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The Scriptorium

Sent as a Witness

John came as a witness to the Light.

The Gospel of John: John 1.6-8

Read and meditate on John 1.6-8.
Can you see here a synopsis of John’s purpose for his gospel? The Light has come! God sends people to bear witness to the Light. They are not the Light, and so need not pretend to be; they are witnesses to the Light, to urge others to believe in the Light.

6A man named John was sent by God 7to be
a witness to the Light, that all might see
the Light and put their faith in Him. 8This John
was not the Light; but he was sent as one
from God to witness to the Light.

- John 1.1-8

1.  Implied in the first part of our passage is that God is somehow able to communicate with people. He sent a particular man for a specific task. Should we be thinking that the Word of God has something to do with both the medium and the message of God’s communications with people? With you? Explain. Complete this prayer: Lord, send me today as a witness, so that…

2.  Summarize John’s calling. How was he sent? For what purpose? To accomplish what end? Is it possible that this John is mentioned here to embody John the writer’s purpose for his gospel? Our purpose in reading this gospel? Explain. Thank You, Lord, for those whom You sent in order that I might believe and have life.

3.  The Greek word for “bear witness” is a form of the verb martyreo. Does anything about that verb strike you as interesting? Why do you suppose the word witness is connected to this idea? How did this prove out in the case of John the Baptist? What does it imply for those who are called to be witnesses today (Acts 1.8)? Am I ready for this, Lord? Am I ready to be a witness today?

4.  John had an objective for his witness-bearing. What was it? What are those who live in darkness supposed to believe? John is leading up to a more thorough introduction to this idea in verse 12. What does it mean to believe? What happens when someone truly believes (cf. Col. 1.13, 14)? To whom are You sending me today, Lord, that they might believe in Your Word?

5.  From what we’ve seen thus far, what seems to be the relationship between God, believing in God, the life and light of the Word, and those who are sent as witnesses? Why is John introducing this idea right here “in the beginning” of his gospel? Pray together your prayers from questions 1-4.

“John does not enlighten every person; Christ does. And John recognized himself as a lamp, in order not to be blown out by the wind of pride. A lamp can both be lit and be put out. The word of God cannot be put out; a lamp always can.” Augustine (354-430 AD)

In his gospel, John bears witness to the Word of life and light, as John the Baptist did before him, and as all are appointed to do who believe the witness of those sent by God for that purpose (Acts 1.8). John is using the prologue (Jn. 1.1-18) to introduce ideas that he will return to over and over again. So far, what would you say are the most important ideas John wants us to fix in our minds?

Closing Prayer
O God, do not be far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me!
Let them be confounded and consumed
Who are adversaries of my life;
Let them be covered with reproach and dishonor
Who seek my hurt.
But I will hope continually,
And will praise You yet more and more.
My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness
And Your salvation all the day,
For I do not know their limits.
I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD;
I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.
O God, You have taught me from my youth;
And to this day I declare Your wondrous works.

Psalm 71.12-17

Psalm 71.12-16 (Solid Rock: My Hope is Built on Nothing Less)
O God, be not too far from me; my ever-present Helper be!
Consume and shame my enemies; let them reproached and humbled be.
  A Rock of habitation be; command Your Word to rescue me;
  My Rock and Fortress ever be!

But as for me, my voice I raise to sing in hope and constant praise!
With saving grace my voice will swell Your never-ending grace to tell.
  A Rock of habitation be; command Your Word to rescue me;
  My Rock and Fortress ever be!

T. M. Moore

Visit The Ailbe Seminary, where our course, One in Twelve: Introduction to Christian Worldview, can show you how Jesus is central to all aspects of life in the world – and beyond! Our course is free, and you can study at your own pace, watching videos and using the free materials provided.

We are happy to offer each week’s Scriptorium studies in a free weekly PDF, suitable for personal or group use. You can download all the studies in our series on the Gospel of John by clicking here. Please prayerfully consider sharing with The Fellowship of Ailbe through your giving. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series IV a and b: John, edited by Joel C. Elowsky, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006. Verse translation of John by T. M. Moore.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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