General Introduction : Jesus as both the revelation of God and as God in John 1
As already pointed out in our previous lesson, in John’s Gospel, Jesus is presented as the one who makes God known. Jesus reveals God to humanity so that people might know God and be set free and transformed by that revelation. Thus, the theme of John’s Gospel is that Jesus is the Son of God (20:30-31) and in this first chapter He proves His claim. By the designation, the Son of God, is meant God becoming human. The Christian doctrine that God became a human being in the person of Jesus Christ is known as incarnation.
Lesson 2, Jesus’ names and titles prove he is God’s Son
This lesson seeks to present who Jesus is by way of his names and titles. This significance of Jesus’ personality by way of the office he came to fulfil.
Jesus as the Word (1:1-3, 14)
In Genesis 1, God created everything through His Word. Colossians 1:16 and 2 Peter 3:5 indicate that this Word was Christ. While God can be known in part through nature and history, He is known in full through His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). Jesus as the Word brings grace and truth (1:14 and 17). But if people will not receive Him, this same Word will come in wrath and judgment (Revelation 19:13). The Bible is the written Word of God and Jesus is the living, incarnate Word of God.
Jesus as the Light (1:4-13)
God’s first creative act in Genesis 1 was producing light, for life comes from light. Jesus is the true light, that is, the original light from which all light has its source. In John’s Gospel, you find a conflict between light (God, eternal life) and darkness (satan, eternal death). This is indicated in 1:5— “The light shines [present tense] in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it”. [Note 3:19-21, 8:12 and 12:46] Second Corinthians 4:3-6 pictures salvation as the entrance of light into the dark heart of the sinner (see also Genesis 1:1-3).
Jesus as the Son of God (1:15-18, 30-34, 49)
It was this claim that aroused the Jews to persecute the Messiah (10:30-36). Note the seven persons in John’s Gospel who called the Messiah the Son of God: John the Baptist (1:34), Nathanael (1:49), Peter (6:69), the healed blind man (9:35-38), Martha (11:27), Thomas (20:28) and the Apostle John (20:30-31). The sinner who will not believe that Jesus is God’s Son cannot be saved (8:24).
Jesus as the Messiah (1:19-28, 35-42)
The “Messiah” means the Anointed One. The Jews were expecting their Messiah to appear, and therefore they questioned John. Even the Samaritans were looking for Him (4:25, 42). Any Jew who said that Jesus was the Messiah was thrown out of the synagogue (9:22).
Jesus as the Lamb of God (1:29, 35-36)
John’s announcement is the answer to Isaac’s question, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering” (Genesis 22:7)? The Passover Lamb in Exodus 12 and the Sacrificial Lamb in Isaiah 53 point to the Messiah. There were many lambs slain in Old Testament history, but the Messiah is the Lamb of God, the unique one. The blood of lambs slain in the tabernacle or temple merely covered sin (Hebrews 10:1-4), but Jesus’ blood takes away sin. The lambs offered in Old Testament days were for Israel alone, but Jesus died for the sins of the whole world.
Jesus as the King of Israel (1:43-49).
Israel’s people were tired of Roman rule and wanted a king. Because the Messiah fed them, they wanted to make Him King (6:15), but He left the crowd. Later, he offered Himself as their King (recorded in 12:12-19) but the chief priests said, “We have no king but Caesar!” (19:15)
Jesus as the Son of Man (1:50-51).
This title comes from Daniel 7:13-14, and every Jew knew that it described God. (Note the Jews’ question in John 12:34.) The Messiah alludes in 1:51 to “Jacob’s ladder” in Genesis 28:10-17. Jesus Christ is “God’s ladder” between earth and heaven, revealing God to men and taking men to God.
1. State three titles of Jesus from John 1.
2. How is Jesus’ Kingship different from the notion of kingship in African traditional societies?
3. What does it mean to you when Jesus is described as the Lamb of God?
4. How does Jesus’ title “Light” relate to salvation experience?