John 1: Life, Light, Lamb, and Lord

John’s Gospel is different from the other three. As Clement of Alexandria put it, it’s a “spiritual Gospel.” That is, it gives us the theology behind the facts. His greatest single emphasis is to show that Jesus was and is and always will be God. He is God made flesh—God who became also human—to die for us to give us eternal life. The theme of John is that people who cross paths with Jesus are forever changed; they become different people. People who meet Jesus are forever different. The first twelve chapters of John introduce us to a parade of characters who prove this point, but the first chapter tells us why this is so.

1. Jesus is Our Life (v. 1-4a). The word “life” occurs fifty times in John’s Gospel. The emphasis is that without Christ we are all dead as corpses on the inside. But Jesus, being God, is life personified, life eternalized, the creator of life. When we cross paths with Him, we discover what it means to be living, to be alive. Listen to these verses from John’s Gospels.

  • In Him was life.
  • Everyone who believes in Him has eternal life.
  • Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.
  • The Son gives life.
  • Whoever hears my word and believes in Him who sent me…has crossed over from death to life.
  • You refuse to come to Me to have life.
  • I am the bread of life.
  • The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
  • Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
  • I have come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly.
  • I am the resurrection and the life.
  • I am the way the truth and the life.

2. Jesus is Our Light (v. 4b-9). John 1:4 says: In Him was life and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through Him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he only came as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. The concept of light is another of John’s great themes. This word occurs 24 times in the book. For example, in chapter 8 Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” In chapter 9, He said, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” In chapter 12, He said, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” What if we lived in a world without sunlight? What if it were dark twenty-four hours a day? That’s what a person’s life is like without Jesus Christ. But when He crosses our path, the light comes on. The sun comes up. Jesus is our life and He is our light.

3. Jesus is Our Lamb (v. 29): The next day John (the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward Him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” This is the essence of the Gospel. Jesus Christ was, is, and always will be God; but He became flesh—He became also human—and dwelled among us in order to lay down His life like a lamb at the Passover so that by His blood and by His death we might be forgiven our sins and have eternal life.

4. Jesus is Our Lord (v. 35-51). Verse 43 says: The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said, “Follow Me.” If Jesus is our life, our light, and our lamb, by rights He should be our Lord. And if He’s our Lord, we should follow Him all the days of our lives.