One key aspect of studying the Bible is identifying the author’s intended meaning. That sounds like a mouthful, or even a concept that will be hard to get at, but every author writes for a purpose. Take this blog for example. Why, as a busy pastor, do I take the time to write a weekly-ish blog post?
Well, I’m glad you asked. There are three big reasons: advertising, reminding, and expanding. Having a weekly post gives me an opportunity to present at least a portion of what we’re doing as a church. There’s a lot more that’s going on here, as you can see from our Facebook page and website. There’s even more going on that our online presence doesn’t capture, but you can get a glimpse into what we’re doing.
I also use this blog post to restate the main idea that we talked about or to expand on Sunday’s sermon. The sermon forms a key element of adult education for the church. It’s the one time where the majority of the Pathway community gets together to examine the Scriptures and ask God to use them to look into our lives. The sermon also helps us understand important background information and help the community read the Scripture for themselves. So, restating the main idea helps keep people on track from week to week.
I can also use this forum to expand on Sunday’s message, or even answer a question that came up during the week. I typically read a lot to prepare for Sunday’s message and only a fraction of what I encounter ends up being presented to the congregation. Sometimes the biggest challenge is knowing how much detail is necessary, or which details need to be creatively presented or expanded. (As an example, we talked about noun-pronoun agreement this past week. Yeah, I know.) So, the blog gives me an opportunity to give more details if they’re needed. We also start the Wednesday evening service with a chance to ask questions about the past weeks’ sermon. (It’s at the church, 6pm. See? Advertising.)
Every author writes for a reason; he has a purpose in mind and John, the author of the Gospel of John is no different. In the first 18 verses of chapter one, he’s writing to incite belief that Jesus of Nazareth is the fulfillment of the Law of Moses. There’s a lot packed into that sentence.
The first century Jews loved the Law and believed that it existed before God created the world. They believed that obedience to the Law kept the world running and that devotion to the Law was both their responsibility and great privilege. When John starts his Gospel like this: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The initial reaction to “the Word” among first-century Jews is that John is talking about the Law… but John is being subtle. He’s leading up to an understanding that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law, and thus everyone who wants to follow the Law of Moses (all the Jews) should now become followers of Jesus. There’s more. A lot more. But this is a blog post and not a sermon… that’s available on Sundays at 10:30, or check out our video at: https://youtu.be/-F2T26tM71U
See what I did there? Advertising.