While reading The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order (NIV) by F. LaGard Smith, I thought it will be interesting to memorize John 1:1-18 since itself is quite a summarized introduction in relating to the Gospel of the Person Jesus Christ. At first glance, it may seem an uphill task to remember the full eighteen verses. However, if we remove the verse system away, it is actually not difficult to do so. So how about trying to memorize the passage below?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' " From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.
Below are some random thoughts on selected portions, some of which I didn't really notice before I started memorizing the passage. Perhaps it is a good idea to memorize key passages sometimes, just wondering.
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it... He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe... The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
I realized that I can't interpret "all" and "every" as something other than "all" and "every", unless I read certain framework into it. It certainly appears that God did not outright dis-privilege certain people from the light. And it does seem that the darkness is supposed to understand the light, though it did not elaborate on why the darkness has not understood it, until John 3:19-20.
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
While on our own, we cannot decide to be children of God and cause ourselves to be born as such, since it is an exclusive right to be given by God, there is also nothing to stop us from deciding to receive Him or to believe in His name from the reading. It does seem that the condition for giving the right to become children of God is to receive Him or believe in His name. Though only God alone has the power to birth us into His family, He is pleased to birth all who received Him or believed in His name, into His big family.
We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth... For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
I can't help but notice that grace is mentioned before truth in the same verse twice within the boundary of this eighteen verses. The other two verses where grace and truth are mentioned together, are Col 1:6 and 2 John 1:3. In these two cases, grace is also mentioned before truth. Perhaps grace is what we need more than truth, or that grace is what we need in order to face the truth. Somehow, especially with reference to the confrontational approach of evangelism, we seem to ignore the grace part and march on pushing the truth part down on others' throats.
Certainly, I don't think truth is not important and I do think that truth, even watered down truth, sometimes can still be offensive to certain people, but perhaps it is better to dispense grace before truth so that we leave rooms for the person to grow in truth. If I ask God to give me the truth, I will probably be dead by now as His righteousness judges me. The truth is, I desire His grace first and foremost. And like my Saviour, I am learning to save others, from myself, by showing grace to others.
From the fullness of his grace...
Even a small drop of His grace, could fill up the oceans of forgiveness seven times seventy times. The point is that just a partial of His grace is already considered infinite for us. But here it says that it is from the fullness of His grace, not only a mere portion of His grace. And it is from this fullness of grace that the Father did not hold back His beloved Son from us. With reference to the earlier point on grace and truth, it is interesting to note that truth is not even mentioned here.
...we have all received one blessing after another.
The literal translation is that from the fullness of His grace, we all have received grace upon grace or waves of grace crushing down against waves of grace. The point is that because the source of these blessings is from the fullness of His grace, nothing can stop these blessings of grace coming after one another, ad infinitum. Thus even if we will to interpret the "one blessing" as Christ Jesus, and the "another" as the law given to Moses, the meaning does not change significantly since out of that one true blessing, calls forth other blessings as He pleases. It is interesting to note that even the law which we cannot live up to, is nevertheless a blessing to us, because through the law, sin might become utterly sinful (Rom 7:13).
No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.
Thinking about our position in Christ, it just strikes me that as early as John 1:18, even before the mention of the cross, there is already a recognition by the present tense that the Lord is now at the Father's side. Definitely, He is waiting and is coming again.
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