John 1:19–51 begins the multi-faceted book of signs (John 1:19–12:50). In the first chapter, we find the testimony of John (v. 19) and wide variety of titles that are assigned to Jesus. These titles give us a panorama of who Jesus is and help us to know the Son of God who is presented in John’s Gospel. Here are ten things from verses 19–34 to better understand who this Jesus is.
1. John 1:19–51 is organized around four days.
John uses four days to arrange four “pictures” of Jesus. More exactly, he lays out John’s testimony in four days, with each day the glory of John fading and the glory of Jesus’s rising. Which is to say, John 1:19–28 focus on John and his greatness; John 1:29–34 records John’s own understanding of Jesus’s greatness; John 1:35–42 show how John “gives” his disciples to Jesus; and John 1:43–51 concludes with no trace of John. Like a fading shadow John decreases across these four pictures, but only so that Jesus might increase (John 3:30).
In order we can see how each picture develops along similar lines:
Picture #1: John 1:19–28
WHAT: What John is not!
WHEN: The first day . . . (cp. vv. 29, 35, 43; 2:1)
WHO: Jewish Leaders, Priests and Levites, Pharisees, and John the Baptist
John the Baptist
- is not the Christ
- is not Elijah
- is not the Prophet
- is the one who prepares the way for the LORD
- Jesus is the LORD
- The Messiah: All the Law and the Prophets (v. 45)
- Elijah: Malachi 4:5 (vv. 21, 25)
- Prophet: Deuteronomy 18:15–18 (vv. 21, 25)
- The Voice: Isaiah 40:3 (v. 23)
Summary: Jesus is the Lord . . . the One greater than John, whose greatness led the Jewish leaders to inquire. Continue reading