John 1-4: The Big Jesus
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As we complete our series of reflections in the Gospel of John this last reflection comes with a big reading as I suggest you read right through John 1-4 to get the whole sweep of what John has been saying.
My home country Australia is a big place. We are a big people and apparently getting bigger. When we go on holidays, we like to look at big things. We have a big rock in the centre of our land; we have the world’s biggest reef just off our coast. And if naturally big things weren’t enough, we also like to make big things.
If a town wants to attract tourists, it simply makes a big thing and asks people to come and look at it.
In Australia you can find a big banana, a big prawn, and a big sheep (he is called Rambo for those who know the movies). We have a big pavlova, gold-panner, oyster, trout, barramundi, cow, cassowary, crocodile, lobster, koala, strawberry, potato, lawnmower, and golden guitar. In Australia we really like everything big except Jesus.
Australia is the land of the small Jesus: he might be admired as a maverick or revolutionary, revered as a great teacher or perceptive philosopher, respected as a wise person, moral and upright individual, someone who is always good for a quote, maybe even suggested as one of the most influential people that ever lived. All of these maybe true in their own way but not the whole truth.
As John introduces his biography of Jesus, he paints the biggest possible picture of Jesus he can. As we have seen, in the first four chapters he introduces Jesus to his readers and it is breathtaking.
In John 1 alone, Jesus is referred to as the word of God, the one who shares divinity as God, the light, the source of life, the unique Son, the one who truly reveals God, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the one on whom the Spirit remains, the one who will baptise with the Spirit, the Son of God, Rabbi, the Messiah, the one Moses and the prophets wrote about, the son of Joseph, the King of Israel, and then finally the Son of Man. This is a vast array of titles, each with a background to be explored; each helping us to understand an aspect of Jesus; each contributing to a marvellous whole.
In chapter 2 John then goes on to show how Jesus will bring life as he turns water into wine and hints that this will be through his death as he challenges the Jews to destroy his body (this temple) and he will raise it in three days. John shows Jesus hinting at how he will make everything new as Jesus brings new wine (Jn 2), promises a new temple (Jn 2) speaks of new birth (Jn 3) and looks forward to a time when worship of God will be renewed (Jn 4).
Finally, in chapter 4 Jesus is acclaimed by a Samaritan village as truly the saviour of the world. The big Jesus indeed. It is only a big Jesus who will be worthy of trust and worship. It is only a big Jesus who will be followed in a world full of bewildering, and attractive alternatives.
May our churches be places where all people, young and old can come and see, and trust, and obey, and serve, and love, and honour, and worship the big Jesus.
Our Father, thank you for inspiring your servant, John, to write the Gospel we have been reading. Thank you for the clarity of his presentation. Thank you for the greatness of his portrait of Jesus in word and deed. Please give us grace to grasp the biggest picture of Jesus we are able, that we might love him deeply, follow him closely, and proclaim him faithfully. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
Pray with us today's prayer request:
Last year we prayed for Healthy Church training, led by Anglican Missions Africa, in the diocese of Mumias, Kenya. A recent report shows that 8 churches were planted in the past 12 months. Each one started small and has grown very fast (doubling, trebling and even quadrupling depending on how long the church has existed). Thank God and continue to pray for God's Kingdom to grow in Mumias diocese.
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