John 1** The apostle and evangelist, John, seems to have been theyoungest of the twelve. He was especially favoured with ourLord's regard and confidence, so as to be spoken of as thedisciple whom Jesus loved. He was very sincerely attached to hisMaster. He exercised his ministry at Jerusalem with muchsuccess, and outlived the destruction of that city, agreeably toChrist's prediction, ch. #21:22|. History relates that after thedeath of Christ's mother, John resided chiefly at Ephesus.Towards the close of Domitian's reign he was banished to theisle of Patmos, where he wrote his Revelation. On the accessionof Nerva, he was set at liberty, and returned to Ephesus, whereit is thought he wrote his Gospel and Epistles, about A. D. 97,and died soon after. The design of this Gospel appears to be toconvey to the Christian world, just notions of the real nature,office, and character of that Divine Teacher, who came toinstruct and to redeem mankind. For this purpose, John wasdirected to select for his narrative, those passages of ourSaviour's life, which most clearly displayed his Divine powerand authority; and those of his discourses, in which he spakemost plainly of his own nature, and of the power of his death,as an atonement for the sins of the world. By omitting, or onlybriefly mentioning, the events recorded by the otherevangelists, John gave testimony that their narratives are true,and left room for the doctrinal statements already mentioned,and for particulars omitted in the other Gospels, many of whichare exceedingly important. * The Divinity of Christ. (1-5) His Divine and human nature.(6-14) John the Baptist's testimony to Christ. (15-18) John'spublic testimony concerning Christ. (19-28) Other testimonies ofJohn concerning Christ. (29-36) Andrew and another disciplefollow Jesus. (37-42) Philip and Nathanael called. (43-51)1-5 The plainest reason why the Son of God is called the Word,seems to be, that as our words explain our minds to others, sowas the Son of God sent in order to reveal his Father's mind tothe world. What the evangelist says of Christ proves that he isGod. He asserts, His existence in the beginning; His coexistencewith the Father. The Word was with God. All things were made byhim, and not as an instrument. Without him was not any thingmade that was made, from the highest angel to the meanest worm.This shows how well qualified he was for the work of ourredemption and salvation. The light of reason, as well as thelife of sense, is derived from him, and depends upon him. Thiseternal Word, this true Light shines, but the darknesscomprehends it not. Let us pray without ceasing, that our eyesmay be opened to behold this Light, that we may walk in it; andthus be made wise unto salvation, by faith in Jesus Christ. 6-14 John the Baptist came to bear witness concerning Jesus.Nothing more fully shows the darkness of men's minds, than thatwhen the Light had appeared, there needed a witness to callattention to it. Christ was the true Light; that great Lightwhich deserves to be called so. By his Spirit and grace heenlightens all that are enlightened to salvation; and those thatare not enlightened by him, perish in darkness. Christ was inthe world when he took our nature upon him, and dwelt among us.The Son of the Highest was here in this lower world. He was inthe world, but not of it. He came to save a lost world, becauseit was a world of his own making. Yet the world knew him not.When he comes as a Judge, the world shall know him. Many saythat they are Christ's own, yet do not receive him, because theywill not part with their sins, nor have him to reign over them.All the children of God are born again. This new birth isthrough the word of God as the means, #1Pe 1:23|, and by theSpirit of God as the Author. By his Divine presence Christalways was in the world. But now that the fulness of time wascome, he was, after another manner, God manifested in the flesh.But observe the beams of his Divine glory, which darted throughthis veil of flesh. Men discover their weaknesses to those mostfamiliar with them, but it was not so with Christ; those mostintimate with him saw most of his glory. Although he was in theform of a servant, as to outward circumstances, yet, in respectof graces, his form was like the Son of God His Divine gloryappeared in the holiness of his doctrine, and in his miracles.He was full of grace, fully acceptable to his Father, thereforequalified to plead for us; and full of truth, fully aware of thethings he was to reveal. 15-18 As to the order of time and entrance on his work, Christcame after John, but in every other way he was before him. Theexpression clearly shows that Jesus had existence before heappeared on earth as man. All fulness dwells in him, from whichalone fallen sinners have, and shall receive, by faith, all thatrenders them wise, strong, holy, useful, and happy. Ourreceivings by Christ are all summed up in this one word, grace;we have received "even grace," a gift so great, so rich, soinvaluable; the good will of God towards us, and the good workof God in us. The law of God is holy, just, and good; and weshould make the proper use of it. But we cannot derive from itpardon, righteousness, or strength. It teaches us to adorn thedoctrine of God our Saviour, but it cannot supply the place ofthat doctrine. As no mercy comes from God to sinners but throughJesus Christ, no man can come to the Father but by him; no mancan know God, except as he is made known in the only begottenand beloved Son. 19-28 John disowns himself to be the Christ, who was nowexpected and waited for. He came in the spirit and power ofElias, but he was not the person of Elias. John was not thatProphet whom Moses said the Lord would raise up to them of theirbrethren, like unto him. He was not such a prophet as theyexpected, who would rescue them from the Romans. He gave such anaccount of himself, as might excite and awaken them to hearkento him. He baptized the people with water as a profession ofrepentance, and as an outward sign of the spiritual blessings tobe conferred on them by the Messiah, who was in the midst ofthem, though they knew him not, and to whom he was unworthy torender the meanest service. 29-36 John saw Jesus coming to him, and pointed him out as theLamb of God. The paschal lamb, in the shedding and sprinkling ofits blood, the roasting and eating of its flesh, and all theother circumstances of the ordinance, represented the salvationof sinners by faith in Christ. And the lambs sacrificed everymorning and evening, can only refer to Christ slain as asacrifice to redeem us to God by his blood. John came as apreacher of repentance, yet he told his followers that they wereto look for the pardon of their sins to Jesus only, and to hisdeath. It agrees with God's glory to pardon all who depend onthe atoning sacrifice of Christ. He takes away the sin of theworld; purchases pardon for all that repent and believe thegospel. This encourages our faith; if Christ takes away the sinof the world, then why not my sin? He bore sin for us, and sobears it from us. God could have taken away sin, by taking awaythe sinner, as he took away the sin of the old world; but hereis a way of doing away sin, yet sparing the sinner, by makinghis Son sin, that is, a sin-offering, for us. See Jesus takingaway sin, and let that cause hatred of sin, and resolutionsagainst it. Let us not hold that fast, which the Lamb of Godcame to take away. To confirm his testimony concerning Christ,John declares the appearance at his baptism, in which Godhimself bore witness to him. He saw and bare record that he isthe Son of God. This is the end and object of John's testimony,that Jesus was the promised Messiah. John took every opportunitythat offered to lead people to Christ. 37-42 The strongest and most prevailing argument with anawakened soul to follow Christ, is, that it is he only who takesaway sin. Whatever communion there is between our souls andChrist, it is he who begins the discourse. He asked, What seekye? The question Jesus put to them, we should all put toourselves when we begin to follow Him, What do we design anddesire? In following Christ, do we seek the favour of God andeternal life? He invites them to come without delay. Now is theaccepted time, #2Co 6:2|. It is good for us to be where Christis, wherever it be. We ought to labour for the spiritual welfareof those related to us, and seek to bring them to Him. Those whocome to Christ, must come with a fixed resolution to be firm andconstant to him, like a stone, solid and stedfast; and it is byhis grace that they are so. 43-51 See the nature of true Christianity, it is followingJesus; devoting ourselves to him, and treading in his steps.Observe the objection Nathanael made. All who desire to profitby the word of God, must beware of prejudices against places, ordenominations of men. They should examine for themselves, andthey will sometimes find good where they looked for none. Manypeople are kept from the ways of religion by the unreasonableprejudices they conceive. The best way to remove false notionsof religion, is to make trial of it. In Nathanael there was noguile. His profession was not hypocritical. He was not adissembler, nor dishonest; he was a sound character, a reallyupright, godly man. Christ knows what men are indeed. Does Heknow us? Let us desire to know him. Let us seek and pray to beIsraelites indeed, in whom is no guile; truly Christians,approved of Christ himself. Some things weak, imperfect, andsinful, are found in all, but hypocrisy belongs not to abeliever's character. Jesus witnessed what passed when Nathanaelwas under the fig-tree. Probably he was then in fervent prayer,seeking direction as to the Hope and Consolation of Israel,where no human eye observed him. This showed him that our Lordknew the secrets of his heart. Through Christ we commune with,and benefit by the holy angels; and things in heaven and thingson earth are reconciled and united together.
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