Year A – Christmas Day – John 1:1-14

christmas

John 1:1–14 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Overview –  The Gospel of St. John is both the simplest and most profound book in Holy Scripture. No scholarship is needed to receive it’s truth and yet no scholar has seen through it’s profound matrix of depth. With the most basic language (in the original Greek) it conveys the richest portrait of Christ that could be imagined. Like no other Text, John presents Jesus in profound glory, such as with the “I AM” statements (“I am the resurrection and the life”). And the structure is grand and powerful. The Gospel is framed with seven signs and then Sign-Maker is raised on the eighth day as the Maker of a new creation. These signs outline Water, Bread and Wine. Each of these manifest more fully The Word made flesh.

1. New Creator: Water into wine (2:1-11)
2. Redeemer/Healer: The official/nobleman’s son (4:46ff)
3.  True Sabbath: The paralyzed man at the pool (5:2-9)
4. Bread of Life: Multiplication of loaves (6:1-14)
5. Light of the World: The man born blind (9:1-7)
6. Resurrection & Life: The raising of Lazarus (11:1-44)
7. Living Water: The cross (19:1-37)
Eighth Day: New Adam/Gardener: The resurrection (20:1-29)

Insight – There is magnificent beauty in the simplicity of John’s prologue (vv 1:1-14). The summit of that beauty is in our text, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” It is deeply ironic that Creator Jesus was not recognized by His handiwork, even more so that even Israel (the special “son of God”) did not receive him. Yet the note of hope at the end of the sadness brings redemptive glory. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God. . .” This Word and Reason of God has become flesh. This the reason for our Christmas celebration.

Prayer – Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born [this day] of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP Nativity III)

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John 14 – A Troubled Heart

St John’s Gospel (33): A Troubled Heart (John 14)

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 “And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas *said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. 7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” 8 Philip *said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus *said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11 “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. 13 “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. 15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. 16 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. .  .

John 14: X Chiastic Outline
Troubled Heart (1)
Going to the Father (2-9)
His Words and Works (10-14)
My Commandments (15)
The Spirit (16-20)
My Commandments (21)
His Words and the World (22-24)
Going to the Father (25-26)
Troubled Heart (27-31)

This passage is a chiastic dialogue (i.e., series of parallel thoughts that circle a center). It begins with Christ’s encouragement to not have a “troubled heart” (v1) and it ends with the same idea (v27). At the center is the promise of the coming Spirit. More than any other Gospel, John reveals the emotions of Jesus through his dialogue with others. In revealing His departure to the Father, Jesus is both pastoral and critical to Thomas and Phillip who question Him. He has both a sinking heart and a commanding voice calling forth faith. He makes plain the “way” to the Father is through Him (v6). Jesus is in the Father and Father is Him, such that to “see” Jesus is to see the Father (v9). Believe this from the words of Jesus, or believe on the basis of the works of Jesus. Those who believe will do even greater works that Jesus did (v12). This means that the works that flow from abiding in the Father will be greater in the apostles and finally the body of corporate believers (i.e., the Church) than even the works in the earthly ministry of Jesus. The works flow from asking in His name (vv13-14). If you love Him you will obey Him in doing His commandments.

The result of this prayerful obedience is that Christ will ask the Father to send the Spirit (another Helper v16). So the Spirit of truth will be sent to the disciples and through this we will know that Christ is in the Father and we are united to Him (v19). In all of this, Judas (not Iscariot) is still concerned about announcing Jesus as Messiah to the world (v23). But Christ makes clear that the task of the disciples is to keep His word, rather than worry about Christ’s publicity. The coming of the Spirit is necessary so that they may be properly taught. The Spirit will bring to their remembrance Christ’s word. Finally, Christ encourages them to not lose heart at His death (going to the Father), but to have His peace.