one, a very famous John chapter one. Verse one in the beginning was the Word. You can see John using this repeat of an idea from Genesis, chapter one, verse one, the whole Bible, which begins in the beginning, and he repeats that here. In the beginning was the Word. If you look up that word in.
Strongs, you will see that it comes.
From the Greek word Lagos or Logos. We would say in English, really important word.
So Lagos shows up in many words in English. If you have ever studied, for example, BIAL logi, or even the word faal logi, anytime you have loji at the end of a word, it means the study or the knowledge or the science or the information around some topic. But everything is bound up in words. That truth is conveyed and sustained and inherent in the words. And Jesus is the totality of that, that you cannot seek any other truth on any topic without beginning first with the ultimate word, Jesus Himself. Very, very powerful all encompassing.
It’s amazing. And if you look that word up in the Greek lexicon, in Strongs, for instance, and you click on the word, it will pull up a box with all these myriad definitions and usages of the word Logos. It’s a concept, it’s an idea, it’s a word, it’s a means of communication. It’s all of these things. Now look at the beautiful word, Word. It’s capitalized in our King James version of the Bible. Those translators took that word Logos. And of all the options in English that they could have used, they chose this word, Word. How do we use words to communicate? Notice this you have person A, you have person B. Person A wants to communicate something to person B and they have something that they want to share. So what do you do? You take this idea, this concept, this feeling, and you encode it usually often in words that you either say or write or draw or portray in some way. And it becomes this medium whereby you can share things with another person. This person, person B now hears or sees that effort to communicate and they decode, they interpret what was said.
And at the end of the day, they get this idea or this feeling. And if good communication has happened, these will be very similar.
Can you see the power of the Word?
The Word is the go between medium in how person A communicates with person B. And in this context, your person B and God the Father is person A.
And how does he communicate what he.
Wants you to do, how to live through Jesus Christ, the Word of God. He is the messenger of the covenant. He’s the go between. I love the primary song that encapsulates this idea of Jesus Christ being this go between, this word. Listen to these lyrics. How could the Father tell the world of love and tenderness? He sent His Son a newborn babe with peace and holiness how could the Father show the world the pathway we should go? He sent His Son to walk with men on earth that we may know how could the Father tell the world of sacrifice, of death? He sent His Son to die for us and rise with living breath? What does the Father ask of us? What do the scriptures say? Have faith, have hope, live like His Son, help others on their way. What does he ask? Live like his son. I love that concept of Jesus as this go between, this word. And if you have any questions, just follow the sun. That’s the message from John right out of the shoot on Just. And we’ve only gotten through the first line of verse one.
Let’s add just a few more thoughts. In John’s ancient culture, in the world of philosophy and science and thinking, ancient Greek philosophers had used the same word to talk about how the world came into being, that it actually came through the Logos. So this is an interesting concept that was actually known, but in a much more kind of diffuse way. And John shows up and says, let me help you guys identify and truly understand who it is that makes all things possible. And as a reminder, I want you to think about all the ways that words help you experience reality. And that is what Jesus offers. He is the essence and the source of reality and the way in which reality is communicated. It’s three words, very powerful concepts. And we’re probably not supposed to have favorite gospels, but this is one of my favorite openings of any gospel because it’s just you can dwell on this for so long and find so much meaning that can drive us into the path of righteousness.
And for those of you who may not be aware, at the very, very back of your scriptures, at the back of your Bible, right before you get to the gazetteer and the maps, you’ll see the Joseph Smith translation section that has some of the larger translation adjustments. And in John chapter one, verse one through 34, it has some fairly significant adjustments that Jose Smith made to this chapter. And you can read verse one and see some of those adjustments. We’re going to stay with the King James version of the text as we continue through this one. But we wanted to make you aware of that so that you can do the contrast and see the beautiful insights that Joseph Smith, the prophet and seer of the Lord, adds to our understanding as it came to us in the more traditional English KJV Bible. So here we go back to the beginning. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Did you catch that? The word was with God. And the word was God. In English, this is really confusing and it causes people to scratch their head and say, I don’t get it.
What is he saying? This is one of those cases where if you look at this verse in the Greekbibel.com, even though you don’t have to know Greek, you can mouse over each word one at a time that comes in one version of what they think the original John text would have read. You can mouse over each of those words one at a time and see what the interpretation is. So if you notice here in the Greek Bible on the screen, the wording says an RK and you’ll also notice that it didn’t give a definite article, whereas in English it gets translated in the beginning to echo those words from Genesis, chapter one. But it’s not the beginning because the beginning would be a one and only. It’s kind of a singular experience if it’s in the beginning. The Greek text fits beautifully this idea that in a beginning time, because arcade is the same root as archaic, this ancient time this extremity the corner of a sail, for instance, is called an arc. It’s this beginning point. It’s not the one and only beginning point. It’s a beginning point. So perhaps another way to look at this, another possible interpretation could be in a beginning time or at an initial point, which fits beautifully with our restoration doctrine was the Word.
So ain R-K-A hologos? Was the word, this Logos, this concept that’s so big. And you’ll notice in the second phrase that it says this Logos was next to or approximate, standing beside or with the god tone fion the God. Now, that’s interesting. This character that John is introducing you to, that we’re calling the Word, he was standing in proximity to or next to or with the notice, the definite article, the God, we might say the Most High God. And then it says, and this Logos was a theos. He was a god, but he wasn’t the God, because this God was standing next to the God, the Father. So to look at it again, you get this idea that in a beginning time was this Word, and the Word was standing next to the Most High God. And this Word that was standing there was also a God. Can you see the significance now of John’s High Christology? He’s not teaching you about the birth of Jesus. He’s teaching you about the initial Godhood of Jesus long before he was born onto this planet. He’s teaching you about the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s what he chooses to open his book with.
And it’s profound when you add that now to Matthew and Luke’s accounts of the birth narratives.
Adding to this, the birth narratives don’t talk about Jesus’s premortal power and divinity. If you continue in these verses, we have the same. The Logos was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made. That’s incredible. So adding to what we know about Jesus being born in the flesh, we now get this brand new perspective. Now, imagine if you’d never had access to the Gospel of John or the restored Gospel, you wouldn’t know about Jesus’s pre mortal divinity. John provides that for us, and it’s so expansive. In him was life, and the life was the light of men, and the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not. I had a really good friend when I went to Yale Divinity School. It was a very ecumenical learning experience. And that’s a fancy term meaning that people from lots of different religious traditions came together to study the Bible. So we’d have Bible classes in the morning, and then we’d all get together at the cafeteria for lunch. My Baptist and Catholic and Episcopalian friends and others, we’d all sit around talking about things that we had studied with the professors and our different perspectives from our different theological traditions.
And I remember talking about this concept of comprehension. I mentioned to this friend, this Episcopalian friend, that I thought it was strange that some Christian said we could not comprehend God. I’m like, I feel like I can know God through prayer. And he said, you just used a different word. Like, what are you talking about? He said, Comprehend and know are different words. They have similar meanings in some context. But comprehend is like a container that holds something. To use a simple example, imagine a container that you might put food into and put into a refrigerator.
That’s what comprehend means.
It means to be able to wrap your arms around and contain. And what is this is seen here is that God himself cannot be contained by anything. Sure, we can know God. And my friend said, I believe I can know God as well. I just can’t comprehend him. I cannot limit God. I cannot put Him in a box. And that’s what we get from John, that Jesus is the light and the darkness. Darkness is out there. But the darkness does not create the.
Boundaries for the light.
The darkness does not create a box for the light. The darkness does not comprehend or contain or limit the light. Darkness is simply the absence of light. Very powerful concept. So in your life, you too can experience more life, and it’s expansive. The darkness does not have to define your life. Instead, our lives are comprehended and defined and bounded by the light of Jesus Christ.
That’s a powerful insight when you look at these words that John is using to help us better understand who Jesus is. So you’ll notice we’ve already used the word word Lagos. He’s used the word he is the life. Now, he’s going to keep referring to the word or to Jesus as the light, and as Taylor described here, this light. Notice he didn’t say in verse five and the word or and Jesus shines. He, he just refers to him by these symbols. The light shines in the darkness. Now notice verse six and seven. He introduces you to John the Baptist. The same came for a witness to bear witness of the light that all men through him might believe he was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light. You’ll notice the King James translators have capitalized it every single time because it’s referring to deity. He’s a god. Before he was born, he was already a God, which adds to our understanding of the great condescension of Jesus Christ coming to the earth. And then he takes it one step further. Verse nine, that was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
That means every single person who was ever born has received the light of Christ. This power in our being, it gives us that ability to use our agency, that conscience. Some people have referred to it as that inner compass that everybody has this sense of right and wrong, a moral compass, if you will, that everybody is enlightened by.
And I have had the privilege of meeting a lot of people throughout the world, and I’m always fascinated that I can see the light of Christ in people’s eyes, that God is infused in his creation and in his children everywhere. And we got to remember this large planet with billions of people. They all chose to come here, just like you did. They all kept their first estate. They all chose Jesus. Some have remembered better than others. This is beautiful to remind ourselves that Christ is with everybody.
Sometimes they don’t see it, sometimes they don’t feel it.
And we have been invited, like John did, to witness of the light, to help people feel and see the light that is there and to open the windows of their soul, to experience even.
More of it, which I love.
The words from the song in Lima’s Rob, that says, to love another person is to see the face of God. It’s this idea of being able to recognize that light in other people as you’re talking here. And you don’t see that when you’re contending or fighting or at war. You see that when you learn to love them, you can see that light reflected. I love the idea that Mother Teresa of Calcutta shared that. She was asked, how can you possibly do this work among the poorest of the poorest, of the poor, the most deplorable situations that humans could be living in? And you work with these people? And her answer was, I look for the face of Jesus in everybody I meet. And then she goes on to say, I’ve never once been disappointed. Tells you something about this idea of the power of love and to be able to recognize this light in other people. Verse ten goes on to say, he was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.
The very creator of heavens and earth.
How did we welcome him? We desperately need Him to overcome that awful monster death in hell.
And how do we receive Him? We reject him.
We give this young couple a stable with a manger, out with the animals. And John’s version of that is, he came unto his own, and his own received him not. These are sobering words, but as many as received him. To them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. So notice how John carries us through to verse 13. These are the people who have the power to become the children of God. And some of you are thinking, Wait, we’re all children of God. Isn’t that fascinating? In the Spirit, we’re all children of God, and in the flesh, we have the choice to become children of Christ. If you look at book, Mormon teaching and some Old Testament teachings, we can become adopted children of the covenant with Christ as the father of our spiritual rebirth. And how do we do that? Verse 13 which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. So it’s a spiritual rebirth that he’s talking about here. And so as John’s describing the eternal parentage of Jesus, he then shifts it here to talk about your potential to become more than just a spirit child of God, but a child of the covenant with Jesus Christ as the father of that rebirth process.
Verse 14 and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. So this God on High, creator of heavens and earth, was made flesh to the point where if you were to ask his mother Mary, you’re holding in your arms this newborn infant. Can you feel the heavenly power? And yet there’s this little mouth whose words created worlds without number, but there are no words in that moment when he’s made flesh. He’s an infant like you and I started. Those hands that were powerful, those those hands aren’t doing miraculous things at this point, almost to the point where if they don’t take care of Him, he’s.
Going to get cold, he’s going to get sick.
He needs to be taken care of by Mary. It is a full and complete condescension. Some people in other traditions feel like, yeah, Jesus can’t really relate to us because he’s always been just fully a God. And we would say no. According to Doctrine Covenant section 93, he came down and became like us. And as John says here, he was made flesh.
He dwelt among us, he became one of us.
And then he grew from grace to grace into this stature spiritually of understanding better who he was and what his true mission was. And he then fulfilled it. So you’ll see in the last half of verse 14 that we started this Word made flesh. He came and dwelled among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten, full of grace and truth. You’re probably recognizing that many of the things that we’re reading here in John chapter one are repeated in Doctrine Covenant section 93. These are the same kinds of ideas that are revealed to the prophet Joseph.
And you can also cross reference these verses from verse 14 to 18 back to Exodus 33 to 34. You might recall this is the experience where God is revealing Himself, his words, to his chosen prophet Moses and the people that they might have the law or the Torah or the covenantal instructions for how to be back in God’s presence in this covenantal relationship. And you have these very interesting parallels that scholars have been able to determine. I’ll throw out a couple of examples. In Exodus 33 and 34, you have things like the revelation of God’s word, the Torah. Now, here in John, it’s jesus, who’s the word. In Exodus 33 and 34, God dwell with his people. Now, Jesus here in John, he has showed up to dwell among his people. In Exodus 33 and 34. Moses beheld his glory.
Now, with Jesus, we all can see his glory.
The glory was full of grace and truth. We have the same in both instances. The law was given through Moses.
Jesus is the Law who shows up.
And teaches life and light. And no one could see all of God’s glory back in the time of Moses. In fact, they were told to stay away from the mountain because of God’s presence. Now Jesus has come fully and flesh God, and we all are welcome into the presence. Really powerful parallels that John probably has in the back of his mind as he’s reporting on what John the Baptist is teaching the people about the mission of Jesus Christ.
Those are beautiful insights from the Old Testament. And you look at how John describes that in verse 17, for instance, for the Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. I love that comparison that John is focusing here on the idea that we get the Law from the great Lawgiver, Moses that Jehovah gave to him as the Word, the God of the Old Testament. But now when Jesus comes to earth and takes upon him flesh and becomes one of us and walks among us, he now embodies grace and truth. And then verse 18 is a peculiar verse for many people because it says no man hath seen God at any time.
The only begotten Son, which is in.
The bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. So some would say, well, see, nobody ever has seen God at any time because of John. Chapter one, verse 18. I love the fact that Joseph Smith, in his translation, he says if you look at your footnote, JST. John 119, he says, no man has seen God at any time except he hath borne record of the Son. That is a very, very powerful distinction because anytime anybody seems to have seen the Father, what does the Father do? He bears witness. This is my beloved son. And he gets people to listen to Jesus. He points them to the Savior. And his ultimate invitation to us is echoed by what he told the young prophet Joseph Smith in the grove we now call sacred when he used eight words joseph, this is my beloved Son. Hear Him. The most powerful testimony ever given on the earth of the Savior is right there. And he finishes with a two word invitation to all of us hear Him. Hear the son. So as we finish here revisiting some of those powerful words how could the Father tell the world of love and tenderness he sent His Son?
How could the Father show the world the pathway we should go he sent His Son and on and on it goes. As we close this particular Part one of John Chapter One episode, it’s our invitation to look more than ever before at not just the physical story of the coming Fourth of Jesus, but to add to it this really high Christology narrative that we get from John to say, come unto Christ and be perfected in him because the word is mighty. To save. He is the light and the life of the world, and we leave that with you in the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
So with the first half of John chapter one, we covered John’s birth narrative from an eternal perspective. And now in the second half of John one, he picks up with what he sees as the most important starting point of the mortal journey of Christ’s mission, which is beginning at his baptism, which, interestingly enough, is exactly where Mark picks up his Gospel is at the baptism, completely skipping everything to do with the birth. So as we dive into chapter nine, chapter one, verse 19, it says and this is the record of John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, who art thou? So later on in verse 24, we find out that these men were sent down by the Pharisees, that sect of the leadership among the Jewish people at the time. They’ve sent this group of priests and Levites down from Jerusalem to do some reconnaissance, find out who this guy is and why so many people are going down and listening to him and following him and some being baptized by him, figure out who he is.
This is such an important question here. It is so early in the record, who art thou? This really is a deeply driving and important question that you should be asking and looking for answers for. Throughout the Gospel of John and throughout the other three gospels, the Gospels were written to answer that question who is Jesus? So this area down near the Dead Sea, the Jordan River, is a really important place in Israelite history and memory. You might remember that the Israelites crossed through the Jordan River. Elijah and Elisha also crossed through the Jordan River years after the Israelites came through, when they came to the Promised Land. And there was also a heap of stones that was put there by the people after they crossed through as a witness that God had led them safely through the wilderness out of Egypt and through this water to the Holy Land. So in some ways, this is almost like the starting point. This is like the entry point into the Holy Land. It’s marked with this is where our religious and national memory and identity begins. So the fact that John is down here just plays upon these historical national memories for the Israelites that this is a place of consequence and meaning.
In some ways, if you want to have an analogy, it’s almost like Brigham young saying this is a place. We now have a monument in Utah that marks where Brigham Young said this. I sometimes think of John the Baptist being in a similar location where the Israelites have come through and they’re now saying with Joshua, this is the place and they mary it. John is trying to reignite that memory that God has chosen his people and there is a new age coming with a new Promised Land.
So to build on that, if you look, geographically speaking a quick overview of the Promised Land you get Jerusalem up in the hills and down in this deep Jordan River valley, you get Jericho. And down here somewhere right before the Jordan River empties into the Dead Sea you get this place called Bathabra, the place the house of the ford. This is the traditional spot where Taylor is talking about them coming across the Jordan River to enter into the Promised Land and they begin the conquest of Canaan with the city of Jericho. This is geographically there are some incredible lessons to be learned here by the location out here in the Judean wilderness. Because if we were to erase this and look at kind of a topographical map this way you can see let me erase this that this is the Mediterranean Sea. This is sea level and up. Right before you get to the Mount of Olives you get the city of Jerusalem. And the minute you pop over the Mount of Olives to the other side on the east then it goes down, down, down, down. You’re losing elevation every step. It’s a steep decline all the way down into this Jordan River valley into the Dead Sea area.
And this is the lowest place on planet Earth where you can walk is around the Dead Sea. And incidentally, today the Dead Sea doesn’t look like this anymore. It looks more like that with a few ponds here and a little connecting. The Dead Sea is actually dying because they’ve built a dam up here by.
The Sea of Galilee.
And so the water flow down here is what, maybe 5% to 10% what it used to be. So if you go to the Jordan River today it is significantly small compared to what it used to be where Jesus and John would have been familiar with it. The significance to me, geographically speaking is of all the places for John to baptize the geography is teaching a lesson here. This is the lowest place you can go on planet Earth and find fresh water.
So for Jesus to be baptized or.
For John to be baptizing people? As Taylor already mentioned the significance of the entrance point into the Promised Land is one area of meaning and a second area is if Jesus is going to descend below all symbolically even in his baptism he’s going to the lowest place on planet Earth where you could be baptized in fresh water. So there’s a lot of. Fun symbolism tied into just the geography of this story, especially when you consider what baptism is. It’s a gate, an entrance point, a starting point as you begin on a journey on the covenant path. Well, they called this the promised land. For us, the Promised Land that we’re seeking is heaven. And where do you begin? Where do you get on the path that leads you to heaven? In the waters of baptism. So Jesus comes to this place where John is baptizing, which was the entry point into the Promised Land. Well, baptism is our entry point into that path that leads us to our.
Promised Land as well.
So some years ago, my brother helped me discover a really amazing insight we.
Got talking about the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea.
And I said, this is freshwater and this is saltwater. And he’s like, well, why isn’t the.
Galilee freshwater and the Dead Sea?
Or why isn’t the Galilee saltwater and the Dead Sea freshwater? And I thought about that for a minute, and I’m like, oh, well, because the river flows down like all rivers flowed down elevation. Suddenly it dawned on me that the word Jordan in Hebrew is related to the word Jared, and it means can you guess? To go down. Now, as a description of what a river does, it’s like every river goes downhill. But the significance is incredible. Building on what Tyler has been helping us understand, this river that’s called to go down. Think about Jesus. He came down from heaven, he condescended, and then he came down from Galilee and he went down into the water. Eventually he went into the grave and came back up. So the name of the river is the lesson.
In fact, the river itself is a.
Lesson about what Jesus does. He goes down for all of us that he can support, and uplift all of us. All of us will go down. We’ll suffer, will struggle, and importantly, we do need to ritually go down in the waters to be baptized and brought back up. But I love that my brother TJ. Halverson helped me figure this out.
That a name that I’d known for.
Years that seemed kind of simple and easy, had all this deep symbolic significance.
One other thought on the fresh and salty water aspect that is kind of.
Instructive for us is if you look.
At the Sea of Galilee, it’s fed by a couple of water sources, and.
You see that every drop of water.
That the Sea of Galilee receives, what does it do? It gives it freely away. Whereas the Dead Sea sitting at the very lowest point on planet Earth, every drop of water that comes into the Dead Sea, it selfishly holds onto and will never give up. When I was serving my mission in Kurtichiba many years ago, sister Oliver, my mission president’s wife, she shared this little insight with us in one zone conference that she said, you want to be like the Sea of Galilee. You want to be the kind of person who, when heaven gives you things, you don’t hold on to them selfishly, you give them away. And in giving you will receive more. And you will have life in abundance.
If you go to the Sea of.
Galilee, fish and beautiful plants and animals live in this region. That water is beautiful. It’s wonderful. And then she said, you don’t want to be like the Dead Sea. That selfishly holds on to everything because then you become dead. Spiritually speaking, you become lifeless. If anybody ever offers you a free fishing trip to the Dead Sea, it’s a hoax, because there’s no fish that can live in this body of water. So when the water gets to the Dead Sea, it can’t leave only by evaporation. So all of the sediment and all of the salt from this region that comes into this sea, it gets stuck there. It turns out it’s eight times saltier than your average seawater. It’s impossible to sink. And to go down inside of this water, you can’t you float.
So there are beautiful symbols tied up.
Into even the bodies of water and this river connecting them. Now that’s just one way to look at this geography. And there are other lessons that you can pull out from these elements. But let’s jump in now to this location. The leaders of the Pharisees have sent these priests and Levites down to this wilderness to see what is going on out there with this man. And verse 20 says, he confessed and denied not be confessed.
I am not the Christ.
I am not the Messiah, your long awaited Savior, that’s not me. So when they realize, okay, so you’re not claiming to be the Messiahs. So then they ask him some follow up questions. What then art thou, Elias? And he says, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered no. Fascinating that there’s there’s something in their their body of prophecies, of a great prophet who would come some day. And they’re saying, are you that great prophet? And he says no. And so then they say finally, who are you then, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? So here’s the second time they’ve just opened up the question, so who are you? And he says, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaiahs, or Isaiah. So Isaiahs is the Greek transliteration into English for the Hebrew, Isaiah. And so they asked him and said unto him, why baptizest thou then, if.
Thou be not the Christ, nor Elias? Neither that prophet.
And John gives them the answer I baptize with water, but there standeth one among you whom you know not. And he it is who coming after me, is preferred before me, whose shoes.
Latch it I am not worthy to unloose. I am not worthy to even get.
Down and undo his sandals, which that.
Was the work for a slave to take care of a master’s shoes. So John is showing extreme humility while also elevating who Jesus is. Now, there’s some fascinating things going on here that the fact that John quotes from Isaiah, chapter 40. Now, during the Old Testament year when we talked about Isaiah, we laid out that Isaiah one to 39 is often prophecies of the consequences of people breaking the commandments. But Isaiah 40 is a massive transition point in the entire book of Isaiah. And the main theme is hope. And notice this is what John is preaching. What Isaiah taught so many centuries ago, god is now doing. He is bringing hope. And if you think about all of us being invited to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ at baptism, baptism is the gateway that opens us up to the hope of everlasting life with God. Very powerful how these scriptures are all interconnected, inviting us to see that God is giving us the hope that we all desire.
So the timing is incredible because it’s the very next day after this experience with these priests and Levites sent by the Pharisees, that John seeth Jesus coming unto him and saith, behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. Again, they’re looking for a Messiah to fulfill all of those second coming prophecies, this mighty lion of the tribe of Judah to come and overthrow the kingdoms. And here’s John, the preparer of the way for the Lord, saying, there’s the Lamb of God. And he came to take away the sins of the world, not to take away the ruling of Rome or the kingdom’s power over the people of the Jews. And he says in verse 30, this is he of whom I said, after me cometh a man which is preferred before me, for he was before me. He was the beginning and he is the end. And I’m, I’m preparing the way for you to accept Him. Verse 31, and I knew him not in the Joseph Smith translation. We don’t have this one in our footnote, but it says, And I knew him. So Joseph crosses out the word not in verse 31 as well as verse 33, which is fascinating because if you compare it up to verse 26, the very bottom line of verse 26, we’ve already read their standus.
One among you whom you Levites and priests know not, you don’t know him, you don’t recognize him. And so now you can see Joseph Smith making a correction here that is beautiful in contrast to Pharisees. You don’t know him, but I’m preparing the way before Him. I do know him, which is a much more powerful sense to the story than the way it it comes to us in the King James version where and I knew him not I didn’t know who he was. I’m preparing the way before him, but I didn’t know who was coming after me.
This does make way more sense that John as a prophet understands his purpose. John is also human. When time passes and he’s thrown in jail for his preaching and he starts to wonder, he starts to have just a bit of doubt. He’s like, I have preached and prepared the way for Jesus. And he asks some of his disciples to verify, like, have I put my trust in the right person? So you have this poignancy that even some like John, who knew so well in a moment of challenge, wanted additional reassurance that he really had known the truth. And John bear records saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove and abode upon him. Now, there’s a number of really amazing insights we can extract from this verse. A few of them connect us back to the story of Noah. Remember the flood story? We see that symbolically as the baptism of earth. What happens at the end of baptism? The dove descends upon the earth and abides there. At first there wasn’t a place, but eventually the dove finds a place to rest, the symbol that life will continue, that God will bring forth life and civilization again.
And we see this with Jesus. So this is actually happening before Jesus is baptized. But the connections are quite interesting that the dove coming to Jesus is a little bit like the dove that we see in the new beginning of the earth at the time of Noah.
And if you do some number comparisons.
Here, it’s kind of fun symbolically, because Peter, in the New Testament, he’s going to refer to the Noah experience on the Ark and he’s going to mention.
Eight people who are saved.
It’s Noah, his three sons and their wives. So four plus four total of eight. And now you get this motif of this new beginning. Keep in mind, seven is complete, perfect.
Or whole, a complete cycle.
So there were seven days of creation, it was finished, it’s complete. That circle cycle is done.
So what is the number eight?
In one essence, it’s a new beginning. You start again. It’s a rebirth, so to speak, and on the arc, the rebirth for the earth, so to speak. And it’s a new beginning with eight people. And what is the age that the Lord has established in the Doctrine of Covenants for us to have our children be baptized if we’ve taught them and prepared them? It’s at eight. It’s a new beginning. And it comes in connecting this story of the arc, a new beginning, with the baptism, which is a new beginning.
Kind of a new perspective for us.
To consider, especially for those who have been baptized, that you go to the sacrament table every week and you make a new covenant on what could be considered the 8th day. Summer is like, what do you mean, the 8th day? Because Saturday is the 7th day, it completes the cycle of the week because the first day of the week is Sunday. And so technically, first day or 8th day, it’s a new beginning. Again, every Sunday is a new beginning where we can have baptismlike, covenantal, connection and renewal of connection with the Lord Jesus Christ as we make that new covenant every week. So it’s not just a one time event in our life.
That is a super helpful insight.
So that takes us to verse 33.
Where Jesus is baptized and it says and I knew him JST, but he that sent me to baptize with water. The same said unto me, upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, that’s the dove symbolically and remaining on him. The same is he which baptizes with the Holy Ghost. And I saw and bear record that this is the Son of God.
Can you see the power of John’s testimony and his high Christology?
He’s not focusing on Jesus being the son of Joseph and Mary.
He’s not focusing on the earthly, the human side. He’s saying this is the Son of God. So, chapter one, as he opens up his incredible gospel that is different than the synoptics, the Matthew, Mark and Luke that see the same stuff, same optics. Everything in chapter one is establishing this foundation of belief in Jesus Christ as the divine Son of God, the Lamb of God who came down to take away the sin of the world, who was going to be slain. In order to overcome death and hell for us, he needs to begin his ministry with a baptism. Just like you and I also are commanded to then get on the covenant path and make that connection with God through the same ordinance. Thus following the example of the Son of God.
It’s powerful testimony coming to us from John.
As we continue in John’s record, we.
Have these conversations that are recorded about.
Who is Jesus, what is his identity? And you’ll see this throughout the four Gospels. This is a big question who is Jesus? How do we recognize Him, how do we identify Him? And you’ll see throughout the Gospels that there are people who clearly see Him and understand Him and others who are confused and eventually come to understand or actually do know who he is and then turn against Him. So you see this happening here, not the turning against, but just this question who is this person? It’s like the big reveal that everyone’s been waiting for the hero to arrive and how do we know who that person is? So we get into verse 35 again the next day after John stood in two of his disciples and looking upon Jesus as he walked, john saith, Behold the Lamb of God. So John is providing an identity or a definition or a marker for people to understand Jesus and the two disciples heard him speak and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned and saw them following and saith unto them, what seeky? Really important question, interesting that shows up so early in the Gospel of John because we can imagine ourselves as one of these disciples and Jesus asking us, what are you seeking?
What do you really care about? What do you want? And they said unto him, Rabbi, which is to say be an interpreted master where dwellest thou? I love that and I love the invitation it provides for us that as disciples we also should seek to know where does Jesus dwell and then to follow him into that dwelling.
And can I point out here that.
From this point on we don’t talk about John the Baptist in the rest of chapter one? Now the focus has shifted to Jesus and people who have come to John and listened to John and been baptized by John. Notice what he did. He then pointed those people to Jesus. He says, behold the Lamb of God. Basically, look at him and hold him fully follow him. This is not normal natural man behavior. Natural man behavior is to want to be popular. It’s to want to have power, glory, riches, honor for yourself. All those things that the devil up in the premortal council was seeking after exclusively for himself. We all wrestle to a much smaller degree with that same issue internally. And I love John the Baptist, how quickly and how readily he’s able to give away everything that God has given him by way of followers and disciples he recognizes. My goal here isn’t to get you to come to me. It’s to follow him. And don’t you love the fact that our curriculum for Sunday school and priests and reading society and seminary and young men and young women is called Come Follow me?
That is the ultimate invitation of Jesus Christ. And John is helping people follow that. It’s kind of the goal of every teacher and every leader and every parent is to be a little bit more like John in getting people. You teach in such a way that the people you’re interacting with actually follow Jesus and they change their life in that process of following him. It’s a beautiful, beautiful end goal for all of us to keep in mind as we teach and as we raise children and as we lead in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
So we’re introduced to two of these really important disciples that we’ll hear about.
Extensively throughout the Gospels and the New Testament. One of the two which heard John speak and followed him was Andrew Simon, Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon and saith unto him we have found the Anointed One, the Messiahs which is being interpreted, the Christ. And Andrew brought Peter or Simon to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said thou art Simon, the son of Jonah that shall be called Sephus which is by interpretation a stone. And this will in Matthew 16 we’ll talk about this in the symbol. What a great name.
Isn’t that fascinating? That right at the beginning when Jesus meets people, he’ll often not always, but he’ll often give them a new name, a new identity, something to strive for. So you take a name like Simon in English we might say Simple Simon and Jesus says, I’m going to call you Nephi or a stone. And like Taylor said, we’ll talk more about that in detail in Matthew 16 a couple of months from now.
But it’s that idea of Jesus giving.
You a new identity to reach for and to stretch for, to become the rock, the stone. It’s fascinating to me that he would name Peter, give him that title of a stone when in Scripture the only other person who is referred to as a stone or the chief cornerstone is Jesus himself. It’s as if he’s given Peter a.
Little piece of his own identity to.
Say you strive for this and every.
New name and every little identity that.
He gives to people the same thing. It’s a portion of Jesus’s perfected and complete and whole identity that he’s given to people and ultimately to you and me to keep striving, to keep going, to become, to grow into that, that identity that he has given us. So in 43 it says the day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee and he findeth Philip and he saith unto him follow me. Are you noticing how John is portraying the Messiah from his first spoken statements in John’s Gospel? And we’ll talk about his initial statements in the Synoptic Gospels in the next lessons next week. But here if you look carefully at the first thing Jesus is saying, the first thing that you got was what? Seeki, then come and see. And now follow me.
I think those words are just as.
Applicable today as they were for Simon and Andrew and Philip. And now we add Nathaniel in 45 five Philip findeth Nathaniel and saith unto him we have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did.
Jesus of Nazareth. The Son of Joseph. Well that’s a bit much for Nathaniel. He pauses and he says wait, seriously, can there any good thing come from out of Nazareth? Nazareth for those who live in the fishing villages along the Galilee, which is a lot more prosperous for the Jewish people than up in the hill country of Galilee, nazareth is this little podunk backwater town.
It’s not a town of consequence. And so if you have grown up with these expectations of Messiah you might.
Be a little shocked to find out.
That the Messiah had been raised to maturity in a very small town that you never thought much of. You might expect the Messiah to have come from a very prosperous from Jerusalem.
The capital city near the temple, right?
And this is back to identity. It’s a big question in the Gospels, who is Jesus? And we see in the Gospels that for some people, Jesus upends their expectations, for others, he is absolutely who people have been seeking, particularly when we look at the birth stories where he’s brought into the Temple, we have people at the temple who automatically recognize Jesus, even as a baby. But here we are years later, he’s now this mature, full adult and he’s starting his glorious ministry and people aren’t really always sure. Which raises a question for us. Do we recognize Jesus when he comes in our lives? Does he come in the ways that we expect, hopefully, or does he sometimes show up in ways that we don’t expect and if we’re not paying attention, we miss it? And I think one of the invitations we see in the Gospel is to have our hearts and our minds open to how God shows up in our lives and accepting Him as he shows up instead of as we wish he would.
And you know, this is a this is a fascinating point of when you’re.
Dealing with people or loved ones who are having a really hard time recognizing Him. Maybe he’s among them, but they knew Him not. I love the example here. Nathaniel just asked this honest question, hey, can any good thing come out of Nazareth? If you watch Philip’s response and the way he works with this situation, it’s beautiful and it’s applicable to us today. He doesn’t say, okay, Nathaniel, sit down. I’m going to explain it to you.
I’m going to give you all the.
Reasons why you would be silly not.
To trust that Jesus of Nazareth is.
The Christ because there are some things that you can explain or talk through and there are other truths that are far better if they’re experienced rather than heard or drawn out and diagrammed and described and defined. And so watch what watch what Philip did. He saith unto Nathaniel at the bottom of verse 46, come and see. Now some of you will recognize that as a repeat from verse 39 what Jesus had told these disciples earlier on, come and see. So Philip is now using Jesus’s words. He’s, he’s become a disciple, he’s following and he’s saying, you know what? Just come and see. Jesus used that on us and it worked. Come and walk with him. Experience him. I’m not going to try to convince you that Jesus is the Christ with words alone. I want to introduce you to Jesus Christ so that you can feel of his strength and his power and his wisdom and his mission and then you will know for yourself because that’s the kind of testimony and conversion and discipleship that will see you through any storm that will come. And there are a lot of storms coming to these disciples down the road and they’re going to need that bedrock testimony rooted firmly in the rock of their redeemer, this chief cornerstone to be able to not fall.
Tying this together, I might say that the Scriptures are a bit like John the Baptist. They’re important, they prepare the way. But we shouldn’t expect that the Scriptures are the end goal. They’re like John the Baptist. They are an invitation for us to come and see. It’s not sufficient for us to sit.
At our table or our desk in.
A chair, enjoying the beautiful words of God and Scriptures. That’s good. But even better is to then come and see, to act. We all fought and voted to come down here. We kept our first estate. We wanted the opportunity for agency. And so I see an invitation for us here to not only immerse ourselves in Scriptures, but to then go and do just as these disciples did. It wasn’t okay. Go back into your scripture study and we’ll find you in a couple of years. But get up, get out and start serving and loving and learning.
So at this point, Nathaniel follows Philip towards Jesus. And Jesus saw Nathaniel coming to him and saith unto him, beholden, Israelite, indeed, in whom there is no guile. This is an Israelite. And if you look at the footnote, the Greek word there could also be interpreted as no deceit, no fraud. This is a genuine Israelite, this Nathaniel here. And so he saith unto him, whence nostalgia. How do you know that I have no guile? We’ve never met. I’ve never seen you before.
And a guileless person would sincerely ask.
That question, say that exactly. And so Jesus answered and said unto him, before that, Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. So there’s some experience that Nathaniel had sitting under a fig tree where Jesus saw him. And only Nathaniel and God would know about that experience. There’s something going on here where all of a sudden, at this point, it doesn’t matter what Philip or Andrew or Simon or anybody else would have taught him this experience all by itself. He’s now making a connection with Christ that is profound. And Nathaniel said, rabbi, thou art the Son of God. Thou art the King of Israel. And Jesus answered and said unto him.
Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree.
Believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these. It’s kind of this oh, this is just the beginning. Nathaniel, you wait.
There’s an important phrase here in verse 49. Thou art the Son of God. Thou art the King of Israel. These phrases are synonymous. Now, it is true that Jesus is literally the Son of God. But in ancient Israel, the Son of God was also a title of the King. And this is important because this is back to the question of who is Jesus? What’s his identity? Now, Jesus never openly says, I am the King. He will let other people say that. But it is this identity in part that causes such consternation later in the Gospels where people who are in power decide to remove Jesus and execute him because they see him as a threat to their power and their perceived kingship. And by the way, don’t we see.
This in the Book of Mormon?
We have groups called the King, men who believe it’s their right to rule and reign. And there’s really only one king, the King of Heaven. And anybody who’s ruling on Earth, any king, president, ruler, whoever it is, their job is to model what it means to be the Son of God, the King of Israel, and to stand in his place and tell whose right it is to rule and reign and to never take power for themselves. This is very, very significant here, this core identity of Jesus, Son of God, King of Israel.
And he’s going to add another title to that in verse 51 when he tells Nathaniel, hereafter ye shall see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. Notice he didn’t say upon the Son of God. He says upon the Son of man. And that phrase Son of man is highly significant in a cultural context in the first century among these Jews.
Yeah, in some contexts, if you’re just talking about a normal human, other humans might call themselves a Son of man in the ancient Hebrew Bible. But when Jesus uses this phrase throughout scripture, he is very consistent and he’s referring to his heavenly identity. So Son of God is his earthly identity as the King of Israel. Son of man is his heavenly identity as a god. So it’s kind of strange how Son of God you’d think would be his divine identity. But Son of man really talks about his divine heavenly identity. And notice where you even have these references, you will see the heavens open and the angels of God ascending and descending. So there’s even this reference about the heavens. So these two identities are crucial jesus’s heavenly identity, Son of man, and his earthly identity, son of God, King of Israel.
So the pearl of great price gives us one additional way, in addition to all of the biblical contexts of how to look at that phrase Son of man. But if you look at Moses, chapter six, verse 57, in in this vision that Enoch is having with God, you’ll notice in verse 57, we’re told that in the language of Adam, man of holiness is the name of God, and the name of his only begotten son is son of man. Even Jesus Christ, a righteous judge who shall come in the murdering of time. So an additional insight that we get from the Restoration through the prophet Joseph Smith to add to what all of the biblical scholars out there can help us understand with this phrase Son of man, is that there’s one other layer here that Son. Of man of Holiness is the ultimate title because in the language of Adam, son of man is the name of God. So as we close this episode and this week’s study of John, chapter one, we hope that you’ll you’ll take seriously this invitation to come and see not just this week and not just this year as we study the New Testament, but for the rest of our life to continually come and see the Lord.
Not just in our scripture study or by going to church or by going to the temple, but doing those things with the purpose of trying to see and recognize and behold the Lamb of God, who is our Savior. And then when he asks us the question, what seek ye? Our answer is we seek thee and thy will to do thy purposes, accomplish thy purposes in our life. And that road of discipleship is going to allow us to see all kinds of amazing wonders in our own time and in our own place. And we leave that with you. In the name of Jesus Christ.
Know that you’re loved.