The first day we started reading John was like Christmas Day! I have spent many months reading through the Old Testament in my reading plan and I finished on the day we began reading John. What perfect timing. The Old Testament leaves you acknowledging the hopelessness of humanity and the dire need for a “fix” that God alone could supply. And John immediately brings the hope of Jesus, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5
In the Old Testament you see how faithful and just God is. He is so patient with His people, but He is holy. And His people are not. So there is a separation between the holy God and the sinful people. A big separation. Consider Leviticus 21: 21, “No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the Lord’s food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God.” Only a tiny blemish was enough to keep man from being able to enter the presence of God. Later in the Old Testament you see people die after coming in the presence of the Lord because they were so unworthy to be in His midst. The inability of man to draw near to God in the Old Testament is what makes the beginning of John so awe-inspiring. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. He came to us! He made the first move! Nothing changed about the condition of man’s heart. It was still full of sin and unable to please God. But Jesus took all the initiative and came to us. And he hung around… He dwelt! The incarnation will never cease to amaze me. His willingness to draw near to us is so beautiful.
But it’s not just his birth that shows his nearness. The very first public interaction of Jesus we read in John is recorded in John 1: 38-39, “Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, ‘What are you seeking?’ And they said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which means teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and you will see.’ So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day”. The first words we hear from Jesus are so personal and so gentle: “what are you seeking”. He pursues them; he draws near to them. He intentionally pursues not just their person, but their heart. What kindness! And when the men respond by asking where he was staying, he doesn’t demand anything from them. No questions, no proving their worth, he just says, “Come and see!”. Jesus is personal, and unpretentious, and hospitable. He bridges the gap between sinful man and holy God with little fanfare, but with humble and loving nearness. I love how John begins with this powerful invitation to “come and see” who this Jesus is and why He humbled Himself so low to dwell among us.
– Olivia Abernathy