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Devotional Hours with the Bible, Volume 7: Chapter 1 - Christ the Life and Light of Men

By J.R. Miller

      John 1:1-18

      The first three Gospels begin on the earth; the fourth Gospel begins back in eternity. There are no sublimer words in all language than the first words in John's prologue. They give us a glimpse of the eternal past and show us the Word existing then. In the beginning, before anything else was--He was. Genesis is the book of earthly beginnings, but this first verse of John's gospel carries us back far beyond Genesis. We find precious comfort in human friends when we can rest in their love and know that they are indeed ours, true to us and faithful. Yet all the while, as we lean upon them, we know, too, that they are only creatures of a day. They have not lived long, and their wisdom is only inexperience, their strength only weakness. Their love is liable to change and decay; their very life is only a breath, a mere comma in the great sentence of eternity. But in the friendship of Christ we know that we are in the clasp of One who is eternal--the same yesterday and today, yes, and forever.

      We are told also plainly who this divine Friend is. "The Word was God." A word reveals thoughts. We cannot know what is in our friend's heart--until he speaks. We never could have known what God's thoughts about us are--if He had not spoken to us. Jesus Christ is the Word, that is, the revealer to us of the mind and heart of God. The Incarnation of Christ brings Him very close to us. In His human life He is one of ourselves, our brother, with feelings, affections and sympathies like ours. But when we can add to our thought and experience of Christ's humanity the wonderful truth that He is divine, it puts a marvelous element of strength and security into our trust. The Incarnation is God coming to us with a great heart of love, offering Himself to us. A great preacher says, "In the last analysis Christianity is nothing more or less than a great dear Figure, standing with outstretched arms." God is love, and He is love yearning, that comes to us in the Word.

      All divine revelation has been made to the world through the Word. "All things were made by him." One was showing an old watercolor picture which hung in his room. It was beautiful, but the good man said that nothing among his possessions was so precious to him as this faded bit of painting, because his mother had made it. Just so, everything in nature is made sacred and beautiful to one who loves Christ, when he remembers that his Savior made it. The sweet flowers by the wayside would be sweeter to us--if we remembered, as we looked upon them, that the hand of Christ painted them. This is Christ's world. His touch is on everything in it. Everything speaks of Him and of His love.

      Christ is also the source of all life. "In Him was life." He is the one fountain of life. No one in the world, except God, can produce life. With all his skill, man cannot make the smallest living seed, or create the most infinitesimal particle of matter. Science, with all its wondrous achievements, has never been able to produce life in even the lowest form. No man can make a blade of grass, or the tiniest flower, or the lowest insect. All life comes from Christ.

      Our lesson turns now to the revealing of the divine Word. First, preparation. "There was a man sent from God." He came as God's messenger, to prepare the way for the divine revealing. Each one of us is likewise "sent from God." We know what John's mission was. We may not know yet what our own mission is--but God will show it to us as we go on, if we are faithful. We may be sure, however, that we are here on no haphazard errand; we are really sent on some errand, some definite mission. There is some word that we were born to speak--and if we do not speak it, the world will be poorer, some life will not know God's message and will not know what God wants it to do.

      John came to tell men of the Messiah. "He came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light that all men through him might believe."

      Our highest duty in this world is to give honor to Christ, to show some phase of His glory. Some men in their self-conceit, think only of making a show of themselves, getting people to see them and praise them. The mission of every Christian is to bear witness of the Light, to point others to Christ, that men may believe. It was said of a great preacher, that wherever he went, people, when they saw his life, fell in love with Jesus Christ. They forgot the preacher--and thought only of the Master whom the preacher proclaimed, both in his words and in his life. John hid himself out of sight--and wanted people to see only Christ. We cannot save any soul--but we can point lost ones to Him who can save. We may bear witness of Christ in many ways. We may do it by our words, telling what He was and what He did for us; and by our life and character, showing what Christ can do for all who come to Him.

      It is strange that when the Son of God came to his world, He was not received. We would say that such a glorious being would have been hailed with highest honor. But there was not welcome for Him. "He came unto his own--and his own received him not." This was one of the saddest things about Christ's mission to the world. For ages He had been waited for and watched for--but when He came He was not recognized; He was even rejected and crucified. We say, "If He came now--He would find a warm welcome." But would He? He does come now as really as He came then. He comes to save us, to be our Friend, to help us in our need, and many of us turn our backs upon Him. He stands yet knocking before many a door which does not open to Him.

      There were some, however, who received Christ when He came, and to these He brought wondrous blessings. "As many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God." Here we have the way of salvation made plain. We have only to accept Christ as He comes to us--and we are led into the household, among God's own children. We need not understand all about Christ, about His person or His work--there may be a great deal of unexplained mystery about Him. There cannot but be, for the Incarnation is the most profound mystery of all ages. But we do not need to understand everything--all we need to do is to accept Christ as our Savior, our Master, our Friend--and we are led by Him into the full light. Then some day we shall understand. In the experience of divine love--our joy will be so full that there shall be no question unanswered, no desire unsatisfied.

      The beginning of our passage tells us of the Word existing in the eternity past, the Word with God, the Word as God Himself; now we come to the revealing of the Word: "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." It is not said that the Word was changed into flesh--He continued to be divine. He became flesh. It does not mean, either, that He took up His abode in a human body merely--He took upon Him the whole of human nature, body, soul and spirit. We cannot divide the activity of Christ into two sections and say, "This the divine nature did, and this His human nature did"; the human and the divine were inextricably blended into one. When we see Christ's compassion, His thoughtfulness, His mercy, His kindness, His gentleness, these are divine qualities, revealed in human ways, through human life. It was all divine, all glory.

      Christ is the only revelation of God. "No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father--he has revealed him." We never can know God, except through His Son. There is no other possible revelation of Him. Christ came in lowly form, and appeared to His friends as a man; but when they learned to know Him, when their hearts had fixed their tendrils about Him, they found that He was divine, the Son of God. If we ever see God and know Him, and enter His family as His own--we must accept Christ. There is no other way. To reject Him is to shut ourselves away from God--in darkness unillumined by a beam of love from His face.

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See Also:
   Chapter 1 - Christ the Life and Light of Men
   Chapter 2 - The Witness of John to Jesus
   Chapter 3 - The First Miracle in Cana
   Chapter 4 - Jesus Cleansing the Temple
   Chapter 5 - Jesus and Nicodemus
   Chapter 6 - Jesus at Jacob's Well
   Chapter 7 - The Second Miracle at Cana
   Chapter 8 - Jesus at the Pool of Bethesda
   Chapter 9 - Christ's Divine Authority
   Chapter 10 - The Miracle of the Loaves and Fish
   Chapter 11 - Jesus, the Bread of Life
   Chapter 12 - Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles
   Chapter 13 - The Slavery of Sin
   Chapter 14 - Healing the Man Born Blind
   Chapter 15 - Jesus the Good Shepherd
   Chapter 16 - The Abundant Life
   Chapter 17 - The Raising of Lazarus
   Chapter 18 - The Supper at Bethany
   Chapter 19 - Jesus Entering into Jerusalem
   Chapter 20 - Serving, Following, Sharing
   Chapter 21 - Washing the Disciples' Feet
   Chapter 22 - The New Commandment
   Chapter 23 - How Christ Comforts
   Chapter 24 - Why Does No One See God?
   Chapter 25 - The Way, the Truth, and the Life
   Chapter 26 - The Comforter Promised
   Chapter 27 - The Vine and the Branches
   Chapter 28 - The Spirit's Work
   Chapter 29 - Alone--yet Not Alone
   Chapter 30 - Jesus Prays for His Friends
   Chapter 31 - Christ Betrayed
   Chapter 32 - Jesus Before Pilate
   Chapter 33 - Pilate Sentencing Jesus
   Chapter 34 - The Crucifixion of Christ
   Chapter 35 - "It is finished!"
   Chapter 36 - The Resurrection
   Chapter 37 - "Peace Be unto You!"
   Chapter 38 - The Beloved Disciple


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