Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Missions in John

John 1:14 is the most critical verse for missions in the book of John. It teaches us about God’s mission of salvation that he brings to humanity in his Son, Jesus Christ.

John 1:14 does not primarily inform us in how to carry out missions work; rather, John tells us about God’s amazing, almost unbelievable incarnation to save his people.

In John’s prologue (1:1-18) we immediately learn that Jesus is God. John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John’s first verse shows us that this Word is God. But who is the Word? Verse 14 makes it clear: Jesus the Christ.

John instructs us in three critical aspects of Jesus’ mission to the world. First, Christ “became flesh.” He literally took on humanity. This is stunning. The God of the universe humbled himself to become part of his creation, being born into and residing in a fallen world. This is a sobering reminder to us that missions is service. Paul writes of Jesus’ service in Philippians 2:6-7, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

I’ll admit it: it’s difficult for me to comprehend how God became as human as I am. He did it with all the trials and temptations we face. And he did it without sin. We’re told in Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

Jesus not only took on flesh, but second he “dwelt among us.” Christ did not hide out away from people, only to foray into town once in a while. Rather, he was with people all the time. He lived with his disciples 24-7. Even when he occasionally tried to get away he didn’t have much success. For example, in Mark 1:35-37 we read this, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he (Jesus) departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’”

The literal rendering of “dwelt among us” is fascinating. It means that Jesus “tabernacled” or “pitched his tent” among us. As God’s presence was with the children of Israel in the tabernacle in the OT, Jesus was God’s presence with his people in the NT. Almighty God lived with sinful man.

Third, Jesus shows us the glory of God. Since Jesus is fully God (1:1), and we have seen his glory (1:14), this means that we have seen the glory of God. Part of Christ’s saving mission was to show the world the magnificence of the glory of God himself. Jesus did this through his life of loving service and his death of atoning sacrifice. Jesus came to teach us all we need to know about the Father. John concludes his prologue in 1:18 by telling us that Jesus has “made Him known.”

John 1:14 sums up the incarnation as well as any other single verse in scripture. The incarnation is critical because it makes the crucifixion and resurrection possible. John explains to us that Jesus took on humanity, pitched his tent with us, and showed us the glory of God.

Jesus is the God of missions. He lived it out himself.

Previous Posts in this series:
Missions in...
Missions in Matthew
Missions in Mark
Missions in Luke

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