Wednesday, August 14, 2013

John Community Chapter 1

Apparently I like this book, as it's been pointed out that I recommend it often.

I can't help myself. Its classic "Once upon a time" beginning and a "mind your own business" kind of ending get me every time! So I figure the middle must be even better, right? It's been my favorite of the gospels maybe because I have grown to especially love John--which is right on par since he is called the disciple whom Jesus loved. And that's it--I want to hear what happened to Jesus, what Jesus said, where He went and what He ate, from His best friend, don't you? Who could possibly know Him better?

This is a grand entrance, a cinematic presentation. We take our red, velvet theater seat just as the curtain lifts. Like the beginning of Star Wars where our eyes excitedly follow the scrolling narrative so that we aren't so lost when the first scene opens, John gives us a similar debriefing.

Only this one's better. Here, we're talking about much more than the evil Galactic Empire, though there are striking similarities that we may have to explore later for pure entertainment! This is not just "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away." This is the beginning of time, the beginning period. Nothing was before.

Nothing.

Except God. And Jesus, too, because "The Word was with God,  and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God" (John 1:2 ESV). Jesus is the Word.

This may be me running wild, but when I chew on that thought--that Jesus is the Word--something strikes me that gives me chills. When we think of the Word, we usually mean the Bible. We say that we should get into the Word more, that we need a Word from God...you get my drift.

What's so neat to me is that the Word (the Bible)'s ultimate point is to introduce us to the Word (Jesus) because without Him, there's honestly no point--no happy ending, no light, no salvation, no restoration. How beautiful that these two are so interchangeable?

Without Jesus, the Word (the Bible) is not complete. It is instead the Law only. Now, the Law is good because God set it and God is good, but we apparently aren't capable of upholding it. And this is our deep need for Jesus--the Word--to be the completion of the Law that we are not capable of following.

So when someone says they need a Word from God, I want to say--you already got one! :) (And I'm having fun here; I do know what it means when someone makes this statement. They need confirmation about something, or direction on their current situation.)

There's one other part of this first chapter that I adore, and I can't wait to talk about it.

Once the camera pans in on Jesus' face and we get familiar with His features, His voice, we follow Him as He starts calling others to let go of their lives and chase after Him. Two men begin following behind Jesus as He travels, curious to see where He will go, what He will do. Jesus notices them and asks them a question. "What are you seeking?" They want to see where He is staying. His words are not complicated. He speaks simply, with conviction.

"Come and you will see."

It is a command, yet I get the feeling He could have been smiling as He spoke it. Because Jesus is both God and man, he knew the future, and I wonder if He was having a forward glance at who these two men would become, what they would add to the story of redemption for mankind. One of these two men was Peter (who will later climb out of a boat one dark night on the water to be closer to Jesus). I wonder if Jesus' heart raced with anticipation toward moments like these that had not yet come, but that surely would. Or if He winced a bit thinking ahead to when Peter would deny Him again and again...and again. Was it hard in those few seconds for Jesus to still extend the invitation to Peter to "Come and see?"

Maybe not. Maybe that's just what I imagine from my theater seat.

As I read and re-read this chapter, I keep landing on that--"Come and see." The story of God, the story of Jesus is an invitation. Come and see that He is good. Come and see that He is the Son of God. Come and see that He is love. Come and see what He can do.

You may have heard about Him from someone else. You may have sung a song about Him or memorized a verse about Him.

But you won't know Him until you come and see.

Maybe He's inviting you to "come and see" more of Him, to press on in this book and follow to see where He goes next. If so, I pray you will continue to come and see who He is.

Now I'm on the edge, waiting to hear what YOU saw! Share below how this first chapter spoke to you, what you see within. Is God speaking anything special to you--asking you to take a step?




Peace of Christ to you,

37 comments:

  1. Verse 16 is my favorite- "out of His fullness we have all received grace" but maybe that is because I find myself needing that grace multiple times per day. I also loved verse 50- "you will see greater things than that." I love that they followed and believed by small things and Jesus is just thinking "you haven't even seen the 'good stuff' yet!"

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    1. YES, Kim--I love that part, too! I like to think that Jesus had a sense of humor and was chuckling a little here as well. "Wait till they see what's next!" :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I hope you're enjoying this as much as I am!

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  2. Thanks to my dad I'm a big lexicon geek so I always have mine out when I'm studying. Some of my input might be painfully boring to read given this fact so I apologize in advance. I think we lose so much of the original text due to over-translation, and a lot of times both Greek and Hebrew terms have multiple, deep meanings so there's my justification. :)
    With that being said I found it interesting that (ref v43) when Christ says "follow me" the literal Greek translation of "follow" is akoloutheo which defined means "to side with one party". Basically he's saying "Give me your loyalty, your vote, your confidence, TRUST me!". The origin of the word is described as a union of roads (Christ is on one road, we as sinners are on another, and he is asking us to get off our path and walk with Him).
    I also like when he starts calling the disciples and they begin to follow they all do so seemingly without fear, no questions asked. I wonder if I saw Him would I be that brave to get up and follow when called? Or would I (being the infinitely flawed human that I am) be captive to my doubt?

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    1. Amanda, I love lexicon geeks personally! :) Bring it. I, too, have wondered if the disciples were afraid when they walked away from everything they knew to follow this new guy. I surely would have been shaking to death! Thanks so much for sharing the Greek translation for "follow." I don't have crazy geeky study tools anymore, so I am going to love you sharing yours with us!

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    2. I too focused on the willingness of the disciples to follow Him without question. I found myself asking "Would I do that?". Would there be any hesitation at all? Any thought of "what about this" or "who will take care of that"? To have the faith that anything and everything will be taken care, and to follow with no fear or reservation, is inspiring.

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    3. Amen. I hope I would do that, but wow...

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    4. I wonder how they followed Jesus as well. Did He give them that overwhelming calmness that He gives us when we make the right decision?

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  3. When I read through it,I was just amaze that it said his own people didn't know him. The way I interpret it, is that in this day and time it'd be like your own family not knowing you. Also another thing that struck me was The Word was in the world but not everyone knew it, much lik today! I just feel so sorry for the "lost" people of this world who has never even heard of The Lord and are walking around with "blinders" on. Or worse the people who have heard, know its wrong to sin but still do it. That would ride on my conscious like crazy. I'm in no way the best Christian I don't know a lot about the bible I haven't even read through the whole Bible. I'm just starting my walk with God I keep falling down but the Lord is patiently teaching me and carrying me through!! I believe he is the one who got me to be apart of this which I already love! The Lord is teaching me right now, I'm trying to learn patience I won't go into detail here because this is already long enough :) but I would like to ask ya'll to pray for me(if you don't mind) because I know what is coming after this "test" he has given me(if I "pass" it) and I am beyond excited for it :)

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    1. Charla, thank you for sharing. I am so excited to see what God does in your life! Patience is definitely the "P" word for me--like a cuss word because I. Don't. Like. It. (LOL) I commend you for having it. I wish I had more! I know this is also something the Lord is teaching me...or hoping I would sit down long enough to learn! I also have a situation where He is insisting I learn it. I will pray for you and I know the other ladies here will as well! God knows all we are dealing with and is sovereign over all, so He knows what we're praying for even when we do not! Keep sharing; I love hearing from you!

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  4. I love you, Cara! This is great. Verses 1-5 have stood out the most to me over the week. They keep taking me to Narnia - go figure. Mainly, "The Magician's Nephew" where Aslan creates Narnia and all the life therein. "In Him was life, and that life was the light of men." The young boy, Digory, follows after Aslan to try to get something that might cure his terminally ill mother. To keep this comment short, I won't go into the whole story of how it finally comes about, but Aslan DOES give Digory something that will cure her. The whole story gives Digory a new outlook of hope on life, grace, mercy, and so many other things for the rest of his life. I love that! "The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it." This verse reminds me of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" where Aslan explains (after his resurrection) that the witch did not understand the 'deep magic'. She interpreted it as she saw fit, not as it actually was. How true is that for how we as a society tend to treat the Bible today?

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    1. Ahhh I love that we always find our way back to Narnia, Gwen! ;) I love it. What a neat connection you've drawn with "the darkness has not understood it." I love that correlation with the witch. Pretty neat that she thought she had won, but because she didn't understand who Aslan was, she couldn't be prepared for his resurrection. Good stuff, Gwen! Thanks for sharing!! :)

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  5. John 1:12 says "Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God." It says "He GAVE the right". This isn't something that is earned or deserved. It is something freely given to those that believe in Him. This message is something that amazes me to this day. No one deserves the grace of God, yet it is freely GIVEN to those that believe.

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    1. I love that, too, Lindsey. It helps me keep things in perspective also like when I start thinking I deserve something. Thank you for sharing with us!

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    2. This is one of those things that sometimes gets me down and other times just blows me away. Grace is given to us. We will never earn it. We can never deserve it. I have had moments like "then why do we even try" but then I think of this in a smaller scale. If someone GAVE you money, would you try to earn it? Would you try to "pay it back" or "pay it forward"? I know I would. God GAVE us grace, wanting us to still work hard for it, wanting us to "pay it forward". I know there are people in my life that I "pay it forward" to. He gave us grace trusting that we would not abuse it, it is our job to uphold that. Has anyone else ever thought of it this way?

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    3. I like that thought, Jenny. I can relate entirely. I, too, have "what is the point" moments simply because I'm looking at it in the wrong light. When we wrap our heads around the fact that we can't add anything to grace, we should be able to breathe a sigh of relief that we don't HAVE to work at it! But because I slip into legalism far too often, I can get tripped up on this and it's almost like I WANT to earn it, like I want to feel that I had a part in my salvation. I know that's ridiculous! Part of humbling ourselves is accepting this grace because it means WE. DID. NOTHING. Good stuff, Jenny!

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  6. It is amazing to see how Jesus used every day people to follow Him, the savior of the world. You would expect the Light of the World to only use scholars or maybe the wealthy, but instead he calls those who seem only ordinary. And these people falter and have doubts (just like me) but he still loves them and used them as he was here to change the world. This chapter is a good reminder that God can use you no matter what position you are in. It is amazing that even through our imperfections he sees possibility!

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    1. That is so true, Lindsey! Thanks for bringing that up. Yes, I love how Jesus didn't call the Pharisees to follow him but hard working ordinary men instead! He can use us as we are, not some perfected version of us either. Love it.

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  7. When I started reading I thought "Well, CYakel took everything I had to say and made it sound so much better then I ever could". Then I spent a couple of minutes fantasizing that I could write like her and being jealous and day-dreaming what I would create if only I was as talented as her. And then I snapped out of it and it hit me....

    God sent Jesus as our way to Heaven. It is ONLY through Him that we will get there. None of our own good deeds nor bad doings will take us nor keep us from God's Kingdom.

    So if Jesus is the Word and the Word is Jesus then basically we have to be followers of Jesus; the Word...Followers of the Bible. There are times that I think "how do I follow Jesus?" But when I think of it in the context of followers of the Bible, it says so much. It is not saying we cannot fail, Jesus took that from us. But only that we must read, study, love, trust, and pass on the Word.


    Cara you were talking about when Jesus asked Peter to follow Him and did He wince thinking of when Peter would deny Him....

    Jesus is good. I think He knew when He invited Peter that the "story" would not be complete without him. Maybe His heart raced in excitement even about the denials, raced with excitement knowing the final outcome.


    I was drawn to a verse right at the beginning. Verse 5 (NLT) says "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it." I really put a lot of thought into this and about how something so simple is so true. We can cover the light, we can turn it out but no amount of darkness can ever even make it dim. It made me think so much about Satan and how sometimes he will stomp you down and continue to kick you but if we turn to God, He is always there to help, to show us our way back up or sometimes, pick us up and carry us for a while

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    1. Yes, I am fascinated with light and darkness, too. Isn't it so neat that light ALWAYS wins?! So fitting. You are one insightful lady, Jenny! Don't for one second think otherwise. I've struggled for years with wishing I were someone else, that I could be like ________. It finally hit me one day, and I felt like I heard God whisper to me: But I don't need another _________; I need you. ;)

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    2. Jenny, I agree with the wonderful things you said about Cara and her talent. I, too, struggle with comparing my inadequacies with someone else's talents. Cara is correct that you are insightful! Love your comments and thoughts here.

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  8. Joining the party a little late! I'm so struck by verses 3-5. The totality of verse 3 is mind blowing to me! Hard to wrap my mind around the enormity of it. Everything means EVERYTHING! Wow! His Word gave complete and total life to EVERYTHING he created, not just a few things! All things! And that same life brought light to us all. Where would we be without light?! If you close your eyes, you can't see a thing. Just darkness. But when you open your eyes, you can see everything that God has made for us! Without God, we have NOTHING! Thank you Lord!

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    1. So true, Lisa! That's a great way to explain it--by closing our eyes. It's literally all or nothing, isn't it? So is it with God. I had never thought about the fact that His word gave life to EVERYTHING. I'm so glad you mentioned that. I'm going to ponder this for a while. I like that, Lisa!!

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    2. I'm still pondering that myself, Cara! Thank you so much for putting this study together! I've loved reading what everyone has shared! What a blessing!

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    3. I'm loving it, too, Lisa!! So blessed to have you be a part of it!!

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  9. Cara, thank you so much for coordinating and sharing your gift of writing and teaching with us all. I love this format and am excited to be a part of something so different!
    Ladies, thank you all for your interpretations. I love how the Word is LIVING and ACTIVE. We all have taken some verse a bit different to allow the Spirit to work on the parts of our lives that need some work. I love how personal God is in that way.

    One of the takeaways I had was how Jesus is the true light.
    "John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world." (John 1:8-9)
    I have been exposed to some impostors in the past couple of months who are claiming to be the light or that we all have the light within. Although it is true that Jesus gives the light to us, we ourselves do not contain it apart from Him. I needed this reminder that although the world wants to convince us that we all have some good within us, God so lovingly shows us that we are full of sin and are desperate for His saving grace. What a precious gift we have in the Word to not only point out our need for a Savior, but to be that Savior for us.

    I was also reminded, like some of you, about how amazing it is that the light always wins. I was walking through my dark house the other night and the TINY stream of light coming from my laundry room allowed me to get through the rest of the house without hindrance. It is so encouraging that no matter how alone or inadequate we feel, the light that Jesus provides inside of us is enough. I want to be just like John saying, "Make way for the Lamb of God!"

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    1. So beautifully put, Hillary. Thank you. Yep--the world does want to call themselves good. Really, even I struggle with this. I want to think I'm good, or at least better than someone else!! Thanks for reminding us how Jesus being the light is also a reminder that we wander in darkness without Him, and that we're even part of that darkness...whether it's popular to say that or not.

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  10. Cara, Thank you so much for putting this group together. I am so happy to be a part of it and for my faith to grow as we go through this journey of reading and learning together.

    I have always heard in the scientific realm of school, there is no such thing as darkness, just the absence of light. This really brings a smile to my face to know that I will always have light in my life with Jesus. In verse 5 it says "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it." With Jesus, we have the light and like John we are to share that light with others. I would love to have seen the reaction John had when he first saw Jesus and knew the day had finally come that his faith and love and disipline to do the will of God had come. That is so inspiring to me try to be more still and listen to God speak to me of what my will is in my life. I feel I constantly get in a hurry in everything I do that I forget to slow down and listen. I think that has a lot to do with being in Catering, I very seldom have time to slow down, that I forget how to.

    I'm looking forward to another great chapter next week!

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    1. Wow, Kaycee--I'm so glad you mentioned the hurry aspect! Catering, mothering--yes, we're always running around aren't we? I am NOT good at slowing down and listening. And I wonder why my kids can't do it?! Ha ha! I also had not thought of how fulfilling for John that must have been to finally have Jesus come--the one He devoted his life to proclaiming! How awesome. Thanks so much for sharing and we are all just as excited to have you in our community!!

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  11. This is posted by Sarah Hunsucker. I have no account to publish under, so I used the Anonymous option.

    After reading the chapter more than once, it makes me realize how much I go through the motions. I read the Bible and it is difficult for me to make it personal for me. It is a story that I have heard and read many times and have heard my dad preach on before too. It isn't unfamiliar. I learned about it in my Bible classes in college. I had to memorize verses and code texts with colored pencils. I learned the greek words and what they meant, but it has never really resonated in me.

    But now, 10 years later, after life has not necessarily gotten the best of me, but hard life lessons have been learned, I can still remember all of my lessons on this, and what can I relate it to? It has nothing to do with the lessons in college or at church...it has to do with my job. Kids.

    It reminds me of when something exciting happens to a child. The child just has to share it and he is smiling and laughing and probably jumping up and down. It might be something completely unbelievable, but to that child, it is the most real and wonderful thing. And then he takes your hand and show you what it is that has him so excited and you see that it is real. And you get to share that excitement with him.

    That is what Andrew did for Simon and also what Philip did for Nathanael. They shared the experience. They didn't keep it to themselves. They met the person they had heard stories of. They were invited to follow him, and they went to find their best friend to share it with and to go with them.

    Be sure to listen to someone when they are super excited about something. Who knows what you might miss out on if you don't take the time to go with them to see for yourself.

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    1. Sarah, WOW--your comment made my heart swell with joy!! I have never thought about the way Andrew and Philip shared about Jesus in this way. I think you're right on track here and I love the correlation between this and children's excitement! So sweet. And I understand the rest, too. I've heard and read this nearly my whole life, too. But it has to resonate within us for it to change us! Otherwise, it's just a story. Thanks so much for sharing this, Sarah! What a blessing you've been to me tonight.

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    2. I just hope I remember this during this next week while I'm teaching my 2nd graders.

      Sarah

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  12. Better late than never... :) Like you Cara, I LOVE John and when someone wants a place to start in the Bible I tell them John. :) V4 is sticking with me right now: "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." The note in my Bible says, "Note that life is not said to have been created; life existed in Christ. Humans are dependent on God for life. In contrast, the Son has life in Himself from all eternity." Dependent. I tend to fight against this thought, but am learning lately He doesn't mean it the way the world thinks it (isn't it that the way with a lot of things). Not just a crutch that we lean on and use for a time. Maybe more of a carrying us through difficulties, walking beside us in everyday life, laughing with us in the joys (sometimes laughing through tears with us), and holding us so tightly when we are crying (even when we don't know why). I recently asked God to reveal specifically what is hindering. This was not easy. I have been fighting it and trying on my own for a while. He is so faithful, because within three hours I had received in several different forms the same theme: trust, rely on. Be dependent on Him and independent of myself and the world. Still learning this. Pretty sure it is a life long process.
    Another theme that He has used to help me through the process of learning true dependence is that we are already victorious because of the life, power, and light of Jesus within us! He will overcome through us. We are over-comers!

    Thank you Cara for sharing your heart and being raw and real!

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing that! I love what you said about Him carrying us through rather than it being just a crutch. So many people looking in from the outside who don't yet know the power of Jesus say we are using Christianity as a crutch. I like how you've put it here. I personally have had so many times where He literally did carry me through a circumstance, as I know you have too. Thanks for sharing, friend! :)

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  13. I have read Chapter 1 several times over this week. And what had really caught my attention was v.14 - "and the Word became flesh". It is hard to fathom sometimes that for 33 years our Precious Heavenly Father was human just like we are. He faced everyday life just like we do today. And in v.16-"we have all received grace for grace". When I think of grace, I think of what we taught the kids in children's church what grace meant:" getting something we don't deserve." Everyday I receive grace I want to make sure I am giving grace to others just like Christ has given grace freely to me.

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    1. That is good stuff, Tonya!! Grace...I've been thinking a lot about that lately as well. Grace for grace--we are obligated to give it because we got it. That's always a kick in the pants for me when I start feeling self righteous and indignant about something. I'm glad you mentioned that here. I need reminders that I get to give grace to others as a response to the grace I so undeservingly received!

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  14. I am sorry for taking too long to post and participate, my heart was reminding me that I needed to read this chapter, but for one reason or the other I couldn't get my hands on my bible, so I thought "Well, maybe I can install the Bible application on my phone and read it on the go" so I did, to my surprise when i "opened" the app, John Chapter 1 was the first thing to show up and started to read, that made me smile :)

    Back to sharing my thoughts on this chapter, the way this spoke to me is the way John wanted to share who Jesus was, I truly belive that we must have the same willingness and passion to share about how Jesus has worked (and still works) in our life. Also, something else that caught my attention, there are a few "key words" and phrases that encourage the believer, I believe that the word of God will always try to find us and let us know that nothing is the way we think it is or the way we expect or even deserve, such as Grace, to me that is one of the most powerful and promising words in the bible.

    I could keep on going but I don't want to type a whole book :)

    Looking forward to Chapter 2.

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Arianna! It's never too late to jump in! I agree--we should be excited to share Jesus with others. I wish I could be more bold with my faith! Thanks for reminding me of this!

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