Today’s Reading: John 1
I am excited that today on our 260 Journey we begin a journey through the Gospel of John. This is the most unique gospel because it doesn’t start out like the other three gospels. It takes us to the beginning . . . the real beginning. Listen to its opening verse: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).
That sounds very much like Genesis 1:1 at creation: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Here’s what’s even crazier: the “In the beginning” of John takes place before the “In the beginning” of Genesis.
What does that mean?
This puts Jesus in a unique category as the only person who ever lived before He was born. As one theologian said, “Jesus is the invisible God and God is the visible Jesus.” And that visible Jesus was about to embark on a three-year ministry that would change the planet forever.
French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte said it with the greatest clarity: “I know men, and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and every other religion the distance of infinity.”
Let’s start this journey through John by reading verses 37-39 and see one of the most amazing venues Jesus ever taught in: “The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus” (verse 37). It’s good to stop here and take note that the “him” in this verse is John the Baptist. We would think it should have been that John spoke and they followed John. But this is epic: “They heard him [John] speak and followed Jesus.” John, you rock. You challenge me.
The challenge and the proof of any true minister and ministry is that people hear us speak and they follow Jesus, not us, our church, our denomination.
That is why distinctives about denominations are so bogus. Distinctives about what day we worship on, what we call Jesus, our water baptism formula, our theology about the gifts. It’s so anti-New Testament. They make the organization distinct not Jesus.
Can people hear me speak and not follow my church or my denomination? Can people hear an Assembly of God pastor speak and not follow Pentecostalism or a Baptist preacher preach and not follow Calvinism? This is a challenge to twenty-first-century preaching. Thank you, John the Baptist for modeling what we should be doing.
Here is where it gets good: Jesus’ first 10:00 a.m. service. It’s a service unlike any other in history. It’s in an unexpected place but it’s in the best place:
Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated 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, for it was about the tenth hour. (verses 38-39)
They asked Jesus, “Where are You staying?” Or, “Where is Your home?” And Jesus responded, “Come and you will see.” “Come to My home,” they came, and they had the first home group. The first Christian 10:00 a.m. service would take place where Jesus resided.
There is something about teaching and learning in a home. They went that day to where Jesus was staying and had no idea how that 10:00 a.m. service would impact their “forever.”
The home of Jesus. Wow! It’s one thing to learn from a pulpit and in a pew, it’s another level to learn from a classroom and a lecture. But the playing field changes when you learn in a home—and it beats all other venues.
Jesus’ first place of teaching wasn’t the synagogue, it was the home. When the home is involved, you are inviting people up close for them to see if what you have is real. Anyone can put on a show on Sundays for an hour and a half. When you have a whiteboard and pulpit, you are inviting them into your academic life and knowledge. But the home is different—it points to relationships.
I think from the get-go, Jesus was saying that this relationship was not for the weekends but for every day.
One of my favorite preachers from the past, G. Campbell Morgan, said this: “If you cannot be a Christian where you are, you cannot be a Christian anywhere. It is not place, but grace.”
And the home—not the church—needs to be the first place we are Christian.
Home means to these disciples:
• They see faith worked out
• They see vulnerability
• They see up close
• They see life, not words
David had a word for all of us in Psalm 101:2 that tackles this very topic: “I’m doing the very best I can, and I’m doing it at home, where it counts” (MSG).
The disciples could hear a sermon on the mount—and that’s good. But when it’s a sermon in the home—that’s epic!