John 1:1-34 In Story Form
John the Revelator and John the Baptist Identify Jesus
John the Revelator Establishes The Deity of Christ
Before everything began, when nothing had been created, when the world was without form and void, Jesus Christ—the Verb, the visibly (for humans) active part of the Godhead, the one chosen to reveal God’s true nature and character to this world—existed, and He lived with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.
But this Verb did not merely live with God, He was God. In fact, Jesus Christ was with God so far back into eternity, before everything, that the finite human mind cannot understand it.
God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son—Jesus Christ/Logos—worked so closely together as a team, or as a family unit, and each one was such an integral part of creation that nothing was created without all their efforts being combined. And since they worked together so closely in everything, in effect, all things were made and came into existence through Jesus Christ. If He was not present and working with God, nothing that we can hear, see, feel, touch, or taste could have been created.
Jesus is Life
Jesus was the fountain of eternal life, and His eternal life serves as a beacon of Light to men, to guide them, to draw them to heaven. That Light continues to shine to this day because the darkness of sin and Satan could not obliterate it or quarantine it. However, Satan has made it so dark that some don’t understand The Light.
Jesus is The Light
Because the rays of The Light of God were getting so diffused by Satan’s machinations, God sent a prophet, John, a man, to give evidence about The Light so that people would be prepared to receive The Light Himself when He came. John was not the Light from heaven. His mission was to bear witness to or to clarify and point to The True Light. Then, when The Light came, the people would believe in and accept The Light because of John’s testimony.
The true Light—Jesus—whose job was to enlighten, educate, and inform every man, woman, and child about the true nature of God, was already in the world when John began to testify about Him, though He had not begun His ministry yet.
No One Recognized Him
Here He was, the God who was an integral part of forming and creating this world, and yet the world did not recognize Him. In fact, Jesus came to His own people, the Israelites, whom He had redeemed from slavery in Egypt and set apart as a Holy Nation, but even they did not recognize Him or accept Him as a nation.
Believe and Become a Child of God
But everyone, regardless of gender, race, nationality, or religion, who does recognize Him as the Son of God, accepts Him as the Messiah, their Savior, and believes in His name, to these He gives the right to become children of God and heirs of salvation. All believers who do this are born into the family of God, not because of anything they did or any merit they possess, nor because of the passing passion of a man, or the deliberate decision of a father, but because God, in His great love, chose to pay the ultimate price to adopt them as His own.
Jesus Became a Human
And so the Son of God—called the Verb or Jesus Christ—became a human being, a man of flesh and blood. He was born of a woman, grew up in Israel, lived, worked, and ministered in the very midst of us. And we, his disciples, saw and recognized His glory, His character, the glory that only One who had been directly connected to God the Father could possess and so be able to carry that glory and reveal it to us. Thus, every element of His life was saturated with grace and truth, mercy and justice.
That is why when John boldly pointed Jesus out to the crowds, he proclaimed,
“This is the man I told you about, the one who would come after me. He is greater by far than I am, as a mere human prophet, because He existed way before I did.”
Jesus Reveals Grace and Truth
As a result of Jesus’ saturation with grace and truth, we have all immeasurably blessed with the same. And while the truth has always been there for us, (After all, Moses was given the Law on Mt. Sinai and passed it on to us.) we have never understood grace as we do now because of what Jesus has done for us.
Yes, there was grace before, but now there is even more abundant grace because we understand it better. No one has ever seen God or understood Him before, except Jesus, who was in such a close relationship with God the Father from the beginning that the nearest example we have of their relationship would be that of father and son—especially since Jesus was sent to earth to be born a man. So, He is the only member of the Godhead that has experienced birth. And Jesus came specifically to visually represent and explain God to us who live in this sin-darkened world.
The Pharisees Investigate John The Baptist
More than 40 days had passed since John the Baptist had baptized Jesus. John’s messages became more and more pointed, telling the people that they needed to repent and be ready because the Messiah was already in their midst.
This created such a sensation and such a sense of expectation throughout all Israel that it came to the attention of the leading Pharisees.
The people began to speculate whether John was actually the Messiah he was talking about and he was just waiting for the Israelites to recognize him. Or maybe he was one of the great prophets risen from the dead.
Accordingly, the Pharisees decided they had better investigate. They sent a delegation of priests and Levites to Bethany, the one beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing, to ask John exactly who he was claiming to be.
The delegation of priests and Levites arrived when John had his disciples with him and there was a large crowd of people listening to him speak.
The people were astonished to see the priests arrive. When they realized that the delegation wished to speak to John himself, they quickly moved aside so that the priests and Levites could reach John. The crowd became silent, intent on seeing and hearing all that happened.
When the priests and Levites reached John the Baptist, they stopped and studied him. Finally, the leader of the group asked him, “Who are you?”
John the Baptist Says Who He Is Not
John knew immediately that they were not asking for his given name, who his parents were, or where he was born. They were asking who he was claiming to be. What role did he claim in the whole scheme of the coming of the Messiah? Knowing this, John never even hesitated.
“I am not the Christ,” he said.
A stir went through the listening crowd as this bold statement was absorbed. Some people were shocked, others were confused. But they quickly quieted when it became obvious the delegation had another question for John.
For the delegation, John had eliminated only one option and they intended to discover which personage, in the Messianic prophecies, John claimed to be.
So, referring to the prophecy that a man would come in the spirit and power of Elijah before Christ came, one of the delegation asked, “What then? Are you Elijah?”
“I am not,” John said emphatically.
Another member of the delegation, remembering how Moses had said there would come another prophet like himself that Israel would listen to, asked, “Are you the Prophet?”
“No,” said John.
John the Baptist Says Who He Is
Tiring of this game of 20 questions, one of the delegates asked irritably, “Who are you, then? We need to know who you claim to be so we can tell those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”
Without hesitation, John responded,
“I am ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as Isaiah the prophet said.”
This was not the answer they wanted to take back to the Pharisees who had sent them, so they asked, “Why then are you baptizing if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
John answered clearly,
“I only baptize with water as evidence of people’s repentance and the washing away of their sins. However, among you stands One whom you do not know. He is the one that my ministry has been preparing all of you for. He may come after me in chronological time, but He completely outranks me. In fact, He is so important and full of honor, that I am not even worthy to do the lowliest servant’s duty of taking his sandals off to wash His feet.”
This threw the delegation into confusion and they retreated, scanning the crowd to see if they could recognize this illustrious person John had referred to. Even the crowd was looking around to see if they could see the man.
But there was no one there who looked any more distinguished than the priests and Levites. The crowd soon turned their attention back to John and he continued to teach them.
John the Baptist Identifies Jesus as the Messiah
The very next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him through the crowd and he pointed and said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the One I meant when I told you that after me would come One who is ‘greater by far than I am because He existed way before I did.’”
“The first time I met Him, when He came to me for baptism, I did not recognize Him. However, He is the whole reason for my ministry and why I have been baptizing people with water. He is why I have been pleading with everyone to make it right with God so that no one would be blinded by their sins and unable to recognize the Messiah when He came. I did all this to prepare you to receive Him when He appeared.”
Then John said something amazing,
“When I baptized Him, I saw the Spirit descend as a dove out of heaven and land on Him. Until that moment, I did not know who He truly was. However, when God commissioned me to begin baptizing in water, He said to me, ‘When you see the Spirit descend and remain upon an individual, then you will know that He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’”
“That is why I can boldly testify that He is the Son of God because I saw the Spirit, in the form of a dove, descend and land on Him.”
The people and the delegation of Pharisees looked at Jesus, but all they saw was a slightly starving commoner. (Remember, Jesus had just returned from fasting for 40 days in the wilderness and he looked emaciated.)
They looked back at John questioningly. But they could easily see that John believed what he was saying with every fiber of his being. But when they looked back at Jesus, they saw no evidence that He could be the Son of God, the Messiah.
What’s more, Jesus did not even acknowledge that John was right. He did not take the opportunity to speak or do anything else. He seemed like just another Israelite who had come to listen to John. Soon the crowd’s attention returned to John, and they forgot all about Jesus.
An expanded narrative form of John 1:1-34, created by Janet Salazar. Though literary license has been taken to add some detail, it remains very close to the original.
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What a great idea, Janet! I’ll look forward to each installment.
My three books are written in the creative non-fiction genre, very similar to what it sounds like you’re doing here. I had great fun researching each biblical character and creating a backstory, in order to make the character “come alive” to the reader. It also helps the reader to find common ground with the character, and to find some personal applications.
Thanks Deb, that’s encouraging.
This is very cool Janet – sharing what God is revealing to you through His Word. And I even learned a new word: machinations : )
Thanks so much for the word of encouragement. God bless.