The first chapter of the Book of John applies several names to Jesus that paint a complex picture of His true nature. Jesus is “God’s Chosen One,” the “Lamb of God, the “Messiah,” and the fully human “Jesus of Nazareth,” as well as “Rabbi,” and the Messianic King the “King of Israel,” but ultimately he is the “Son of God” who will die to take away the sins of the world.
John the Baptist was called by God to go before Jesus and prepare the way for His arrival. When questioned about his mission, he quoted Isaiah the prophet, clearly identifying Jesus as a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.
“John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” John 1:23 (NIV)
John the Baptist goes on to state plainly the reason Jesus has come.
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 (NIV)
Finally, John the Baptist identifies Jesus with an emphatic connection to God.
“I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” John 1:34 (NIV)
The Book of John establishes from the outset that Jesus has been sent by God to accomplish a specific task and that He is indeed the Messiah promised in the Old Testament.
“The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).” John 1:41 (NIV)
The Book of John goes on to demonstrate that Jesus is also fully human and well known as a man from Nazareth, the son of a local carpenter.
“Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” John 1:45 (NIV)
As Jesus went about finding the twelve men who would accompany Him on His ministry, it is reported in the Book of John that they understood him to be a teacher or Rabbi, and the Son of God, as well as the King of Israel who had come to save them.
“Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” John 1:49 (NIV)
The author of the Book of John includes these many identifiers of Jesus to let the reader know that His divine presence was fully felt and experienced by those He came into contact with. In addition, many were making the obvious connection of Jesus with Old Testament prophecy. At the end of the first chapter of the Book of John, Jesus Himself shares His version of what His disciples can expect to see in the days to come, setting the stage for what is to follow.
“He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.” John 1:51 (NIV)
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