Daily Archives: August 1, 2017

Through the Bible, August 1

Reading: John 1:19-51

Summary: Having read John’s introduction to the Gospel (1:1-18) at the beginning of July (see July 1), we pick up our reading with the ministry and testimony of John the Baptist.  The Gospel writer emphasizes the influence of the Baptizer in directing even his own disciples toward Jesus.  Hence, we also have John’s record of the first disciples who began to follow Jesus.

Devotional Thought:

Who Are You?

Are you comfortable with who you are?  Is your life caught up in wanting and trying to be something you are not?  Would you like for people to think more of you than you really are?

There is something enticing about that.  There is a temptation to be sure.

When John the Baptist was approached by a delegation from the religious authorities in Jerusalem they wanted to know if he were none other than the Messiah Himself.  Having denied that, they wondered if perhaps he were Elijah, or “the Prophet”.

Can you imagine?  These were the three personalities the Jews of the first century anticipated would come from God based on their understanding of Old Testament prophecy.  They were correct to anticipate each even though their understanding of them wasn’t exactly correct.

Here was John’s chance to be somebody; or at least for people to think he was somebody.  Instead “he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, ‘I am not the Christ” (John 1:20).  The literal translation of those words is a bit awkward in English.  It’s been paraphrased as, “He didn’t evade the question. He told the plain truth…” (MSG).

John knew who he was and was comfortable with that.  He didn’t need to be anything else.  He was “the voice of one crying out in the wilderness” (John 1:23).  That itself is remarkable and it’s sadly ironic that his inquisitors missed that, and consequently the one to whom “the voice” spoke.

Still, John had a role to fill, as do we.  It may or may not be one that elevates us in the eyes of others.  No matter, we should be comfortable with who we are and the role God has given us.

Through the Bible August Week 1 Bible Reading Introduction

Week 1: Jesus’ Ministry (John 1-10)

August 1-7

         John’s Gospel is very much unlike the others.  The majority of the content of this book is found nowhere else.  It’s been estimated that 90% of its material is unique.  Nothing is found here about Jesus’ birth, selection of the twelve, casting out demons, or the Judgment.  A very likely explanation for this is that John wrote much later than the other three, as much as 30-35 years.  Since these had been around for some three decades and had received a wide acceptance and broach circulation, John did not need to simply repeat what was found in them.  So, instead, he addresses “new” material and information and a very different vantage point in approaching Jesus’ life.  Neither would it be far-fetched to imagine that some of his themes (life, light, etc.) were in response to some of the thinking and teaching that had emerged in the decades since Christ’s departure.

This week’s reading will take us through the first ten chapters of John’s Gospel.

Bible Reading Introduction for August

August Bible Reading Introduction

The Story of Jesus

John and Luke

         Each of the Gospel accounts is unique.  Each has its own original audience; each has its own emphases and themes.  Having read Matthew and Mark in July, we turn our attention this month to John and Luke.  Though Luke comes before John in their arrangement in our English New Testaments, we’ll read John first because Luke is actually the first of a two volume set, the second part of which is Acts (read and compare Luke 1:1-4 and Acts 1:1-3).  The likely reason(s) John is last in our New Testaments is because it is so different from the other three (Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the “Synoptic Gospels” because they are so similar), and also because it was written much later than the others.

The introductions to John’s and Luke’s Gospels serve as quite a contrast (we read these both for the Bible reading on July 1) being distinct from each other.  John’s scope is much broader and grand, going back to the beginning of time and encompassing all of creation (1:3) and putting the story of Jesus in the context of life itself (1:4).

On the other hand, Luke has a laser focus, zeroing in on an older, childless couple and a betrothed, but unmarried, virgin with child by the Holy Spirit.

Further information regarding each of these Gospels will be provided in the first and third week’s reading introductions as we begin reading each of them.