Book of John Bible Study Book 1 Week 2

The Word One to One pages 22-35

John 1:19-34

Download Book 1 here

January 19- January 25, 2020

Information on this study is here

Week one got off to a great start! Thank you for sharing your wonderful insights!

Feel free to reply to this post with your own comments, questions or applications from your time in this week’s passages.

Last week we could see Jesus established as God incarnate, source of Light, Eternal, and Creator. This week we see John the Baptist confirm Jesus’s eternal nature but also announce Him as the Lamb of God.

How does this lead you to worship Him?

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I never read these verses without thinking of how complete the Person of Christ is. He is everything, supplying everything, knows how this story of humanity will all develop in the fall, but creates us anyway, comes up with the plan for our escape from judgment, is Himself the solution and gives His life out of love and mercy.

Mighty God
Prince of Peace

Light of the World
Lamb of God
Alpha and Omega

As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He shall see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge [of what He has accomplished] the Righteous One,
My Servant, shall justify the many [making them righteous—upright before God, in right standing with Him],
For He shall bear [the responsibility for] their sins. Isaiah 53:11 (Amplified)

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As I read this passage, I am hit be the fact that John’s first message is of his unworthiness to even take the sandals off of Christ’s feet, then he moves to the salvation message of who Jesus is and what he came to do for us. When God reveals things to me of just how much in need I am of a Savior, I naturally move towards Him in desperation and in adoration; marveling that he would die for someone like me.

Moses was commanded to take His shoes off because he was standing on Holy Ground. He was not allowed to even approach God. Who would dare to touch God, even to remove His sandals and serve Him.

This passage always causes me pause. How deep is my respect and reverence of God?

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I had to think about this question for a few days before I could answer, and it occurred to me eventually why I was struggling to respond: not only in time, order, and the universe, but also in order of appearance in my own life, Jesus came before John. Jesus is the first holy person I remember learning about in my family, as a very small child, and he was spoken of as the Son of God. My earliest Bible-story memories are from pictures of Jesus with the little children gathered around him (from my Children’s Bible, which I still have), the Garden of Eden, and Noah’s Ark. As with many or even most children brought up with stories of Jesus who lived and died for us, it never occurred to me that belief was a question, or a choice; that came much later. So, Jesus I believed in early on. It was only later that I learned about John and his significance, in a way that stayed with me. That said, I love John and I especially love that he was Jesus’ cousin and that they loved each other from childhood. I cannot say that John “led” me to worship Jesus, as things unfolded in my own life; but I can imagine if I were living in the time of John and knew what manner of man he was, such words coming from him about Jesus would have no doubt made a deep impression. One thing that has left an indelible impression on me is the story of Jesus’ baptism, when John witnesses the dove fly down from Heaven and hears God saying, “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased” … but of course, some of the crowd gathered at the river could only hear thunder. That story gives me chills.

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TDW,

@tdw What a great observation regarding hearing God’s voice! Oh, that I and those I pray for hear His voice with such clarity rather than the mumbled noise of thunder!!

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John the author also speaks first of Jesus, and only after introducing him, does he mention John the Baptist. Throughout his book John focuses very strongly on Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Seems to go into far more depth than the other gospel writers. All of the other three give more details about the Baptist than John does. And yet the “second place” role that the writer gives him, seems to be so in character with the man himself.

  • John the baptist was older than his relative Jesus, by at least 6 months. Since Mary and Elizabeth were close, the two boys quite likely saw each other regularly - at least after Jesus’ return from Egypt - possibly at the Passover. But John is still very ready to cede first place to Jesus.

  • John was born into the priestly class - his father was even called upon to officiate in the Temple in Jerusalem. John would have received a very thorough training in the scriptures of his day, and particularly in the sacrificial and other ceremonial rituals of the Jewish faith. No doubt, he would have been expected to follow his father’s footsteps in the religious life of his people. Respected, well fed (through those offerings at the Temple), well clothed (in those fine ceremonial robes); yet he turned his back on this, went to the desert, clothed himself in camels hair, ate locusts and wild honey, and decried the sinfulness of the nation. And in spite of his prestigious family and social status, he did not look down on his tradesman (carpenter) relative.

  • when I read Luke 1:76-79, I imagine that his father Zecharias had a very strong influence on his training and up-bringing. He himself had had an encounter with an angel, and was no doubt deeply affected by the experience, and knew very very well that his son was somebody special. John refers back to his father’s claim for Isaiah’s prophecy of him, when he was born.

  • "And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
    to give his people the knowledge of salvation
    through the forgiveness of their sins,
    because of the tender mercy of our God,
    by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
    to shine on those living in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

  • John the Baptisit obviously made a big impression on the general public. Perhaps the minds of the people were jogged by the stories of their history, of how often foreign occupation, dominance, even removal, were reversed when the people repented and truly returned to their God. So there was a deep longing to be free of the Romans. Yet we find Roman soldiers also came to be baptised - because John had a word of advice to them on how to live lives consistent with their repentance and baptism. (Lke 3:14)

  • And he got the attention of the Jewush authorities who sent “priests and Levites” to check him out. (Weren’t all priests supposed to be Levites? why this phrase?). Even here, John evades their question, by deflecting them away from himself to a greater one who would follow.

Some initial personal reflections are that:

  1. I must be more like John in “preparing the way - pointing the way” - not BEING the way. In my life and testimony I should not seek to draw attention to myself, but deflect any attention I get to the Lord Jesus. My life should be consistent with that of a messenger and servant of Jesus Christ. I cannot convert anyone - the best I can do, is demonstrate the effects of the Holy Spirit in my life, and point to Jesus.
  2. Like John, I should deliberately turn away from those things that tend to deflect my own thoughts from Jesus, to things like material comforts, respected positions, society status symbols (fine clothes, fancy home in upper class neighbourhood, fancy eating places, expensive wines, whatever) instead prioritising the kingdom of God and his righteousness. (I do not imply that these things in and of themselves are evil - but to the extent that they deflect me from my true priorities, they are a stumbling block to me. The opposite is also true - if I try to imitate John, for the sake of imitating him, that also will feed my spiritual pride and lead me astray.)
  3. Am jumping ahead of the passage, but… I need to be careful of my subconscious assumptions and pre-conceived ideas. Later John, sitting in prison, is found wondering why Jesus is not taking up the battle against the heathen powers in the land. Although he has called Jesus “the Lamb of God” he seems to have forgotten that, for the forgiveness of the sins of the world, that lamb had to be slain. And I am caught wondering if my lack of understanding (and faith) is also leading me to wrong impulses or faulty interpretations of things around me, and causing me to doubt.

Enough already… I find it difficult not to make connections from one passage of scripture to another. Sorry.

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I have a question regarding vs 24 and 25:

Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, ‘Why then do you baptise if you are not the
> Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?’

This seems to imply that according to PHarisee understanding only the Messiah, Elijah and the Prophet were allowed/expected to baptise. Where does this come from? Any OT references? Where, when and how did Jewish baptism start?

We can see the crossing of the Red Sea as a form of national “baptism,” but was this understood among the Israelites? Was the crossing of the Jordan under Joshua seen this way? And was Elijah and Elisha’s crossing of the Jordan understood as any kind of baptism. If the connection here is to Elijah’s crossing, why is Elisha not mentioned ?

Just curious.

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Great questions @Mohembo ! The topic of baptism does seem to come on rather suddenly in this chapter. And you said

I find it difficult not to make connections from one passage of scripture to another. Sorry.

No apologies necessary! It’s such a blessing when we see how the Lord brings revelation and continuity throughout His Word!

On the topic of baptism: It was a practice of the Jews to baptize proselytes as a rite of admission into the Jewish faith in symbol of the proselyte’s cleansing from their former state.

There was also an expectation it would be practiced at the arrival of Messiah because of OT references:

On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness. Zechariah 13:1

I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. Ezekiel 36:25

The thing that was more unusual was that John was baptizing Jews, whereas Jews usually were baptizing the proselytes.

The prophet, Malachi, communicates the sign of the entrance of Messiah with

See, I am going to send my messenger, and he will clear the way before me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to his temple, the Messenger of the covenant you delight in—see, he is coming,” says the Lord of Armies. Malachi 3:1

Look, I am going to send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.
Malachi 4:5

So there was an expectation of an Elijah to prepare the way. And John the Baptist was definitely of the Spirit of Elijah, bold, zealous and defining sin and preaching repentance. It seems like there was (and probably still is) an expectation among Jews of either Elijah himself to return or one like Elijah.

Jesus clears it up for the disciples when they have this exchange in Matthew 17:10-13:

So the disciples asked him, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”

“Elijah is coming and will restore everything,” he replied.“But I tell you: Elijah has already come, and they didn’t recognize him. On the contrary, they did whatever they pleased to him. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he had spoken to them about John the Baptist.

Thank you for bringing in great discussion to the thread!

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