Over the 42 days of Leap of Faith, we will walk together through the entire story of the ministry of Jesus, at least as it is told by John. John was one of Jesus’ closest followers (the disciple whom Jesus loved) and one of the twelve original disciples. He had a front row seat on the life of Jesus. We get the first-hand story from someone who was there with Jesus. He knew the land, the customs, the culture. He wanted to tell the story of Jesus so people would know and could believe that Jesus was the son of God, the Christ and through him one could find life.
Each day’s guide is broken into three sections:
- The story for the day. For your convenience, we’ve included the text of the story in the New Living Translation (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1996). For this guide, we’ve found this translation to be in fresh, modern language that has really helped us to do what we most want to do: enter into the story ourselves. As you read the passage, try to read it from the perspective of the disciples and the other people who interact with Jesus. Really get inside the story. What is it like to go through this experience with Jesus?
- Points of Interest. This section briefly explores aspects of the day’s story that might be especially interesting or potentially confusing. It offers some historical notes and references that might help to interpret the story, frames some of the issues or questions addressed, and gives suggestions of ways to look at the story and what it might mean for us.
- Taking it home. In this section, we offer some suggestions for how the day’s reading might apply to you, to your 6, and to our church.
Spiritual Practice of the Week: Worship and Praise
As you read the devotional guide this week, begin or end your time by thanking God for your day. Make a list of good things about your day. Continue adding to your list throughout the week. You might also start or end your time by singing or listening to a worship song.
For your group or family, begin or end your time by thanking God for your day. Have each member speak out at least one good thing about their day. But don’t feel limited to just one thing. Feel free to go crazy! See just how long you can make your lists. Alternately, you might start or end your time by singing a worship song together. Briefly discuss what you liked and what you might not have liked about this particular spiritual practice.
John 1:1–18 —The Word Becomes Flesh
1 In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 He existed in the beginning with God.
3 God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
5 The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
6 God sent a man, John the Baptist, 7 to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. 8 John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. 9 The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
15 John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”
16 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God,is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.
Points of Interest
- ‘In the beginning’—John starts his gospel with the same words as the Bible itself (Genesis 1:1). Interestingly enough, the first words of The Gospel of Mark are also ‘The beginning,’ but Mark’s beginning is Jesus’ baptism in his adulthood. Matthew and Luke, by the way, go farther back than Mark; they start their stories with Jesus’ birth. But John goes all the way back, to the beginning of the world. Think of this mental image of John reading Mark’s ‘The Beginning,’ and exclaiming, ‘Pshaw. The story goes back way farther than that, buddy.’
- ‘the Word already existed’—in Genesis, the sentence goes, ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.’ John eventually gets there, but first he introduces a character unknown to Genesis, the Word. In Genesis, it is, in fact, through words that God creates everything. John, however, personifies those words. The words are so much a part of God that they are, in fact, God. The Word seems to be what turns God’s intentions into reality. John may be borrowing from one or two places as he describes this Word of God. First of all, he speaks of the Word in terms very similar to how the writer of the biblical book of Proverbs describes Lady Wisdom:By wisdom the LORD founded the earth; by understanding he created the heavens (Proverbs 3:19).So, in Jewish biblical terms, the Word is God’s wisdom, or at least plays the same role. Secondly, John may be referencing Greek philosophy. The Greek word used here for ‘Word’ is logos. While on the one hand simply meaning, ‘word,’ it had also been adopted as a Greek philosophical term meaning ‘that which gives shape, form, or life to the material universe’ (Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992. ‘Logos’). If John is intentionally evoking both Proverbs and Greek philosophy, he seems to be saying that, no matter who you are, Jew or Greek (the two people groups into whom he would mostly have divided the world), this Word is the one you would think of as having started it all.
- ‘John the Baptist’—this is not the same person as John the author. Though the author John is fairly disinterested in telling us so, John the Baptist is Jesus’ cousin. He’s famous for being a sort of throwback to the prophets of the old days. He hears from God and speaks for God in a way no one has for hundreds of years.
- ‘not with a physical birth’—John is describing a second work of the Word. The same one who got the very universe started is now offering people the chance to re-start their lives. This time around, the Word’s work is spiritual, not physical.
- ‘the Word became human and made his home among us’—today’s passage is a preview for us of John’s whole story. And here it is in a nutshell: ‘I’m telling you the story about when God’s very Word became one of us.’
Taking It Home
- For you: As we start reading an entire book about Jesus, take a moment to think about him. What thoughts and feelings come to mind? In this passage, John gives a handful of descriptions of Jesus: the Word, the light, the Son, etc. Can you relate to any of these? There seems to be an endless number of ways to experience Jesus. Make a list of ways you would describe Jesus.FF Family/Household Option: Together, make a list of ways you would describe Jesus. Consider sharing a story or two that goes along with one of your additions to the list.
- For your 6: John paints a picture of Jesus coming to us right where we are, in a form we should be able to recognize. Pray that Jesus would indeed show himself to your 6 in a way they can relate to. Pray that your 6 would find him tangible, digestible and nearby.
- For our church: One thing John makes sure to repeat in this passage is that Jesus is full of unfailing love and faithfulness. It’s hard to entirely wrap our minds around what truly unfailing love and faithfulness is actually like, but it sounds great. If we really got a grasp of Jesus’ unfailing love and faithfulness, it would be a game-changing technology—sort of like the iPhone, but infinitely more amazing. Pray that God would fill our church with his unfailing love and faithfulness, and that we would each experience a tangible piece of it. Pray that our church would play a role in bringing God’s unfailing love and faithfulness to others also.