John 1

** The apostle and evangelist, John, seems to have been the

youngest of the twelve. He was especially favoured with our

Lord's regard and confidence, so as to be spoken of as the

disciple whom Jesus loved. He was very sincerely attached to his

Master. He exercised his ministry at Jerusalem with much

success, and outlived the destruction of that city, agreeably to

Christ's prediction, ch. #21:22|. History relates that after the

death of Christ's mother, John resided chiefly at Ephesus.

Towards the close of Domitian's reign he was banished to the

isle of Patmos, where he wrote his Revelation. On the accession

of Nerva, he was set at liberty, and returned to Ephesus, where

it is thought he wrote his Gospel and Epistles, about A. D. 97,

and died soon after. The design of this Gospel appears to be to

convey to the Christian world, just notions of the real nature,

office, and character of that Divine Teacher, who came to

instruct and to redeem mankind. For this purpose, John was

directed to select for his narrative, those passages of our

Saviour's life, which most clearly displayed his Divine power

and authority; and those of his discourses, in which he spake

most plainly of his own nature, and of the power of his death,

as an atonement for the sins of the world. By omitting, or only

briefly mentioning, the events recorded by the other

evangelists, 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 which

are 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's

public testimony concerning Christ. (19-28) Other testimonies of

John concerning Christ. (29-36) Andrew and another disciple

follow 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, so

was the Son of God sent in order to reveal his Father's mind to

the world. What the evangelist says of Christ proves that he is

God. He asserts, His existence in the beginning; His coexistence

with the Father. The Word was with God. All things were made by

him, and not as an instrument. Without him was not any thing

made that was made, from the highest angel to the meanest worm.

This shows how well qualified he was for the work of our

redemption and salvation. The light of reason, as well as the

life of sense, is derived from him, and depends upon him. This

eternal Word, this true Light shines, but the darkness

comprehends it not. Let us pray without ceasing, that our eyes

may be opened to behold this Light, that we may walk in it; and

thus 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 that

when the Light had appeared, there needed a witness to call

attention to it. Christ was the true Light; that great Light

which deserves to be called so. By his Spirit and grace he

enlightens all that are enlightened to salvation; and those that

are not enlightened by him, perish in darkness. Christ was in

the 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 in

the world, but not of it. He came to save a lost world, because

it 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 say

that they are Christ's own, yet do not receive him, because they

will not part with their sins, nor have him to reign over them.

All the children of God are born again. This new birth is

through the word of God as the means, #1Pe 1:23|, and by the

Spirit of God as the Author. By his Divine presence Christ

always was in the world. But now that the fulness of time was

come, he was, after another manner, God manifested in the flesh.

But observe the beams of his Divine glory, which darted through

this veil of flesh. Men discover their weaknesses to those most

familiar with them, but it was not so with Christ; those most

intimate with him saw most of his glory. Although he was in the

form of a servant, as to outward circumstances, yet, in respect

of graces, his form was like the Son of God His Divine glory

appeared in the holiness of his doctrine, and in his miracles.

He was full of grace, fully acceptable to his Father, therefore

qualified to plead for us; and full of truth, fully aware of the

things he was to reveal.
15-18 As to the order of time and entrance on his work, Christ

came after John, but in every other way he was before him. The

expression clearly shows that Jesus had existence before he

appeared on earth as man. All fulness dwells in him, from which

alone fallen sinners have, and shall receive, by faith, all that

renders them wise, strong, holy, useful, and happy. Our

receivings by Christ are all summed up in this one word, grace;

we have received "even grace," a gift so great, so rich, so

invaluable; the good will of God towards us, and the good work

of God in us. The law of God is holy, just, and good; and we

should make the proper use of it. But we cannot derive from it

pardon, righteousness, or strength. It teaches us to adorn the

doctrine of God our Saviour, but it cannot supply the place of

that doctrine. As no mercy comes from God to sinners but through

Jesus Christ, no man can come to the Father but by him; no man

can know God, except as he is made known in the only begotten

and beloved Son.
19-28 John disowns himself to be the Christ, who was now

expected and waited for. He came in the spirit and power of

Elias, but he was not the person of Elias. John was not that

Prophet whom Moses said the Lord would raise up to them of their

brethren, like unto him. He was not such a prophet as they

expected, who would rescue them from the Romans. He gave such an

account of himself, as might excite and awaken them to hearken

to him. He baptized the people with water as a profession of

repentance, and as an outward sign of the spiritual blessings to

be conferred on them by the Messiah, who was in the midst of

them, though they knew him not, and to whom he was unworthy to

render the meanest service.
29-36 John saw Jesus coming to him, and pointed him out as the

Lamb of God. The paschal lamb, in the shedding and sprinkling of

its blood, the roasting and eating of its flesh, and all the

other circumstances of the ordinance, represented the salvation

of sinners by faith in Christ. And the lambs sacrificed every

morning and evening, can only refer to Christ slain as a

sacrifice to redeem us to God by his blood. John came as a

preacher of repentance, yet he told his followers that they were

to look for the pardon of their sins to Jesus only, and to his

death. It agrees with God's glory to pardon all who depend on

the atoning sacrifice of Christ. He takes away the sin of the

world; purchases pardon for all that repent and believe the

gospel. This encourages our faith; if Christ takes away the sin

of the world, then why not my sin? He bore sin for us, and so

bears it from us. God could have taken away sin, by taking away

the sinner, as he took away the sin of the old world; but here

is a way of doing away sin, yet sparing the sinner, by making

his Son sin, that is, a sin-offering, for us. See Jesus taking

away sin, and let that cause hatred of sin, and resolutions

against it. Let us not hold that fast, which the Lamb of God

came to take away. To confirm his testimony concerning Christ,

John declares the appearance at his baptism, in which God

himself bore witness to him. He saw and bare record that he is

the Son of God. This is the end and object of John's testimony,

that Jesus was the promised Messiah. John took every opportunity

that offered to lead people to Christ.
37-42 The strongest and most prevailing argument with an

awakened soul to follow Christ, is, that it is he only who takes

away sin. Whatever communion there is between our souls and

Christ, it is he who begins the discourse. He asked, What seek

ye? The question Jesus put to them, we should all put to

ourselves when we begin to follow Him, What do we design and

desire? In following Christ, do we seek the favour of God and

eternal life? He invites them to come without delay. Now is the

accepted time, #2Co 6:2|. It is good for us to be where Christ

is, wherever it be. We ought to labour for the spiritual welfare

of those related to us, and seek to bring them to Him. Those who

come to Christ, must come with a fixed resolution to be firm and

constant to him, like a stone, solid and stedfast; and it is by

his grace that they are so.
43-51 See the nature of true Christianity, it is following

Jesus; devoting ourselves to him, and treading in his steps.

Observe the objection Nathanael made. All who desire to profit

by the word of God, must beware of prejudices against places, or

denominations of men. They should examine for themselves, and

they will sometimes find good where they looked for none. Many

people are kept from the ways of religion by the unreasonable

prejudices they conceive. The best way to remove false notions

of religion, is to make trial of it. In Nathanael there was no

guile. His profession was not hypocritical. He was not a

dissembler, nor dishonest; he was a sound character, a really

upright, godly man. Christ knows what men are indeed. Does He

know us? Let us desire to know him. Let us seek and pray to be

Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile; truly Christians,

approved of Christ himself. Some things weak, imperfect, and

sinful, are found in all, but hypocrisy belongs not to a

believer's character. Jesus witnessed what passed when Nathanael

was 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 Lord

knew the secrets of his heart. Through Christ we commune with,

and benefit by the holy angels; and things in heaven and things

on earth are reconciled and united together.

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