John 1

A couple of things stood out as I read John 1 this time. Having just finished Mark, with his very gradual and inductive conclusion about Jesus’ identity, John strikes me as opening with a lightening offensive on the identity of the story’s main character: the Logos incarnate, the true light, God the one and only, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit, the Son of God, him about whom Moses and the prophets wrote, the King of Israel, the Son of Man. Yeah . . . “exhaustive” comes to mind.

The other is that John’s primary notion of what is happening in Jesus is “revelation.” Some have even said that revelation is John’s fundamental redemptive category—not forgiveness of sins but revelation. The Word became flesh and thus the true light was in (seen by) the world. His glory has been seen. No one has ever seen God, but God the one and only who was at the Father’s side has made him [the Father] known.

The Baptizer’s role is seen as a subtype of this category. It centers on “witness,” “testimony,” “to testify,” and so forth. Specifically, “so that all might believe through him” (1:7) and “that he [Jesus] might be revealed to Israel” (1:31). And the Evangelist himself adds “we have seen his glory” (1:14). Insofar as Jesus’s purpose is to reveal God, those who testify to Jesus participate in that redemptive vocation.

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