The Word of God, Jesus Christ
1 What I’m about to tell you is the most exciting story, the most dramatic event, in the whole of human history. Before time began, the Word, Jesus Christ, already existed. In fact, he has always existed in the closest presence of God the Father. Jesus Christ himself, fully God, is the Word of God. He perfectly expresses and reveals God’s mind. 2 The Word, Jesus Christ, is distinct from the Father. I cannot say it too often, he has always existed from eternity in the intimate and joyful presence of God. 3 Everything was made by him; nothing that has been made was made without him. He is the reason behind all we can see and all we cannot see. 4 The full, overflowing life of God has always been present in the Word of God. He gives and sustains every kind of life, both physical and spiritual. His life has lit up all humanity. 5 The light continues to shine out brightly in this world’s darkness, even though people refuse to accept the light. The darkness cannot put the light out or dim it at all.
6 Let me tell you how this light came to be known in our time. A man was sent by God. His name was John; he was later known as John the Baptist. 7 John was entrusted by God to declare the truth about what he knew and experienced of the light. He did this in order to bring everyone to know Jesus personally and trust in him for themselves. 8 John was not the light; his role was to tell people the truth about the light.
The incredible privilege of becoming God’s own children
9 This real and perfect light – Jesus himself, who gives light to every person who has ever lived – was coming into the world. 10 Although he lived in the world and the world came into being through him, the world refused to acknowledge him. 11 Even when he came to his own people, they did not welcome him. 12 Some people, however, did welcome him. All who accepted him for themselves – those who trusted in him, all he is and all he has done – could enjoy the incredible privilege of becoming God’s own children, personally affirmed by God himself. 13 This means they do not owe their spiritual status as God’s children to human descent or decision, but only to God himself.
14 All this leads up to the most dramatic event in the whole of history. The Word of God, Jesus Christ, took on a real human body. He was fully God and fully man. He chose to make his home among us. We – and I include myself here – have gazed in wonder on his radiant glory as the unique Son of the Father. His life was filled with love for those who do not deserve his love. He is the reality underlying all things.
The new era of grace and truth has come in Jesus
15 John gave evidence of these truths about Jesus. He declared, ‘This was the Person I was talking about when I said, “He who comes after me is far greater than me, because he existed long before I was born.”’ 16 We have all constantly received the ever-fresh full resources of his love. Such love is like a never-ending stream: it keeps on flowing. We simply don’t deserve such love!
17 Let’s stand back and put all this in the range of human history. The law, which showed us right and wrong, was given in the old era through Moses. That era paved the way for the new era of grace and truth that has come in Jesus Christ, who met all the demands of the law. He gets to the root of what is wrong in our lives and helps us, showing us the real way to live.
18 God himself cannot be seen by anyone. However, Jesus, God’s unique Son – who is fully God and is in the closest possible relationship with his Father – has made him perfectly clear to us.
John the Baptist and Jesus
19 The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites (temple assistants) to investigate what was going on. This is the record of the evidence John gave them. They asked John, ‘Who do you claim to be?’ 20 John had nothing to hide. He acknowledged freely, ‘I am not the promised Messiah.’
21 ‘Who are you, then? Are you Elijah come back from the dead?’ they asked him.
He replied, ‘I am not.’
‘So are you the Prophet that Moses referred to?’
‘No,’ he insisted.
22 They kept on asking him, ‘Who are you, then? Tell us so that we can report back to the leaders who sent us. What have you got to say for yourself? Stop keeping your identity secret.’
23 Finally, John replied to them, using some words of the prophet Isaiah:
‘I’m simply the voice of a messenger
crying out in the desert,
announcing the coming of the king,
“Clear the way for the Lord:
straighten out your lives,
to prepare for his coming!”’ 1
24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent to investigate John thoroughly 25 asked him, ‘If you’re not the Messiah, Elijah or the Prophet, why then do you baptise people? On whose authority do you do that?’
26 John answered them, ‘I baptise with water, but One has already come among you. You haven’t recognised him. 27 He comes after me. I acknowledge I am nothing compared with him. I’m not even worthy to perform the least important duties of his humblest servant.’
28 All these things took place in Bethany, east of the River Jordan, where John was baptising people at that time.
‘Look who’s coming: the Lamb of God!’
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him. John called out, ‘Look who’s coming! Here’s the Lamb of God! He’s the One who takes on himself the sin of the whole world. He is going to remove the burden of sin from all humanity. He bears all our guilt so that we can be forgiven. 30 This is the Person I was talking about when I said, “The One who comes after me is far greater than me, because he existed long before I was born.” 31 There was a time when I didn’t know who Jesus really was, but the whole purpose of my life and work, why I came and baptised with water, was to point to Jesus, the Lamb of God, that he might be made known to his people Israel.’
32 John continued to declare the truth about what he saw, ‘I watched the Holy Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and rest on Jesus. 33 As I just said, I didn’t know who Jesus really was – that he was the Messiah – but the One who sent me to baptise with water told me, “The One on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the One who will baptise with the Holy Spirit.” 34 I have seen him with my own eyes and gladly confirm the truth. He is God’s Chosen One, the Son of God.’
Jesus’ first apprentices
35 The next day John was with two of his followers. 36 When John saw Jesus walking by, John called out, ‘Look, it’s the Lamb of God!’
37 When the two followers heard what John said, they immediately went along with Jesus. 38 Jesus turned round to them, saw them coming after him and asked them, ‘What are you looking for? What do you really want?’
They answered him, ‘Rabbi’ (which means ‘Teacher’), ‘where are you staying? We want to spend some time with you to get to know you more.’
39 Jesus told them, ‘Come with me right now and you will see. You can find out for yourselves.’
They went with him and saw where he was staying. They enjoyed his company so much that they spent the rest of the day with him, from about 4 o’clock in the afternoon onwards.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two men who heard what John said and followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew then did was to find his brother Simon and told him, ‘We’ve found the Messiah (that is, the Christ).’ 42 Andrew brought Peter to Jesus.
Jesus looked closely at Peter and said, ‘I know who you are. You’re Simon, son of John. I’m going to call you by a new name, Cephas.’ (When translated from the Aramaic, this name is Peter, which means ‘rock’.)
‘Come and meet him for yourself’
43 The next day, as Jesus was getting ready to go to Galilee, he found Philip and called him directly, ‘Follow me.’
44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, came from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and couldn’t hide his excitement. He told him, ‘Nathanael, we’ve found the One the law of Moses and the prophets wrote about. He’s Jesus, the son of Joseph, and he comes from Nazareth.’
46 ‘Nazareth?’ Nathanael asked, expressing his scepticism. ‘Can anything good come from there?’
Philip invited him, ‘Come and meet him for yourself.’
47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said about him, ‘Here comes an Israelite with absolute integrity.’
48 Nathanael asked him, ‘How do you know me and the kind of person I am?’
Jesus answered him, ‘Even before Philip called you, while you were still sitting under the fig tree, I was watching you.’
49 Amazed, Nathanael spontaneously responded to him, declaring his faith, ‘Teacher, you surely are the Son of God, the King of Israel!’
50 Jesus answered him, ‘Just because I told you I was watching you under the fig tree, you trust in me. You will see even greater things than this!’ 51 He added, ‘One day you will see an open door into heaven. Jacob saw God’s angels going up and down a ladder reaching into heaven. I am telling you the truth, the way to heaven has come here and now by the Son of Man.’
1 Isaiah 40:3