In a recent address, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, referred to a Shi’ite Muslim tradition which says that when the Muslim messiah Madhi returns, he will be accompanied by Jesus Christ. According to this tradition, Jesus Christ will then serve under the Mahdi.
Is this true? Will Jesus be subservient to someone who worships Allah? Those who read the Quran know the name Jesus Christ and regard Him with great respect as a prophet of Allah. However, is what they are taught about Jesus Christ in accord with the Word of God?
To discuss the person of Jesus with a Muslim, or with anyone, it is vital that you know what the Bible, the Word of God, says about the Christ, the Anointed One promised by God as the Savior of man.
Therefore, this month you and I are going to observe the first 18 verses of the Gospel of John to ascertain what God says about Jesus Christ. Then you can take the truth you discover for yourself and use it as a plumb line to test what others tell you about Jesus–not only the President of Iran, but anyone who might knock on your door and ask for permission to share their faith with you!
The Best Way To Study The Bible
Before we observe John 1:1-18 by asking the 5 Ws and an H (who, what, when, where, why and how) let me share an insight into studying the Bible. I believe the best way to study the Bible is book by book. There are a number of reasons why, but one of the most important is that it helps you listen to God “in context.”
Have you ever been in a conversation or a business meeting and had someone join you in the middle of your conversation? What did you have to do if they were going to intelligently join you? You had to stop and explain the context.
The Importance Of Context
Con means with. Context, then, is that which goes with the text. Context is the setting in which something is said or occurs. Therefore, when studying anything in the Word of God you should look at its immediate setting. How does it fit with the surrounding verses? If there’s any question of interpretation, you need to evaluate it in its setting in the chapter and/or the surrounding chapters. Ask how it relates to the purpose and structure of the book in which it is written. And finally, how does it fit with the whole counsel of God’s Word? Write down and remember this point: Scripture never contradicts Scripture. The best interpreter of Scripture is Scripture.
Now, take a moment to read John 1:1-18. This is the way the Apostle John begins his Gospel, which scholars believe was written after the other Gospels. The question that ought to come to our mind is “Why?” Why another Gospel? Why does it open this way? Every book of the Bible has a purpose–a reason for its writing and inclusion in the Bible. While the authors do not always state their purpose, John does, in John 20:30-31. Let’s look at it:
“Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”
As we observe the text, let’s color code some key words.
- Draw a red stop sign over every reference to signs, including pronouns. In your notebook or on a piece of paper list what you marked and what you learn from marking signs. Who performed the signs and why? Where were they performed? Is there any record of these signs?
- Circle the word believe in blue. What is to be believed? What happens when you believe?
The Purpose Of The Gospel Of John
Now, if this is John’s purpose in his Gospel, what would you expect John to cover? To prove? Why?
In the light of this purpose, let’s read John 1:1-18 again. How does the Gospel begin? Who is being talked about the most in the first verse? It’s the Word, isn’t it? Let’s mark it. Use a color and/or a symbol. I colored it yellow. When you finish John 1:1, list what you observe from marking Word.
Now read verse 2. Who is the he referring to? Mark he the way you marked Word. Then, read through verses 3-18 and mark every pronoun and synonym that refers to the Word. When you finish, make a list of everything you learn from these verses about the Word.
Awesome, isn’t it? I just sat and worshiped Him as I went through my list. Do any of those first 18 verses give you a name for the Word? What does verse 17 tell you His Name is?
What parallels do you see between these first 18 verses and John’s purpose for writing this Gospel? Remember John wants the reader to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Write out your answer to this question.
Do you see it for yourself, faithful one? Jesus, the Word, is God! He was in the beginning with God–active in the creation of the world and man. He is light, He is life! Jesus is man–He became flesh. That is His humanity. He is the Son of God–begotten by God! That is His deity. God is Jesus’ Father, and Jesus, the Son, lived as the God-man with mankind. Jesus was seen and recognized for who He was. I want to toss up a thousand exclamation signs–and fall on my face. It is awesome!
When we believe Jesus is who God says He is and we receive Him, then we have “life in His name.” Look at John 1:12 again. What does it say? Have you done it? Have you truly received Him and been born into the family of God, as John 1:13 says? Then you are a child of God!
Now then, you have discovered the truth about Jesus for yourself. And if you are wise, you realize God cannot lie and you believe His Word. Therefore, beloved, remember to measure all you hear about Jesus by the truth you just saw. And know this: If people do not believe Jesus is God, they will die in their sins (John 8:24). And if Jesus did not come in the flesh, then you and I have no sacrifice and payment for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36).
Now, my friend, if you want to keep studying, read through the Gospel of John, and mark every occurrence of sign and believe. Write down what you learn. You’ll be all the richer in your knowledge of God.